I’d never been to the big city before. After graduating from the academy, I’d only worked small towns. Places that didn’t have precincts. We didn’t have superintendents, just bosses. So of course when I apply for the big job, everyone’s surprised. “Why do you want to move there?” they ask. “It’s gonna be terrible. Not like here at all.”
I tell them that’s the point. I’m going to waste in these sleepy towns where nothing’s going wrong. I had the best marksmanship scores in my class. My mom taught me shooting ever since I could hold a rifle. She taught me to do the right thing. She taught me mercy, and strength. Knowing when to pull the trigger, knowing when to hold off. I wasn’t looking to kill anybody, otherwise I’d have joined the army or something. My parents would have loved it. Mom had been in the service, met Dad that way. And I hear the Rangers can always use more snipers. No, I want to go somewhere that needs my skills as a peace officer. I know, messed up combination, right? Shooting people for peace. But contradiction is part and parcel of being a cop, you know what I’m saying?
I got a really glowing recommendation from my buddies, my boss, everyone. I pack up, I move. First night at the new place, I think I’m in the jungle or something. There’s sirens at 2 a.m., junkies down in the alley, some kind of weird noise I can hear through the walls. I tell myself, “this is what you signed up for, so suck it up”. So I show up, first day of work, ready for anything. And they are busy. I don’t mean like, hey good, we could use a new guy busy. I mean, here’s your vest and your piece, stop by the armory on your way out for some unofficial hardware and don’t plan to retire busy.
It takes a week for somebody to hand me an envelope of cash. They’d warned me about this, back home. “Everyone’s corrupt out there”. I’d thought about it - I’m sure every cop does - and I decided I wasn’t going to make waves, but I wasn’t going to be a dirty cop either. I told them I wasn’t going to be on beat long enough to make me a good investment. That I was heading to SWAT. They shrugged and moved on.
SWAT’s got openings. Now these days, I know enough that this really worries me. Those guys are supposed to be good. They’re supposed to handle whatever comes at them. I was expecting a three-month fast track, at best. They put me there in six weeks. I ask what happened to the last guy. They tell me “you don’t want to know”. I’m like, "I kinda do, guy. If there’s something I need to look out for–" They laugh. "This town, and everyone in it, is trying to kill you. You look out for everything." They’re not kidding. There’s some real maniacs on the streets there, let me tell you. People with serious mental disabilities. Too bad their problems never affect their aim. I swear they’re putting something in the water here.
Finally it happens. The big one. We got a guy - big name, wanted terrorist - holed up. No way we’re sending in a negotiator, the last two guys got killed. This maniac isn’t playing around. He doesn’t even want anything. No demands, no leverage. He just likes snuffing people. And he’s got a seriously long record of doing it. Only they keep sending him back for “rehabilitation”. Never the chair, of course. Liberal nonsense. If they brought back the death penalty, we’d see less crime in this town.
Even the commish has some history with this lunatic. Lost family, from what they say. I’m kind of surprised when I hear the order. We’re to stand down, we have a guy inside or something. So I’m thinking, either SWAT made it in, or something fishy is going on. A quick head count says all my team is with me.
I’m curious what the deal is, so I get my rifle out and look down the scope. I see our perp talking to another guy, wearing full body armor. There’s hostages. I count at least three. No word that they’re in danger. There’s no device. I can see the perp’s hands. He’s got one revolver, other hand is empty. He’s not carrying a dead-man switch.
The perp starts shooting. At this point I got a decision to make. This guy is a major, major asshole. He’s murdered dozens of people. He’s probably going to kill the hostages. That’s what unpredictable people with guns tend to do. On the other hand, we have a stand-down order. If I make a move, it’s my ass. They can throw the book at me.
I look at my fellow officers. They’re tense, angry. They know this dude. This dude probably killed friends of theirs. They’re good guys, even the ones taking graft. I’m new here. I don’t really fit in. To be honest, I have my doubts.
So I make the call. I have a shot, and I take it. Perp goes down in a cloud of red mist that used to be his head. Everyone just kind of stops, and turns to look at me. I know what’s coming next. I surrender my weapon and assume the position.
They throw the book at me. Figures. I let myself wonder how many guys the perp had on his payroll. How many judges, lawyers, cops. But that’s okay, because I can see the looks in the eyes of every single cop that I walk past on the way to trial. There’s a light there that wasn’t before, like a cloud has been lifted.
In prison, nobody talks to me, nobody messes with me. You’d think I was a leper or something. I get out in six months.
My career as a cop is over, of course. I’m not allowed to use a firearm as part of the terms of my release. But I can still work security jobs, like this one. What I’m banking on is that you’ll see why I did what I did. I did it to save lives. I did it to protect more innocent victims. And I did it for the people around me. I took on that load for what I was and am convinced was the right thing to do. It wasn’t anger, or violent impulses. It was just looking out for the people on my watch.
And that’s the story of how I killed the Joker.