It was hard to believe that this was the end.
Flip a switch and it's all over. How could so simple an action take on so much importance?
This was final; there was no get-out clause and no small print.
It isn't my finger on the button, but it might as well be. I agreed to this.
There are few precious moments left, and all I can do is wait alone in silence. No one else could possibly understand how I was feeling; I couldn't even fathom my own emotions.
The experts had done everything they could, and probably more than they should have. The destruction left by the street gang was too severe. We all knew that any effort was a futile gesture. It just took me a little longer to admit it. I suppose I was grateful they carried on trying until I was ready to face the reality.
My mind wandered unbidden to past times.
That first day I had been completely distracted by a very well-endowed blonde. Funnily enough it wasn't so much her as her T-shirt that caught my attention. It was emblazoned with the logo, "You're not the first, and you won't be the last." I liked that: the transient nature of life concisely stated in two lines. It neatly summed up my attitude to so many things: girls, jobs, and partners... I suppose it shows how much I've changed over the past couple of years.
When I finally marshalled my attention back to business my heart sank. Too flash and too juvenile was all I could think. I didn't believe we'd ever mesh, but then that emergency call came in, and instinct and training took over. We didn't just survive the ordeal, we taught the consummate master-class: Criminal Intelligence 101. After that I didn't give the partnership another thought; somehow it worked.
A gloved hand hovers above the switch. Part of me wants to run. I don't want to witness this. Grimly I hold my ground. It was just as important to be there at the end, as it had been through life. I owed it to myself to see this through. I could only accept the truth and be free to move on if I stayed, and besides I wanted to be able to look in the mirror tomorrow. One thing I could never be accused of was cowardice.
Suddenly images of all the girls we'd pulled, all the chases, the shoot-outs and the injuries flashed across my mind. For me this was the end of an era. Then it happened, a finger stretched out and hit that red button.
"You alright mate?" Bodie's voice came from behind me. "Knew I'd find you here."
I didn't turn around. I couldn't prise my eyes away from the machine. We both watched as the crusher completed its cycle. A hand touched my shoulder and a small metal object was thrust towards me.
"Thought you might like a souvenir," Bodie explained.
I looked down and had to smile at the silver RS2000 boot badge that was being offered. I guess there was one person who did understand me perfectly, and I hoped he, at least, would be the last.
"Pubs are open," he continued.
I slipped the badge in my pocket. "Good, I could use a pint."