He opened his eyes and his room returned a dirty ceiling as the first image of the day. The headache was unbearable and increased with each of those sounds that hammered at his ears. It was a familiar noise, but not even the force of habit had familiarized Mario with that annoying sound that only after a minute awake he managed to identify as the lacerating alarm clock that insisted on shaking him out of the sleep with which he futilely tried to conjure his drunkenness of the night before.
This was the routine of every Monday of that frustrated policeman who every Sunday tried to forget his experience by indulging in alcohol, only to be returned the next morning by that damned alarm clock to a new day’s work.
Also, like every Monday, Mario could only think clearly after brewing a strong coffee, washing his face while his drink was ready at drinking two cups of that black and bitter infusion, he looked at the clock on the wall, confirmed that he had a little time, and decided that he would not invest in washing up. For the third time in a row, he postponed the shower for another day and preferred to go to the window of his old apartment to look out over the city. Turning to that question that had been tormenting him for twelve years, why did he decide to become a policeman?
As he put on the dirty uniform in which he would report to the station, he went over in his mind the insecure questions he always gave to that question. Was he a policeman? Perhaps because of his desire to order the world? Could he impose a little order and justice by defending the law with a gun? And inevitably those reflections would lead Mario’s mind to a repetitive question, but one that kept the same force of existence as the first time he asked it.
Why was he still a policeman? Why didn’t he give up that profession that confronted him daily with the worst scourges of society, convincing him that imposing order on an increasingly decadent species was impossible? Why didn’t he give up that job with which he fed his depression and pushed himself as an escape into the arms of rum, as he did every weekend? His soul did not give him back any answer to those questions, but his body was already dragging him, like inertia towards the police station. Whereas every Monday the head of the headquarters would give him the details of a new case and would entrust him to investigate, Mario was confident that it was a routine crime a cell phone robbery, a weapons charge, or a search for a new young man who had fallen into the hands of drugs.
These problems were increasing by leaps and bounds, and Mario had grown used to them, resigned to seeing them as the lesser evils in a human cage that could become much more stark. But his boss did not look like a good friend, and in his face Mario could already sense the seriousness of a case that he confirmed as he heard from his mouth the details of the case he had to deal with. The neighbors in a neighborhood south of the city had just called to report the screams of an old woman. The woman lived with her son, a drug addicted and aggressive young man, and her grandson, and the neighbors feared it might be a murder. The chief had just gotten off the phone when Mario entered the station, so without further protocol, he told the investigating Lieutenant about the report he had just received and asked him to direct a patrol car immediately to the scene.
Sitting in the front seat next to the Sergeant in charge of driving the police patrol, Mario repeated to himself the questions that had tormented him that morning since he woke up, now reinforced by what seemed to be an abominable crime, what must have been going through the mind of a criminal to harm a defenseless old woman. The fears were confirmed when, after forcing the door of the house indicated, Mario and the Sergeant accompanying him entered the house. Indicated on the bed the inert body of an old woman lay with her mouth open and with a dirty cut on her neck, from which still fresh blood was flowing. Mario, who was not used to seeing crime scenes, instinctively withdrew his eyes from the old woman, and by a miraculous coincidence, they went to a photograph that rested on the night table. There the old woman, still alive, was smiling at the camera next to a young man and a little boy.
Mario, until then shocked by the image of the murdered woman, immediately remembered the information his boss had given him. The woman’s son and grandson also lived in the house. Since the aggressive drug addict son was the main suspect, Mario instinctively reached for his gun and motioned to the Sergeant, who accompanied him to do the same. At that moment, their immediate duty was to capture the murderer and save the life of the little boy if he was still alive. But since the room by room search of the house yielded no results, Mario and the Sergeant headed for the car in which he had arrived, determined to call the station on the radio, request the presence of forensic experts to take the old woman’s body and ask for reinforcements to cordon off the area.
The killer could not be far away, and if they acted quickly, he could be caught. But as soon as he finished communicating with the dispatcher, Mario saw a boy running towards the house. He had barely seen him in the photograph for a few seconds, but he could immediately identify him as the old woman’s grandson and rushed to grab him to prevent him from entering the scene. Coming face to face with the scene of the murderer could be quite traumatic. Crying, the little boy tried to let go while shouting to please let him into his grandmother’s house.
After many years without doing so, Mario was on the verge of crying. But before the tears came out of his eyes, the requested reinforcements made their presence in the sector. The investigating Lieutenant was able to leave the little boy in the care of some policeman in his charge while he gave instructions to cordon off the neighborhood in search of the murderer. Then he went with the coroner to the interior of the house to take the photograph of the old woman’s body, take the report on the crime scenes, take the samples to send the laboratory, and finally perform the removal of the body.
Locked in his office at the police station, Mario patiently awaited two calls, one from the lab, to confirm what needed no confirmation who the murderer was and the other from two policemen who were coordinating of the area of the murder, informing him of his capture.
But neither of the two calls received gave him the expected news. The policeman. No matter how many times they searched street by street, house by house, they did not find the old woman’s son. The lab results, on the other hand, confronted Mario with the most pitiful situation of all those he had known in his years as a policeman. The clumsiness of the cut made on the woman’s neck, as well as the traces of DNA present in her fingernails, left little room for doubt.
The murderer of the old woman had been the boy, her grandson, and not her son. Mario, furiously trying to impose his sense of order on reality, demanded that tests be performed on the boy to disprove that horrible theory, but the tests only confirmed it. The boy had traces of drugs in his blood, and his shoes had blood stains from his grandmother. In addition, during the interrogation, the boy broke down immediately and confessed that his father used to drug him, that he used to hallucinate as a result, and that in the middle of one of those visions, he murdered the grandmother. The father of the little boy was caught a week later and prosecuted for having given drugs to his son.
The boy, although he was nothing more than a victim, was admitted to the juvenile Correctional facility, where he was supposed to receive psychological treatment. Mario, for his part, after a few weeks of deep depression and consuming alcohol until he lost consciousness, showed up at the police station with his letter of resignation. That case convinced him that this environment of crime was hurting him, and he decided for the first time in his life to do what he wanted to dedicate himself to writing books, even if he starved to death in the attempt.