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Author: K.L. Savage


Eighteen years old


I’m not like the other teenagers my age. I don’t spend my time partying or slacking off, hoping my parents will buy me a new car. When I do something, I take responsibility for it. I have pretty supportive parents and a healthy home, so that helps. I know the difference between right and wrong.

So when my high school sweetheart Haley told me she was pregnant, I did the only thing a man could do. I got my G.E.D., and with our parents’ permission, we got married. It’s been a lot to take on, but it’s been worth it.

Being a cop while having a newborn is hard. Haley has been a little resentful, but what does she expect? I have to be able to afford our home and bills. I’m doing the best I can with the time I have, and since I’m a rookie, I have to take the hard shifts, which are the nights. I have to prove myself. It’s the worst shift to have because I know Haley needs help at night. She needs rest and my mom comes over as much as she can.

“You okay, Rookie?” my partner asks. His name is Emerson. He’s been on the force for nearly thirty years and because of his age, they stick him with the rookies to show them the ropes. He’s a good guy, if a little stereotypical. The cliché cop who loves donuts. He has a big round stomach and a thick silver mustache. He always has a bit of powdered sugar on his uniform, right in the middle where he sets the box on his stomach.

I rub my eyes from the exhaustion. Night after night of only getting three hours of sleep is getting to me. When I get off shift, I like to hang out with my daughter Amber. She’s so small, so perfect, so damn beautiful. I try to spend as much time with her as I can, but it’s so hard. I want to do more as a dad and as a husband, but Haley doesn’t work because we can’t afford childcare, so she stays home to take care of Amber.

It’s a lose-lose situation. I don’t know what I can do better.

“Just tired.”

“I remember when my girls were born. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

“Any advice?” I question as I turn down a street known for drug deals.

“Not really. You just have to get through it. It will test your relationship, but I’m telling you, all these tough times? You’ll look back on ‘em, Rookie. You’ll see.”

“Tell Haley that,” I grumble, staring out the window as we roll by each rundown house.

Emerson sighs. “Listen, Rookie. I’m not a therapist, but I’ve been married for forty years. I got married in high school just like you, got pregnant too young, like you, and we have been through the worst of shit. She’s new to this just like you. Give her a little slack.”

She isn’t giving me any.

Now I sound like a real asshole.

“Yeah, you’re right. I know.” It doesn’t stop the inkling in the back of my mind. We’re so young. Part of me can’t help but wonder if we would have gotten married at all if she hadn’t gotten pregnant. I think we were together for so long because we were each other’s first everything—and then so much time passed, we didn’t know how to be without each other.

Lately, she’s been so different, and I mean even before her pregnancy. She was distant, zoned-out, and her temper was getting out of control. And then after she had the baby, it’s become even worse.

I read in one of the books about postpartum depression, but what the hell do I know? I try to do whatever I can, and I feel like it isn’t enough.

I almost feel like she hates me and Amber, which hurts, but I hope Emerson is right. I hope this is all in my head and we can build our family together. We will be okay.

“Shots fired at 765 Ruthless Drive,” dispatch announces over the radio.

“Ah, shocker. It’s your first night going to the Ruthless Kings’ Clubhouse. You ready?” Emerson asks, flipping on the sirens and the lights.

I’ve heard stories about these bikers. They are notorious criminals, but apparently, they have an in with the department. The captain likes to use them for frowned-upon things that wouldn’t look too great on the police department’s name.

“Fucking sweet!” I cheer, sounding way too happy to report to a call where shots are fired.

Emerson chuckles at me, but responding to a biker gang’s clubhouse is so much better than roaming the streets waiting for something to happen. I know, it’s bad to be excited for something to happen, but being a cop can be boring.

“You say that now, but just wait. They aren’t the type of people you fuck around with.”

I’d love to be that kind of guy one day—or that kind of cop. I want to be respected. Maybe a little bit feared. I want people to look at me like I'm a complete badass. But I have a lot to learn beforehand. Fuck, I haven’t ever shot my weapon outside of training. Granted, I’ve only been a cop for six months. I got in just before Haley had the baby, so we had health insurance.

Whew. Who would have thought having a baby would be so expensive?

“You can floor it, Rookie. It’s time for speed.” Emerson grins.

“Holy shit. I get to go above the speed limit? Fucking sweet.” I slam on the gas and Emerson’s crackled laugh overpowers the sirens.

Cars drift out of the way as we zoom through the highway, our lights and sirens blaring. I get a thrill from the engine roaring like a mighty beast.

“Ah, fucking love Rookies. I don’t know why the other cops complain. You’re so damn eager.” He holds onto the gray plastic ‘oh-shit’ handle and with the other hand, presses the button on the radio. “Unit 247 responding,” he replies. “Alright kid, show me what you got.”

I have to take a hard left at the next light, but I’m in the far right-hand lane. “Oh, you better get ready, old man,” I warn him and when the light turns red, I rip the emergency brake up, and the car fishtails and drifts. Rubber burns. Smoke fills all the mirrors, and the scent tickles my nose.

“Fuck yeeeeeesss!” Emerson shouts. I swear the damn car begins to tilt, threatening to roll.

But we don’t.

The car slows from the brake, but we don’t stop. I gun it again, my vision tunneling from the speed and my heart racing from the adrenaline. My hands are sweating on the leather of the wheel as I follow the GPS to our destination.

Cars continue to pull off the road to get out of our way and the clubhouse comes up on the right. I slow and pull into the parking lot, flipping the sirens off but keeping the lights on. I make sure to be extra careful around the bikes as I park, not wanting to hit any of them. I can’t imagine the fiasco that would cause.

The front door bursts open just as Emerson and I undo our seatbelts and two men hit the ground in a scuffle. I’m up and out of the car quicker than Emerson is. I don’t place my hand on my weapon because it’s a fight.

Fights happen, especially between hot-headed men.

I grab the one on top and pull him off the other, lacing his arms behind his back. He isn’t much bigger than me, so he’s easy to subdue. The guy on the ground begins to get up but Emerson is there, cuffing his hands behind his back to stop him from attacking.

Right. Cuffs. Duh. Jesus, I am a rookie. I slap the handcuffs on his wrists and listen to the guys arguing with each other.

“You were supposed to have my back!” Emerson’s guy spits. He’s wearing no shirt or cut, but he has a few wounds bleeding from various parts of his torso.

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