Shit happens and we've all said it, we've all thought it
and we've all had shit happen to us.
Being a cop, I see a lot of shit. I see shit smeared all
over the place.
I practically live in shit.
I'm a Royal Oak detective, and you might think being a detective
in a fairly decent town is pretty much stress-free and it is, mostly.
A lot of my stress comes from living in this town. It's like I live
in my office; the lines between home and work are blurry at best.
I live too close to work and I work too close to home and both are
never out of reach. It's like Royal Oak is some kind of straitjacket
or something and I don't hate the place, it's just that I hardly
ever leave, and that gets shitty after a while.
Most of the shit I have to investigate is shoplifting, credit
card fraud and the weekly stolen car. Some store manager calls the
department, I get the case, I call the store manager, take some
notes and that's that. Or some patrolman goes to some poor slob's
house, some poor slob who's had his SUV or Beemer or Saab ripped
off from his driveway. The patrolman does his thing, makes a report
and the case gets assigned to me.
And it's all shit.
I don't catch the bad guys and I don't pound the pavement
looking for stolen cars. The cars show up in Detroit somewhere in
a million little pieces and the bad guys who shoplift move on to
some mall somewhere or the next suburb over and a space of weeks
or months passes before they stroll our way again.
And I take descriptions. I take descriptions of the shoplifter
or the car but nothing ever happens. The store manager and the car
owner whine and I shrug my shoulders and say "shit happens"
and then I work in some kind of quick anecdote about my former life
as a patrolman, usually the one when I had to scrape a four year
old boy off of the sidewalk because some drunk son-of-a-bitch couldn't
keep his Audi on the road.
That anecdote usually shuts them up, and they nod and say,
"You're right, shit happens."
And last year I passed out at my desk a couple of times and
the doctor ran these tests and he told me to lose weight or die.
"You're practically a diabetic," he said.
"Your cholesterol is off of the charts," he said.
"If you don't quit smoking and drinking, you're not
going to make it to 45," he told me and I was already 44.
I shrugged my shoulders and listened to wife bitch at me
about my diet and all that crap but I still have a donut or two
with my coffee every morning, and if I die? So what.
But the shit that happened today, the shit the Department
of Homeland Security was supposed to help us out with, that is shit
I just wasn't ready for, and let me tell you, when the shit hit
the fan, the Department of Homeland Security was nowhere to be found.
But that's the government and I'm not here to bitch about
I'm here to bitch about the bombs that tore my city apart
and we were supposed to know they were coming, we were supposed
to hear the air raid sirens and we were supposed to be ready, we
were supposed to curl up in the fetal position in some hallway in
some church or school and pray to God to let us live.
The air raid sirens didn't sound and Royal Oak and metro
Detroit moved at the usual Wednesday afternoon wartime pace, you
know, those that still had some change in their pocket filed in
and out of Starbucks and the bars downtown and lawnmowers cut the
humid summer afternoon as people tried to keep things as normal
Me, I let my grass grow. There's no excuse better than a
war for getting out of the things you hate to do.
Things like changing the oil in your car.
Like paying your mortgage on time.
And I was working this afternoon, I was sitting at my desk
drinking a coffee and making a paperclip snake while reading memos
on disaster preparedness.
Be ready, the memos said. Be ready, because the shit is going
to hit the fan.
And it did.
But we weren't ready.
The day was interrupted by a series of sonic booms that blew
the windows out of every building in town. Glass was all over the
station and the shit stuck to me and it felt like I was scratched
and clawed by a hundred rabid cats.
I bled, the blood staining my white short sleeved shirt and
faded yellow tie.
I bled and bled and there was of course nobody to help me,
there was no one but a bunch of bald and fat detectives slumped
at their desks, their bodies nothing more than a patchwork of glass
and blood and concrete dust.
But me, I could stand. I could stand and walk and I walked
to the front of the station. I expected mass confusion and the phone
at the desk to be ringing off the hook, but no.
There was nothing but silence, weird and freaky silence like
you hear out in the country or in the woods. It's never that quiet
in the concrete suburbs. Two o'clock in the morning and one can
always hear that roar off in the distance created by millions of
people sleeping and breathing and existing; one can hear that distant
hum created by all that energy it takes to keep millions of people
illuminated by so many neon signs.
But it was dead silent after those explosions. It was as
if the world had stopped moving and every power switch on the planet
had been switched off.
I found the desk sergeant was slumped behind the shattered
bulletproof glass of her desk and I walked out onto the sidewalk
and I saw beautiful and tremendous plumes of smoke over all parts
of the sky and they looked just like they did in movies; they looked
like mushrooms, but mushrooms that stretched from Earth all the
way to heaven.
They had bombed the shit out of us.
And there was of course a jangle of piled up cars all around
me, piled up cars and bits of glass and brick and mortar.
And of course a whole lot of dead people.
And me, I stopped bleeding, I stopped bleeding and I thought
about my wife for a moment and I said a quick prayer and I would
have driven home except my car wouldn't start. I stuck the key in
the ignition and nothing happened and I cursed the fact that I didn't
buy a foreign car.
So I walked the half-mile home to my bungalow on a leafy
side street on the edge of downtown.
I expected to find survivors or wounded or something along
the way. I expected to do my civil duty and aid those that I could
but no, there was nothing but blood and hair and bones and bodies
lying so very, very still.
And there were no sirens sounding off in the distance. The
air was so still and so very, very quiet.
I grabbed my cell phone and I started to call someone, anyone,
the number Homeland Security gave us to call in the event of an
But I had no signal.
So I walked home, I walked home and found my wife dead behind
I cried when I saw my wife dead, I cried and I cried and
the sound of my tears was the only sound that entered my ears.
But I stopped crying and I walked away, I walked away trying
to figure out exactly what happened to Royal Oak and the rest of
And that was eight hours ago now and I've been kind of walking
There is no electricity, no power of any kind and nothing
seems to work, not even my wife's car stuck in the driveway. There
are no phones or televisions or radios, nothing.
As far as I can tell, I'm the only guy alive, I'm the only
guy alive even though my stained shirt and scarred body says I should
Maybe I'm the last guy alive or maybe I'm some sort of reject
ghost that wasn't good enough to get into heaven and too fucking
boring to get into hell. Either way