It is the sales and marketing fad today to praise military veterans for their service. This is well and good, but it is a cropped image of their lives and of battle.  Many leave the service to become police officers. Veterans are praised for being veterans, and as soon as they become police they are denounced as “pigs.” Hypocrisy is always ironic. S&M is always cropped. It is not the fad today to be grateful to the police. Nor is it understood that they are more exposed and in danger than the military.

In truth, they have actually entered a deadlier game than military service. They have joined what I call Carousel. It is not the Carousel of Logan’s Run. Nor is it necessarily as deadly, but it is a cyclical game of death, in its way. I’m not a COP. Didn’t really want to be one. I prefer to crack mysteries. I prefer to be the hunter. In Cold Case, in Homicide and Vice, in CSI, one is the hunter. Hunters blend in. Your target is a narrow one. Each case stands on its own. In each case you are after a specific perpetrator.

The COP — Constable on Patrol– however, is not as envious a position. He is a marked player in the game.  He is a gladiator in the battle. An urban gladiator. He is visible. His battle is not 10,000 miles away.  A veteran returns home  and doesn’t feel his face can be identified by a vanquished enemy. A COP lives and works in Baghdad. He raises his children there. After 30 years he retires there. He sleeps with a gun under his pillow. Baghdad may be called Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle– wherever. When many police retire they leave the city they have served for decades and buy a farm in the country or in the hills. They want peace and safety. They still sleep with a gun handy.

This is Carousel.  . . .Maybe it’s more like Rollerball. — another 1970s dystopic movie. The COP is in the battle. He’s sometimes a part of the carnage. He is picked up with the others and carted off behind the scenes. The hunters leave the stands. They stalk their quarry. They are determined to find the perp.

Homicide is the most prestigious position on a police force under that of Administration. They handle the “Heavies.” They are the hunters of vicious killers. And killers are cowards. They are predators. You do not see them. They hide in the urban undergrowth. They come out only to strike, only to play Carousel. Sometimes the audience stands are empty and no one sees the game. But it is still played and the predators return to the shadows, leaving carnage behind them that only the players see.

The elevator thumps and clunks, the doors open. You are underneath the city now, in the police morgue.  The doctors are carving away on victims looking for clues. CSI has already combed the crime scene, looking for clues. You must synthesize all data and then venture into the shadows to hunt. It is a deadly game Carousel. Every aspect of it.

As someone who investigates mystery, which has included tracking serial killers, I have seen the game from the shadows, and I have had to play. I like being the hunter. I can walk quietly in the shadows. But I walk in the shadows of time as well. I am separated from murder, sometimes by decades. I have seldom felt in danger, except when visiting certain places in the urban area. Yet I have been reminded there is still danger for anyone in Carousel, for anyone who has been seen in the stands frequently.  Villains can still come forward through time. They can rejoin Carousel in order to protect their identity. Some can come forward in time to seek revenge. Some police have said I should be carrying (CCW), but I do not like to. I’ve been offered the course for nothing. I’ve been seen in the stands, they remind me. I’m known to investigate.

But I stalk from afar. I am rather spoiled because of it. I can select cases that interest me. I thus have a limited set of potential enemies. Every visible level of law enforcement, however, packs heat off duty– judges, district attorneys, CSI (remember they have to testify in court). Frankly, even lots of news anchors and reporters carry.

This underscores for you that every aspect of Carousel is dangerous. Shadows and undergrowth are everywhere. Mystery always carries the unknown. Terror is the worst thing in a soldier’s life. Police live with it every day, and not just for a tour of duty. It is for decades during service, and then for the rest of their life they may fear something taking form in the shadows and stepping forward seeking revenge.

Do not forget that you are safe because there are those who challenge Carousel. You seldom see the game of Carousel. You seldom see the carnage. You cannot appreciate the clean-up crew’s quick efficiency. You do not see those who walk in the shadows, both the good and the bad.

Ask any Iraq war veteran if he would have liked to live for 30 years in Baghdad and raise his children there. When you think of it that way, you can understand what the police sacrifice to keep their city and you safe. Maybe you would never target a COP, but all it takes is one enemy, and each COP has more than one.

The fact you do not know the truth of Carousel tells you how efficient the police are.



*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 


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