The Horror Zine
Police Station

Bruce Memblatt

The January 2010 Featured Story is by Bruce Memblatt

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Bruce Memblatt


By Bruce Memblatt

The dimly lit station had an air of timelessness about it, as if it had existed through millenniums. The fine, strong oak that paneled its walls evoked a rich history and a deep sense of solid strength. Old typewriters still adorned the firm cherry-wood desks that lined the span of the pale tiled floor in perfect unison, and although computer monitors sat intrusively next to the old machines, they seemed out of place and time. A simple oval clock hung above the tallest desk in the room, and the high blonde counter where the commander sat towered over the station, demanding attention. A coffee mug that had a sketch of a tattooed lady sat on top of his desk next to a half-eaten cinnamon donut. A lit cigar protruded from the edge of a clear, crushed glass ashtray, sending a faint whisk of smoke into the air. The windows were covered with yellow tinged, white blinds that were drawn closed all the way down to the sills.

There sat two men, one with slick black hair and the other with sandy blonde hair. Both were dressed in dark jackets and wrinkled white shirts with ties that fell loose.

Across from the two men, Michael Reardon sat, his mind churning with questions. He asked his first one. “Who are you guys?”

“Name’s Rogers,” said the black-haired man, and then he hooked his thumb to his blonde partner. “You don’t need to know his name.”

“Where are we?” Reardon asked next.

“Where do you think we are?” Rogers snapped.

“This doesn’t look like any police station I’ve ever seen. What am I doing here?”

“We found you at the side of the road, out like a light.”

“I don’t remember a road. I don’t live near a road.”

“Everyone lives near some road,” the blond-haired man chimed in. His voice was deeper than Reardon had expected.

Reardon’s hand fell upon his lean stomach; he felt a tinge of moisture that bristled with a syrupy texture. His dark eyebrows rose while his hand quickly returned to his side.  Trepidation produced pangs of sharp anxiety and he touched his stomach again to be sure. A sick sense of longing went through him, and he couldn’t explain it.

He wondered what dark event had led him to a police station. How had he wound up on the side of a road?

He fumbled with his wire rim glasses and searched his mind for an answer. His memory seemed hopelessly vacant as if a door had shut, guarding secret monsters too terrible to view.

“Where did the blood come from, Reardon?” Rogers queried.

“How do you know my name?”

“Your wallet. The blood?”

“What blood?”

“Isn’t that blood on your shirt? What happened with her?”

“Her? What her?”

“There’s always a her.”

The blonde-haired man intruded into the questioning once again.  “I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

“Why are all the blinds all drawn?” Reardon asked. Then he coughed. “Hey, why is there a cigar burning? I’m allergic to smoke. Nowadays every place you go is smoke-free. Police stations too. Can’t you put that cigar out?”

“We can smoke here, Reardon,” Rogers said, and then he went back to the point. “Tell me, how did you wind up at the side of the road?”

“I haven’t the foggiest.”

Strobe lights bounced off the walls to the rhythm of the house music that thumped and grinded above the large dance floor at Zenas. Michael Reardon sat at the bar near the entrance inside the trendy club, tossing back his fifth vermouth. He tried to make out the whole of the conversation that was scratching through his cell phone beneath the booming rhythm of the music that filled the glittery space.

He caught what she was saying on the phone now. She was leaving for Paris in a few days and wanted him to know she wasn’t in love with him anymore. There was someone else, someone new and wonderful. They’re all wonderful, he thought…

Reardon looked directly at the blonde man. “What is your name?”

The blonde-haired man answered, “Sullivan.”

Rogers suddenly seemed angry. “Okay now that you know our names, can we get back to the topic at hand?”

“It’s okay, let him think,” Sullivan calmly suggested. “Maybe he can start remembering now.”

“I can’t remember a thing, really,” Reardon said, sensing a hollow ring beneath his words. He wondered if the officers sensed the emptiness too.

“But you do remember a girl, don’t you, Reardon?”  Rodgers was unrelenting.

“Yes, I do remember a girl.”

“Ah, now we’re getting somewhere,” Sullivan calmly smiled.

“What is this, good cop, bad cop?” Reardon asked.

Rogers ignored Reardon’s question. “Where is she, the girl?”

“France, I think,” Reardon said, although he wasn’t quite sure his answer was accurate. He felt his quick reply sounded a bit too clean. But it was true she was going off to Paris soon. He had no reason to feel guilty, so why act guilty? But then again, he wondered why he simply didn’t tell Rodgers that Ann was supposed to depart in a few days.

Neon bounced across dark shadowy storefronts as Michael made his way down Seventh Avenue. Occasionally a spark of bright light from a twenty-four hour pharmacy broke the dark tableau. He surmised it must have been around two AM. A scattering of headlights still beamed sporadically down the long avenue. When he got to Sixteenth Street, he turned the corner and headed east down the dark sidewalk towards Sixth Avenue.

Ann lived between the two avenues.

