Wildfire - Honey Palomino
Sirens blazing, my pop’s police cruiser raced down Main Street, it’s flashing red and blue lights reflected in the windows of the shops lining the street.
I watched him with wide eyes, hiding in the back seat.
His large frame was intimidating. His eyes were laser-focused on the road in front of him as he wove in and out of traffic. His dark uniform fit him like a glove, his weapon secured firmly to his hip.
I was sunk down behind the passenger's seat, so he couldn’t see me, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hide. He was going so fast, the heavy swaying sedan left me hanging on to the seat to prevent myself from flying around.
For the last several weeks, I’d been begging him to take me for a ride-along during his shift. Last month, I’d finally had my tenth birthday, and I’d insisted I was old enough now.
He strongly disagreed.
So, I’d taken matters into my own hands by hiding in his car when he came home for his lunch break. I liked to think of myself as being assertive, but he would see it as disobedience. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint him, so I was doing everything in my power to stay hidden.
The sheer amount of respect I had for my father was the whole reason I was here. Someday, I’d grow up to be just like him.
But to do that — I needed to spend more time with him, studying him, learning from him.
He was kind and honest and loving, a hard worker and good to my mother.
I was lucky to have a Dad like him and I knew it. Robby, my best friend, had a dad that was never home and stayed out drunk all night, so I knew the difference.
The fact that my father was a cop, too, only made me respect him even more. I was confident that if he did discover me hiding, he would see that I was only doing it because I admired him so much.
After a few moments of winding through the streets of our small town, he slowed to a stop and turned his car off, leaving his lights flashing in the darkness. He slid out of the car, the door slamming with a heavy thud behind him. I raised myself up, perching on the back seat and peering through the windshield to watch what was going on.
Dad walked up slowly to a group of other officers that were already on the scene. I scanned the area behind him, easily recognizing the neighborhood as one not far from our own. Two other police cars were parked nearby and the three other cops were men I’d seen before at the police picnics we attended every year. Officers Jefferson, Daniels and Braxton.
Their voices were muffled, but I could still make out what they were saying.
“What’s going on?” Dad asked. “I thought there was a disturbance?”
“You’re the disturbance, Pearson,” Officer Daniels said.
“What are you talking about?”
“The Chief told us you told him about the call the other night. Said you’re thinking of filing a formal complaint.”
“Damn right, I did,” Dad said, his voice rising. He took a step back and lifted his chin. “You know what you did was wrong.”
“That’s not for you to judge,” Braxton said, taking a step towards Dad.
I held my breath, even though there was no way they could hear me.
“Listen, fellas, I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish here. You know what you did to that girl was wrong. I’m not about to let you get away with abusing someone like that.”
My eyes squinted and I scanned their faces, my heart racing as I saw the anger there.
“Pearson,” Jefferson said, his voice low as the three of them crowded around them. “You’re up for a promotion, aren’t you?”
“Causing trouble isn’t going to get you anywhere on the force.”
“Yeah, and allowing you assholes to rape a woman and get away with it isn’t going to get me any sleep, so what do you think I’m going to choose?”
“So, you’re saying you’d sacrifice all you’ve worked for because of this? This is the cross you want to die on?” Daniels asked.
“So be it.” Dad shrugged. I was in awe. They were clearly threatening him and he didn’t seem fazed one bit. I couldn’t see his face, but his body language was complete confidence.
“You’re making a big mistake, Pearson.”
“I think you assholes are the ones who made a mistake. A pathetic one, at that.