Mist rose from heavy drizzle slapping the sun bleached sign marking the entranceway to a somewhat dilapidated trailer park. The hand painted board, meant to be lit by three flood lamps, had only one of them working, highlighting the 'hell' in 'Seashell Place'.
The sound of flapping windshield wipers emanated from a police cruiser as it quietly entered the compound, its slow movement indicating the driver was checking each metal flag that served as a lot number.
The vehicle began slowing to a crawl and eventually stopped in front of one of the smaller but better kept trailers, an old pickup truck occupying the deeper portion of the driveway. The cruiser parked in the remaining spot and idled. A few seconds later a curtain in the trailer moved and shortly after that, its door opened.
Holding the screen door outward was a short and wiry man, his close cropped afro more silver than dark. His other arm was draped over the shoulders of a small boy holding a squirming puppy. The rain intensified.
The vague form of an officer dawning his hat could be seen before he exited the vehicle. Drizzle spattered in a halo of droplets pelting off of the plastic protector that was stretched overtop of his troopers cap.
His slow reluctant approach made the old man pull his son protectively to his side.
“Don” nodded the officer, the old man nodded back. “Best we go inside Sir.” The officer gestured vaguely at the trailer.
Wordlessly, Don guided the boy inwards and held the door open for Officer Randall, clearly seen on the name tag he wore.
The cop shook his hat outdoors and then entered. He was a large man with a leathery face and calloused knuckles. His size and build would normally illicit respect and not just for the uniform. It was clear he was a man who rarely faced a challenge from those he spoke to.
So his blood shot eyes and the clearly visible tears welling in them spoke of a tenderness that was difficult to reconcile with his imposing form. He looked down.
He began to speak but the words choked in his mouth.
“I...” was all he could manage. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily. “I...I’m so very..very sorry.”.
He took a breath again. “Mr. Carver, Twitch,” he looked meaningfully at the young boy.
“I know mister.” the boy looked at him with large brown eyes.
Randall’s mouth remained open for moment. “Pardon?”
“Dog told me he couldn’t feel Mom anymore.”
Randall looked to Don. The old man nodded somberly.
The tears flowed fully now from the officers eyes. “She’s gone..” he choked back a sob “She’s gone.”
The boy nodded and with his free hand he reached out to pat the large man’s back, only succeeding to reach his forearm. The cop stared at him shaking his head, barely succeeding to manage a sad smile.
“It’s ok,” the boy said, “she knew she was loved.”
The cop nodded. “Yeah little man, she was loved. Very much by everyone at the station.”
The boy nodded again somberly and pulled his puppy up under his chin. “The WHY is important. She told dog to make sure you know that.”
Again the big man stared, “OK, I will remember that.” he replied in a firm tone.
Quietly the boy nodded then turned and disappeared into the back of the trailer.
Officer Randall’s eye’s followed him. The sound of a door quietly latching came out of the darkness.
He looked back at Don, shaking his head “I am deeply sorry Sir. Your daughter was,” he wiped his eyes again “not just the best detective I ever met bu a mentor and my friend. Of all people, Donna did not deserve this.”
“Killed while on an investigation.” Don stated flatly.
“Yes sir. She was onto something with that murder from earlier this winter.” the cop’s gaze dropped to the floor again, “It was...a bad one.”
“And the details?” Don asked.
“Still under investigation but it was clear Donna was taken by surprise.” He looked up quickly “She didn’t suffer.”
“Well That matters.” the smaller man responded, taking a breath, “I don’t suppose you want a cup of coffee or anything.”
“No sir, it’s all-hands at the station right now.”
“Yeah, it would be.” They stayed silent for a moment.
“Don, we’ve known each other a long time, can I ask...” he gestured to the back of the trailer.
Don looked long and meaningfully at his grandson’s bedroom door and then drew a slow heavy breath.
“I know we’ve joked about it for a while now.” he paused to look at the photo shelf under the large window by the dining table.
As he fixated on the central photo of himself, Twitch and the attractive woman between them wearing an elegant blazer, he realized he needed to sit down. He looked at his half empty mug of coffee, reached over and took a sip.
“When Twitch got lost in the woods this summer past, he was found with that pup,” he paused “He ain’t been the same since, I know you know that. But that dog...the bond they share...I can’t tell if I should be amazed or scared. It defies explanation but I see it every day.”
“But is it real? I mean really, real?” Randall asked.
“Oh, Yeah, it’s real. He came to me about an hour ago, just a few tears and said he can’t feel his mother no more. I mean, it goes through the dog like, but...”