Blood in the Dark Water

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Late at night, speeding down the highway, chasing a target across this sprawling city, I can’t help but think to myself, “You’ve become a shark.” Moving swiftly through 5 PM traffic or gliding through a crowd at a busy airport to get a subject on camera, my mind reverts back to a primitive state. I become consumed by the hunt.

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I live in the darkness. The daylight version of my city is a foreign planet to me. I get lost in Uptown, EaDo, EnCor, Westside, Pasadena when the sun piercing through the windshield illuminates the milky strands of cigarette smoke in my car. At night, I can smell the blood in the air.

The most dangerous thing about this job is forgetting that there is danger everywhere. In this job, you quickly learn how ugly humanity is; that the world is filled with cheaters, adulterers, scammers and psychos. In this job, you gradually realize how beautiful the human mosaic is; that there are a lot of decent people out there if you learn to trust. It’s a balancing act: stay sharp and survive, or soften your gaze and make wonderful friends. I’m still trying to calibrate that perfect balance.

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On quiet nights, when the stakeout is dragging past 1 AM, I think about how quickly my life is moving. I think to myself, “No, no, you’re not just a shark when you’re on a hunt. You’re a shark in every aspect of your life.” One summer I’m driving across the country, the next year I’m whispering sweet nothings to my bedridden aunt on the other side of the world, and then a few months later, I somehow achieve my childhood dream of becoming a licensed private investigator. This can’t be the same person. This can’t be me. This is a surrealist play and I’m just an actor.

But I don’t have time to have out-of-body experiences. I have to keep moving until what’s left of my fears, nightmares, disappointments, insecurities and sadness accumulated until this point sheds from my silver skin. I have not had a melancholia episode since last winter. Perhaps that’s how sharks evolved to become elite predators–they had to shed their weaknesses in order to survive. One day, I’ll know when and how to stop. Until then, I’m going to keep moving.

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