I’ve always wanted to be a policeman, ever since I was a little child.
I remember one day, I must have been 5 years-old, I was walking down the streets of New York with my father, my hand firmly clasped in his, when a guy wearing a hoodie sprinted in front of us in the direction of an old lady who was buying some flowers at a street stand. She barely noticed the guy coming, but she certainly felt the weight of his body against hers as he knocked her to the ground, snatching her bag from her shoulder before running away and disappearing in the crowd. He was so fast that neither the florist nor the people around could do anything to stop the thief and retrieve the old lady’s bag. We were all appalled. The old lady could barely speak because of the shock and they had to call the ambulance because she refused to even stand up to walk home. I wondered if she ever had the courage to walk the streets alone after that. I got really impressed by that episode. My father held me for a long time, he tried to reassure me that everything was OK, that I didn’t have to worry. But I remember that what I felt was neither fear nor anger.
I felt a profound sense of injustice.
My name’s Luke Spencer, I’m 30 years-old and I’m a member of the FBI San Diego Division Bomb Disposal Squad. Or at least, so I used to be until a few months ago. Until the day that shattered my entire existence.
I was a completely different person at that time.
After completing my training in the Hazardous Device School at Redstone Army Arsenal (Alabama) I moved to San Diego to Join the FBI Bomb Division. I quickly became one of the most highly rated members of my Unit, and I was very aware of it. I used to be quite self-confidant, which is something that superiors usually appreciate, especially if you never let them down. I soon became their golden boy and my career was on the fast track to success, which naturally brought some internal rivalries to the fore - not that it bothered me to any extent. I was happy with my life and with myself. I spent most of my spare time at the local bar, socializing with the surfers and reveling in the beach culture, or at my place repairing my Harley Davidson that I cherished like a child. I had a nice apartment on San Diego’s bay, within a stone’s throw from the beach, the perfect place to chill out with friends, several of which were actually members of my team. Including my girlfriend Kim.
Obviously it wasn’t a relationship we could be open about, as our superiors didn’t look favorably on romantic affairs among the members of the same Unit; they considered relationships a distraction that could dangerously affect the outcome of our intense job. Naturally, the last thing I wanted was to piss off my superiors or to put my nascent career in danger. But Kim was worth the risk. She was the most amazing person I had ever met. I loved everything about her. The way she stared at me with her big green eyes, the way she stretched a smile when she was nervous, the sound of her laughter. I loved her bittersweet personality, her ambitions, her courage, even her faults. But what I loved the most was knowing that she loved me back.
We met on my first day in the Bomb Disposal Squad. She was the eldest member of our Team, though she was just 5 years older than me, and consequently she was the leader of the Squad. The first thing I thought when I saw her was that she had the most incredible butt I had ever seen below a uniform. The first thing she thought was that I was a cocky little bastard.
We immediately liked each other.
We soon became quite skilled in concealing our relationship from other people’s eyes. It wasn’t easy, especially with our colleagues always around. But we had our secret places. It was the best time of my life. With Kim by my side I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do. I felt invincible. Every now and then someone blamed me for putting the squad at risk for showing off, but I didn’t care about their warnings. I knew my job and what they called cockiness I called self-confidence. The day I took the leadership of the Squad I felt like I had finally achieved all I ever wanted.
I couldn’t have foreseen that it was the beginning of the end.
It was a bright Saturday afternoon; I was in front of my porch repairing my Harley Davidson when my Squad was suddenly called together for a bomb threat. On my way to the city center I called Kim, she was already there and asked me to hurry. When I arrived, the Police were still evacuating the office. It was the shittiest situation I had ever tackled so far. An entire building had been wired together. Multiple bomb disarmament was always tricky, as you could never be sure you had deactivated them all, and the detonation of one could trigger the others. We had found 3 devices: one on the roof, one in the central office and one in the basement, all linked to one another, all showing the same countdown: 5’58. I had less than 6 minutes to prevent a devastating explosion. Kim was in the basement with another member of our Unit, checking out the situation. There was no possible way to disconnect one from the rest without activating them. I checked out the device in the central office. It seemed a quite common one, double wire, not so technologically advanced as I had expected. I felt the eyes of my team fixed on me as I studied the situation. It was quite risky but I felt like I could do it. I could deactivate all the devices at once.
I saw the color flushing away from my colleague’s face while he asked me if I was sure. Was I? I honestly couldn’t tell, but my experience had thought me to follow my instinct. I thought I could do it and I did it. My team was with me while I cut the wire that would stop the device, my hands were still and confident as always. The countdown stopped. I exhaled, and relaxed. But my smirk disappeared the moment the walkie-talkie buzzed the most dreadful news. Kim shrieked that the countdown of the device in the basement hadn’t stopped, but it started speeding up! I felt my heart sink. There was no more time to do anything. Kim was trying to say something, something important I’m sure, when the bomb blew up.
I have fragmented memories of the weeks that followed. I was severely injured; I slipped in and out consciousness for a long time, my body fighting to survive, and my mind reliving the nightmare that was the explosion over and over again. In a moment of lucidity I was told that I was the only lucky one, all the members of my unit being killed in the detonation. Killed because of me, the “lucky one”.
As much as I wanted to die, my body apparently had different plans. I gradually recovered and I was finally released from the hospital. In the months that followed I became a recluse. Unable to go back to work or to any of the previous activities that used to be part of my life, I spent my days inside my house, in the darkness, blaming myself for the death of my friends, and, above all, for the death of Kim. I missed her so much. How could life have anything good in store for me?
I cut all ties with my family and my friends, I seldom left the apartment, I rarely accepted any calls; I couldn’t sleep and I barely fed myself. During the short periods when I could drift off to sleep I was haunted by terrible nightmares, most of which featured Kim exploding inside the building, before being able to tell me what she wanted to. I spent countless nights awake, torturing myself, unable to go back to life. Let alone to work. I quit the leadership of the Bomb Division and asked for a leave of absence. I couldn’t trust my instincts anymore. How could I be responsible for other people’s lives?
Haunted by remorse I began to slip into depression.
It didn’t take much time before I began to think of suicide as the only option left to me.
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