Spring 1975. Warm and sunny
in El Centro, California.
The desert was warming up
but still not baked. Errands
to run, things to do, on a morning
off from duty and job. So, he
gathered up his two-year son
and off they went in his orange
VW that never ran hot in even
worst desert sun. The morning
was filled with questions. “Dad,
what’s that?” “Dad, can we go
fast?” “Dad, why do you have
your gun?” “Will we see a bad man
today?” “What if he goes to our
house? Will Mommy be okay?”
Stories and reasons, laughter and
smiles, assurance and lessons.
Father to son. Cop to boy. Law
and order, fun and games, home
and work, kisses and hugs, badges
and jails. Wind, sand and sun, east of
mountains, ocean and the setting sun.
So much sun, blowing sand, ancient
soil, all the water from the great Colorado,
brought so much life to this desert
valley. Still, not as much life as in the
eyes of this little boy. All done
with chores, errands and stores.
He takes his son for his most favorite.
Into Jack-in-the-Box right off of the
interstate. Up he jumps, just like out-
of-the-box. Scrambles onto his Dad’s
lap, behind the wheel. The window comes
down and face-to-face with a plastic,
grinning, talking Jack, the littlest and
bigget of boys places his order.
“Gimme a hamburg, Jack. And some
fwench fwies, too.” Turns back to his
car seat and remembers what he forgot
to say, so back he goes. Leans out of the
window and face-to-face with Jack-in-the-
Box on a spring Imperial Valley day,
orders again: “With a stwawbewwy shake.”