The Cop’s Daughter, Vol. 1
August 11, 2009 in Cops and Daughters
Everyone else’s parents told them to take a sweater.
My father told me to take a gallon of gas, a quarter and a gun.
The gallon of gas was in case my date said, “Whoops! Out of gas,” the gun was to make sure he put the gas in the car and the quarter was to call him if I had to kill him. But, he suggested, it wasn’t likely to happen, since he’d be cleaning his shot gun when he pulled up. If he valued his life enough, he’d get the hint.
None of these were actions he would actually carry out, of course. My father, by that point in our lives, had already seen so much and life as a cop had been an axiomatic experience. To him, most men stalled the car and raped women. To him, most men who drove white utility vans were serial killers.
So, I’ll start out with short, staccato tap of the paintbrush, and let you in on one of the colors of my life as a cop’s daughter. I cannot promise you exact dialogue, only impressionistic likenesses.
On this particular day, I waited in the car for my father. He had entered the 7-11 to grab I-can’t-remember-what. When he returned, he was moving a little faster than usual, a little more urgent. He opened the car door, and the car dipped a little. He had climbed in hard and with purpose. He looked at me.
“I shouldn’t have left you in the car.”
I just looked at him with what I think was a questioning gaze; I wondered what he was talking about. The door was locked, and he could see me from the window most of his time in the store. This would be a cautionary measure for many parents, and if the story had stopped there, it may not have had any impression whatsoever.
At the time, my father was working in the detective bureau.
“I keep having this horrible nightmare,” he said as we drove away. “I keep dreaming that I’ve gone into the store or gotten out of the car or something, and when I come back, the car is driving away.”
“A man is behind the wheel and he’s going to hurt you and do awful things to you. You’re crying and looking out the back window at me, shouting and banging on the glass. You’re shouting and crying and I can’t save you.”
I was a little disturbed. Why would he tell me this?
“And you’re shouting, Daddy! Help me! Save me! Don’t let him hurt me!”
“Don’t ever unlock the door for anyone. Ok?”
“I won’t, daddy.”
“Because I couldn’t live if I had to stick your picture up on my wall.”