What would your answer be if you were asked to erase your existence, but still have a pulse?
Nobody will ever know you exist anywhere. What about mom? She finally just retired from 30 back-breaking years at the postal service? She was looking forward to now spending more time with me, her only child. And Pops…wonder if knowing him would have any impact on this decision at all? My mind is racing and replaying conversations, thoughts, memories. It’s hard to suppress that one small yet monumentally heavy word: “Ever.” Can I follow through with this?
Of course I had to ask what the catch was. Of course it would have been self-extermination. I joined the force because I wanted to lock up criminals like the ones who roamed my streets. As a cop, the catch is that one of these criminals may be able to draw his weapon quicker than I can. As an officer, if I would fall to the “catch,” I’d be honored by the city of New York. The mayor would give mom a folded flag and gently touch her shoulder while telling her how sorry he was but also how proud she should be of how her son served his city. A police officer’s catch is much different than the one Kay just layed on me. This catch is more of a condition. The job, if you could call it that, relies on this catch. There would be no ceremony, no dedications, no press coverage, no acknowledgment. “Ever.”
Is this all worth it? Kay, whom I literally just met, without hesitation, said that it would be, just before walking off into the sunset. That sunset though, you never really just sit and look at them anymore. Growing up in Harlem, the sky would turn all the apartment buildings into gold, if only for a couple hours each evening, before the street lights flickered on. Running around those streets with the crew, life’s lessons were learned in the hardest ways during the simplest times. If I took this opportunity, would I miss them? I wonder if they were even human?
As darkness consumes Battery Park, the tourists head back up town, business-folk turn in, and the park turns silent. I’ve covered the beat on these streets at night. I know the the type of New Yorker who emerge from their daytime slumbers. At least, I thought I knew who they were. It’s like watching a zombie movie from this bench. As they approach me for change, food, or just to humor themselves by telling some fucked up story, I can’t help but stare at them, looking for some sign of the unordinary. A twitch. A grunt. Human…alien?
Getting up from this bench seems about just as tough as making this decision. It’s like a chess piece; once released, the move is final. Why do I want this so badly? Why do I trust Kay so much? I feel like I’ve known him all my life, but that’s impossible, right? Should I sleep on this? I only have till sunrise to decide on wiping myself from existence. No time for sleep. Mom is going to be crushed, but it’s a sacrifice. She didn’t talk to me for a month after becoming a cop. What scenario are they going to give her if I decide to join the Men in Black. I sigh and think about her reaction. Maybe one day she’ll know that I’m part of something bigger.
At some point right before sunrise, I notice a man park himself next to me. He’s practicing a ventriloquist act. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep or need of a mental break, but I’m fixated on watching this man manipulate the miniature boy-looking figure on his lap. Poor little guy. This guy has his hand all up his ass and making him say whatever the man wants him to say and do. He can’t make any decisions for himself…because he’s a dummy. My mind gets a jolt, my adrenaline spikes, and I’m all of a sudden ready to say goodbye to James Darrell Edwards III, because I’m not a dummy. Basically jumping out my skin, I tell my bench neighbor, “I’ve made my decision! I’m going to take my skills to 504 Battery Drive.” I’m going to save this planet and I’m going to make it look good.