Hello, everybody. It's been a while since you heard from me. I've been busy promoting Shot to Pieces, and of course, writing. As many of you know, I am seeking agent representation for A Reckoning in Brooklyn, the prequel to Shot to Pieces. Prospects for that look promising. In the meantime, I've been writing a sequel. Burnt to a Crisp(a Paddy Durr novel) is proceeding nicely. After letting you know about some of my upcoming appearances, I will share a segment with you.
1. Thursday, May 17th I will be appearing at the Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren St. NY, NY, 10007, with fellow NYPD novelist, Bernard Whalen, to celebrate Police Memorial Week. The program starts at 6:30 PM
2. Friday, May 18th I will be featured at the Freeport Memorial Library, 144 W. Merrick Rd., Freeport, NY 11520. Discussing my writing and the indie publishing scene. The program begins at 7:00 PM
3. Monday, June 11th I will be featured at the Farmingdale Public Library, 116 Merritts Rd., Farmingdale, NY, 11735
Of course, signed editions of Shot to Pieces will be available for purchase at all the events. Hope to see everybody in the near future.
And now without further ado...more Paddy Durr!
Paddy and the Shrink
Paddy Durr stirred his drink. Looking in the mirror behind the bar at himself, he decided he didn’t care for his own reflection. You look tired, boyo, he thought. No, he corrected himself, you look beaten. Having had enough of the image, Paddy threw back the drink, finishing it in a swallow, before ordering another.
He was at the monthly meeting of the Honor Legion of the NYPD, at the Rex Manor in Brooklyn. The Honor Legion is the oldest fraternal organization in the department, and the only one you have to earn your way in. You needed a Commendation or better just to apply. Paddy knew the majority of the members, like himself had numerous such decorations that qualified. He looked around and identified with the serious faces he saw there. Hard bitten with hyper-alert eyes, he knew the look. It peered back at him from the mirror. They were killers. He knew because he was one also.
But Paddy wasn’t troubled at the moment by this fact. Death in it’s many forms usually didn’t bother him. Even his own death was of little concern to him. He wasn’t trying to get killed. He just didn’t care, and he made no effort at all to prevent it other than shooting the bad guy first. At that he was quite proficient. But one death was weighing on his mind tonight. It was the impending death of his wife Mairead from cancer. She was hanging on, but barely.
He was joined at the bar by an attractive blonde in a blue business suit with a form fitting skirt. She was attractive to most men. If Paddy didn’t know her, she would have been attractive to him. But he did know her, and thought she was a meddling, cloying pain in the ass. Her name was Dr. Debra Levine. She was the senior psychiatrist at Psych Services. Her specialty was post-traumatic stress, and she and Paddy had some history.
“Hello, Paddy. How are you holding up?” she asked.
“I’m holding up fine, Dr. Levine. What brings you to an Honor Legion Meeting, professional curiosity?”
“I’m actually an honorary member.”
“That doesn’t seem fair.”
“Because I had to shoot my way in here, and you just have to show up and plunk down some dues. Our respective sacrifices for the privilege of membership seem inequitable.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I deal almost exclusively with the aftermath and repercussions of shootings. It’s PTSD all day, every day for me. I’d say I know a little bit about it.”
“Like a tourist knows Paris. Until you actually make somebody dead, Doc, you’re nothing but a spectator. That doesn’t give you the insight to comment on the horror of mine or anyone else’s psyche. But that doesn’t stop you, does it?”
“I don’t act capriciously, Paddy. My primary concern is always for the well-being of the Member of the Service.”
“And yet, guns are taken and careers get drydocked—all on your say-so.”
“Would you prefer I leave a depressed cop with the means to destroy himself?”
“I would prefer that when you make that determination, there be an apparatus in place to dispute the finding, or at least make it less permanent. As it is, some cops are stuck on the rubber gun squad for years. If you want to know why they’re depressed, that might be a place to start. Take a cop’s gun and he doesn’t feel like a cop anymore. That is psychologically devastating.”
“I don’t want to justify the efficacy of what I sometimes have to do. We’ve had this discussion before, Paddy. Can we just agree to disagree?”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass about the efficacy, Debra. Just don’t do it to me,” Paddy said, throwing back his drink, gesturing to the bartender for another.
Dr. Levine noticed. The look of concern that came over her face wasn’t missed by Paddy.
“What is it, Doc?”
“Are you drinking vodka like that?”
“No. I have a reverse messiah syndrome. Christ turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. I turn vodka into water. I don’t drink. You know that.”
“I just thought with what’s been going on at home, you might have reverted back to alcohol to cope.”
“How do you know anything about my situation at home? Did somebody post it in Spring 3100?” Paddy asked, referring to the police department magazine.”
“No,” she said. “You know I’m friends with Sergeant Nolan. She told me about your wife. I’m very sorry, Paddy.”
“What else did Janice tell you?”
“She was concerned you were losing faith—that you were turning in on yourself. You know that’s a classic symptom of PTSD.”
“Debra, Please. I’m not losing faith. I know God exists.”
“Doesn’t that give you any comfort?”
“Just because I know God exists doesn’t mean he doesn’t hate me. Or that I don’t hate him right back.”
“That doesn’t sound like faith.”
“I don’t need faith. I have empirical evidence of his existence. If he is a he. I just know there is a greater power in the universe pulling strings.”
She gave him a skeptical look, reminding Paddy that this woman of science did not believe in God. She was a humanist, the most deluded of God’s forsaken children. He knew if she had his perspective of the human race, she would be looking desperately for something else to believe in. Humans were disappointing pieces of excrement, Paddy Thought, and he was about to tell her so when she interrupted him.
“What sort of empirical evidence?” she demanded.
“Ever watch someone die?” he asked. “Did you notice at the moment they do, as soon as whatever is present in us, call it a soul, or a divine spark—whatever. At that moment, the human husk is diminished, noticeably so. The body seems smaller in death than it was only seconds before. That’s from something leaving—something profound and important.”
Paddy first noticed this phenomenon when his friend, Police Officer Jimmy Crowe was murdered. He was with him in the emergency room when he expired from the gunshot wound perforating his heart. He attributed what he was sensing at the time to his profound grief. But since then, Paddy had taken more than a dozen dying declarations from victims, noting the same effect every time. Then there were the hundreds of autopsies he attended. Every single corpse was something less in death. Reflecting on this, he became even sadder, if that was even possible. He knew it wouldn’t be long before he had to watch Mairead diminish the same way, and right in front of his eyes. The thought might have broken his heart if it wasn’t already shattered into a million pieces—like beams of light through a prism.
“Is that all you’ve got?” she scoffed. “Shrinking in death has a whole host of medical justification.”
“Not when it occurs in the instant. But I have other evidence. You like humans so much, my experience is most often people are self-centered, avaricious animals that are more prone to fucking each other over just to snatch the crumbs God has left to us, rather than help someone—even family. But I’ll grant you; there is balance in the universe. Even amid all of this senseless carnage, thievery, and death, some nobility surfaces from time to time. Using ourselves as an example; did you ever notice how doing the right thing, even if no one else knows about it, just feels good. It is its own reward. That brief ability to sacrifice one’s own self-interest is all that redeems this fucked up race. It makes something fine seem possible.”
“So, there’s redemption,” Debra noted. “Surely that can help you do something other than hate God.”
“I tried. I truly did. But ultimately, I came to discover that God is a six-year-old with a magnifying glass. We are ants in an ant farm, and he isn’t leaving till he fucks some shit up.”