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Ike tried to remember a time when men with badges coming to his door early in the morning brought anything other than heartache and misery, but try as he might, nothing came to mind.
The two men stood side by side on the small concrete landing of his front step with their hands on their belts near their badges and their guns. The morning sun made the badges glimmer like gold nuggets. The two cops were a study in contrast. One was a tall but wiry Asian man. He was all sharp angles and hard edges. The other, a florid-faced white man, was built like a powerlifter with a massive head sitting atop a wide neck. They both wore white dress shirts with clip-on ties. The powerlifter had sweat stains spreading down from his armpits that vaguely resembled maps of England and Ireland respectively.
Ike’s queasy stomach began to do somersaults. He was fifteen years removed from Coldwater State Penitentiary. He had bucked the recidivism statistics ever since he’d walked out of that festering wound. Not so much as a speeding ticket in all those years. Yet here he was with his tongue dry and the back of his throat burning as the two cops stared down at him. It was bad enough being a Black man in the good ol’ US of A and talking to the cops. You always felt like you were on the edge of some imaginary precipice during any interaction with an officer of the law. If you were an ex-con, it felt like the precipice was covered in bacon grease.
“Yes?” Ike said.
“Sir, I’m Detective LaPlata. This is my partner, Detective Robbins. May we come in?”
“What for?” Ike asked. LaPlata sighed. It came out low and long like the bottom note in a blues song. Ike tensed. LaPlata glanced at Robbins. Robbins shrugged. LaPlata’s head dipped down, then he raised it again. Ike had learned to pick up on body language when he was inside. There was no aggression in their stances. At least not any more than what most cops exuded on a normal twelve-hour shift. The way LaPlata’s head had dropped was almost … sad.
“Do you have a son named Isiah Randolph?” he said finally.
That was when he knew. He knew it like he knew when a fight was about to break out in the yard. Like he knew when a crackhead was going to try to stab him for a bag back in the day. Like he knew, just knew in his gut, that his homeboy Luther had seen his last sunset that night he’d gone home with that girl from the Satellite Bar.
It was like a sixth sense. A preternatural ability to sense a tragedy seconds before it became a reality.
“What’s happened to my son, Detective LaPlata?” Ike asked, already knowing the answer. Knowing it in his bones. Knowing his life would never be the same.
Copyright © 2021 by Shawn A. Cosby