He reached into his pocket and grasped the cold metal object to make sure it was still there. The tension rising through his bones terrified his soul. And he felt helpless, as if words had no meaning because he knew that no matter what, his vowed promises to her wouldn’t carry any consequences. Ann had already made up her mind.

“Hey Sullivan, would you and Rodgers like some fresh donuts?” the commander called from above. Sullivan, who had gotten out of his chair next to the desk where Rodgers and Reardon were seated, briskly walked over to the chief’s counter and reached for the box of donuts.

“Thank you, Hal!” Sullivan acknowledged.

When Sullivan returned, Reardon studied the curious box that housed the donuts. Not that it was striking in its rarity, but he noted the large white box had the drawing of a toddler on it fashioned like it was born in the 1920s. And when Sullivan opened the box, it seemed the donuts looked unusually fresh and colorful like they were just baked by Betty Crocker herself. The thought brought a quick smile to his face, but it disappeared just as quickly as it formed.

“What is it with you people and donuts?” Reardon smarted.

“What’s the matter with donuts?” asked Sullivan. “They’re fast and they’re sweet. Want one, Reardon?

“No thanks. I haven’t any appetite at all.”

“You know what else are fast and sweet?” asked Rogers. “Girls. Ain’t that right, Reardon?”

“I don’t know.” Reardon suddenly felt embarrassed, but at the same time, he wondered furiously where this was all leading. Although regretfully, he thought he knew.

Michael entered the dingy vestibule of the six-floor walkup where Ann lived. He checked his coat pocket again before he made the lengthy trek up the half-lit stairway that led to Ann’s front door on the fourth floor. His black leather shoes squeaked in sharp syncopation as he steadily climbed the stairs.

When he reached Ann’s apartment, he took several deep breaths and began to bang hard and rapidly on her metallic door, beating with furious anticipation. He saw the light in her apartment suddenly flash on through the lit sliver of space at the bottom of the door that rose just above its frame.

“Fucking Michael, do you know what time it is? You’ll wake up the entire building!” Ann’s voice shot clear through the shut steel door.

“I don’t care who I wake. I need to talk to you, Ann. Please!”

The door opened and Ann stood there angrily, draped in a long flowing white robe. “Come in, Michael. But you’re not staying long. I have no more to say to you. Really. You can’t make someone love you.”

“Damn you. I found out who Mr. Wonderful is!” Michael screamed. “How could you? My brother?”

Michael reached into his pocket, and slowly stepped through Ann’s doorway. She backed up slowly as he began to enter. “What’s that in your hand, Michael…”

Rodgers tapped a pencil on the far edge of his wooden desk. “So Reardon, how long did you know the girl?”

“Ten years. I’ve known her ten years.”

“A long time. I guess you knew her pretty well?” Sullivan interjected.

“Not past tense. I know her well.” 

It upset Reardon that the two officers were talking about Ann in the past tense; then he comforted his mind with the thought that is was just a figure of  speech, just the way policemen talk. Yet he felt the strained strangle of the tension that had taken hold of him before return with greater force. He knew the officers’ keen interest in Ann probably meant that something terribly wrong had happened to her. If he could just unlock his memory, he could handle the heightened nerves and the fantastic situation he found himself in tonight.

“What’s her name, Reardon?” Rodgers asked.

A slight pause of relief reflected on Reardon’s face. Rodgers had spoken of Ann this time in the present tense. “Her name is Ann.”

Then his eyes captured the old clock on the wall. Its metallic hands read two AM. He felt a little stunned. He thought the clock read two AM before, but that must have been hours ago. Surely he had been in the officer’s custody for hours by now. Maybe his misread the clock earlier, he thought grudgingly.

He wanted answers. He wanted his memories to open up and fill in the empty lines that riddled his thoughts and he wanted to try to face whatever demons were lurking beneath those elusive nuggets of clarity.

“Reardon, do you own a weapon?” Sullivan calmly queried.

“What kind of a weapon?”

Rodgers blurted. “You know what a weapon is, Reardon. How about like a gun or a knife?”

”I may have some knives in my kitchen.” Reardon recognized immediately the mistake he made with his reply, because it seemed evasive. Why was he being cagey when he had nothing to hide?

He thought he’d better change the subject to cover his defensive miscalculation. “Is Ann all right?”

“Why wouldn’t she be all right?”  Rodgers snapped back. “You tell me.”

Reardon didn’t anticipate the clever nature of Rodger’s simple retort. It gave away nothing. If he answered the question incorrectly, he’d seem twice as guilty as he was already beginning to appear. 

Sullivan walked over to the large water cooler that sat neatly by the door to the mens’ room. Reardon followed his steps with his eyes. What seemed peculiar to Reardon was that the water cooler looked empty, yet Sullivan held a clear plastic cup to his mouth as if he were drinking a glass full of water. 

Suddenly Reardon felt thirsty. “Sullivan, say, could you get me a cup of water?”

