Back at the house, Officer Montoya bandages my wounds. I sit on the toilet lid in the bathroom as she takes a seat on a stool. She holds clean rag over the sink beside her and pours isopropyl alcohol onto the cloth. "This will sting,"
she tells me before placing the rag on the slash on my neck. Yeah, like I didn't know that already.
As the rag touches my neck I twitch, feeling the intense pain surge through my skin. I stay calm and relax myself, ignoring the pain I feel. Batman doesn't feel pain - neither
Montoya takes away the cloth and prepares a bandage. "Lucky for you,"
she says with a smile. "The blood clotted pretty quickly,"
she says placing a large white pad on my neck and securing it in place with medical tape. She smooths it out with her fingers, paying close attention to not hit the cut beneath. "There,"
she says leaning back. "All done."
I say eagerly - jumping to my feet. As I move to walk out the door, Montoya grabs my arm and holds me still. I turn to her and she begins to stare at me - a deep glare, like she has something to say. "...Yeah?"
I ask in an awkward voice.
she begins, taking in a heavy sigh. "Alright, look. I've got to know. You know how to handle yourself. You're dad's taught you since you were a little girl how to protect yourself. How'd this happen?"
I shrug, embarassed and ashamed.
"I was scared."
I say simply, looking away. "It's like, I knew what I had to do but...I didn't - couldn't do it."
Montoya nods, letting out a long sigh. As I turn back to her, I see a new look on her face - one of understanding.
she says with a small laugh. "I know what you mean. Paralyzed with fear."
My head ***** and I become curious. She knows what that's like too?
I ask, prodding her for the story I know is running through her mind at this very moment. She grins, releasing my arm and folding her hands together in front of her face. She nods to the toilet, urging me to take a seat. Eager to hear the story, I comply.
"Almost four years ago,"
she begins, her eyes staring off into the tiles as she remembers her past. "It was a training simulation at the academy. Drug raid. Simple enough. We'd practiced these simulations since we got there, so it was pretty standard routine. Or so we thought."
She pauses, the images playing through her mind like a movie. I can see the look in her eyes - she's reliving it. Every second.
"Turns out one of the other recruits involved was taken aside ahead of time and given special instructions. He was the only one who knew when we went into the simulation that it wasn't a drug raid scenario - it was an officer down."
"We entered the building in our usual style, firearms drawn - ready to fire. It was my turn to lead the raid so I went in first. I kicked in the door and stormed the room, my unit behind me. As I entered the room I found four men standing around a table with the 'drugs.' I screamed, 'Gotham Police! Hands up!' They complied rather well, stepping away from the table with little to no defiance. I sent in two of the other officers to cuff them. That's when it happened."
She takes a deep breath preparing to continue. Her hand moves to her forehead and brushes away a loch of hair, tucking it carefully behind her ear.
"I was focused on the criminals we had in our sights. I wasn't looking around the room like I should've. That's when another man sprung up from behind some crates at the side of the room. He fired his gun, the echo of the shot still ringing in my ear now. I watched him hit the ground, smacking into the floor from his leap. As I saw the gray puff of smoke roll off the barrel of his pistol, I heard a groan come from behind. I turned to see one of the officers drop to the ground, holding his neck as if he'd been shot. It was the recruit who was taken aside before we started - these were his special instructions. As I watched him writhe on the ground my heart stopped, my stomach dropped, and the fear set in."
Suddenly, she turns to me, shooting me a smile and putting her hand on my shoulder. "See, Barb, it might've been a simulation - the gun shot merely a blank - but it was so real. That was the point, you know? To make it seem as real as possible."
I say in a small voice. "So...what'd you do?"
she says plainly. "I let fear take hold of me completely. We'd run this simulation so many times before I was ready for what I was used to. The moment the scenario changed, my brain stopped and I let my panic take hold."
Whoah...that's like, exactly what happened to me. But...come on, she's gotta have some silver linning to this story.
"So, wait, how'd you get over it? What happened next?"
"What happened next?"
She asks, taking a quick breath. "Well, I failed the scenario and was reprimanded by my superior officer. He told me that were it real life, I would've been shot too, and Gotham PD would be burying some of her finest." She grins unexpectedly, shaking her head happily. "But, then he told me something else - something that's helped me to this very day."
I ask rudely, interrupting her. Surprisingly, she isn't mad. She just smiles at me, rubbing my shoulder gently.
"He told me fear is a one way street between you and your adversary. Only one of you can experience fear, otherwise, you'd both running away. He said that an officer has many tools to get their job done. A radio to call for help, hand cuffs to gain control, and a vest for protection. But the most important tool an officer has is something we don't carry on our belts. It's fear. Intimidation, really."
She says in a powerful voice. My eyes widen and I listen closely, interested to hear what she has to say next.
"See, Barb, the criminals use fear every day. That's how they get by - how they escape. They use fear and panic to gain control, and when they're in control they call the shots. But our job as police is to be in control. We need to take the power from the criminals, take away their control. Once we do that - they're defenseless."
"So...the only way to gain control,"
I say, trying to understand what she's saying. "Is to make them afraid?"
she grins. "When we draw our guns, nine times out of ten we never have to fire them. So why draw them to begin with? To make the criminals afraid. Make them realize we're in control of the situation, that they don't call the shots anymore. Once that happens, they lay down their weapons and submit - and then? ... Then everyone gets to live to see another day. Especially them."
She squeezes my arm and gives me a wink. "Come on,"
she says - rising from the stool and heading out the door into the hallway. "It's late."
I rise and follow her out into the hallway. She puts her arm around me and smiles warmly toward me. "It's been a long day for everyone, Barb. I think you need some rest."
She points to my room and I nod, complying without resistance. As I step over the thresh hold of the door, I turn back and call to her.
I say in a reverent voice, catching her attention. "Thanks."
She smiles and waves me off, heading down the stairs as she goes downstairs. I turn back and close the door behind me.
I say, taking a moment to comprehend everything she said. "How...how strange."
I ponder, walking to the bed and taking a seat on the firm matress. "Fear as a positive tool..."
I mutter, flopping onto my back. "That's how he does it!"
I exclaim. "The Batman uses fear, too."
As I reply her story over and over in my head, my eyes begin to flutter. It's late and my body is tired. I begin to drift off into sleep as I hear her words once more in my head.
'Fear is a one way street.'
'Only one of you can experience fear.'
'The most important tool...is fear.'
Fear, I think as my eyes shut tightly. Fear isn't my enemy - it's my ally. A tool waiting to be used. All I have to do is embrace it, harness it. Then...then I will no longer have fear. I will become it.