Andy Sipowitz slowly walked back into the House after dropping off Danny Breen to central booking.
His friend, Dan, Danny's father, had been killed by his mind-damaged-reefer head druggie son and he couldn't find it in his heart to hate the boy.
Dan Breen had been a friend. Retired off the job, Breen had been an alcoholic who was clean, 18 years. He had helped Andy get off the bottle. Dan had been a good guy. This death … it made his heart hurt.
Andy quickly took care of what he forgot which made him come back to the office and went to his locker. The room was deserted.
It was times like this that made him want to go get a good drunk on to dull the pain. But he was with Sylvia now and she didn't deserve to be dealing with no mean drunk of a man. A man didn't put his loved ones through that. A man … his thoughts were interrupted.
In front of him, in the dim room, a bright light appeared and shaped itself into a man. The light dropped away and he was facing a guy, just an average looking guy. He was wearing jeans and a coat and a t-shirt. He looked like a hundred other guys out there.
"Who are you? Are you … are you … What are you?" Andy was not a religious man to those who knew him – but in his deepest heart he went back to his Catholic upbringing.
"I'm Harry. A friend."
"A friend? A friend of whose?" Andy asked. The man had some foreign accent – sounded English or something.
The man shrugged. "What are you dealing with?"
Andy looked at the man trying to decide if he should say or not. Finally, the similarity to the Bible – the idea of heavenly light and angels and all that – made him answer. He tried to be respectful, but he was grieving. And behind that grief was a terrible anger – that part he tried to hide.
"I'm just sittin' here wondering why Dan had to buy it. Didn't he have enough in his life? 18 years sober, retired off the job, he takes care of his brain-damaged kid. And now his son kills him off of gettin' high? He loved his boy. Dan shouldn'ta had to suffer for bein' a good guy."
Harry listened to the man in front of him. The man had almost no ability to shield his thoughts – the images were coming fast and hard and he wasn't even trying. He wandlessly cast a repelling and soundproofing charm as he sat on the bench across from him.
"And so you're angry." Harry prodded. "Being a good guy should buy you some good Karma, you think?" He wanted the man to bleed out his anger in a controlled environment.
"Yeah! I'm 22 years on this job. The skels, the lowlifes, the junkie whores – sometimes there's bad people and bad things happen to them, usually from other bad people. But this? This is just senseless! This was good guy who was tryin' to look out for his loved one. It just ain't right!"
Harry sighed. "You know – I can sit here feeling the anger." The man almost slumped. "But that's normal. Being angry about it isn't wrong. Even being angry with God isn't wrong – God loves you even if you get angry." Harry had met God – he thought that the man in front of him would likely be one of his favorites. "You hate the senseless death, yeah?"
Andy looked at the man – or angel, or whatever he was. "Yeah. That's what I hate. What's the purpose of it?"
The man nodded. "I remember one time I tried to explain to some non-humans – this is a different universe to this one – about humans and why they hate senseless death. But maybe Dan's death wasn't senseless?"
Angry again Andy asked, "How? How wasn't this senseless?"
The man sighed. "Your friend Dan. He was getting up there? Getting old?"
"He was older. Still had a few years of life in him."
"But he was taking care of his son – wanting to guide him into a decent life, even if he was damaged?"
"Yeah. He loved that boy. Tried to do good by him."
"But he'd been getting worse? More out of control? Dan started feeling like he couldn't handle it anymore."
Andy sighed and closed his eyes, remembering how upset Dan had been after Danny had attacked him. "Yeah. I tried to get him away … tried to get him to take care of himself."
"Couldn't do that could he?"
"Think about this: You're years retired off the job. You're an old man. You've been taking care of your damaged kid, keeping him safe and others safe from him. But it starts getting worse. He's too much for you to handle. You can't bring yourself to get him locked up directly. What do you do?"
Andy thought about that. What would he do? "I don't know."
"Maybe he was feeling responsible and upset that he was so weak. Well, maybe he decided that if he triggers things himself, causes the son to go off on him and not some complete stranger, he knows that at least his old friend, who he helped in his life, can do what he can't: Get his boy locked away to keep others – the other good people around – safe from his damaged son losing control. What better purpose of dying is taking the hurt out from happening to someone who doesn't, in his mind, deserve to suffer from his own imagined limitations? Maybe he wasn't thinking that. But maybe he was. And maybe he died knowing that someone he'd trust would take care of it – and not just treat his son like another crazy, reefer skel."
Andy considered the man talking to him even as he thought about Dan and what he would have been thinking. Maybe. Maybe this guy was right. It was something to think about. Dan might have wanted to die that way – keeping someone who didn't deserve it from getting harmed by Danny when was getting crazy. Getting him locked up but treated for what he was, not something he looked like.
Dan, in his own way, died a hero. And there wasn't much more you could ask for then that for someone who'd been on the job for so long.
"You like your job – but sometimes it makes you angry."
"Well, you're getting better. Using that anger to do the job rather than hurt innocent bystanders. God gave humans free will. But you want to know a secret?"
Curious, Andy nodded. "Yeah."
"Everybody starts out a good guy. Nobody starts a monster. No kid is born evil. Free will – they get taught to do bad things, or they do it once to solve a problem and it works so they decide that doing bad things is the only way they can survive. They go that way – that makes what you do necessary. You help people by catching those who've become bad people or good people who did a bad thing.
"You're a little prone to getting physical when you're trying to use your anger – but you're getting better. But with free will and all, you at least limit it to people who've actually gone bad. The problem is – it's too easy to take it too far, justify it in your own mind, and then go on that road to becoming a bad guy yourself. So keep an eye out for that, will you?"
Andy considered that and nodded. He was a little too free with the tune-ups sometimes.
"Everybody can turn around – but it's not your job to help them with that, unless they ask for it. Junkie skel who's doing robberies to support a habit – you take them out of circulation by putting them away. It's not your job to save them. But sometimes, bad people can start working on becoming good again. You've got to open yourself to the possibility. It's the hardest road there is. But maybe you catching them and getting them to admit it is helping them to see what's wrong about their actions. It's the first step. You're even helping the bad guys when you take them out – prevent them from doing more evil in the world when deep down, even they don't want to be hurting others."
Harry stood up. "Take care of yourself and the people around you, Detective Andy Sipowicz. Heaven smiles upon you and your chosen work." He wandlessly removed the charms he had set.
Andy watched as the man turned and turned into a small ball of light. The music that he heard sounded like a requiem for Dan, a requiem filled with victory and joy.
The anger disappeared Andy shed tears for his old friend, the grief bleeding out him onto the floor, healing his heart from the hurt of it.