You work this job, you pick up on a few things. For starters, some things just are that simple. No matter what the story sounds like, it always boils down to this: money. And if it isn’t money, it’s love. Not the good kind maybe, maybe the sick kind where you get eaten up by jealousy or longing so strong it eats your brain and you end up killing the person you love. Point is, it’s simple.
You learn a few other things, too, though. It’s the simple things that really ain’t. Take fear, okay? Someone tries to take your head off with a semi-automatic weapon, you get scared. Easy, right? Well, it isn’t. Trust me on this.
Lust. Yeah, that one’s always easy… except for a few freak shows. But mostly, a turn-on is a turn-on, simple as that. Someone undressing, or touching you in all the right places, and maybe a little bit of thrill on the side to get the blood pumping, is all good, right? Feels damn good, too, enough to blow your brains out sometimes.
This freak partnership we got really teaches you fear. Man, you have no idea what fear is until you know all of its names and faces forward and backward and sideways, awake or asleep. Sure, fear of dying is easy. No one wants to die, right? Just, what if you get scared all the time—so often that you’re kinda used to it, what then?
Because it all comes down to this: fear is adrenaline. This feeling that something bad is about to come your way and you’re afraid that you’re not prepared for it. And most of the time, it doesn’t make any sense. We all get turned on by the same shit. Fear? Hell, fear is personal. It doesn’t make an inch of sense. See, you might not be afraid of the dark. You can wake up in the middle of the night with nothing but pitch black darkness around you, and you’re fine; you can stumble around your apartment without even a hitch in your breathing.
But then someone shoves you into an unknown room where everything is dark. You don’t know, maybe it’s just an empty hallway. And people can even tell you that there is nothing there. Yet you can feel the fear, slithering up your spine, making your hands clammy, and you swallow dryly, quickly.
You’ll be moving through that black hallway as if each step could be your last. The adrenaline keeps pumping a nice rhythm through your blood and you’re poised—waiting, getting ready, for something –anything– to jump at you. The monster inside of the closet.
And if something would happen you would be fine, ‘cause you expected it and the adrenaline would ratchet up another notch and then something else would take over, something ancient, something pre-evolutionary. The next thing you know, your attacker’s lying at your feet and you’re breathing hard, but you came out of it alright.
What with the moments where nothing happens? The hallway stretches in front of you, a little longer with every step you take, and you can hear your heartbeat in your ears, and your mouth is all dry. Fear is prickling at the back of your head. And you’re waiting, waiting, until the hallway ends and you step into the light.
You laugh. Because you’re safe and nothing bad did happen and the adrenaline recedes. That’s when the endorphins rush in, making you light-headed, making you stupid with the feeling of being alive.
What if your situations always end with you safe? What if you’re scared every damn day of your life but at the end, you’re always the last one laughing? And you get this delicious taste of victory, of being larger than life. All those fucking war movies, guts and glory, and you’re the last man standing.
It’s addictive, fear is fucking addictive. Because after a while it’s the only thing real. And if you’re scared all the damn time you need this edge.
So it’s the next day again and the phone call comes in. They don’t say you have to lay your life on the line – they don’t need to, you’re a cop, you do it anyway. And the adrenaline makes your heart beat just that bit quicker. You arrive at the scene and you’re met with gunfire, blasting away a merry rhythm, and you duck and you weave and at no point do you know that you will actually make it out alive. And why is it that the bad guys always out-gun the good ones? Fear coils like a snake at the bottom of your stomach. Winding up tighter with every bullet dodged.
You cower behind some crates, any cover, you don’t care any which way. They have you cornered, and you and your partner, you’re on your own. They start talking, hollering for you to surrender your weapons. Fear is showing its fangs now, the viper rears up and you can feel it stretching all the way through you, stopping short off your mouth.
‘cause hearing me talk, you wouldn’t think I’m scared. The snake is coiled tightly around your heart, making it hard to breath, but your mouth goes a mile a minute. Bullshit grin fixed on the lips, giving some back talk, giving as good as you get, and your partner gives you a sign and you can feel the snake squeeze, so tight, but you’re already off and running. Too late to think now.
When everything is over, the bad guys put in handcuffs, your gun back in its holster, the viper slithers away as if it’s never been there. That’s when the rush hits you, so sweet you can taste it on your lips.
Your heart beats quicker for an altogether different reason then.
Not, that I’d let anyone ever know. Least of all my partner who has his own reason for getting us into these situations. This is my dirty little secret.