Swan Dive! Ch. 37: Truce

“Thanks for coming,” Marty Durkin said.

Randall Lark walked into the small neatly decorated apartment.

“You armed?” Durkin asked.

Lark said, “What do you think?”

“Me too,” Durkin said. “You want to put the guns on the table?”

Randall Lark slowly drew a Ruger Max-9 from a shoulder holster and laid the loaded pistol on the kitchen table. Durkin drew a Sig Sauer P365X from a holster on his hip and laid it on the table.

“Truce?” Durkin said.

“Truce,” said Lark.

Minutes later both men, one Black, the other white, sat across from each other. They sipped from cold brown bottles of Pacifico beer. Durkin put out a bowl of pretzel sticks. He ate a handful.

“I threw my last gun into the Gulf of Mexico for peace of mind,” Lark said. “That was a mistake, so I bought another one.”

“I bought mine after I moved here,” ex-cop Durkin said. “After I met you and started wondering if you’d shoot me.”

Cool and calm, Randall Lark spoke with a touch of menace in his voice.

“Keep wondering,” Lark said.

“You’re always on my mind,” Durkin said.

“Good,” Lark said.

Randall Lark ran his forefinger along the barrel of his gun.

“What kind of gun did you use to kill my baby brother Tyrone?” he asked.

Durkin never knew how to answer Lark. Maybe he’d feel better if Lark did shoot and kill him the way Durkin accidently shot and killed Lark’s 14-year-old brother that night on the Stone Harbor beach when he mistook a piccolo for the silver barrel of a gun.

“That was a Glock 19 Gen 4 9mm,” Durkin said. “I turned it in that night.”

Randall Lark took a long sip of beer. Then he took another. He ate a single thin pretzel stick.

“You see the video of those Memphis cops killing Tyre Nichols?”

“I couldn’t watch it,” Durkin said.

“That’s a big part of your problem,” Lark said. “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

“I read about it,” Durkin said.

“You need to watch it happen, Officer Durkin,” Lark said.

“Don’t call me officer,” Durkin said.

“If you don’t see the murder with your own eyes you can offer thoughts and prayers, be done with it and do jack shit to find justice,” Lark said. “Justice for Tyre.”

Durkin looked at the bright oranges on the plastic tablecloth pattern.

“You think the cops are guilty?” Lark asked.

“Yeah,” Durkin said.

“Would you have punched Tyre?”


“Would you have kicked Tyre in the head?”


‘Would you have tased Tyre?”


“You’d have just shot Tyre when he ran, right?”

With nowhere for Durkin to run he sat silently, anxious, not knowing what else to say or do.

“Answer me, officer,” Lark said.

“I’m not a police officer anymore,” Durkin said.

“You should never have been one,” Randall Lark said.

Durkin looked at his gun on the table. Maybe he should just pick it up and pull the trigger twice, ending the pain for them both. Lark looked at his gun and thought the same thought. Both men had killed before.

“I was a good cop,” Durkin said.

“You were a white cop,” Lark said.

“Those Memphis cops are Black, Randall,” Durkin said. “Like you.”

Lark clenched his fists. Struggling and desperate, Durkin pulled a trick question out of nowhere.

“You ever kill anybody by accident when you were fighting in Afghanistan?”

Lark never saw the curveball coming.

“You did, didn’t you?” Durkin said.

“War gets foggy,” Randall Lark said.

“So does the beach,” Durkin said.

“Different kind of fog, man,” Lark said.

Randall Lark sneered at Durkin.

“Too many of you white cracker cops with your shaved heads, pumped iron arms full of tattoos and mirror sunglasses think you’re special operations soldiers when the closest you’ll ever get to a real firefight is a video game.”

Durkin hated mostly white male police posturing. Macho control freak air poisoned pure law and order police culture. What happened in Memphis unleashed Black officers as bad as white officers exhibiting the same aggressive predation that mostly punished unarmed Blacks. Durkin sensed that some of that blitzkrieg assault mentality had rubbed off on him, making him too hyper, too ready to open fire. Maybe fear and temper, maybe even covert racism, made him too ready to kill a perceived Black threat even if that threat was an unarmed child practicing piccolo music on the beach.

Randall Lark nudged his gun forward with his finger.

“If I had the power I’d defund every police department in the country,” he said.

“Me, too,” Durkin said. “You know what else I’d defund?”

Randall Lark glared not sure if Durkin was mocking him.

“The military,” Durkin said. “I’d cut the Pentagon budget in half.”

Now he touched his gun.

“Me, too,” Lark said.

Durkin went for another two Pacificos. He liked his new apartment, his new independence, the feeling he was hip drinking Mexican beer. He had to admit his surprise, though, when Lark agreed to stop by when he invited him over to talk. Happy he had decided not to shoot Lark and that Lark decided not to shoot him, Durkin tried to lighten up just a little.

“So where do we put all the money we save with the budget cuts?” Durkin asked.

Randall’s face went grim.

“Restitution,” he said. “But no matter how much we pay countless victims around the world, we still won’t have enough money to pay for all the killing we did.”