I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel
There's a voice in my head that drives my heel
It's my baby callin', says I need you here
And it's half past four and I'm shifting gear
I don’t remember exactly when I figured out she was doing drugs. She did a hell of a job hiding it from me as I recall. Maybe not. Maybe I just chose to ignore the signs that were always there.
Until they couldn’t be ignored anymore.
The first time she called after taking pills was after a fight we had over a friend of hers. We had been dating for about a month. I was just out of the Academy and working in the cellblock on the midnight shift. She went out with some of her friends from the restaurant where she was a server, where we met in fact. The friend who drove her was an exceptional scum bag with an arrest record that included drunk driving, and I had told her I didn’t want her to ride with him.
She didn’t like that and pointed out that I wasn’t her husband or father. Since she was correct on both counts, I simply told her I didn’t want her to go and went to work. She went anyway. She called me at the station six times between the start of my shift and two in the morning, alternating between being sorry and being pissed off. I finally told her that she should do her thing and hung up. Enough was enough and I really didn’t need the drama at work.
The next call came at 3 a.m. when she informed me that she had taken a bottle of Xanax and that she was sorry. I hopped in a squad car, drove to her house, and rushed her to the Emergency Room. Not the last time we would be in an ER together…
The radio is playing some forgotten song
Brenda Lee's "Coming on Strong"
The road has got me hypnotized
And I'm speeding into a new sunrise
We met on Sunday evening. I was in my second month at the Police Academy and some friends had flown in to visit me. We went to dinner at a steak house near the harbor and there she was. At the time I remember being giddy like a high school kid seeing the homecoming queen at the swimming pool. We joked around a bit and flirted slightly. It was my friend’s wife who pointed out that it seemed she was interested and she was right. We went out for dinner a week later. And I remember every moment of that first night in detail…
When I get lonely and I'm sure I've had enough
She sends her comfort coming in from above
Don't need no letter at all
We've got a thing that's called radar love
We’ve got a line in the sky, radar love
I don’t think I would have graduated from the Police Academy without her. She made me feel like I was invincible and we began to talk about how we would spend the rest of our lives together. We started and finished each other’s sentences and if we were any happier, I would think it was a dream. She enrolled in a Nursing program and did well in her classes. Then she began her training rotations.
Little things seemed wrong at first. Stories would change several times or timelines wouldn’t match up. Her moods swung and there were two more pill incidents. But I loved her so much it fucking hurt, and she was probably just stressed out, right? I was sure as hell going to be there for her. She had helped me through my time at the Academy, so I’d be damned if I questioned every little mistake…
No more speed, I'm almost there
Gotta keep cool now, gotta take care
Last car to pass, here I go
And the line of cars drove down real slow
Where we lived, there were not enough opportunities for nurses to train in a hospital. There was an arrangement for some to be sent out of town to work at other Medical Centers. She went away for a year.
And I never saw her alive again.
Talking to her friends she had been using drugs for a few years. Her use stepped up once she entered the program but she had always been sure to hide it from me. She wouldn’t let her friends around me so I wouldn’t notice anything. Guess she learned from the first incident…
I was a great fucking cop, wasn’t I?
She died on a Sunday morning. Her roommate found her when she came home from work. While we hadn’t cut ties completely, we didn’t speak that often. The mood swings and distance had taken their toll. She always said she loved me, and that when a job opened up close by, she would come back and we could get our plans for life together back on track. I guess I believed her. As far as I knew, she had never lied to me.
It’s been seventeen years. I guess I suspected what was going on. And that’s the guilt I will carry until I die. I suspected and did nothing. I should have known better and ignored the signs. Maybe I could have stopped her…
Or not. We choose our paths in life and while free will allows us to switch, sometimes the thickets are too dense. Sometimes we get stuck. And as much as someone hacks away at the brush, we keep walking down the trail, unable or unwilling to hear the voices desperately imploring us to turn around. Sometimes we choose self-destruction.
And leave those that love us behind.
And the radio played that forgotten song
Brenda Lee's "Coming on Strong"
And the newsman sang his same song
Oh, one more radar lover's gone