Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1768478-A-Lifelong-Bond
by Jeff
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Career · #1768478
WdC Survivor Entry #2: Exactly 1254 words, from the perspective of an article of clothing.

I am strong. I'm tough, I'm resilient, and I keep people safe. There are only a select few in this world who choose to dedicate their lives to protecting others; to putting themselves in harm's way so that others can be made safer. My job is to reassure other people, to protect them from the dangers to which our line of work so often subjects us.

I've been in this industry a long time. Truth be told, I should have retired years ago, along with all the others from my graduating class. But while they all eventually retired, some due to old age and others destroyed in the prime of their lives, I still remain in active service, on the front lines every day. There's no question that I can attribute my long career to my partner, Embry Lawson.

Embry and I started at a Sheriff's Department together in small-town America. I'm not even sure what small town that was; it was so many years ago and we've been so many places since then, it's hard to keep them all straight. But that's where we started our careers, each of us brand new to the job, and partnered up without much expectation that we'd stick together as long as we have.

Neither one of us really expected to have our careers take off like they did. That Sheriff's Department didn't do much more than confiscate booze at high school parties, or make sure things didn't get too rowdy during the annual county fair that we hosted every year. So no one really expected a real, live serial killer to go on a spree and carve up some of the town's more prominent citizens before Embry and I finally took him down. It wasn't easy, though, and if I hadn't taken that bullet for Embry, he probably would have been the Small Town Slasher's final victim.

We were heroes that night. Turns out, the Small Town Slasher had been operating all across the country over the past decade, racking up dozens of victims in dozens of towns just like ours. Embry and I caught him and we made national headlines together, which vaulted us to the attention of the feds.

Our career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation began shortly after.

Embry and I were celebrities in our little Sheriff's Department, and it soon became clear we were destined for bigger and better things. The FBI came calling and offered us a position on a new task force that was being established to track down other serial killers, just like the Small Town Slasher. Between you and me, I overheard some talk about the FBI just wanting Embry, but my partner is a class act and he wouldn't take the job without me. I saved his life, after all.

A month later, we said goodbye to the little town and Sheriff's Department we had called home for those first few years of our professional lives. But we traded all that in for the glitz and glamour of Washington, D.C. The task force was being assembled, and Embry and I were the first ones they asked to join up. I have to give credit to Embry, though. It was his ideas, his experience, his strategies that really made the task force what it was, and resulted in catching no fewer than ten active serial killers all across the United States. I was more of the silent partner, always there for him, to reassure him; to have his back when things got dangerous. While Embry is a man of many talents, action is my specialty, and that's where I really have the opportunity to shine.

And shine I did. Over the course of capturing those ten serial killers, Embry and I got into our share of scrapes. Especially once he was named the task force leader, he didn't feel right about asking his team members to do something he wasn't prepared to do himself, so he always insisted on being the first one into the breach. Of course, that also meant that I followed in close proximity. While he was a brilliant tactician, Embry couldn't anticipate every scenario, and that first bullet from the Small Town Slasher wasn't the only one I took for my partner. I've kept him out of harm's way more times than I can count, and I've saved his life three times. That's probably why we're so inseparable now. Heck, Embry's been offered new partners... better ones, if I'm being entirely honest.

At that point, I knew I wasn't any spring chicken. I was starting to show signs of age, general wear and tear; those frayed edges that always seem to appear and expand as the years go on. Was I experienced? Yes. Was I good at my job? Yes. But you know how the bureaucracy works, always trying to figure out how to build a better mousetrap; how to tinker with things and tweak them to try and produce a better result.

Thankfully, I had Embry on my side, who has a profound respect for history and tradition. He's an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it kind of guy, and that attitude has been what's kept us together for all these years. I've saved his life, I've kept him out of danger; he didn't see any need to replace me with a fresher face until I started letting him down. And he and I both knew that I would never let him down.

Eventually, Embry got promoted up from the leader of the task force to a desk job. It was only a natural extension of his skills and expertise. Instead of tracking down serial killers himself, his job became training the next generation. We were both getting older and it was probably unrealistic to expect that the two of us would continue on in the field. The decision was probably exacerbated by the fact that Embry met a nice girl and wanted to settle down and have a family. A desk job was a better fit for a family man.

The Bureau set us up with a nice office in the J. Edgar Hoover building in D.C. It was a little on the small side, but we were able to share the space amicably. We'd often reminisce about the good old days, charging into houses and storage units, wherever the trail of the killers led us.

I got to see his family sometimes, when they came to visit him at the office. He'd put his little boy on his lap, with his wife in our lone guest chair, and tell them stories about the days when the two of us fought the bad guys together on the front lines. His son loved those stories, and it's probably one of the reasons why – when he was old enough – he followed in his father's footsteps and sought a career in law enforcement.

Those were good days. Embry's since retired, having left the Bureau behind to spend more time with his family, and to travel the world. We don't see each other very often anymore, except for those times when he's feeling a little nostalgic and wants to remember his heyday. Then he'll steal away up to the attic, where he's stored me along with all the other memorabilia from his long career: medals, badges, credentials, commendations... a lifetime of accomplishment, all fit snugly into a single cardboard box.

And in that box is where I've also been laid to rest. His first, his faithful, his only... bulletproof vest.

(1,254 words - verified by MS Word 2007)
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