The Weight of a Life (cont) Non-Fiction

First, thank you for reading and this is another excerpt from Weight of a Life.  Please see previous posts for full story.

I walked past one patrol car, readjusting the light to the ground and turned off the other so as to not backlight us too much. 
“Whatchagot?”  I asked as I approached Brian, one of my newer officers.  As one of the probationers, Brian maintained his lean academy profile.  His uniform was crisp and cut a trim silhouette in the dark.   I glanced at Margaret, shoeless with sagging purple socks, the left strap of her tank top hanging off one shoulder and frayed cutoffs to mid thigh.  Her exterior hinted of a woman in her late 40’s but with the influence of the streets and her visible chemical enhancement, she easily could be in her late 20’s it was just hard to tell. 
 “Check out her socks boss, can you believe, guys are still pickin’ her up?”  Brian whispered, emphasizing “still” out of the corner of his mouth as he pointed his chin to the woman’s legs and ankles.  In her socks just out of my view were three syringes.  Two contained a dark liquid with the plungers pulled up, the other looked empty ready to load.
Margaret proceeded to disclose details of her life including her occupation on the streets, method of approach to the ‘johns’ and which ones she knew with her keen street certainty were safe.  She recounted the last several years of her life in a spastic, fluid yet remarkably coherent manner.  Her telegraphing hand gestures broadcast the problems encountered and categorized near misses.  Her hands flew past her face in a feeble attempt to cloak her need to expend the stored up energy from whatever she was on.  Her details were vivid, the talk rapid and only briefly interrupted by a “really?” or a “what?” by one of us.  In answer to one of the “whats”, she explained her drugs of choice were primarily meth and heroin, one to get her up, one to bring her down.  Clearly, she was way up and had stored a stash in her sock for the forth coming down. 
She preferred to work in the cars versus the hotel room she maintained with her meager wages.  The money supported her $150 a day habit and the few dollars left over went to food and hotel.  She detailed her expenditures in detail, giving highlight to her method of securing partially spoiled food from behind the grocery.  Segways for the account of her daily events consisted of the removal of the binding from her hair, finger combing it back, pulling the sweaty mess back up and securing it again.  I was exhausted just watching her.
Of course my pattern of questioning to any woman lacking any sense to relate her risky lifestyle to a higher than average risk of pregnancy lead to:
“How many kids do you have?”  She had at least four.  Two others who died inside her before they were born.  A work – addiction hazard as she put it.  She made no effort to shadow her addiction in assumptions but instead discussed it openly, showing us the syringes, turning her instep out toward us.  She described the places she had burnt out shooting up such as her arms, legs and even disclosed she tried her neck but couldn’t get the hang of it. She pointed to each marred, visible space on her skin, even revealing her stomach as either an area used or explored.  As for her neck, which made us all lean forward as if witnessing a dissection she explained,
“I needed a mirror with me all the time and after trying to carry one in my back pocket, I just kept breakin’ the damn thing.” 
The scars on her calves were skin grafts designed to replace the tissue lost during gangrene from a killer infection.  As a result she had now taken to shooting in the area between her toes.  She had Hepatitis, a raging cough, which came as a brief audible distraction to her constant gyrations and she could not rule out HIV.  She did not care for shoes much since her toes had started to swell.  Her purple socks bled into varying shades of light and dark as she stood on the wet asphalt. 

Weight of a Life -

Weight of a Life (excerpt) please see previous posts for more. 
I tucked my patrol car, ass end first against the block wall of the grocery store at 43rd and Thomas.  I repositioned myself in the seat, shifting slightly to adjust the rise of my vest as it reared up under my neck.  Hot air escaped from the layers just under my chin giving a break from the trapped heat under my uniform.  My computer sprang to life, the glow filling the interior.  A message from two of my guys said plainly; “Sarge, you gotta come see this”.  
I headed south on 27th and by the directions given, my officers should have been about a block south in a parking lot behind a private business that sold payday loans.  I was classified as one of the “baby sergeants, the new girl” both to supervision and relatively new to police work.  I had no sense of gender differences in police work per se but knew plenty of women on the department who subconsciously had the need to prove something from the start with what amounted to perceived “bitchiness”. 
Working the west side of Phoenix, calls ran the gamut from gang shootings, to prostitution, neighbor disputes to drop houses.  I earned opportunities in this line of work to witness even every day scenes twist dramatically into a facade of normal life.  One night's work could reveal the best and the worst in society and not all would make the nightly news or a daily headline.
I parked my car behind the two patrol cars, both flanked nose to nose with spotlights illuminating the dark lot, a business that in the morning would reveal little evidence of our presence.  Our work here like most nights in the dark behind buildings, went undetected with little to show the following day to those now sleeping.  Settings on most nights lent little in the way of commentary from passerby and backdrops consisted of sturdy buildings, white lined parking lots and chaotic neighborhoods.  The cool rain did not drop the temperature as much as it lent a heavy blanket of humidity and I tugged uncomfortably at a layer of undershirt, vest and uniform.  Moistness collected hot against my waist where my belt sat as sweat tracked a path down my chest. 
The patches of dark and light along the concrete and parking lot evaporated almost as you looked at it, giving off a percolating simmer.  Margaret stood in the glare of the light shielding her eyes, engaged in conversation with the officers.  Her hips cantered to one side, then the other.  A hand went to her waist, a shift here to there.  She ran her hands halphaserdly through tangled straw brown bangs.  Drugs had her dance card and took her to the floor as we challenged her activities. 

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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.