Joe Jr. grew up playing on a hardwood floor stained with his mother’s blood. Even the towels and sheets she’d placed carefully beneath her couldn’t save the flooring. The dark brownish-red spot remained as a constant reminder that the Martin family were no strangers to hard times. They were survivors. Joe Jr. always knew it was going to be his job in life to take care of people, protect them, save them if he could. He wasn’t going to be a vet, paid in pounds of bacon or ground chuck. He wanted to make a difference. The picture of Joe Sr. hung above the mantle, directly across from the remnants of Joe’s arrival. Jr. always knew his dad did all he could, but he was going to do just a little bit better. No one was going to die on his watch. No one.
Joe was thinking about that spot on the floor as he walked past Deputy Milton’s desk. The Swingline stapler toppled off a stack of assorted papers, bouncing onto the floor below, just as Milton looked up to see Joe staring into space.
“Jesus, Joe. Could you please not break my stapler? I just bought it.”
“Yeah. Sorry, Milt. Wasn’t paying attention.”