All the savage things

Red and white police lights swept across the otherwise dark houses on the southeast side house where three teenage boys were shot and killed.

Only a blue TV light in the upstairs window and a yellow light at the front door shown from the house where they died sometime hours earlier.

An cop guarded the door. Another officer sat in his SUV parked in the middle of the street to block traffic.

I sat in my Charger close to the yellow police line with my headlights off, but my hazards lights blinking.

I monitored the police radio on a handheld scanner I inherited from my late Grandma Rogers, the mother of a policeman and curious scanner listener long before there were online “squads” groups on social media.

I picked up the overnight shift to avoid a political assignment. That’s the premium draw, but that’s never meant much to me.

Politics consists of too much genuflecting and demagoguery. It’s too hard to sort facts from fiction. Everyone bends the truth to suit their means.

This is true on the cop beat, to an extent. But it’s a language I learned to speak. Politics are just noise to me.

My late friend and longtime beat cop Dan Dusenberry used to speak of “all the savage things people do to others and themselves.” This was one of those nights.

Three dead kids. Grieving families. Stories that are told. Stories that aren’t told. And the truth, which may never come to light.

I found myself weary. This kind of disregard for human life makes me sad. All we have is these few years circling the sun. What could be so important as to take so many of them away from three teenagers? What terrible arrogance to take away what God saw fit to give.

My body was bone tired. The damp cold activates my arthritis. My knees swell and wobble. My back aches.

I’ve gained weight over the winter. I can line up the usual suspects: carbs, sugars and inactivity. All of it means more weight on legs that are not up to code.

My feet hurt so bad I kicked off my shoes in the car. When the public information officer gave his stand-up interviews, my back and feet so bad I bent over in pain. I hope my groans didn’t get on the TV audio.

The PIO finished his on air interviews and asked if I had anything else to ask. I usually do, but don’t like to give any of my ideas away to the competition.

This cold morning all I could think about was getting my aching body back to my car. It was parked about two blocks away, but it felt like I was walking to Mars.

Uneven ground challenges my knees, feet and back the most. Winter leaves a mess of frozen icebergs all over the street. Each stem is treacherous and it feels as my feet are trying to grip the road like a simian’s paw.

I’ve done a poor job maintaining my health since 2018 or so. A lot of stuff happened. I choose not to rehash it. I took leave twice in those two years to get my mind right. It worked, but bad eating habits and poor exercise consistency remained.

I turned to God some weeks back for relief of the self-hatred. And I though I would not be so bold as to say my prayers were answered, I will say the burden has been easier to bear.

I still have doubts and struggle with an absence of confidence and an abundance of insecurity. But those thoughts do not immediately turn into condemnation of myself.

Even with the pain I felt from morbidly obesity complicating my arthritic knees and back, I looked at it as a problem to work on rather than a reason why I’m worthless.

I feel a twinge of sadness that this problem still plagued me. I did so well. I lost a lot of weight a few years back. Things seemed to be going so well.

Then my troubles came. And I ate the way alcoholics drink: first to ease the pain and then just to feed the clawing hunger of emptiness.

I have truly been a savage to myself for so long I don’t know if I can ever remember a time where I didn’t turn ever mistake into more evidence that I shouldn’t continue living.

Now, I choose to believe that life is God’s gift to humans. And it is not for me to take it away even if my brain is addled with depression and anxiety.

Now I recognize how lucky I am to be on the verge of 45. That reality becomes especially acute when I’m sitting outside a triple homicide scene. Those kids never got a chance to live.

What luxury I have to take these hits and keep moving forward.

I know what needs to be done. I need to get back to the gym. I’ll work with my man Nate Yoho. We’ll go slow. We’ll work on getting the body loose and correcting balance.

I’ll get off the carbs. I can still correct. I’ll never be as svelte as I was at 15. No one is. But I’m still here. I have hope of at least easing the pain and perhaps getting much better.

The process will be slow, slower than it was two years ago when I was getting healthier and stronger every week.

But I live. And life is hope.

With love and hope, dpf

Published by Daniel P. Finney

Daniel P. Finney is a professional paragraph stacker who grew up in Winterset and Des Moines, Iowa. The local newspaper paid him $25 for his first story when he was 17. He has typed for cash ever since. He is a flawed human trying to be a little less Incredible Hulk and a little more Mr. Rogers.

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