Requiem For A Sheriff
If the power of life was in your hands, could you stand by and let your loved ones die? Immortality can be a curse or a gift. Charlie Swan has to determine which he thinks it is.
Yes, I don't own Twilight.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2819 Review this Chapter
Charlie Swan, Post Breaking Dawn
Sometimes a man's gun is his best friend. Sometimes it's his only friend. Sometimes it's alot more than just a gun.
I stared down the barrel of my shotgun. It would certainly be the deadliest way. There'd be no chance of the doctors patching me up if I used the shotgun. It'd most likely blow the back of my head into the next room.
Problem was with the shotgun, my fingers couldn't quite reach the trigger with the gun in my mouth. I pulled the barrel out of my mouth and grimaced against of the taste of the gun oil. I took another swig from the bottle of Wild Turkey that sat by my elbow and washed the taste from my mouth. The whiskey burned my throat as it went down, but it was a good burn and I'd been getting used to it.
That left the revolver, then. I picked it up from the table and weighed it in my hand. This revolver had been a gift from my father on my seventeenth birthday. I still remembered the look of pride on his face as I opened the box.
"I want you to have this now that you're becoming a man," he said while my mother hovered in the background. "They say to walk softly and carry a big stick. Well, this will certainly beat any big stick!" He had laughed with that huge braying laugh of his.
Two years later he was dead of pancreatic cancer. One day he went to the doctor saying he wasn't feeling well, and six weeks later he was gone. My mother never really got over his death. Bit by bit, I watched as she seemed to just fade away. The two of us were more like each other than I had ever been like my dad, and neither Mom nor I were very expressive people. The two of us rattled around that big house for the last three years of her life. A week could go by without us exchanging more than ten words to each other. I think that's when I picked up the habit of silence.
I took another swig of the Wild Turkey. I'd graduated from beer sometime after Billy had died. We'd lost him to a kidney infection because of a compromised immune system. I still had trouble watching the Mariners. Some jerk player would make a stupid play and I'd expect to hear Billy's voice cussing him out.
The telephone rang, but I let the answering machine pick up. There wasn't anyone I was going to be talking to. I pulled out the box of shells for the revolver and lined up six of them on the table. Why six of them, I couldn't say. Really, the first one had better do the trick. Guess it was just habit. Do it right, do it completely. Follow through. The habits of a policeman.
After my mother died, it had been just me. I was working at Portland State University as a security guard and the guys dragged me out to a college bar after work one night. There I met a crazy, vivacious brunette wearing what looked like her underwear on the outside of her clothes, enough necklaces for three girls and looking more like Madonna than Madonna herself. She said her name was Renee, and when she grabbed me by the arm and challenged me to buy her a drink, I was shocked. That first night she had talked enough for both of us. I guess I must have said "uh-huh" and "oh, really?" enough to keep her talking and to lead her into thinking I was a good conversationalist, because she asked me to take her out the next night.
Renee was like opening a window to let some fresh air into the stale rooms of my life. Unpredictable, spirited and full of irrepressible enthusiasm, she was more alive, more full of life than anyone I had ever met. I don't know what she saw in me. Five years older than her, I was the yin to her yang. She'd been floating around the country with one group of friends or the other, and I think the very things that she found attractive in me, my stability and my roots, were ultimately the things that drove her away.
But we had some good times together. Six months after we met, she was pregnant. Three months after that, we were married. Once I graduated from the academy, I sold my parents' house and got a job as a patrolman in Forks. Renee seemed to take to our married life real well. She enjoyed decorating our new home and some of the best times I remember in our marriage were of us decorating the nursery, getting ready for Bella. I never did get around to telling Renee about the Carlson kid. With her being pregnant, I wasn't going to lay another burden on her. But I did think about him every day. I never drew my service revolver again without seeing his face flash before me.
If I had to name one shining moment in my life, it would have to be the birth of my daughter. I was there when Renee pushed her out after eighteen hours of hard labor. The doctors had me cut the umbilical cord, and placed this tiny squalling child in my arms. Something changed in me as I held her, something seismic. This little seven-pound being had me wrapped around her finger just by waving her tiny fist in the air.
