Mr. Morse

The hard Desert work was behind me and I began to live among Humans again. I had made Promises to Myself that I would forever keep. I felt alive and free. My eyes still scan the horizon for imagined threats but that is what they trained me to be. This is what I will always be. Echoes of my Past linger in me. I accept this.
In the fall of 2010 I volunteered at Otter Creek State park until the weather drove me away. I cut the tops out of dying cottonwood trees. The saw freed the smell of ancient spice from the wood. I enjoyed my work.

The nearest place to get food was in Antimony, not even a town just a bend in the road. I rode there under a canopy of yellow leaves and gray skies. The café side  of the joint is separated from the tin can aisles by a one step up lunch counter.  Old green linoleum with sides painted bright white time after time. I hung my motorcycle jacket over the swivel seat next to me.

When I spend time in small towns I like to get to know the locals on a first name basis. I often get the local price on everything from gas to bread. Jeri ask how I’d been as she poured my coffee. Jeri was one of those women every man likes to have a conversation with.  She spoke is slow measured sultry tones. Dark hair framed her intense smile.  She was fit and destined to always be beautiful.

I first saw Mr. Morse as he approached the third seat and carefully mounted it, his cane propped against his side. I guessed him in his late 80’s but bright and he carried himself with broad shoulders. His hair was crew cut. I recognized this old warrior as he ordered only coffee. I was trying to drive the chill from my bones and decide what to do next.

We talked casually of fishing for a moment. Mr. Morse told me that he had been coming to Otter Creek for a dozen or more years, since the death of his wife. He told me he once had a dog.

He then asked me how my day was. It is this question that often causes a shift in my conversations.

“I’m having the day of a lifetime Brother, but I have many of those. Sometimes I string them into weeks, months or years. I live a life other men don’t even know exists. I live a dream of my own making.” I spoke the truth.

Mr. Morse smiled broadly and extended his large hand. We introduced ourselves. A few people milled around on the grocery side of the business. We went unnoticed as I asked him what he did during WW II. He proudly told me that he had trained bomber pilots. He knew exactly how many to, 44. He began to describe the type of aircraft he flew.

I stopped him, “Mr. Morse could I ask a difficult question?” He said yes…

“Of those 44 men that you trained do you know how many survived their tours and returned home?” His crystal blue eyes flashed, I saw tears well up in his face.

He said, “No, I couldn’t… maybe half.”

Without missing a beat Mr. Morse began to tell me of the last moments of his wife’s life. She had been subjected to some minor surgery and he was with her in post-op. She suddenly and without warning suffered a brain aneurysm and died in his presence. In that moment He began his new life alone.

I expressed my sympathy for having suffered such a terrible wound. To have made it through the hard and scary part only to lose her when all seemed hopeful. Tears spilled down his cheeks.

We continued to talk. Someone walked past. We were in a bubble – just Mr. Morse and I – unseen.

He suddenly asked me if he should get a dog. He explained that he had a fear of dying and leaving the dog with no one. I told him to go to the nearest shelter and get the oldest dog they had. I explained to him that he was denying a dog the gift of his friendship.

His hand quivered as he pushed a crumpled dollar bill a quarter and a dime across the counter with one bony finger.

He patted my shoulder and mouthed his thanks as he left. I wished him well.

Later Jeri told me he got a fuzzy old dog.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Christmas Party

I have told the story of the Tomb of the Unknown Child before…

I had to attend a Christmas party hosted by my ex-wife’s boss. She worked for a vice President of something surrounded by other vice Presidents of nothing. They were a bunch of Harvard and Yale grads, pretentious and inexperienced. I was not impressed by any of them.

At that time in my life you wouldn’t have liked me. I made decisions in 1/5 of a second and expected the rest of the World to do the same. I was moody, suffered from depression and had a mean streak. I spent my nights surrounded by pimps, thugs, hookers and thieves – everybody lied. I didn’t trust anyone but other Cops.

I had sunk to the lowest point of my life.  Most have heard of Suicide by Cop, I was the reverse, I was a Cop looking for a shoot-out.  I searched to find someone to put me out of my misery.  I was first through the door, first to the bar fight, I quit wearing my bulletproof vest.

This was just before Christmas and like all good Cops I was working a second job for cash to give my kids a Christmas morning they would never forget.

I was sleep deprived and in a foul mood.

I put on my best Court suit (I owned 3 at that time) and tried to catch a nap in the car as my ex-wife drove us to the venue.

It was a stylish affair with a free bar filled with the best liquor. I took up a position near the door, with my back to the wall, and tried my best to avoid contact with anyone. I drank more than I should and watched.

In the very center of the room was a congregation of the pampered puppies. They were beginning careers with the fresh scent of their ivy league past hanging on them. I watched the loudest one as he hogged the conversation. I could just hear him bragging about his latest trip to Spain. I watched a chunky gold Rolex watch slip up and down his skinny wrist as he spoke. In that moment I realized that watch was worth more than my entire yearly pay and all the Christmas cash I was trying to raise for my kids. I bit my lip and growled under my breath.

