By jane

At home in his small, but clean and tidy apartment, Detective Mike Logan slumped wearily into a chair and rocked his head in his hands, which had not yet ceased trembling violently. Vivid memories of his afternoon in hell had etched themselves cruelly into Logan's brain, tearing into a mind that had become hopelessly ragged and distorted. The walls around him appeared to be closing in, relentlessly and frighteningly. Biting his lower lip until blood flowed, Logan was soon bathed in sweat and panting in short, staccato breaths.
What was happening to him? Logan had never felt this terrified and helpless before. It had always been his style to take everything with the proverbial grain of salt. He was the one at the twenty-seventh precinct who shrugged off many of the most heinous cases, joking, with elements of dark humor while other detectives felt like retching. That had been true up until now. That past afternoon, a day that had appeared, for all intents and purposes, like any other, was, in reality, anything but.
Logan toyed with the idea of getting blind drunk, then thought better of it. He wanted to retain as much self-control has he possibly could, and clouding his mind with alcohol was most assuredly not the way to do it. Besides, that surely could not be the solution for every problem, could it? He didn't want to be yet another Logan who crawled inside of a bottle, never to emerge again.
But Logan was hurting-hurting badly. Running sweaty hands through his thick, dark hair, he stared blankly into a mirror, he swallowed hard and wished he had not quit smoking six years earlier. "I fucking hate you, Detective Michael Logan. You're nothing but a Goddamned coward, a pitiful excuse for a man." Picking up a heavy paperweight, he tossed it angrily at the mirror, in which he saw his reflection, seemingly leering back at him.
Instead of the glass shattering, Logan saw, in a surrealistic blur of twisted consciousness, the mirror remain smugly intact, while he, himself, appeared to splinter into a million twinkling fragments. Shaking his head, in an effort to jar himself back to reality, Logan decided that the only way to put a merciful end to these disturbing images and thoughts was to go to bed. There, he could become oblivious to his feelings of rage, fear, helplessness and grief. He crawled under the sheets, still fully clothed, pulled the covers over his head and sought solace in blissful, unconscious slumber.
Unfortunately, it was not to be a pleasant sea of nothingness on which he would float, rhythmically and pleasantly, but a wild and destructive hurricane that would sweep Logan up in a stomach-wrenching nightmare.
Logan was lost in a thick, choking tropical jungle. His clothes were torn and dirty and he had no shoes on cut and swollen feet. As he used a machete to cut through the dense foliage, Logan came across a dying lion, with thick blood oozing out of its mouth and a nasty gash on its underbelly.
As Logan made an attempt to staunch the flow of blood, the wounded animal swiped a claw-studded paw across his face, causing deep, angry gashes, running diagonally and bleeding profusely. He tried to run, but his left foot became hopelessly tangled in a thick and crawling vine. Logan stumbled, falling directly on top of a hissing rattlesnake. Grasping his machete with both hands, as rivulets of sweat threatened to blind him, Logan hacked the reptile's head off. However, after he did so, two more heads appeared, shoving their quivering, forked tongues at him, taunting and jeering him. Then, as Logan lopped them off, four more took their place. It was an exercise in futility.
The heads began chanting, sounding like a perverse barbershop quartet, and as Logan screamed at them to shut up, he felt the final shreds of self-control breaking apart. "What the hell is going on here?" Logan screamed, wiping a filthy hand across his brow and praying to be delivered from this maelstrom of terror.
Just then, before Logan had time to catch his breath, a flurry of raging, black insects charged at him, covering him in a shivering mass of frenetic, stinging pain. They dug into his eyes, filled his mouth and nose and made it nearly impossible for him to breathe. Then, when he was sure that death would come and suck what little life remained in his ravaged body, a boy's hand reached out of the darkness and pulled Logan to safety.
As he tumbled onto a patch of dewy grass, far from the craziness of the destructive jungle, Logan strained to get a good look at whoever had been kind enough to rescue him. A familiar youngster of about thirteen stared, with eyes far too old for his youthful face, spoke solemnly and evenly.
"Well, Mikey, it looks as if I saved your butt. I find that kind of funny, in a rather sick kind of way. I mean, after all, you didn't exactly do well by me, did you? Some friend you turned out to be -- deserting me when I needed you most. Hell, I hope you feel as guilty as sin, pal of mine. You just go back to your comfortable life as a hypocritical cop and pretend none of what happened has anything, whatsoever, to do with you. Isn't that the way you play, Mike Logan? Just hide your fucking head in the sand and just carry on."
Logan was overcome with nausea and vomited onto the grass. It was Billy Boy Moreno, Logan's friend who had, just weeks before, committed suicide. Logan thought he had finally dealt with the guilt and unrest, when that vile and disgusting Father Joe had finally been put behind bars for a relatively easy punishment of fifteen years. Yet here he was, awash in tepid memories and gripped in the talons of self-loathing and shame. Why, why was this still happening to him? Would he never be free of the ghosts of his misspent youth?
A disarming quiet settled over both Logan and Moreno. The next time Logan looked over at the apparition of his dead friend, Billy was a grown man, dressed in his policeman's uniform and holding his service revolver to his head. Logan's heart leapt into his throat as he tried to yell to his friend, "Billy, please, don't! That scum isn't worth it! You've got a wife and kids, for God's sake. Think about them!" Logan lunged forward in an effort to grab the gun from Moreno's hand. Feeling hot tears welling up in his eyes, he found the next few seconds going by in slow motion.
Just as Logan was about to shove Billy backward, thus knocking the weapon from his friend's hand, Moreno slowly and mechanically put the revolver to his right temple. "NO!!!" Logan cried out, his frantic voice cutting into the thick summer atmosphere. Suddenly, as Moreno mouthed the words, "Good-bye, Mike", he pulled the trigger and blew a part of his skull off. Looking down at his hands, Logan felt a sensation of being punched in the gut as he saw blood on them. It dripped from his fingers and formed a large puddle, from which a skeletal hand grasped his ankles and pulled him under. Logan was drowning in a sea of blood. As his head disappeared and he frantically held his breath, he saw Billy's apparition bending over him, lamenting, "I'm dead now, Mikey. We'll never go to a baseball game together again.
"Oh my God! Oh my God! Billy, you should of shot me! I smacked you in the mouth instead of getting help. I was so fucking angry at you." Logan collapsed on the grass, tainted with Billy's blood, and sobbed brokenly. He cried for the loss of innocence, the degrading shame and the death of a good friend, whose only crime was trusting a parish priest whose beguiling smile camouflaged a sickening and depraved pedophile.
Then, as mysteriously as the nightmare had swept him up and transported him into the bowels of Hades, it released Logan and he awoke with a start. Sunlight reached through his bedroom window.
He had no memory of what had transpired the night before, but he noticed that the gloomy despair which had gripped him since Logan had come face to face with his demons, had evaporated.
Logan began removing the wrinkled clothes he'd slept in and readied himself for work. He had not planned on going in that day, for he had felt emotionally drained and exhausted. But both Van Buren and Briscoe needed him. After all, they couldn't handle the job by themselves.


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