From my place behind the bar I could see him as he stepped out of his unmarked police car. His jacket snagged on the seat-belt the gun he carried on his hip exposed ever so briefly before he buttoned his jacket and turned in my direction. A different man approached me on this day different than the one I'd come to know so well off duty. This man was sober which meant only one thing, he was on duty and this visit was official.
"Hi Jennifer, can we talk at the end of the bar?"
"Sure" breathed deeply I turned and made my way to a quiet place at the end of the bar.
"Have you seen Eddie today?" "I need to ask him some questions about the Social Security check he reported stolen"
"He's in trouble?” I asked. “Because if he is, you're gonna have to find out where he is from someone else."
"Hey" he replied a bit defensively "it’s just a few questions that's all."
Long ago, days playing with his kids touched my memory; replaced by a much harsher reality of Eddie, who had fallen on hard times and of whom I felt protective.
"I'm sorry but Eddie's a neighbor and a friend. “ I'm sure you understand if there's any chance he'll be arrested."
"Ya sure it's just questions?"
I felt put on the spot, and he must have sensed it.
"Don't worry it will be fine" he replied.
"I give up, he's at Jimmy & Mikes Place."
Then I hoped I wouldn't come to regret those words.
I pushed that encounter to the back of my mind and got back to my tasks. As the beach empties, the bar fills, the jukebox plays, beers and cocktails lined up three deep on the glistening bar as I tend to the masses. Conversations drift through the air and laughter hangs like wisps of smoke then disappears only to be replaced by more.
Unaware that my father entered the bar, he catches my attention with a wave.
"Did you hear the news?" "Eddie's been arrested." "It's alleged he falsely claimed his Social Security check was stolen then after being issued a new one he cashed it."
I recounted my earlier conversation with the detective to my Dad.
"I feel somewhat responsible Dad."
"So what do you want to do?"
I grabbed the wad of bills from my tip cup and dumped them in front of my father on the bar.
"Bail him out please?"
"I promise he'll be out before you get to work tomorrow."
"So this has been some day for you hasn't it?" he asked.
"Lesson learned honey?"
"You bet Daddy."
This really happened to me. I have taken some poetic license with some of the dialog to for the purposes fulfilling the prompt and to improve the flow of the piece.