The little Prick heard me and looked my way…

After he finished his vacation story he said to the other puppies, “Lets go talk to the Cop”.

They all approached and surrounded me. Their glasses clinking with ice and liquor. All with polished broad practiced fake smiles. My heart beat faster – Fight or Flight feelings rose up. I felt trapped and angry.

As they neared I leaned over and whispered into the ear of the Prick, “Don’t fuck with me”. He looked shocked but continued, “So Deputy Mike tell us what its like to be a Cop”.

I said loud enough for most in the room to hear me, “You want to know what its like to be a Cop do you? Well I’ll tell you what its like to be a Cop”.

For the first time I spoke of the child dying in my hands days before. As I told the story I drifted into a fog of reliving it. The words spilled from me. Instead of telling it like I’ve written earlier I told them of every broken bone, of every pool of blood, of the sounds, of everything I saw. I gave them the full gore version.

“AND that’s what it’s like to be a Cop”.

When I came back to the present children were crying and being dragged away from me by their mothers. The room then fell silent. Ex-wife looked at me with disgust. The party was over.

I stood up with clenched fists and looked at the Prick. “I told you not to fuck with me”, and I walked out of the room.

I was never invited back to another Christmas party

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.



I was working the afternoon shift in a marked patrol assignment. Once I had my cruiser loaded I called in service to Dispatch.

“Baker 12 copy a suicide in progress.”

Someone had called in and said a subject was threatening to kill himself. The caller related that the subject was in the water, at the boat launch, and had a knife to his wrist.

I go like a bat outta hell and arrive within minutes, having just a few miles to cover between the Station and the location. When I arrive I find the subject waist deep in the lake with a dull butter knife to his wrist. He starts telling me to back up or he was going to kill himself.

“What’s your name friend?”


“John drop the knife and get out of the water. I can find help for you”.

John complied almost immediately and began apologizing for his behavior. I walked him back to his apartment talking with him along the way. Suicidal subjects can be dangerous but I didn’t sense that in him. He was just a skinny, wet frightened man. He was alone and confused.

On these types of calls our policy dictated that a team of Mental Health professionals be contacted. I called them and briefed them on the situation and they came out and interviewed John. After a couple of hours they decided that John’s threatened suicide was nothing more that a call for attention and  scheduled a follow up visit with him. Everyone agreed that John wasn’t a danger to himself or others and we all left.


This was the Second time I was dispatched to John’s apartment – another suicide in progress call. John called Dispatch and said he was going to hang himself. Upon arrival (Single entry door into the common area of 4 apartments – 2 up 2 down) I see John at the top of the stair landing with a clothesline around his neck and the other end around the banister. I just walked up the stairs and cut the rope and took John back inside his apartment. Again I called the Mental Health pros and they again responded to the scene. After a few more hours of interview they again stated that John was not a danger to anyone and that he was only calling out for attention.


This was the third time I was sent back to John’s on a suicide in progress within my work week. John was becoming a problem. Again John called it in himself, telling the Dispatcher that he was “Really gonna do it this time.” I didn’t run a signal and took my time getting there.

John was back in the water but now he had a sharper knife. It took me a little longer but I talked him into dropping the knife and coming out of the water. I took him back to his apartment and again called the Mental Health people.

This time the team decided they would not respond to the scene. The Psychiatrist  said, “Michael create a story that will impress upon John the potential consequences of his actions. Find some way to tell him that he may cause a greater harm”.


I hang up the phone and started talking to John…

I act shaky and tense. “John you ain’t gonna believe what just about happened. I was running a signal to get here to help you and I almost ran over a little girl. She was playing at the entrance to your apartment complex and I didn’t see her rushing to get here. Man it was so close. My heart is still beating a mile a minute.”

“Here feel this”, and I placed his hand over my heart. Whatever he felt was in his mind as I was wearing a bulletproof vest.

While still holding his hand to my chest I looked him right in his eyes and said, “John, I almost killed that child and you would have been to blame. You’ve got to stop doing this.”

John’s eyes widened and for the first time I think he did realize the consequences of his actions. Tears stung his face and he was remorseful.

“I’m so sorry Deputy Mike, you don’t have to worry about me calling you guys anymore.”


I got called back to John’s for the last time. A neighbor heard a gunshot. I got there quick and found the front door to John’s apartment slightly ajar. I think he left it that way for me.

I pushed the door open, gun in hand, and entered. I saw John in the living room sitting in a big recliner. He had placed a .45 caliber handgun under his chin and pulled the trigger.

What a mess…

NOTE: I felt a little funny for creating such a vivid image for John but this one doesn’t bother me. I tried my best to help but couldn’t.

Shit happens…

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.