Harry Rawlins, Swamp Detective
By
January 6, 2016

The air is filthy, putrid with the stink of man and of the swamp. I have plugged my nose shut with tiny cotton balls, but still the stench knocks me in the face, like a dump truck in reverse. The cotton balls are useless and fall, often, into the sickly green mess below, only adding to the piles of trash covering these potential crime scenes. There’s evil here, I know it. Just like in True Detective. But how’s a man supposed to work under these conditions? I oughta get myself some kind of gas mask. I oughta quit this lousy job.

The city is corrupt. Plus, the rent is way too high for a beat cop with child support to pay and a brand new wife to feed. My second wife eats a lot, far more than I had anticipated. The streets are littered with expensive restaurants and she wants to visit them all. At night, I can hear the gentrification closing in. All the godless scum of the earth is out buying condominiums. Strange things are happening on the streets. Graffiti punks are no longer criminals, people are wearing scarves in summer. Smartphones are everywhere and cannot be destroyed. Lost my temper at a vegan café. Punched this scrawny guy right in the bowtie. Was reassigned to the swamp.

Woman is cruel and should not be trusted. She goes out at night to spend time with non-swamp people, does not want to stay home cleaning the gunk out of my fingernails and nose. I watch her from under my new gas mask, which I am unable to remove without help. She does not want to hear about my cases, or my amazing swamp discoveries. Will not accept my gifts. I talk about her at work, while checking for corpses and other incriminating pieces of trash.

Love is a lie. I have not been with a woman since my second wife left me for a man who does not smell like swamp. I sniff him and he turns around to look at me, triumphantly smelling of cedar. Damn him! Real men wear the stink of the world on their shoulders, without ever washing it away. After she is gone, the days start blending into one and I still have not cracked a single case. I catch myself growing closer to the furry creatures which scuttle about the empty bottles and cans. I feel an urge to reach for them, hold them, squeeze them… do things, the thought of which I dare not even confess to myself. But I fight back the loneliness, slamming my head down into the lukewarm swamp water, over and over, until the thoughts go away. And I yell, “no, Harry, you are a man of the law,” and I stomp them all with my heavy rubber boots. The swamp is my lady now. She will not refuse me.

Money is a false prophet and I have none of it. I go to see the chief about my delayed pay checks, maybe get a raise. He doesn’t recognize me. I realize I am still wearing the gas mask. The station is shut down temporarily because of some bogus biohazard threat. This wise head in a rubber suit starts spraying me down with cold water. They refuse to give me back my gun and uniform. Something to do with contamination.

Life is a cold-hearted bastard, dealing cards in a game no one wants to play. What’s the big idea? Putting an honest cop out on his ass, forcing him to sleep on the swamp. What a joke. I do the work, hard work. The hardest there is. Lifting up rotting tree branches to check for body parts underneath. Being so goddamn disappointed all the goddamn time. Not a single murder in sight. But now my ship has finally come in. I find a promising lead one day, pick up on the trace. The chief is gonna be proud of me this time. Just wait ‘til I get back to the station. I found myself a body, a genuine corpse. Funny, I almost don’t recognize the guy on account of him wearing one of those big, ludicrous gas masks.

 

 
 

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