He liked being a cop. For some reason that several therapists weren’t able to understand he enjoyed the danger of walking the streets. He would be assigned partners and other duties but he would beg to be kept on the streets and solo. He would walk in the dark – the night shift – from 10pm until 6am. Would find the alleys and the schoolyards, parked cars and packs of gangs. He didn’t care about the prostitutes or the Johns. He actually watched over the girls and the trannys to make sure they were not being forced or physically abused. They knew him as “Marty.”  His name was Officer Joseph Martino – but since elementary school he was called “Marty.” 

Marty was single and straight. He smoked a pack of cigarettes during his shift, took two one week vacations a year and visited his parents in the cemetery on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. He was at five foot nine inches, muscular but with a middle aged tire settling around his gut. His blue eyes and dark skin – courtesy of an Irish mother and Italian father – defined him as handsome earlier in his life. He lived alone in a studio apartment two blocks from the precinct – walked to work each late afternoon and then walked his neighborhood. 

It was on this one evening in early November when it all came to a halt. A week after Halloween and the streets were kind of quiet. The weather had taken a sharp turn for the colder temperatures and the clock added an extra hour to the night. 

During this month the streets were quieter and rarely led to an arrest. Each year he would tell himself not to get complacent, not to let down his guard and that the evil could strike at any time. But this evening complacency had settled on him and his guard was down. 

The reason for all of this was Marcy O’Neill. His widowed neighbor on his floor. She had lost her husband several years earlier and had moved in just this past month. She lived alone with her kids visiting sporadically but no more than the weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Marcy was a blonde (at this point in her life courtesy of Clairol Nice ‘n Easy number 8. Her eyes were green and her skin tone was light. Her hair fell upon her face softly and her smile with full lips came easily. She worked as a secretary in a dental office around a mile away on Main Street. She had recently sold her home of thirty plus years to a younger couple with a pregnant wife. She did not need to work but did so to keep herself busy. She was not one to stay at home and waste away. 

One morning after his shift, Marty rode up the elevator with Marcy and when they both got off on the same floor they began to speak. The introduction became a flirtation when they met coincidentally in the laundry room one late morning. They made plans to have coffee and for the first time in since his parents had passed on Marty was being called Joseph. 

Her green eyes had enchanted him and had transformed him into a smiling older man as opposed to the usual scowling faced officer walking the beat. 

That evening as he smiled and walked in a slower than normal speed – he heard gunshots and radioed in for back up. As he ran towards the source of the sound another shot was sounded and he ducked behind a car. Silence and then he ran towards the store where the shots were fired. He looked inside and saw the two people behind the register shot and on the floor while the assailant put the cash in his bag. He waited for him to run out so he could tackle him. He heard sirens in the background and wanted them to be silenced. He looked at the two workers on the floor and noticed one was moving. 

“Don’t move, stay down, stay down.” He thought to himself trying to send the thoughts their way. 

Finally he saw the shooter run out of the entrance and he quickly knocked him on the ground. Put his gun to his head and told him stop fighting him or he would shoot. 

Silence and then sounds of officers running and yelling towards him. 

He ran back in the store and saw the two workers on the floor were moving. EMT’s came in and told him they were OK and would live. He left the store and walked back to the precinct to file a report. 

The next morning as he turned the lock of his door he felt a hand on his shoulder and then a kiss on the lips. It was then that he realized that he was scared. 

He couldn’t understand why he was scared until just then. He had someone now, someone he cared about and cared about him. Before Marcy he had nothing to lose – now he didn’t want to lose. 

He walked back to the precinct and turned in his badge and gun. When the Sargent asked him what happened he just turned around and smiled.

“I understand now Sarge, I understand.”