Renee was a good mother, if somewhat forgetful. I'd come home from a day shift to find the two of them covered in paint from a finger painting session gone crazy, the kitchen dark and cold, no dinner in sight. I felt it when Renee's restlessness started to build. I could tell the routine and the triviality of life with a toddler was starting to wear on her. Small town life with its slow pace was never going to be enough for her. I just had no clue as to what else I could give her.
It wasn't really a surprise when she said she was leaving. What cut me to the core was her taking Bella with her. Bella was a serious, thoughtful child with huge brown eyes. She would crawl into my lap to have me read a story to her, and I'd be overcome with the strength of my feelings for this small gentle being. The day Renee left, I watched from the driveway as Bella stuck her small hand out of the car window to wave goodbye to me as the car pulled away. The image of that haunted me for a long time.
I picked up the photograph I had on the table. It was just a grainy Polaroid, but it was one of my favorites. I was kneeling on the front lawn, my arm around Bella, who must have been around four at the time. She was in her bathing suit, wet from running through the sprinkler and she had on some kind of swim float she was holding up around her waist. We were both looking at the camera and her smile could have made angels weep.
The revolver wasn't really dirty, but I decided it was worth cleaning. I disassembled the gun and pushed the brush through the bore. That's one thing my father taught me. Take care of your guns and they'll take care of you. I almost started laughing at that. Yes, this gun was going to take care of me, all right.
I started living for the times when Bella would come visit. Those were the bright times in my life. The rest of the time, I just held my nose to the grindstone, just trying to be the best cop I could. The people in Forks are good people and they deserve a good police force. Mostly, it was quiet. We had a rash of hate crimes against some of the Quileutes when a family of white supremacists moved into town. A few months later, though, they'd moved on. But otherwise, it was mostly routine. Kids breaking into the summer homes or drunk driving violations. Occasionally domestic disturbances, but I was getting to be a pretty good mediator and able to defuse some of the less violent clashes. They even made me Chief.
When Bella called me and asked if she could come live with me in Forks, I said yes immediately. I talked it over with Harry and Sue Clearwater, who had teenagers of their own. They were my closest friends, next to Billy, of course. Sue especially, was helpful and gave me some tips on what to expect. I'm glad she did, otherwise I'd have met Bella at the airport with teddy bears and lollipops. What I knew about teenage girls wouldn't fill a shot glass.
As it was, my jaw dropped open as Bella came out of the airport gate. She'd turned into a beautiful young woman seemingly overnight. With her being such a looker, I expected the boys to start coming around, but I was leery when Edward Cullen started showing up on my front steps.
Sure, he was polite and respectful. Good student, and I'd never had any trouble with him. Still, there was something about him that was almost, I don't know, creepy is the word that comes to mind.
Well, that's when the angst started. Bella was breaking up with him, he was breaking up with her; I couldn't keep it straight from week to week. So I was glad at first when he and his family decided to leave Forks that September. I thought it wouldn't be too long before Bella's heart mended and she found somebody more, well, normal. But, Bella withdrew and there was no getting through to her. I was near the end of my rope and I was contemplating asking Renee to come get her because the kid was a mess. I'd never felt so useless and so helpless.
Billy's boy, Jake, seemed to be making some headway with her and I did my best to encourage that. He just seemed so human after Edward. But the Cullens came back and before I knew it I was walking my baby girl down the aisle.
And then things got really weird.
Let's just say I never looked at Jake the same way. It was like standing on solid ground and having it turn to Jell-O under your feet. Where can you go when everything you counted on as reality was suddenly turned upside down? The Wizard of Oz had pulled back the curtain, but I wasn't ready to see it. I didn't want to know. It caused me more than one sleepless night, but they said I was better off not knowing and this was the one occasion when I thought that might actually be true.
Something had changed in Bella and though she tried to hide it from me, I knew it as surely as if it had a sign on it. This new person was Bella and yet in some way, it was not. As a cop, you start to develop an instinct for when a perp is going to go off the deep end and be a problem. It's an instinct that tells you when you're in danger. The Cullens were never anything but nice and welcoming to me, but the hairs on the back of my neck still rose when I was in close quarters with them.
