First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by:
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
Office of Police Chief Moore
December 18, 2019, 11:15 A.M.
Chief Moore was on the phone with Dorothy Crosby. Dorothy was a member of the Town Council.
“Yes, Dorothy. I know, Dorothy. I’m just as concerned as you are with the safety of our children.” He rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, I agree, but putting armed guards in each of our schools I don’t think is the answer.” The intercom buzzed.
“Hold on, Dorothy.”
“Oh, yes. Tell him to come in.”
“Dorothy, I’ll have to call you back.” Chief Moore hung up and mumbled to himself, “I suppose the next thing they’re going to want to do is put bars over the windows of the schools.” Abby opened the door to the Chief’s office, and Frank Bowman stepped into the room sheepishly.
The Chief stepped forward. “Come in, Frank. We’ve been worried about you. Dr. Brazil was sure something had happened to you.”
Frank nodded, but didn’t speak.
“So, where have you been? You know, you’re a lucky man. There was a leak in the propane tanks of that cabin you had rented for the winter. If you and Doc had been inside, the Fire Marshal says you both would have been incinerated.”
Frank finally spoke.
“Chief, I don’t know exactly what happened that night. I loaded my stuff into the back of my car. I was moving out. I wasn’t going to put my wife through any more. But as I got closer to the cabin . . .” Frank looked up at the Chief. “I had . . . I got this strange feeling that I shouldn’t stop, and I just kept on driving. I did. I drove for hours. Ended up somewhere in Upstate New York.” He looked away. “Called my wife the next morning. We talked, and I came home. I think we’re doing okay.” He looked at the Chief again. “And those dreams that had scared the hell out of me I went to Doc for have gone away.” Frank looked down again. He snapped his fingers. “Just like that.”
Frank stood up. They shook hands. “I just wanted to apologize and say how sorry I am for the trouble I caused you and your officers.”
“Okay,” said the Chief. “Just . . . just take care of yourself and your family.”
As Frank closed the door, the Chief leaned on his desk and said out loud, “Still doesn’t explain the crop circles or whatever they were. I still can’t figure that one out. Oh, well.” He sat down at his desk and began going through the last shift report.
Chief Moore, now in his late fifties, even with white hair looked younger than his years. He had been dealing with people and situations he didn’t understand most of his career. He gave up a long time ago trying to find all the answers. That’s one of the ways that he had maintained his sanity over the years.
His first job after college was working as a part-time police officer at South Beach. He needed the money and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with himself. But by the end of the summer, he was hooked. Under some stroke of luck, South Beach was looking for a full-time police officer. He took the job. The wages weren’t that great. And he was one of the few officers in the department who had a college degree, which a couple of the officers never let him forget.
He was ambitious and moved up steadily through the ranks. He met a young woman, and married. She worked. They both worked. They had to. He could not support a family on his salary. He took the sergeant’s exam and passed it. Life got better. He was the youngest sergeant in the department. There were only three of them.
But police work began to change him. He became more cynical, and more suspicious of others. He and his wife were fighting more and he was drinking more. Alcohol he had found could swallow up sad or angry feelings very quickly, at least for a few hours. He didn’t like what was happening.
One Friday afternoon, he was working by himself. He responded to a call. A bad accident on Route 1. When he got there, he thought he recognized the car. He thought it belonged to his sister who was babysitting his five-year-old. The car had overturned after hitting a tree. Children’s clothing was scattered on the ground. There was little he could do for the young woman and her child. It wasn’t his sister and his son. But after working the accident, after the ambulance and the tow truck had gone and the crowd had left, he drove to his sister’s house. His son was happy to see him and surprised. He hugged the boy and decided that he needed to change his life.
And he did. He didn’t give up police work because he loved it. But he decided that he would develop interests and friendships outside of the department. He wasn’t going to be like other cops and just hang out with cops. He also decided to get some help. He saw a counselor. He learned to talk about what was going on with him.
Chief Moore took the job with Winterpool twenty years ago. He still talks about that Friday afternoon that changed his life. He emphasizes to new recruits that taking care of yourself and your family is key. Chief Moore considers himself a success. He has a job he loves. He’s not an alcoholic. He’s still married to the woman that he fell in love with thirty years ago. He has a good relationship with his children.
No, he doesn’t make a lot of money being the police chief in a small town in Maine, but as he would say, God knows there are a lot of things that are worth a lot more than money.