Michael Carmac is a small-town cop on the verge of a breakdown. After a split-second decision leaves an innocent child dead, Michael's reality unravels. Suffering from PTSD, he finds comfort in a bottle while struggling to find forgiveness. Fellow officer Bertram Angel offers Michael support, and what starts as friendship turns into something deeper--two men looking to find love, forgiveness and acceptance while moving forward and healing wounds that don't always show.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is an extensively re-edited and expanded title.
"Hey, Carmac, what are you doing here?"
Officer Michael Carmac had been caught on his knees, a position he didn't get into unless duty called for it. In this instance, it was his conscience. He looked up to see his partner Angel staring down at him, a mocking expression on his handsome face--one that Michael had been thinking way too much about lately. These days he would often find himself sneaking furtive glances at his partner's bottom lip, which was fuller than the top one, and wondering what it would be like to kiss that tender, jutting flesh.
"I don't know" was the best response Michael could manage.
"You still ain't sleeping?" Angel asked.
"Give it a rest, huh?" He got up, and brushed a hand across his perfectly creased uniform.
"Making sure you don't let praying ruin your perfect creases?" Angel joked. "You come in here every day. What do you think you're gonna find?"
"I don't know. I guess I keep hoping to find a way out of my head," Michael said as he looked his partner over. "Maybe you should try and find your way to the dry cleaners; your uniform's a damn mess." He wanted to lighten the mood, but he knew Angel wouldn't buy his lame attempt at humor.
"Michael--" Angel started to say.
"I can't take the guilt and shame any more, all right? I keep hearing the gun shot, seeing that kid hit the ground, the blood." Michael's voice broke and he dropped his head. He couldn't bear to see the concern he knew would be in his partner's eyes.
Angel made a sound like he wanted to say more, but a voice coming from behind stopped him.
"Maybe he's looking for what all people who come into the Lord's house seek--peace, maybe some time to reflect, Officer Angel."
Both men turned to see Father Hensley. He was the younger of the two parish priests and had an affinity for the local police. He was also the kinder, younger one and, Michael noted, the better-looking one. He had played basketball with Hensley on more than one occasion and was shocked to find the priest to be agile and in decent shape for an older man.
"Or maybe confession, Michael," Father Hensley said, turning patient eyes on the kneeling cop. "It is about that time, if you want to get out before the general public starts coming in." He turned to Angel. "You might benefit from some time in the confessional as well, Bertram."
Michael couldn't help but grin. Bertram Angel hated being called by his first name and cringed every time someone said it. Both men were sure Father Hensley did it intentionally.
"Hey, Father, just because my name is Angel doesn't mean I am one," he said with a smirk. He turned to look at Michael, who had just gotten to his feet, the squeak of his pristine black shoes echoing in the silence of the church. "You come find me when you're done being sorry," Angel said sarcastically before turning and walking away.
Michael watched him walk out, what he wanted to say burning at the back of his throat.
Father Hensley led Michael away from the pew, where he had been kneeling. "Come, son."
Michael paused, thinking he heard the squeal of Angel's squad car peeling out of the parking lot. Then again, he hadn't slept, so it could have been a sound inside his head. There had been so many sounds since the incident. So many smells... His stomach began to turn but managed to calm the queasiness with a few deep breaths before following Father Hensley toward the confessional.