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The day that shattered Jodi Platen's life started out with a short trip for groceries. With bags of groceries nestled in her arms, she kicked the townhouse door closed behind her and managed to drop them on the kitchen counter before the heaviest broke. The sun shining through the patio doors and bouncing off the yellow kitchen walls was as bright as her spirits. She took a deep satisfying breath and inhaled the sweet smell of the chocolate chip cookies she had baked an hour ago. The chirping of birds calling to each other drew her eyes to the feeder. Just outside the glass doors she could see them splashing in the bird bath. All was right in the world and her smile was as dazzling as the first golden rays of morning light.
While she hung her light jacket in the closet, she listened to the kids in the park behind the house having a great time practicing peewee football. For a moment she felt a pang of longing wishing one of them was hers, but she shrugged it off. While Jodi put the food away, she sang Puff the Magic Dragon and her green eyes sparkled.
At first glance, she looked like a beauty that had just come from the hills of County Cork, but she was a true American with a melting pot of nationalities. Jodi could even claim some Native American blood on her grandmother's side, and that pleased her. Her dad said she got her stubbornness from him and her high cheek bones and facial structure from her mother's side. Jodi carelessly tossed her long auburn braid over her petite shoulder and bounded up the stairs, two at a time.
She was eager to work on her book for a few hours before starting dinner. As she sat down at thedesk, she smiled at the picture that sat on top of her computer monitor. It was taken the day Justin, her brother in law, graduated from high school, and it was her favorite. Jodi was in the middle, and both Justin and her husband Larry had their arms around her. Justin couldn't resist clowning, and with his fingers he had made horns above her head. All three were grinning outrageously at the camera.
Police officer Larry Platen made a u turn with the black and white squad car to answer the call on a routine family disturbance. He glanced at his partner.
"It's Mary and Bill going at it again."
Joe shifted, trying to find a more comfortable spot on the worn springs of the passenger seat. "Yeah, it's their address all right."
"How many calls does this make?" Larry asked.
"More than I care to count."
"I hear you. You think she'll ever leave him?"
"Doubt it," Joe said.
While he drove, Larry admired the huge oak trees lining the street and displaying their full autumn color. Small children in bright colored sweaters were playing in the piles of leaves set out by the curb, and the distant aroma of burning foliage lingered in the air. This was the time of year he loved the best.
The two officers were comfortable with each other and always had been. Their personalities and even their size complemented each other. Joe was large boned, tall and steady as a rock. Although his size was intimidating, he was as gentle and patient as a newly ordained minister. Larry was quicker, and his medium sized, compact body was constantly wired with energy. He was always in control and was the natural leader of the two. Where Joe was dark and quiet, Larry was fair and talkative. Joe turned and frowned at Larry.
"You know you're going to miss all this."
Larry watched as some kids crossed the street in front of them and then quickly checked the rearview and side mirrors. He had a lump in his throat. This was his last week with Joe, who was like a brother. Next week he'd join Narcotics. For years he had wanted the shield, but leaving Joe was like losing the use of his right arm.
"Hey, you promised to help me with the boat. You're still coming to the lake on Saturday, aren't you?" Larry glanced at Joe.
"I wouldn't miss it for anything. I can't wait to see the expression on Jodi's face when she sees that old wreck."
"That's why I want you to pick up Justin and me early. Between the three of us, we should be able to clean it up before she gets there. I thought the women could come later with your kids, and we'll all go out for dinner. I'm buying."
Copyright © 2006 Jo Webnar