Chapter 1 Part 2

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Guyton found himself dressed in parade blues, standing before a cheap metal desk out of a '70s cop show, in a room decorated to match. The man behind it was as much a cliché as the desk—overweight, soft, and hemorrhoidal from far too much time in a desk chair.

"Ronald Melvin Guyton," the man that he was already thinking of as Chief said. "Alias Ron Waite, including a falsified badge with the same name, and an identity or two lifted from arrestees. By those or any other names, a bad apple. Rotten to the core. You got anything to say for yourself?"

"Why do I need to defend myself here?" he demanded. "While you're sitting here on desk patrol, I'm out there putting my life on the line. Every. Damn. Day. You can't even imagine what it's like out there. Do I bend the rules once in a while? Sure, but let me tell you, the bad guys aren't even trying to play by the rules—"

"Enough," the Chief snapped. Guyton had no intention of stopping, but he did. "I've heard this speech before. It ends the same way every time." He drawled every. "And if I hear the words, I'm just doing my job from one of you entitled assholes again, you'll find out how I earned the title King of Chokehold. Got it?" He dropped a thick file on the desk with a plop. "Now let's have a little review of what you seem to think your job was." Flip. "Apparently, your job included no less than twenty-two instances of using excessive force on unarmed detainees." Flip. "Six of which required hospitalization of the detainee." Flip. "Eight were never reported. Two of them got you suspended with pay, no further sanctions." Flip. "False arrest of sex workers while off-duty, trading sexual favors for release, seventeen instances." Flip. "Planting contraband in vehicles while performing searches for said contraband, three instances." Flip. "And... here's the Big One." Guyton heard the capital letters. "Shooting and killing an unarmed youth, because he was black, and because he called you a pig."

Guyton began a flippant If they didn't want to pay, they shouldn't have played. "Guilty on all counts," he heard himself say instead, helpless as his mouth moved for him.

"Damn right." The Chief slapped the folder shut and glared at him. "So. Do you want a chance to redeem yourself, or would you rather go to Hell? You deserve to go to Hell, by the way. I don't decide who gets diverted, but the higher-ups must think you can be of use."

Guyton thought about the thing that had hurt him, hurt him and enjoyed it, far more than he enjoyed roughing up perps that gave him lip. The Judge you're gonna face won't take your word, he remembered.

"Uh... yeah. I'll take that chance to redeem myself," he said.

"Course you will. I ain't seen a crooked cop yet that would rather take what he deserves." The Chief gave him a sour look. "You'll get training, but I'm gonna give you the rundown first. Your job is to track down and apprehend certain people. You can interact with the rest of the world, but people will tend to forget you as soon as their backs are turned. You will under no circumstances bother anyone who is not on your list. You will not form relationships. You will be alone, doing your job, the right way, until the higher-ups decide you've paid your debt. Clear?"

Guyton nodded.

"Good. You'll screw up, though. I can tell. The rot in you goes too deep. You won't stay diverted." Guyton shrugged, and the Chief scowled and continued. "Training is down the hall to the left. Change your mind about getting redeemed, take a right. Either way is fine with me. Now get outta my sight. You disgust me."

He stepped out and looked to the right. There, he saw his killer for the last time. They abandoned his car at a strip club, his ID and wallet stuffed into a random dumpster along the way, the keys in the ignition. The car was soon stolen, meeting its end at a chop shop before anyone got around to putting out an APB.

"Neat as neat," he muttered, and turned away to find Training.

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