It didn’t take long for Holly and Earl to form a close working relationship as well as a deep friendship. One day out of the clear blue, he said “you know, you’re sort of considered royalty around here. I mean you’re following in your fathers’ and grandfathers’ footsteps. We call you ‘little miss royal goody two-shoes.”
“Who calls me that?” Holly demanded. “Everyone,” he said.
Holly let out a “Pffft! Royalty, my eye. I sat behind a desk for six months and then played babysitter to ‘Chuckles the sleepy clown’ for three more.”
Earl laughed and said “oh yeah. Good old Chuck. We’ve all had our turn with him. They wanted to get rid of him a long time ago but they didn’t want to fire him. Since he was short, they just let him ride out the rest of his time until he could retire.”
“You know,” he said. “Chuck used to be good police but a few years back, he got burned out or something. He started hitting the sauce a little too hard and would show up for his shift, drunk. We covered for him as much as we could but it got out.
His wife eventually left him and after a while, he went to rehab. Even though he was successful, his wife didn’t come back. After that, he never really could get his life back together. I guess after losing his wife, the Captain didn’t want him to lose his pension too, so they kept him on.”
Holly felt bad and said “I shouldn’t have called him ‘Chuckles the sleepy clown’. That was really insensitive and my father would be ashamed of me. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m the one who preaches that we should treat everyone like they matter and here I am, guilty of doing the very thing I despise that other people do. Judging without question and having no knowledge of a situation.”
Earl said “don’t beat yourself up over it, kid. We all make mistakes. Hell, don’t you remember how I wanted to arrest that homeless man, for no other reason than I thought he was a bum?” Earl wondered aloud what had become of him. Holly shook her head as if to say “I don’t know.”
She quickly switched gears and said, “and for your information, I don’t follow anyone. I’m going to make my mark and people are going to be following me!”
Earl smiled and said “I don’t doubt that for a minute kid, but you might want to work on your social skills.”
Holly let out a hearty laugh. She enjoyed the back and forth ping-pong style banter they had developed. She didn’t speak ill of people and when she committed that social faux pas about Chuck, Earl was ready to pounce on the “little miss royal goody two-shoes.”
Earl was ten years older than Holly, married to a wonderful woman and had two little girls. He said the three of them were the “lights of his life.” He talked about his wife Rachael with a reverence that reminded Holly of the way Henry spoke of Sara.
Earl would smile and say “it’s takes an extraordinary woman to do what Rachael does. The way we work is really hard on a relationship and if she resents the hours I spend away from them, she never says a word about it.” His eyes were sparkling when he said “but I spend as much time as I possibly can with my three girls.”
He was reminding Holly more and more of her father, which garnered a deep respect and admiration.
He looked at Holly and said “someday, you’ll see.” Holly quickly rebutted. “Not a chance, pal. Not a chance! I intend to be the Captain one day and I am not going to have time for a husband or even a boyfriend…at least not until they pin those gold bars onto my uniform.”
They were in a collective laugh when dispatch called with a “10-19. Code 3.” Holly looked at Earl and said “10-19? Is that what you heard?”
Earl confirmed. “I wonder why are they want us to return to base?” Holly said. Earl shook his head, laughed and said “maybe we’re getting a promotion. Light her up!”
Holly clicked her walkie and said “10-4. Show us en route, Code 3.”
To be continued_________________