Updated: Mar 17, 2021
By Emma Woodhead
- - ┈┈∘┈˃̶༒˂̶┈∘┈┈ - -
When I was a kid, my teacher showed us a video about child abductions. I was only nine at the time, and I feared walking to the school that was behind my house to go school. For the next few days, my father drove me to school and then did a police sweep of the small patch of trees to assure my scared child mind that there was no one in the forest. For those few days, he would drive me to the front of the school in his undercover to assure me that I would be safe. The radio would play some light music, and when a call came over the speakers, the music would stop for us to listen to what other agents were saying, and I felt like I was a part of a spy movie. I felt my safest around my father, and I didn’t fully understand how much of a protector he was until I was on my own at college.
- - ┈┈∘┈˃̶༒˂̶┈∘┈┈ - -
Evans mumbled to himself as we drove down the road. To where? I have yet to learn. I don’t even think he knew where, exactly, we were supposed to be going. As he continued, I noticed the slight rhythm to his voice in a language I didn’t know at the time but learned later to be Creole. I’ve never heard anyone speak that language before but instantly fell in love with it. Or maybe it was just the way he spoke that caused me to fall for the language. I don’t know, but either way, I wanted to continue to listen.
I think Evans eventually forgot I was there as he continued to sing to himself. But once he caught me glancing at him, he apologized and stopped. I told him that he didn’t have to stop. It was comforting to listen to his deep and slightly off-key singing.
“Have you ever been inside a squad car before?” he then asked, trying to stir some form of conversation. We had been alone together in the car for nearly fifteen minutes, and neither of us had spoken aside from initial introductions.
My friend Gio was the reason I was riding shotgun in the patrol car. I came into the city to ride along with him, but when I arrived, we learned that a mix-up had occurred, and he had to make a significant arrest tonight. Gio offered to pay for my train ticket back to my campus, but then he learned his friend Evans was riding alone tonight and set us up to walk the beat together. I didn’t mind. Anything to get out of another night of being forced to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with the kid down the hall was good enough.
“Back or front?” He asked with a small smile on his face, trying to be friendly with me.
“Only the front,” was my response, and I decided to play around with him too. “Have you ever been in the back?”
He looked at me, staring straight into my soul and his face no longer had the smile on it. “Did you ask me that because I’m black?”
I wonder if he could see how pale my cheeks had turned when he said that, and a small panic fell over me. “No, I didn’t mean it like-”
He broke out into a fit of laughter, finding humor in his action. He told me that I reacted the way Liberals do when he makes that joke and then asked me if I was one because Liberals had to sit in the back. I assured him I wasn’t, and he confessed to me that he knew he had a good feeling about me, and I was allowed to keep my seat in the front of the car.
After that, we seemed to be more relaxed around one another. I was able to breathe easier, and his grip on the steering wheel was not nearly as tight as it was early. Now he only held it with one hand instead of a tight two.
“What do you do?” Evans then asked. “Gio said you were in school. Are you doing Criminal Justice? I’ve seen you riding along with him before.”
I shook my head. “No...well, you see, it’s complicated what I do in school.”
“I signed up to have people shoot at me. Want to talk about complicated?”
I let out a laugh. “I guess you are correct. I want to be a writer. A big one. Like Fitzgerald.”
I expected him to roll his eyes or make some sny remark. People usually do, and then I have to back peddle into an explanation to assure people I won’t be munching on taxpayers’ money in the future.
But instead of getting the expected reaction, he glanced at me. “That’s a noble goal.”
It took me a moment to process the compliment, and then I thanked him. “Your job is noble also.”
“Are you kidding me? My job is fantastic,” he said with a cheeky smile and looked at me. He looked like a kid in a candy store when he said that. I told him to prove it, and he started to tell me all about it.
He told me about how his father was an officer before his passing. Evans never doubted the idea of following in his father’s footsteps. He told me that he liked to help children and enjoyed every second of making this city safer for them. He then continued to tell me about how he would be the future commissioner of the city, and he would take down all the gangs, all the drug lords, and pimps, all the people who hid in the shadows and terrorized the good people of this city. It was a noble pursuit. My life goals were nothing compared to his. We continued to talk about how we pictured our futures, some parts of them overlapping and others being polar opposites.
I hadn’t realized how much time had passed between the two of us as we drove around the streets of Queens. Suddenly a woman ran into the middle of the road, screaming for us to stop the car. Evens slammed on the car breaks, and his arm jutted out across my chest, his hand resting over my breast as he held me back to make sure I wasn’t at the mercy of the seatbelt.
“Sorry,” he quickly said, moving his hand away from my chest like a nervous schoolboy.
