They combed the area in the dark, a generator was found and set up, it’s guttural purr and the thick, greasy stink of diesel adding to the choir of anxieties that afflicted the lawmen of Ogden.
One of their own, found in the front seat of his patrol vehicle, throat slit and uniform dark and wet with his own blood. The unconscious local man who was laid out like an apostrophe a few feet away, the back of his head bruised and his eyes twitching with disorientation as the responding deputy stood over him, his throat closed with shock.
Later, Gregory repeated that he called it all in before touching anything at the scene. Sat in front of the detective who had been called into play like a feint in a game of chess.
Willing away the weight of the letter that he had retrieved with tweezers from inside Eddie’s jacket. The weight that seethed like a secret until he was home.
The snap of the lighter as he burned it. The struggle to make the phone call from a burner phone before racking up a fat line, trading his guilt and shame for one larger problem. Turner spoke in terse, calcified grunts like he was forcing up something from the pit of his stomach. The spaces between words, and in those silences, the whine of how fucked up this had gotten. Gregory was brought and paid for, sure but it didn’t mean that he was a cold gun. He got off the phone as soon as he could, took out the battery and the SIM card, put them in separate locations in his one room apartment.
That first cold hard snort, a wave crashing against, crashing over the pilings of his anxieties for a moment. Chemical clarity that made every nerve dance like a believer on Judgement Day. He walked around his apartment, clapping his hands and strutting to the music of his blood, talking himself up into something approaching courage.
Gregory was not stupid but he was weak. Between those two polarities, he had managed to keep his own corruption in check. He was conscientious in his work, arrogant and heavy handed but that seemed to get him into the panties of any number of women. That appeal lasted long enough to ensure that they would spit at the mention of his name afterwards but he had once read about a scorpion and a frog, a story that he didn’t understand until one evening, at a town fayre, jittery and excitable, he had cornered Harlan and asked him to explain it.
Harlan had given him a soft smile and lifted his eyes up in recollection.
“It is certain that no animal in the creation seems endued with such an irascible nature…I have seen them attempt to sting a stick when put near them; and attack a mouse or a frog, when those animals were far from offering any injury.”
Gregory had sniffed, enjoying the burn at the back of his throat and asked him what he meant. Harlan had patted him on the shoulder, which made Gregory flinch like he had been scalded.
‘The scorpion cannot help it’s nature. Even though it knows that it would drown if it stung the frog, it couldn’t help itself. That reference comes from a book by Oliver Goldsmith, published in the eighteenth century, but there are variations of it right back to Persian mythology.’
Gregory nodded like he understood and had a wealth of insights ready to break through until Harlan pointed out that his nose was bleeding and Gregory ran to grab a napkin from the catering table.
Pacing his apartment, Gregory kept returning to that quotation, trying to make sense of it, and the fable in turn. Morning, was a long time in coming, and he had time to think. Nothing but time to think.
When he stopped to look into the smeared mirror that was rested against the kitchen worktop, he saw that he had been crying. That his nose was bleeding and if he had been wearing his sidearm, he would have pulled a gun in reflex.
It had stopped being fun a long time ago, but any number of things had stopped being fun. When he could not bear the wounded look in the eyes of the women he seduced, the kids who alternately mocked and feared him.
When Gregory could not figure out if he was the frog or the scorpion and how he feared the answer.
How he feared the answer.
(https://mbblissett.com/ogden-review/ for previous entries. Please leave comments, speculations, threats and love letters so I feel like people are actually reading this)