WHEN DAWN BROKE, Ed was up and driven to get one thing off his chest. He got to work early to give himself time for a visit at his superior’s office. Sergeant Taylor was not pleased to see him at his door, nor did he try to appear otherwise.
“Ramsey. Strange to see you here this early.”
“How are you, sir?”
“I’m well, but I sure can’t say the same about you,” said he, noticing Ed’s bloodshot eyes at first glance. “Late night?”
“Yes, unfortunately,” Ed replied, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Through the gaps between his fingers he observed Sergeant Taylor, whose grim expression maintained as if he could not care less.
“I need to take some time off, sir.”
“Oh? What is it this time?”
“I received news last night of my mother’s passing.”
Sergeant Taylor paused to think. “Didn’t someone else in your family pass away recently?”
“My grandmother. Heart disease runs in my family.”
He nodded. “That sounds legitimate enough.”
“The funeral is in three days. I plan on driving down early tomorrow morning and staying there for the week.”
“Michigan, sir. Most of my relatives still live there.”
He nodded a second time but then said nothing.
“I understand it’s sort of short notice —”
“Yes it is.”
Ed gulped nervously.
“But, I am a reasonable man, so long as you are honest with me.”
He could sense Sergeant Taylor’s high-minded eyes scanning him even without looking at them directly. “Yes, sir,” he responded, along with a bow.
“Very well. Just drop me a note about it. Consider this my official approval.”
“Thank you, sir, for your flexibility. I should get back to work. My shift is starting.”
He was just turning to go when Sergeant Taylor stopped him. “Not so fast, Ramsey. I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”
Worriedly, he turned back around.
“Where were you during your shift on the 17th?”
“I believe I was patrolling as usual, sir.”
“Then explain to me, why would I receive reports about your radio being off that day from 1 to 2 p.m.?”
He was naturally ecstatic, almost smiling, at the remembrance of kissing Allison and caressing her in the backseat of his patrol car. Certainly, he mentioned nothing of the occurrence and right away put up his guard.
“There must have been a misunderstanding.”
“Oh? How about last month on the 18th? And the 31st? Were those times just a ‘misunderstanding’ too?”
He pretended to give it a long, hard reflection before answering, “I’m afraid I don’t have an explanation, sir, but I surely wasn’t trying to avoid calls.”
“Is that true?”
Sergeant Taylor was only half believing him after all. “If there’s something wrong with your radio, get that replaced immediately you hear? Otherwise, you’d better watch your back. Because one of these days, your lies might just come back to bite you in the ass, and I’m not obligated to keep you around.”
Typically, Ed would have considered being more self-disciplinary henceforth until the heat died down on him…
“Yes — yes, sir!”
… but not today.
After getting dismissed, he went about his day like nothing even happened. Much like the calm before a storm, the entire morning went by relatively peacefully. With few calls for service to respond to, at noon, he came to park at an empty lot where he usually had his lunch. Tony, a fellow officer, also pulled up at the spot just now.
“Hey man, what’s for lunch?” he asked Ed, nosy as ever.
“I uh… I didn’t bring any.”
Sticking his head out the window, he looked at him more closely. “Man, you look terrible! Hang over?”
“That’s unlike you. You want some of my lunch?” He split his vegetarian sandwich and offered him a half of it.
“That’s okay. I’m not hungry.”
“Just take it. Now, I can’t guarantee the taste. Chrissie’s been trying out some new recipes to ‘help’ me stay thin she said. Like I would ask for that kind of help.”
“She probably just wants you to be healthy.”
“I’ve only gained four pounds since we got married a year ago. She can’t seem to ever let that go.”
“I’m sure she’s just worried.”
“It’s not like I’m physically unfit. I mean, do I look at all out of shape to you?”
“There you go! It’s not even her body! Can you imagine if it were?! Women.”
“It’s only coz she gives a shit. Trust me. You could do a whole lot worse without her taking care of you.”
Tony looked at him funny. “Christ, you are unbelievable. How you are still not married is beyond me.” Chomping away on his sandwich, he continued, “Speaking of Chrissie, I do have a favor to ask.”
“What is it?”
“Are you up for working this Thursday? I need someone to cover my ass.”
“Why? What did you do?”
“It’s not really what I did but more of what I didn’t do. You see, she told me weeks in advance to take the day off for our anniversary, but somehow… somewhere… it slipped my mind. So if you are available, whichever date you want to switch for, you got it.”
“I would do it for you, buddy, if I wasn’t going to be out of town.”
“It’s my mother… she passed away yesterday. I’ll be leaving for Michigan tomorrow and staying there for the rest of the week. I just got it approved this morning.”
“I thought your folks are Minnesotans?”
“Only my stepmom, and I wasn’t talking about her.”
“So you are talking about your birth mom.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Is that what you told Taylor?”
Ed broke into a cold sweat. “Is that a problem?”
“Not to me. It’s just that I know your mother died when you were what? Eleven?”
“How did you know?”
“Just a guess… haha, no. You told me yourself the first day you transferred to the precinct. You don’t remember?”
“No, I do not… But since you know it’s a lie, keep your mouth shut about it will you?”
“Relax. I’m no snitch. Are you really traveling though?”
“I suppose you aren’t going alone. Can I assume you patched things up with Lady Allie?”
He became content hearing her name.
“I told you she would come around if you gave her a day or two! Not that you did anything wrong as her boyfriend. Chrissie would have been thrilled for an opportunity to screw around in the backseat of this bad boy.”
“I’m not going to fuck it up this time."
“Easy man. It’s just a girl thing they do, getting mad at us when things don’t go their way.”
“But she’s not just any girl. She’s it to me. I want to marry her and start a family with her.”
“Go for it man. Haven’t you been dating for the past, what, ten years? I bet she’s secretly expecting a proposal. Women are so weird about that kind of thing…”
Like Ed needed a pep talk.