Stacks of old spiral notebooks tell the story of my career in law enforcement. Most of the pages contain brief notations—mileage, oil changes, weather, dates and times, arrests, names of witnesses and suspects, crime scene information, prisoners transported, and strangely enough, ideas for stories. You see, I’ve always wanted to write.

This story is true. It happened.

Sure, there were plenty of happy times during my twenty-plus years of wearing a gun and badge, but I often choose to write about the more solemn tales for a reason. I offer them to you, not to talk about the things we did that were right or wrong, but to show a side to police work that’s not normally seen by the general public.

Believe me, the job is not all cops and robbers. Sometimes it’s about the things that tug at your heart, pulling and grasping at whatever keeps a person’s sanity and emotions in check.

Today I’ve flipped through the pages to an event that’s forever etched in my mind. I’ve always referred to it as The Fire.

Saturday June 9, 1984

Working graveyard shift alone.

11:45 – Relieve 4-12 shift. No serious incidents reported. Slow night.

12:00 – Begin patrol. Mileage 43888.

12:14 – Loud music complaint. Subjects complied.

12:47 – Assist state police with vehicle search and arrest on interstate. Meth.

1:18 – Bar fight. Break it up. Arrest two males. Disorderly conduct and drunk in public. Process.

1:59 – Vehicle stop. Expired plates. Stolen car. Murder suspect from Florida. Arrest and process.

3:20 – Assist jail officers with disturbance.

4:14 – Meet troopers for breakfast.

4:27 – Accident on interstate. Assist troopers. Leave before meal arrives.

4:33 – Arrive at scene.

Vehicle on fire in median.

Fully engulfed.

People trapped.

Screaming.

Hair burning.

Faces contort.

Too hot to approach.

Helpless.

Man pushing.

Against door.

Intense heat.

Hopeless.

Fire extinguishers.

Glass, exploding.

Tires melt.

Flat.

Paint bubbling.

Bare metal.

Man climbs from window.

Burning.

Collapses.

Trooper pulls him to safety.

Dead.

Woman stops screaming.

Dead.

Little girl, in back.

“Mommy!”

Heat, unbearable.

Run to car.

Shield face.

Hair burns away,

On arms.

Eyebrows singe.

Pull child,

Through open window.

Arms burn.

Broken glass.

Tiny child.

Hair gone.

Badly burned.

“Mommy!”

So fragile.

Blistered.

Hold her.

In my arms.

Cling tightly.

Rag doll.

Mommy…

Weak.

Tears.

Mine?

“Mom…”

Silence.

 

 

9 replies
  1. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Events like these are sometimes difficult to handle, but we do. That’s part of the job. It definitely takes a special person to work in law enforcement. Sadly, it’s worse out there today.

    Since I received so many emails about these little snippets I’ll post one more next week (a lighter story).

  2. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Wow, Lee. Intense. I can see why that’s etched in your mind. I’m guessing you probably didn’t sleep after your shift ended that day.

  3. Elena
    Elena says:

    I’m glad you’re sharing these essays Lee. They are a very real part of the job. Unshared all this stuff is shoved inside and becomes destructive ‘secrets’. I’ve yet to hear of a police department that is given ample funds and other resources to help their officers deal with PTS. To keep the ‘D’ being added to the PTS.

  4. SZ
    SZ says:

    You are going to have to tell us what happened to that little girl Lee.

    Yes, the writer was certainly there in those spirals. Reading this is like poetry. You have displayed it quite well.

    When you had the 200 word contests, I would make “notes” toward what I had hoped to write. I have a whole word file of snippets or descriptive words for one day.

    It is great to see your notes, some humorous ones maybe nice for Saturday or Monday ? But the seriousness is important, glad I read those first

  5. Carla F
    Carla F says:

    At least I read these before I put on makeup, or the time spent applying Maybelline would’ve been a complete waste. You have a way of tapping on a very emotional nerve with these stories. I lift my coffee cup to you.

    If I can beg a favor, could you post the fun ones next week? Please?

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