-A Writer's Reflection

An Opportunity to Save a Life

He was nervous. He was focused. Neither he could hear the wind nor the footsteps. The sun had set, but the night was bright under full moon. He was nervous with anticipation. He was aware he was early, yet he was agitated and impatient. Wearing a tuxedo, he was admired by every lady that crossed him. He was nervous, because he was waiting for his date.

She was excited. She was eager. She had to wait, as it was not time yet. The parking was half-empty owing to a weekday. She was excited with anticipation. She was early, but she was in no hurry. She wanted everything to be perfect. Wearing a blue dinner gown, she was envy of every lady that crossed her. She was nervous, because she was his date.

At exactly 7:30, she stepped out of car. He turned around to see her. Her ears were sparkling due to diamonds on them. His smile was contagious. She arrived at the door. He kissed her. She blushed. He said, “You look gorgeous.” 

Her blush widened. He held the door for her. After a minute of pause, she said, “We agreed to no cheesy dialogues.” He chuckled, “Yes, but you can’t stop me from speaking the universal truth. You look gorgeous.” 

He had made a reservation in advance, so a waiter was waiting for them. The waiter showed them to their private booth. A beautiful yellow rose was lying on the table with a bottle of wine. The waiter smiled and left. He picked up the rose and presented to his lady. She accepted graciously, “This is lovely. Thank you.”

He said, “As lovely as you, my love.” She laughed and both sat down, “Your cheesiness is getting worse and worse. Let’s drop the pretense.”

He also laughed, “Pretense! I’m honoring your order.”

While playing with the rose, she said, “Order! I just mentioned that it would be nice to celebrate our first anniversary exactly like our first date.”

He did not want to fall into the trap. He just smiled and said, “You do look irresistible today.” Before she could reply, he called waiter. The waiter opened a wine bottle and poured into their glasses.  Both raised their glasses, “Cheers to us.” Both took a sip, looked at each other and smiled. After a second, they looked away and drank another sip. They again looked at each other, smiled and looked away.

She said, “Hmmm…this wine is good.”
He said, “Do you like it?”
She said, “Yeah. Yeah. I do.”
He said, “So it tastes good, right?”
She said, “It does.”

They drank wine quietly. The waiter came, poured more wine and served them salad.
She said, “And this date is as awkward as the first one.”
He laughed, “We’re quiet ones. I’m surprised we lasted a year together.”
She said, “That is because of our work.”
He said, “Our work? 

She said, “I’m district attorney. You’re police inspector. We talk all day to nasty characters. I think we enjoy our quietness after long days.”
He said, “I’ve been thinking on that line. Do you think us dating is conflict of interest?”
The waiter came with main course. The waiter opened a new wine bottle, cleared their salad bowls and served the main dish.
Her eyes sparkled looking at the dish. She said, “You’re such a sweet. You ordered Salmon, my favorite.”

He said, “I have to please my lady today.” She blushed and they started eating.
After few seconds, she said, “I don’t want any more awkwardness. Let’s talk.”
He asked, “About what?”
She stopped eating, looked straight into his eyes and said, “Why do you think our dates are conflict of interest?”

He said, “We discuss so many cases together and many times we are on the opposite sides. If we get influenced by each other, we may end up screwing someone’s life.”
She said, “Wise man, why didn’t you think this when you asked me out a year ago? That was the worst timing. I was delivering a notice for more information on an inmate.”
He said, “Spur of the moment. You were irresistible on that day as well.”
She said, “But that was conflict of interest. “

He said, “May be. Before I open your request and read it, inmate 1479 was executed. His execution order was already signed, so there could not be any conflict of interest.”
She said, “It was. You became so mesmerized by me that you didn’t even open the notice.” She laughed hard and said after a second, “Forget about it. What do you think of executions?”
He said, “I don’t think they serve any purpose. The purpose of legal system is to provide offenders a chance to improve. Executions should only be for repeat offenders.”
“Yes right.” She said sarcastically. “1479 was executed for rape and murder of a woman. How is that not justified?”

He stopped eating, took a sip of wine and thought for a moment, “Well! When you put it that way, there’s no argument.”
She snapped back, “What can be the argument otherwise?”
He said, “Executions are ineffective. As a society, you should be preserving every life. That is the only way to survive.”

Now she stopped eating, put her silverware in the plate and said, “Death penalty is a big deterrent. It makes people afraid of committing crimes.”

He said, “Put me in solitary confinement in a jail for a day and I will be your slave. Who does commit crime and say I will go to jail for a year? Jail term is enough deterrent and a chance to improve criminals. An opportunity to make them part of the society again.”
She said, “Let’s agree to disagree then.” They both started eating again. She gulped some wine and said politely, “Do you think our relationship will last?”

He said, “No doubt, it will. We just agreed to disagree on such a sensitive topic. We respect each other’s view.” She smiled. He held her right hand with his left hand and pressed it gently.
She said, “It was still funny under the circumstances you asked me out. I was delivering a notice for medical information for an inmate who was about to be executed. What an odd place and time!”
He laughed, “Indeed and that exercise also proved futile. 1479 was executed anyway. Our current Governor is in your team. He likes executing.”

She said, “No one likes executing. We believe that is an important part of our legal system.”
He said, “Yes. True. I meant Governor had decided.”

She said, “I believe so, too. Governor was just doing formality of asking for medical records under pressure of some activists. Activists believed 1479 was mentally unstable and that was enough grounds for not executing him. If you ask me, that was one more reason. 1479 was mentally unstable and criminal; just execute him. How can he be of any use to the society? But then, we are law enforcement. We can’t enforce the laws only if we like. We just enforce them as prescribed.”
He said, “Yeh we enforce them as prescribed. Then I should have opened the notice and sent you 1479’s medical details.”

She said, “If that’s what the law and rule says, you slacker.” She laughed. He just smiled. They finished eating their Salmon. The waiter came; he cleared the table and served desserts.
He emptied his wine. The waiter poured some more. He said, “Not slacker. We get three days to respond. We didn’t get three days and I didn’t know you were asking for his medical records. 1479 was executed the very next day you delivered me the notice.”

She said, “There you go. No one can convict you. I also get three days to deliver the notice and I delivered it in two days. No one can convict me either. Happy ending.”
He stared at her and said, “You are smart and beautiful. I am lucky.”
She said, “And you are drunk.” They both smiled.

He ate a couple of spoons of his cake and then said, “I could have opened your notice immediately and sent the medical details of 1479.”
She said, “Yes you could have.”
He said, “He was mentally unstable.”
She said, “In that case, he might not have been executed.”
He said, “True.”

She said, “But all these are speculation. You need three days to deliver a response, which you didn’t have.” He didn’t respond and continued eating. Once she finished eating her dessert she said, “I could have issued you a notice as soon as I was ordered by the Governor that would have given you more time. You might have opened the notice and sent the medical details of 1479.”

He said, “I don’t think we could have made much difference. Judge and jury sentenced 1479 to death penalty overlooking his mental issues.”

She said, “Yes and the Governor knew we need six days in total to provide response: three for me to deliver notice and three for you to deliver medical records. As you said, he had made up his mind about execution and he was just doing formality of sending the notice.”

He said, “True.”
She said, “But we had an opportunity to save a life.”
He said, “So did the judge and the Governor. Our wonderful system gave four people opportunities to save a life and yet we failed.”

They both looked at each other. He paid the bill. They walked outside to the car and drove back home. They did not talk anything on their way back. Their first anniversary gave them a lot to think about.

An Opportunity to Save a Life An Opportunity to Save a Life Reviewed by Mihir on 11:36:00 PM Rating: 5

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