The Call

Jon had just closed the door to the patrol car when his private cell phone rang. It was his wife’s number.

“Hey,” Jon said.

There was silence at the other end and immediately Jon knew it wasn’t Carrie who had been calling.

He put the phone on speaker and placed it in the passenger seat and leaned back. He had to be on his way, but he supposed the highways could wait a little longer.

“Hey, buddy,” he said. “Michael—do you have something you wanna say to dad?”

There was still silence. Jon looked at the clock in the car. Then he looked at Jefferson as he passed by, nodded, and headed for his car. Jefferson drove off, and now to his left Jon could see through the fence to S Pacific Avenue and beyond that there was another fence and behind that the concrete plant. 

Yuma was a strange minor city on the edge of the border. There weren’t really any features you could navigate by. No skyscrapers or TV Towers, very few buildings above a few stories, in fact. It was all very flat and if you didn’t have GPS, you had to just know the streets, or being on the outskirts of the city, like The Department of Public Safety was, you’d have to basically skim the horizon to see which side of the Hills you were on. Or maybe just check the position of the sun.

“Michael … dad has to go to work soon, okay? Do you have something to say? Are you going to kindergarten with mom?”

Jon wasn’t sure if Michael knew what ‘soon’ was, but kindergarten probably covered it. He scratched his beard stubble and fumbled for the flask of water he knew he had under the passenger seat. Outside the hood of the patrol car seemed to shimmer and the sun he had thought about was slowly but surely waiting in the pristine blue sky. It would follow him all day, he knew. There was no getting away from the sun on his job.

Then there was a rustling noise from the phone. He could hear Carrie in the background, close to his son (and her phone). He knew she didn’t want to push Michael, but on the other hand her idea of trying not to stress him to perform, well, it probably wasn’t the right time for that. 

Jon sighed and took a gulp of water, but it had a plastic taste to it that he didn’t like. Had they cleaned the cooler this weekend? Or was it the old water? He should have just bought a damn bottle.

Jon felt a drop of perspiration on his brow. He glanced at the car clock again. He didn’t really want to say this. But he couldn’t help saying it.

“Look, dad has to go to work now. But I’ll be home early today. Then perhaps we can go to the mall and visit the watch shop? You remember the watch shop?”

Jon sighed again. He hadn’t really wanted to say that. But now that he had said it, it sounded about right.

“Watch,” Michael said from the other end. “Mall.”

“That’s right, honey.” He could hear Carrie’s voice, a mixture of relief and pain, as always. “Well done.”

“Well done,” Jon repeated. “Really well done.” He put the cap on the flask. “We have an agreement then, buddy.”

Then he paused and furrowed his brow as he saw a car on Gila Ridge road going through the crossing with S Pacific and it was definitely speeding. 

I’ll get to that, he thought. Some things you didn’t have to struggle to find.

“When will you be home from kindergarten, honey?” he asked Carrie.

“I’m not taking him,” she replied.

“ … Okay.”

“Or maybe I am. I dunno. He has been working up all morning since you left. I’m afraid it’s the tummy again.”

“Okay. Copy that.”

“I’ll try to make him eat something today. I could concentrate on that.” Carrie sounded wistful and he knew why.

Jon looked at the sun again, at the clock and then he turned on the engine.

“Hear that, son,” he said to Michael. “Dad’s going to catch some criminals today.”

He could hear Carrie’s soft laugh. “How many jaywalkers do you have room for in detention?”

“You’d be surprised.”

Jon took the car out from the parking lot by HQ. He left the call on. It wasn’t exactly protocol but … 

“Anything else you want to tell, dad, buddy?”

There was silence again, but he could hear Michael rummaging around and snickering in the background. He knew the boy was listening.