When with bouncing heels you located and inserted the (Exhibit A) disc (because you had pressed us into your bachelor’s den with its television already jerking with light, the television your children gaped at on cartoon-heavy mornings, those bleached hours when you missed a button on your uniform in your rush to get to the courthouse on time) we did not immediately understand the spirit of the moment, which may have spoiled your Projected Outcome of approbation.
We have been sorry for this for a long time.
• If I had to explain I would say that when, moments before you pushed PLAY, you submitted to me (Exhibit B) a bottle of beer, and pressed into our mother’s hand (Exhibit C) a green glass of yellow wine, bought for the occasion you said, (although whether you meant the glass or the wine was never clear, and later still, the worrying question of whether you meant for the Occasion of our visit or for the Occasion of the video) we prepared (she and I) to bubble and squeal, to see a home movie of birthday cakes and children on dry lawns and swing sets.
• If there had been color we might have imagined it was a fiction, we might have enjoyed it looping all night, content to sip our allotted beverages, not suspecting that we were watching merely what the Officer on Patrol and his cruiser’s camera saw in their travels that day. We would have understood there was a Backstory of an (alleged) bad guy—the Perpetrator—fleeing the Scene after (allegedly) driving over another (unconfirmed) bad man and (probably) paralyzing him for the rest of his days.
This is classified. Sealed. You seemed to be sweating and proud when you said so. Had you watched it alone while the kids were at their mother’s? We took our cue and looked on expectantly.
• If you had not fast-forwarded, we may have understood sooner that it was the (alleged) Perpetrator who was now cornered in his halted vehicle on the highway shoulder, the chase finished; we may have understood that the second figure appearing at left was an Officer on Patrol and in danger of losing his life.
• If the Officer on Patrol had not been jogging away from the camera as if he might jump over the car and continue into the flat land beyond the guard rail, we might have seen his face.
• If the (alleged) Perpetrator had not put up his left hand to wave we may not have begun to brood when the Officer paused and shot him through that same hand. If we had known (as we at that moment assumed, and then later after the investigations and public outcry, knew) that there was no threat in the waving, we are still not sure what we would have thought when we saw the Officer shoot five more times, causing black spots to blur out the windscreen. What we thought was Murder.
• If we had known it was you we might have admired the recoil of the gun as it ran through the Officer’s shoulders, as if an editor had outlined and shifted him one centimeter to the right per shot, fixing him in bulleted time and space to be perfectly documented.
• If the video had not started over from the perspective of another camera, and then again after that from yet another, one of six cruisers In Pursuit that day, we might have found our sea legs, our see legs, we might have understood that it was important to say something Nice, Supportive, Commendatory. After all, you rarely see us, our mother and me.
I picture your astonished brown eyes when you turned to our mother and her gunpowder tears, those runnels of mascara, saying, “That’s you.”
Finally I submit to you the possibility that if the disc had not been looped we might not have sat there, be sitting there still, holding our drinks, frozen in the screen’s light, while again the (alleged) Perpetrator, the man, waves, the glass shatters, and you, your shoulders forever stutter on the jumping film.
Leia Menlove’s short fiction has been published in Joyland Magazine. Her other writings have appeared in Metromode Media, Foreword Reviews Magazine, Concentrate, and more. She is writing a novel and pursuing an MFA in creative writing at The New School. Leia lives and works in New York City.