I originally called this story, “Lady In Waiting”. At that time I was going to name the collection “Battered Armor, Tarnished Shield”. A play of the old “Blue Knight” image. This story is how the shield start tarnishing.
Lady In Waiting.
The call said “possible suicide, overdose”. It was correct.
The victim was lying face down on the floor when I got there. The paramedics were right behind me. They went right to work and I started getting the story.
She was sixteen. The family was Chinese, from Hong Kong, the parents didn’t speak English but the victim and her sister were raised in Honolulu and considered themselves American.
I couldn’t see her face while the medic’s worked, but from the pictures on every wall I could see she was pretty. The pictures showed a shy looking, pretty girl just reaching the first bloom of womanhood.
Her sister was translating for the mother. Little sister was about 13 or 14 and when the mother stopped, the sister starting telling me the real background. The real story the parents would never acknowledge.
She told me her sister had finally gone on a “real” date and the boy treated her really well. He was older, he would graduate that year, but had already been accepted to the University of Hawaii. He seemed to have a good sense of where he was going.
The problem was he was Filipino. Mother and Father could not stand that. They told her she wasn’t to see him anymore. She tried to tell them how good he was and how he made her feel. They didn’t want to hear it.
She just knew it would be okay if they just would meet him and talk with him. They would see.
So she invited him over for dinner last night. She didn’t tell her family until just before he was to arrive.
Her father answered the door. He then shut it in the boy’s face, refusing to let her speak to him. He then locked her in her bedroom.
So the next day she left school early, about 9:30, and went home. She went home alone and swallowed 30-40 of her mother’s prescription sleeping pills. It was almost 5:00 before anyone came home and found her. That’s when they called.
I watched the paramedics working on her and thought what a waste. Then I realized one of the paramedic’s was looking at me from where he was air- bagging the girl. When he was sure no one else was looking, he slowly shook his head. She was already dead; they were just going through the motions for the family.
They put her on a gurney and took her to the hospital where it was made official. I made all the proper calls and notifications. Then I headed back out on patrol.
She was only 16, and had her whole life ahead of her. But because of some petty prejudices she was now and forever dead. Life wasted.
Every beat cop has some place he likes to go to write reports, maybe have a cup of coffee while he does his paperwork. I went to mine where I sat down and started to write up the report.
I couldn’t seem to get anything down on paper. I couldn’t concentrate on the report.
I couldn’t explain the tears that seemed to come on their own.
After 7 years of street patrol, it happened. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t write.
Instead I had the first drink I ever took on duty.