Footsteps (A Lieutenant David Chan Mystery, Chapter 11)

Father and son sat on the lānai of their Punchbowl home.  The sunset was one of those spectacular Hawaiian ones so famous around the world, all pinks and oranges that seemed like flames streaking the whole sky, taking your breath away.

David senior sipped a beer.

The funeral turnout had been huge.  Everyone on the Honolulu police force had shown up to pay their respects.  The Governor had delivered the eulogy, and there had even been a 21-gun salute.

“Dad, do you think YeYe would have wanted me to be a policeman too?” the 15-year-old asked.

His father had become a policeman, following his grandfather’s lead.  The trend seemed apparent.  David junior had a feeling he would almost be expected to join in the family tradition.  It was a business, police work, and he’d be the next proprietor.

“No, David, Grandpa wouldn’t want that.”

“Really?  How do you know that?”

“David, Grandpa didn’t even want me to be a policeman.  He told all of us, me and all your uncles, that none of us should follow in his footsteps.  He wanted, he said, for us to do something happier.  Something he called more ‘life affirming.’”

The boy watched his dad sip.  “But, I mean, you are a policeman, Dad.  Why are you if YeYe said not to?”

His father laughed.  “Yes I am.  You see how some people don’t follow their parents’ advice?”  He ruffled his sons hair.  “Don’t you be like me.  Follow my advice, okay?”

“So Dad, you’re saying you feel the same?  You don’t want me to do it?”

Chan sipped, was silent for a long time.  Then, “David, I know your grandfather didn’t want you to become a policeman because he actually told me so.  Many times.  Me, well, I know now what Grampa meant.  I have to say, David, there are many more pleasant jobs out there.  Police work can be horrible at times.  I would hope you might find one of those happier jobs.”

“Dad, if you don’t like the job, why don’t you quit and do something else.”

This brought on an even longer silence from the father.  Finally he stood up.  “I’m getting another beer.”

David Chan watched his father walk into the house.  His shoulders were stooped.  All of a sudden he looked older than his age.  It seemed even that he picked his feet up with some effort.

Returning his attention to the setting sun, David junior thought about his grandfather.  The most decorated officer in Police Department history, he had been a role model for all policemen.  His father’s reputation in the department, he knew, had grown just as admirable.  David Chan, as far as the police department went, was their new star.

David senior returned and sat again.  It was as if he’d never left.

“That’s a good question.  You know, I’ve thought about quitting many times.  But like your grandfather, I’m good at what I do.”  He stared out at the last of the sun slipping beneath the horizon.  “And there’s no better feeling,” he said, “than putting terrible people behind bars.”

David junior thought about this.  “Why isn’t police work life affirming?  I mean, when you lock up bad guys, you’re making us safer, aren’t you?  It’s like you’re making this place better for all of us to live life.  Don’t you think that’s life affirming?”

The father nodded, sipped.  “I suppose you could look at it that way.  But hey,” he said, turning toward his son, “you should explore all your options, you know?  You never know but that you’ll find something out there you really love.  David, you’re too young to close down your options.  Once you get to college the whole world will open up to you.”

“Okay, Dad, I guess.”

“Don’t you have homework tonight, David?”

“Yup, yup, I do.”

The son stood and turned toward the house.  Pausing, he said, “Dad, I’m sure there’re plenty of choices, but you and YeYe have always been kinda like heroes to me, you know?  I look up to you both because you’re the best at what you do.  You’re like legends.  It’s not just me.  I know everybody admires you.  You’re not just good at what you do, Dad, you are the A-number-one best of the best.”

The father turned and looked up at the son.  “I,” he hesitated, “Grampa would be glad to know that you feel that way, David, but,” he hesitated again.  “Thanks, David, I’m proud to be someone like that for you.  I’ll try to never to let you down, I promise.”

David junior went back, knelt down, and hugged his father.  He couldn’t remember the last time they’d touched each other.  His father hugged him tight.

“Dad,” he said, standing again, “I don’t think you’ll ever let anyone down.”

* * * * *

Aloha #WriterFriday. Today’s #WritingPrompt is


Ooooo, so Halloweeny. Use it to inspire a piece of writing and then post that piece on your site and link back to me, or simply leave it as a comment below. I would love to read it : )

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