“Don’t be,” I replied, slightly shaken when I saw the woman rush to Evan’s window and start to bang on it for him to open up.
He motioned for her to back away from the door. He told me to stay inside no matter what, and then he got out to speak to her. I heard the muffles of them speaking, but it seemed that for the most part, they were trying to understand one another. She spoke Spanish, and he was speaking English. My attention was taken away from them when I heard someone bang on my door. I peaked out my window to see a little girl there. Probably only around five or six years older. She was crying and clearly startled by whatever had just happened.
I rolled down my window, and the girl spoke English to me, asking for me to get the police officer to help them. I leaned over the driver’s side door and rolled down the window. I was able to get Evans’ attention quickly to tell him about the little girl on my side of the car. The mother called for the girl, and she came running around the other side to join her.
Evans helped the woman and the child into the back of the police car. With one look at her pale face and wide eyes, Evans knew this woman needed help, and as the gentleman he was, he saw a woman and was going to help.
We started to drive down the road, and I heard a man starting to scream in Spanish at us. I glanced in the rearview mirror to see a very angry-looking man waving his fist at the car and yelling until he was red in the face.
Evans rolled up my window, using the controls from his side, causing the man’s voice to become nothing more than a muffle and then silence.
- - ┈┈∘┈˃̶༒˂̶┈∘┈┈ - -
When we arrived at the police station, Evans kept the woman, her child, and me close to him as he leads the three of us to his desk. He told us to wait there, and he went to get someone who spoke Spanish. Alexandra, another officer and one of the translators in the precinct, came over to take to the woman and get her statements.
I excused myself to wash my hands and freshen up and give Evans a moment to organize himself without me staring down his next at what he was doing. I was gone for a few moments, and when I returned, he was sitting at his desk with the girl next to him. She was coloring in a picture book Evans must have given her, and he was braiding her hair. I returned to the desk and sat down to listen to the two of them talk.
The little girl started to tell Evans how to mean her father was to her mother as she continued to color perfectly within the lines. Evans listened to her as he continued to braid her hair, asking if he had done it correctly, and the little girl nodded but did mention to him that he missed an entire piece of her hair, which caused me to laugh.
The girl’s attention shifted to notice the radio on Evans’ waste and asked if she could use it. Evans nodded and took the radio off his belt, switching the settings and reaching over the neighboring desk, and grabbed an extra one off the charging station. He turned the channels to match on a station that wasn’t used by anyone in the nearby area. He handed me the extra one and told me to go to the other side of the room.
I did so and waited for them to speak.
“This is Woodchuck and Sparkle Unicorn calling Grey Squirrel. Come in, Grey Squirrel, do you read me?” Evans said across the radio.
“Loud and clear,” I replied over the radio.
“Don’t forget the code name,” the girl said over the radio.
“I know. Can you believe the unprofessionalism of Grey Squirrel, Sparkle Unicorn? Shaking our heads at you, Grey Squirrel,” Evens said
I glanced across the room to see them both shaking their heads at me, Evans doing his best to hold back a smile as he was trying to look mad at me.
I found myself smiling and forgetting to answer them over the radio. I watched as Evans and the girl laughed about code names at his desk, passing the radio back and forth to one another in order to contact me from across the room.
“Go for Grey Squirrel,” I said once I snapped back into reality, remembering to use the proper lingo so that I don’t have two disappointed children again.
“We have a special assignment for you. Top secret and the fate of the world relies on it.”
“I can handle anything you two give me.”
“On the table behind you are cookies. Sparkle Unicorn would like one if you can please retrieve one for her. We need you to retrieve a chocolate chip cookie and return it to use without anyone seeing you. Don’t get oatmeal raisin ones, we classy people.”
“Would Woodchuck like a cookie too?”
“Of course, Grey Squirrel, how dare you even ask.”
“Grey Squirrel, it’s Sparkle Unicorn. Can I have two?” the little girl asked over the radio.
“Same here,” Evans added over the radio.
I grabbed the four cookies before returning to the desk, asking like it was part of a spy movie to make the girl smile as I snuck around the police station to bring them the snacks.
“Mission accomplished,” Evans cheered and praised the little girl for being the brains behind this entire operation.
I sat back in the chair I was in and watched as Evans and the girl laughed and talked, and Evans made her forget about all the terror she had experienced today and for God knows how long at the hands of her father. A smile came across my face as I watched the two of them interact.
“What are you smiling about?” Evans asked me.
“Nothing,” I replied.
I didn’t know how to explain to him the reason as to why I was smiling.
How do you confess to someone that they are the first person you could see your future with?