By Joseph Logsdon

Joseph Sterling was an honest and noble man. As a young man, Joseph made the decision to become a police officer. At first, Joseph loved his job, but he soon learned that catching criminals was a dirty and dangerous profession. After many years of fighting crime, Joseph finally had the chance to catch a notorious criminal. One grizzly afternoon, Joseph learned that an innocent woman had been strangled. Despite his kind heart, Joseph wanted to make the murderer pay for his gruesome crime.

Unlike most murderers, Burt Curtis was loved by many people, not because of his personality, but because of his status as a celebrity. Joseph knew that Burt wouldn't go peacefully, so he decided to pursue the criminal relentlessly. Just as things started to look bleak, Burt Curtis was located. To Joseph's surprise, the suspect was found eating inside a modest gas station.

"Burt Curtis, you're under arrest," Joseph stated as he approached the suspect's table.

"I'm not Burt Curtis," the man replied.

"Don't play games with me!" Joseph shouted.

"I swear to you, I'm not Burt Curtis!"

"If you lie again, you'll answer to me, understand?"

"Officer, can I explain something?"

"No," Joseph answered.

"I know that I look like Burt Curtis, but I'm not Burt Curtis. You see, a few years ago, I decided to get plastic surgery. Burt Curtis was my hero, so I decided that if I couldn't be Burt Curtis, I could at least look like him."

"Do you expect me to believe that?" Joseph asked.

"It's the truth," he answered.

"Even if what you say is true, I still have to arrest you," Joseph informed as he pulled out his gun.

"I'm not leaving!"

"If you resist, I'll be forced to shoot you," Joseph warned.

"I haven't done anything wrong!"

"The court will decide that," Joseph replied.

"Officer, don't do this!"

"I want to see your hands," Joseph commanded.

Without further hesitation, the suspect ran from the table. Joseph didn't want to shoot the poor man, but he had no choice. After several agonizing seconds, two bullets passed through the suspect's chest. For the first time in his life, Joseph Sterling was not only horrified, he was shocked and traumatized.

"You killed my husband," a woman shouted as she approached the dead body.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know," Joseph stated.

"The next time you shoot someone, make sure you have the right man," the woman hissed.

Joseph finally got the courage to look at the man's body. At first, Joseph didn't want to believe that he had murdered an innocent man, but he had to accept the reality of the situation. He looked like Burt Curtis, and he acted like Burt Curtis, but ultimately, he was not Burt Curtis.

"Why did you shoot him?" the woman asked.

"Because I couldn't let go of the trigger," Joseph answered.

The following morning, Joseph Sterling grieved as he removed his badge and placed it on the sheriff's desk.

"Why are you quitting?" the sheriff asked.

"Sir, I killed an innocent man," Joseph answered.

"Don't worry, it happens all the time," the sheriff laughed.

"What do you mean?"

"If we could stop every innocent person from being killed, believe me, we would do just that. Sadly, we live in a violent and hostile world. I know that you feel guilty, but that guilt will pass. Unless you want to look silly, I suggest you find the real killer."

"Sir, I can't do this."

"Why not?"

"I'll always remember the look on that woman's face. The way I see it, I make Burt Curtis's crime look like a minor offense. As a police officer, I'm charged with protecting the public, but instead, I neglected my duty and killed a man."

"Do you really want to quit?"

"If I stay, I'll go insane," Joseph answered as he left the room.

That night, Joseph reflected on his horrible crime. He wanted to be forgiven, but he knew that his sin was going to haunt him for the rest of his life. After years of misery and doubt, Joseph Sterling shot himself.