Shortly after three the next day, the doorbell chimed. Hailey answered and saw Brad and a huge German Shepherd wearing a police vest and sitting obediently with his paw extended.
“Is this his Lassie pose?”
“Uh huh” he grinned.
“I guess you told him about the soup bone, eh?”
“He was licking his chops all morning.”
She bent down on one knee and took his paw. “How do you so, Star? I’m Hailey.”
Star sat opened-mouthed, drooling and sniffing the air. She laughed. “Is he a narcotics sniffing dog?”
“Naw. He’s a general purpose dog, but he does have a very good nose and can probably smell that bone from here.”
“Well then, c’mon in you two. Star can eat his bone while we have a coffee.”
“Wait—I have something for you.” He reached down on the stoop and picked up a cardboard box and handed it to her. “One motion detector light—with battery back-up, of course.”
“Oh, you didn’t have to do that. How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing. It’s my gift to you. Consider it a gift from a neighbor.”
“But you live beside Nan—that’s ten blocks away.”
“Well, I’d give it to her, but she already has me and Star living beside her—so, since you’re her friend, I’m giving it to you.”
“I suppose there’s some logic in there, but I can’t seem to get my brain to focus on much today—So, thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“Are you handy with home repairs?”
She looked at him quizzically.
“I mean, will you be able to install it?”
She blushed. “That’s not exactly my strong suit.”
“I’m going on duty at four, but I’d be glad to come back and install it for you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow’s not good—I have an appointment at the lawyer’s in the afternoon.”
“No problem. Another day. I’ll phone you—Nan gave me your number.”
“Uh huh.” Hailey’s eyes danced.
I’m going to kill that girl.
Star, who had been sitting patiently, got up and began to pace. He nosed Brad’s leg and gave a loud bark.
“Uh oh, I think his patience has run out.”
She laughed. “C’mon Star, I’ve got a present for you.” She took the soup bone from the counter and offered it to him. Star eagerly took the bone and curled up with it in a corner of the kitchen.
“Looks like someone likes my cooking.”
“How are you at making coffee?”
She motioned him to the table. “Have a seat and you’ll soon know. I invested in a state of the art coffee maker, so I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed.”
“So, I guess you had no more excitement last night.”
“No, it was actually quite peaceful—no crank calls, no prowlers—just Nan trying to drive me crazy.”
“She seems like a really good friend.”
“She is. It’s like we’re joined at the hip, since we grew up together—although sometimes she must feel less my friend and more like an agony aunt.”
“Sounds like someone’s high maintenance.”
“Guilty as charged,” she laughed. “Here, try this.” She handed him a steaming mug of coffee.
He took a sip. “This is really good. Coffee’s important to a cop, you know.”
“Sorry I don’t have a donut,” she teased.
“Ouch—that hurt. Am I becoming a cliché?”
She laughed. “No more than me. I guess I fall into the classic damsel in distress category.”
“You do, but in your case, the label is merited. I wouldn’t downplay the seriousness of what you’ve been going through—that’s why I dropped over again today—I wanted to take another look outside in broad daylight to see if I missed anything.”
“Be my guest—after you finish your coffee, of course.”
“Of course,” he smiled.
She sat down opposite him and for a few moments there was an awkward silence.
“Oh, oh…I think I sense the blue plague.”
She looked concerned. “Aren’t you feeling well?”
“I guess you’ve never heard the term,” he laughed. “The blue plague refers to the way people treat you, when they find out you’re a cop.”
“Was I doing that?”
“I don’t think you were consciously doing it—I think you were just trying to figure out how to relate to me.”
She felt the color rising up her neck.
I’ve got to get this blushing under control.
“I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“Aw, you didn’t offend me,” he smiled, finding her rosy cheeks irresistible, “I’m used to it by now—I just feel bad that my job makes people feel uncomfortable.”
“It’s the air of authority—that and the way you scan the room taking in every detail.”
It was his turn to blush. “I guess that comes with the territory, although, to tell the truth, I love antiques and couldn’t help noticing you have some really unique pieces of furniture—like that Governor Winthrop desk, for instance.” He pointed to a mahogany veneer, slant-top writing desk in the corner.
“I’m impressed,” she smiled and she really was. It wasn’t every day that she met someone who shared her passion for antiques.
I might have to amend my first impression of this guy.
His eyes were gleaming. “I love going to auctions. I used to drive out to Elora every Saturday in search of bargains, but that was before I joined the force.”
“I guess you work a lot of shifts, huh?”
“It’s complicated. I work a 35 day cycle during which I get 14 days off—usually in bunches of five or six days at a stretch.”
She shook her head. “It does seem complicated. I’ll bet it’s not all day work either.”
“Nope. I’ll work a week of ten-hour evening shifts and then be off for a week.”
“How does Star respond to the shifts?”
He laughed. “Star’s a workaholic—he loves the job—just hates waiting around.”
She reached down and rubbed Star’s ears. “What do you do when you’re not on a call—sip coffee and eat donuts?”
He snorted. “I wish—Naw, when we don’t have an assignment, I pull over speeders and reckless drivers. Actually, Star sniffed out some drugs in a speeder’s car last August and we made the biggest bust of the year. The guy’s trunk was crammed with garbage bags full of hash and marijuana. We both got an award for that.”
“Wow, Star! You’re an Animal hero First Class.”
“Yeah, well I don’t think that’s what Orwell had in mind when he penned that.”
She raised her eyebrows. “You’ve read Animal Farm?”
“Of course. It’s required reading at the Academy.”
In response to her puzzled expression, he burst out laughing. “Just kidding. I read Orwell on my own—wanted to know why people called us pigs.”
“Are you putting me on again?”
He flushed. “Sort of…Okay, to tell the truth, I read it in university.”
“Yep. I’m an artsy—got an undergrad degree in literature.”
Hailey’s mental picture of Brad underwent a major revision.
A cop with a degree in literature—Who knew?
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.