A Cop’s Day off in 1975

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.”

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