“Sure thing, Reardon.”

He gazed at Sullivan as he walked back to the water cooler. This time it was filled with water. From top to bottom, the huge jar that sat upon the faucet of the cooler was filled to the brim. Reardon shuddered. A passing thought told him perhaps his eyes were playing tricks. He was tired and stressed beyond measure. 

The mounting measure of occurrences that defied explanation began to weigh on his mind. His hand fell down to the pocket of his jacket. He felt something heavy and metal.

He felt a gun.

He tried to hide the look of surprise that flashed across his face like the sudden appearance of a bright billboard on a dark lonesome highway. How could he have a gun?
Where did he get it? And why didn’t the officers find it before? They had found his wallet. Surely they would have noticed something like a gun in the pocket of his jacket!

“Was there a struggle?” Sullivan asked.

“What do you mean struggle?”

“You know what he means, Reardon,” Rogers said. “Did you struggle with the girl? With Ann!”

“Why would I be struggling with Ann?”

“Think, Reardon. Hey, we’re on your side,” Sullivan said.

“Not me. I’m not on your side. Where were you tonight?” Rogers asked as he got up from his chair, walked closer to Reardon, and looked directly into his eyes.

“At a club, I was, ah, at a club kicking back a few drinks.”

“Anything happen at that club, Reardon?” Rodgers said while half a smirk dangled on his lips.

“Nothing unusual.”

“Did you talk to anyone?”  Rodgers continued.

“I don’t remember. I think I made a phone call.”

“To Ann?” Sullivan offered as he placed his hand on Reardon’s left shoulder.

“I suppose so. Yes, I spoke to Ann. She told me she was going off to Paris in a few days.”

“Anything else?”  Rodgers pumped.

“I’m afraid so. She told me, this is kind of embarrassing and painful, but. . . she told me she found someone new, someone wonderful.”

“And you got angry? Didn’t you!” Rogers shouted.

“I got even angrier when I found out who it was,” Reardon said, attempting to focus on what he was saying and trying to remain calm. “I think I went over to her apartment.”

“And did you go inside her apartment?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You walked down Seventh Avenue. Right, Reardon?” Sullivan said calmly as he lit a cigarette.

“I guess I did,” Reardon admitted with resignation.

“And as you were walking you got even angrier. You stopped off at your apartment on Twenty-Third Street and you picked up your gun?” Sullivan puffed.

“I don’t remember. I don’t own a gun.”

“Are you sure, Reardon?” Sullivan blew a smoke-ring.

“Okay! I own a gun. I’ve had it a long time but I’ve never used it. I keep it in back of the closet in the foyer. I hadn’t even seen it for years.”

“Then what did you do?” Sullivan quietly asked as he put his arm around Reardon’s shoulder.

“I’m beginning to remember parts…” He had trouble believing the words even as they escaped his lips. His heart beat fast. Reardon continued, “Um, I walked down Seventh Avenue towards Sixteenth Street. I guess, yes, I was going to Ann’s apartment. It must have been around a quarter to two. I was furious and full of drink. I kept checking my pocket to see if the gun was still there.”

“What happened when you got to Ann’s building on Sixteenth Street?” Rogers pushed.

“I jimmied the lock to door of the vestibule in her building and I walked up the stairs.
Then, I see it now in my mind… I stared pounding on her door. She yelled something about waking all the neighbors. I didn’t care. I was royally pissed. She opened her door. I walked in. I had the gun in my hands…” Reardon stopped, confused.

“And then what, Reardon?” Rodgers demanded.

“I don’t know. I don’t…”

“Did you fire the gun?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know! I can’t remember! I know what I wanted to do and I remember a sick feeling in my stomach, a feeling of complete failure, but then she rushed towards me. My hand was shaking. The gun! Now I remember. It fell to the ground. We both reached for the gun. My god! She picked it up. She held it in the air…”

“That’s when she shot you,” Rogers said.

Sullivan chimed in, “She used your gun, the gun that’s in your pocket now. Ann put it back into your pocket afterwards, Mr. Reardon.”

Reardon’s face blanched white. His heart felt frozen. He screamed, “You’re mad!”

Rogers said, “Look around you, Mr. Reardon. Come on, you’re a bright boy. You noticed it as soon as they brought you here. The clock on the wall…two AM? That’s the time you died. Welcome to hell, Mr. Reardon.”


Bruce Memblatt has studied Business Administration at Pace University. His interests are varied. He has a great love for the theatre which led him to run a website devoted to composer Stephen Sondheim, which he's lovingly maintained since 1996. He believes it's his love for the theartre, and all things theatrical, that drew him towards writing.

Bruce is 54 years old, and he's just begun his journey as a writer. He has two credits to his small resume (three now, with The Horror Zine's January 2010 issue). A story Bruce wrote entitled Jingle Jangle has appeared in SMN Horror Magazine in December 2009 and also in December,  another story called First Dream has made its appearance in Demonic Tome.