Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Welfare Check

John's grandmother listened to the police scanner when she knew John was on duty. At the end of each night shift, he'd stop in for breakfast with her and Gramps. When she heard John call dispatch to mark "out of service," she knew to raise the garage door and put on the bacon and eggs.

She teased him with questions he knew she knew better of. "I heard the dispatcher send you on a welfare check," she'd say. "Do they really make you deliver welfare checks? Ain't that what the mail is for?"

John had been on duty through the night and Grams had been up since 3:00. Gramps, on the other hand, she had to shake to get him out of the rack. Gramps sipped at the coffee she set down in front of him and rubbed a knuckle around his eye. "When do you move to dayshift, boy? I love ya, but I'd rather be eating supper with you."

John unbuckled his gun belt and hung it on the back of the chair. He settled in and poured himself a cup. He warmed his hands on the mug. She wagged her head, a fist on her hip. "You won't sleep, you drink that," she said. Rashers of bacon spit and sizzled in her cast-iron skillet.

"I'm not sleeping much anyway. So I don't expect it matters," he said.

Gramps looked up from his coffee. "You're gonna have to get past it, boy, you want to keep wearing that blue."

"He was my partner, Gramps," John said. "I wasn't where I was supposed to be."

Gramps unbuttoned his nightshirt as he kept his eyes on John. He leaned back and pulled the shirt aside and traced the puckered scar tissue.

"We all got partners," Gramps said. "Carter and I went in on that warrant in '62. We knew what we was taking on. I got stitched," he tapped his belly, "and Carter got a flag and a bagpiper."

"It's what we sign up for, boy. Your McMahon knew it. Carter knew it. I knew it. And you best remember it, too. You can't carry all that weight, son. You do and it'll eat you up. It'll eat you til you eat that Glock hanging there."

Grams set plates down in front of the old cop and the young one. Eggs over easy and crisp bacon, just this side of burnt. She pulled up her chair between them and freshened all three coffees. 

"What you men need to eat up," she said, "is these here eggs."

Photo: Flickr/Phil Lee

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