“But it is down.”

by hellorousseau

Heads up: This post is not about body positivity. Sometimes I do things for school. This is one of those things.

“West Baltimore.
You sit on your stoop,
you drink Colt 45 from a brown paper bag
and you watch the radio car roll slowly around the corner.

You see the gunman,
you hear the shots,
you gather on the far corner to watch the paramedics load what remains of a police officer into the rear of the ambulance.

Then you go back to your rowhouse,
open another can,
and settle in front of the television to watch the replay on the eleven o’clock news.

Then you go back to the stoop.”

Chapter three of Homicide was all about the world of routine. Just like how I have my morning routine, my makeup routine, my driving routine and my homework routine, so do the detectives of Baltimore when another body is found, regardless if it’s a little girl, a junkie, or a cop.

Body. Investigation. Evidence collection. Potential realization that they missed something crucial. More evidence collection. Investigation. Arrests. Interrogation. Speculation. Anonymous tips. Sleepless nights. Innocent lives lost. Time lost. Lies. More lies. More sleepless nights. Prosecution. Negotiation. More lies. Sometimes jail time.

Most times nothing.

Simon shows that the routine of not just one homicide detective, but the entire force, is tedious, frustrating, and repetitive.

Most contact with family is fleeting is sparse; “He drives west into the country, where a wife and five kids are beginning to forget what a husband and father looks like,” (157), and interaction with fellow police officers is described as, well, kind of sad;

“Nothing is so amusingly pathetic as when one cop tries to bond with another. Conversations descend into vague mutterings. Compliments are transformed into insults. Words of genuine affection become comically perverted.” (156)

The only truthful human interaction that the detectives get are from victims found at crime scenes. Victims like Latonya Wallace, who show detectives that she was sexually assaulted before she died, and what she ate the day of her murder.

Victims like Gene Cassidy, who was shot twice in the head, and left on the street corner. “One bullet had entered the left cheek, boring upward across the front of the skull and severing the right eye’s optic nerve. The second slug smashed through the left side of the face, shattering the other eye and plunging Gene Cassidy into darkness before continuing on its path, lodging in the brain beyond reach of the surgeon’s knife.” (135)

Homicide detectives have the best and most natural routines with bodies and victims. They chat casually with corpses. Speak fluently with stabbings. Mediate mild conversation with murders, and send their regards to sexual assaults. 

Their routine is one of repetition, one that I would personally find exhausting.

Time and time again, the detectives put in hours, weeks, and months of their lives to make sure a case ‘goes down’, only to find that there’s an issue in court, or some minor slip up that unravels their hard work from the very bottom. “Fifty wasn’t enough; both of them knew that. Fifty years meant parole before twenty.” (134)

The end of chapter three in particular instilled the notion of repetition. Simon writes the final few paragraphs talking about another senseless murder that Pellegrini is called to, but is told to ditch because of the importance of the Latonya Wallace case.

He abandons it, but a week later, is called to another murder.

Another officer shot on the street corner.
Another junkie who blew away his dealer for an 8-ball of crack.
Another mangled, twisted prostitute in an alley.
Another elderly couple in their bedroom.
Another little girl in her rain coat.
Another mother in the middle of a drive-by.
Another little girl.
Another little boy.
Another anyone.

“And Pellegrini goes back in the rotation.”