I reassembled the revolver and ran my cleaning cloth over it. I clicked the shells into their chambers and spun the cylinder. Meticulous to the last, I put the box of shells and the cleaning kit away. The phone started ringing again, but I let the answering machine pick up. Charlie ain't home, tonight, nosiree. There wasn't too much left in the bottle of Wild Turkey.
Soon after Bells got married, Edward's niece moved in with them. And it wasn't long after that, all of the Cullens, Bella included, moved to Vancouver. I felt her loss in more ways than one. But that's when Sue Clearwater came into my life.
Sue had lost Harry to a heart attack several years back and somehow the two of us gravitated together. What a great, great gal she was. Down to earth and rooted, she was a straight-forward kind of woman with a huge dose of common sense. She moved in with me and I'd felt happier than I ever had in my life. Sue brought something to my life that I'd never had before, things like trust and intimacy. She introduced me to joint bubble baths. Warm-hearted, funny and sensual, we had a couple of incredible years together.
It was cervical cancer that took Sue. I watched as she fought it valiantly, but in the end, all I could do was hold her hand when she died.
I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and felt the water that had collected there. I wasn't going to leave a note or anything like that. I was a man of few words and it seemed best to leave it that way.
I would be using my service pistol, but they took that away from me along with my badge. Meg Quinn, the Town Manager, had put me on indeterminate administrative leave. After Sue's funeral, the liquor thing had gotten out of control and I had crashed the cruiser coming home from Port Angeles. She'd told me to take the time I needed to get my head back together, but time wasn't going to do it. Hence, the revolver. I picked it up off the table.
I hoped Bells would be all right. Somehow, I knew she would be. She loved that husband of hers to the point of irrationality, and as long as she had him, she'd be okay.
Ever the cop to the end, some part of me heard the squealing of tires on a car that was moving much too quickly down the street, headed this way.
My hands were shaking as I cocked the trigger and brought the gun to my mouth. The sound of car doors slamming in my own driveway startled me so much, that my finger twitched and the gun went off. The blast toppled me backward in the chair and I wound up on my back on the kitchen floor, staring at the ceiling, feeling the blood leak from me as an icy coldness started creeping inwards from my hands and feet.
"Oh, God, we're too late!" I heard Bella cry. I thought when you were dying you were supposed to be talking to dead people. Bella was still alive. Why was she here?
The kitchen ceiling faded from my sight and blackness took its place. I heard Carlisle Cullen's voice say, "I'm not going to be able to save him from this, Bella. What are you going to want to do?" Why was Carlisle Cullen in my death scene? The bullet to the brain must have scrambled my wits.
"What do you think Charlie would want, Bella?" That was Alice Cullen's voice. Why the Cullens? It just wasn't making any sense.
"Save him, please, save him!" Bella sounded like she was crying. I wanted to tell her not to cry, I'll be alright, just like I had when she was a little girl. The coldness creeping up my arms and legs was frightening, but I suspected it wouldn't be too long.
Alice spoke again. "Are you sure, Bella?"
"Edward," Bella pleaded, sounding like her feelings were ripping her apart. "Ask him. I don't know what to do."
"We don't have much time. Make a decision quickly or it'll be made for you." There was Carlisle again.
Edward's voice sounded like it was right above me. "What about it, Charlie? Should we save you? Do you want immortality?"
Some primal part of me screamed Yes! I don't want to die! The cold blackness that was creeping inward from my fingers and toes was frightening in its finality.
Suddenly, I felt someone's teeth on my throat. At the same time, I felt a ripping and a burning at my wrists and ankles.
The pain from the head wound was nothing compared to the searing, scorching pain that started at my neck and extremities and worked its way inward. Was I burning in hellfire, I wondered. Had I gone to hell? Had all those years in public service counted for nothing?
Impossibly, the pain continued to build. Each second I thought it was as bad as it could be and then it got worse. I started screaming with the agony. Above the sounds of my own screams, I heard Bella cry, "My God, what have I done?"
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