Too Close to Home
By: Kathy

The signs were all there. Hell, I'm a cop, trained to see, to recognize, them. But this was a case where I didn't want to see them. Didn't want to acknowledge them, certainly not to anyone else and most definitely not to myself. So, I choose not to see it until it was too late.

It started simple at first. His new pair of tennis shoes suddenly replaced by his old, worn ones. When I'd asked about it, he just shrugged and mumbled something about misplacing them. I let that one slide. Things were strained enough between us. I didn't want to add something else for us to fight about. So, I kept my mouth shut and bought him a new pair.

Then other things started disappearing. A CD here and there. Small bills from my wallet. Nothing really noticeable in and of itself; but when added together, they could only mean one thing. Trouble. But still, I didn't say anything. Even now, I don't know why. Maybe because I was afraid of losing him even more than I already had. Maybe because I thought it'd drive him away for good. And as much pain that'd already been caused, as much heartache and sorrow, I wasn't ready to let go. I wasn't ready to give up. I don't think I'll ever be ready for that. I love him.

Finally, one day I noticed that his watch was gone. The one I'd given him for his birthday. The one my grandfather had passed on to me so very long ago. I think that's when I finally realized how bad it was. How deep he was into it and how much trouble he was in. He'd been so proud, so honored, when I'd given him that watch. And, now, it was gone.

So here I am, waiting for him. To confront him and make us both admit to something we never wanted to face.

He came in the door, glancing around to see if I was home. I could see it in his eyes then. The want, the need. I was standing in the corner, out of sight, waiting to see what he'd do. As I stood there in the shadows, watching him grab the cigar case he'd given me for my birthday, I felt a part of me die. When he turned and finally spotted me, he froze.

"D... dad."

His eyes were anywhere but on me. I could see him edging closer to the door, getting ready to make a run for it.

"Daryl, we need to talk. I know you've got a problem. But we can get through this together. I'm here for you. I love you, son."

He finally looks at me and I'm struck speechless by the rage I see directed towards me.

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about. I don't have any problem. You're the one with the problem. Why don't you just go to work or something? That's where you're always at anyway."

I ignore the attempts to distract me, the words meant to get a reaction out of me. "Where are you going with my cigar case, Daryl?"

"I... um..." His eyes leave me again, unable to meet the betrayal and hurt I can no longer hide.

"Where's your watch? The one I gave you? The one your great-grandfather passed on to me?"

"It broke. It was a piece of crap anyway."

"Daryl..." I take a step forward and he backs away. "Let me help you."

"I told you I don't need any help."

"Yes, you do, son."

"You really want to help me?" He asked and I nod. "Then stay out of my life and quit telling me what to do. I don't need it and I don't need you!"

Before I can reach him, he's gone. The door slamming shut behind him. By the time I get outside, he's disappeared.

So I go inside, the weight of failure heavy on my soul. I had failed my son. Failed to keep him safe from the streets, from drugs. The image of my sweet little boy flashes through my mind. His first steps. His first words. His first day of school. So many firsts that I was there to witness. Except for the most important first. The first time he did drugs. If only I could have been there for that, to prevent it, to stop it from ever happening. To prevent us from ever starting down this hard road paved with nothing but heartache and despair.

All these years being a cop, fighting to save other people's kids, I never thought it'd be my own that needed rescuing. As I call the station and put out an APD on him, on my son, I know that the person they find won't be that little boy I remember. But I'll still love him just the same. And no matter what I have to do, I'll get my boy back.

The End

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