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Officer Henry Wake
Joshua Hampel


He only had time to react. Stop the bleeding, save the girl, that’s all that mattered and that’s all he concentrated on; pressure on the wound – then it was time to call for backup.

The operator responded quickly, sending more officers and an ambulance, she asked if the responding officer needed an ambulance. “No,” He said, “just get someone here.”

It was difficult now to even act as though there was a chance for survival.


Officer Henry Wake got out of his cruiser with a sigh and walked around the car and made his way up the driveway. At the front door he knocked and the door opened – slowly – creaking for the duration of its movement.

“Hello,” he asked, and then cleared his throat and licked his lips and said the word again, this time louder and with what he hoped sounded like authority.

There was no answer.

His heartbeat quickened, and his hand moved to his side. He touched the gun in its holster.

“This is the police,” He announced while moving through the threshold.

He looked around but all he saw was a living room to his right, then a hallway, and finally a flight of stairs before him leading to the second story loft.

“We’ve received multiple calls from this residence and we’re just making sure everything is okay?”

A sound drew him up the stairs, and at the top he had a bathroom to his left which was empty and a bedroom with the light on across the loft to his right, which is where he moved to next.

Henry thought of his little girl’s room (when the last time he’d been in her bedroom? Sure he’d been in there to kiss her before his shifts started, and when they were over, but that didn’t count), and how its walls were covered with posters of famous boys who sang her favorite songs or starred in her favorite movies. Cat’s room was the total opposite of the room he now found himself in. The walls were blank; the tops of the dresser and the vanity were void of any objects as well.

There were dolls by the window, and where the smiling dolls in his daughter’s room seemed happy and genuine, these dolls were wearing smiles that seemed forced, almost painful, and their wide open eyes weren’t facing forward, but instead were all looking to their right as if catching something from the corner of their eyes. Henry followed their inanimate gaze to a narrow space between the bed and the wall where the light in the room seemed to dim into a darkened stain that hung over that part of the room.

He missed his little girl more than he thought possible at that moment, he would’ve given anything to be with her, holding her, to be anywhere but here.

He licked his lips and drew his gun and moved through the air that was sweet with the scent of shampoo and soap.

Alice was in the corner sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, her knees up, holding a gun, the barrel resting just inside her mouth. Her eyes looked across the gun to Henry.

He exhaled and said: “Hey.”

“Hi,” she said back, the word forming perfectly with the barrel of the gun resting on her lower lip.

“Mind if I sit down,” he asked. She shrugged and he took a step closer and sat down on the corner of the bed. He set the gun down beside his left thigh and asked, “Did you wanna talk? We can just talk,” He was trying to sound calm. “Can you tell me . . . Is it something at home?”

Alice shook her head.

He licked his lips and the sour taste of sweat filled his mouth. “Do you understand what you’re doing?”

Alice looked at Henry for one long moment before nodding, and when she did he could hear her teeth clicking against the barrel of the gun and he shivered at the sound. He closed his eyes for a second and forced himself to swallow. He opened his eyes and looked at Alice. “Do you know why you want to do this?”

Alice shrugged.

His mind worked for something to talk about, something that he could share with this girl that would remind her that she wasn’t alone, no matter how bad things were. “You know, I have a little girl about your age. Catherine. Well, her mom and I call her Cat,” and he smiled, but Alice just watched Henry as he spoke. He thought of something then that might work – had to work . . .

“I’m sorry,” Alice said, the words forming perfectly around the gun that went off.


“Good one Cat!” Barbara cheered with the rest of the parents who all sat on the weathered bleachers. “Just one more out, girls! Cat keep your eyes open!”

A girl from the other team swung and struck the ball, sending it high in the air. Barbara held her breath while Cat moved to get under the ball.

“She’ll get it.” Barbara turned to see her husband standing beside her, smiling.

“Henry? Why – what about work?”

Henry just smiled and the parents cheered; and before Henry could say: “I told you so” his wife was kissing him.

The teams jogged to the home plate where they would shake hands, but Cat stood still with the ball in her mitt looking to the two adults walking through the gate and onto the field.

“Dad,” She said, and then cheered: “Daddy!”

She ran to her dad, as fast as she could, and thanked God for listening to her prayer and for whatever he did to let her father make it to the game.

She ran to her dad, and though it seemed to take forever, she knew that she would get there –

and everything would be okay.

Joshua Hampel lives and works in Wichita, Kansas.