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Chief, Part 1 by Vegard
If there weren't too many waiting to go before me, I had time.
Every two weeks I stopped by Pete and Josh' to get cleaned up. My bald fade had grown to almost a quarter inch, and was soft to the touch as I rubbed the back of my head. Maybe I should start having it freshened up once a week, so it never really lost the bristly feel it had during the first week? I would have to think about that.
Pete and his partner Josh greeted me as I came in. They were partners both in business and in life, and I didn't care. As long as people behave, I don't give a s**t how they otherwise live their lives.
Johnson was in the waiting area, but both Pete and Josh seemed to be almost done with the men in the chairs, so I would soon be up. I knew one of the guys getting a haircut by appearance, nothing more. The other was unknown to me, but looked a descent sort.
"Hey Chief. Gettin' a touch-up?" Johnson asked.
"Yeah. I'm heading over to the airport to pick someone up, and figured I'd get this done first"
"You can cut ahead of me if you like," Johnson offered. But I declined. I still had enough time.
Johnson turned his attention back to his cell, and I was okay with that, never having been one for chit-chat.
As I sat there brooding about my kids being shipped to me after all these years it became Johnson's turn, and I heard him say "The usual Pete!"
A lot of my guys have a "usual" here, including me.
And sure enough, when it was my turn Josh just asked "The usual Chief?" and I nodded.
He caped me up, fastened the paper tissue around my neck, and began shaving the aftergrowth off with his clippers. Obediently I let him push my head this way and that, as he shaved, trimmed and took great care in getting the taper from bald back and sides to immaculate flat-top just right.
I can always trust these guys for a no-nonsense cut, with the front a half inch long and the landing strip at an eighth, with skin showing through without being completely bare.
Knowing me well by now Josh didn't try to make any small-talk, and the only thing he said after asking if I wanted the usual was, as always, to hold still as he lathered up my back and sides and took out the straight razor leaving me with a good couple of inches of smooth skin over my ears and practically the whole area in the back.
He needn't have told me off course. Wanting my deck to be level and the whole cut to be perfect I sat stock still.
After 20 minutes in the chair Josh pronounced me done, and un-caped me. Quarter inch bristles fell to the floor.
As usual the flattop was perfect, and I studied myself, and it, briefly in the mirror.
Standing at 6'4" I would have commanded respect no matter how my hair looked, but with a flattop as severe as mine I really stand out as a person of authority. It's not a very common haircut for a chief of police, but I'd kept it even after being made head of our station four years ago.
I grabbed my coat and my hat, and went to the till to pay.
With my Stetson Open Road on, no hair shows, and my hair is short enough on the sides and back not to get messed up or flattened by the hat band. The hat, the uniform and the haircut are all part of who I am. The hat is not strictly protocol, but I don't give a s**t. I like it.
And being chief has it's perks I suppose. If I say it goes, it goes.
I parked by the Shell station close by the airport. Jane was going to give me a call when they landed and I'd be there in plenty of time before they had gotten through baggage claim and gotten out of the building.
As I sat waiting, I watched the people in the other cars parked there. A young couple began looking nervous seeing me in the cruiser eying them.
I assumed they were expecting a call before driving over to Arrivals at the airport, but suddenly they seemed to lose their nerve, and drove off. This cheered me up a little, but I soon continued my brooding.
Cathryn had made it perfectly clear ten years ago she didn't want me to be a part of her, or our children's lives. And, I'd accepted it. Although I had once held ambitions of being a good husband and father my work and personality didn't make for a good family man.
It was just how it was, and Cathryn and I had drifted apart. I don't really know how the kids felt about it, but they were probably just as well living away from me anyway.
And now, with her being sick, they were coming to stay for at least a couple of months.
It pissed me off. It shouldn't, I know. But it did. A lot of things did.
Wanting to put my mind at ease I turned on the Country station on the radio, but it didn't help, so I switched it off again.
After about fifteen minutes, Jane rang, "We're here". She sounded apprehensive, and I tried to sound friendly as I said, "I'm heading over. Just walk out the main entrance, and watch out for the cruiser."
I hadn't seen them in real life for almost five years, but they weren't hard to recognize. Mike, the oldest at 18, long and lanky, with his dark hair down well below his shoulders, scowling at me as he nodded a "Hi".
Jane and Tobias, both 15, and both with medium blond, curvy hair. Obviously, they weren't identical, being a boy and a girl, but they sure looked the same, except for Jane not being as chubby as Tobias.
After a few awkward questions and comments about their Mom, we fell silent. I had no idea what more to say, and neither did they.
Jane and Mike looked at me with deep skepticism, and Tobias didn't look at me at all. As I took their bags to put in the back Jane and Mike said something to each other and snickered. They stopped as I turned back towards them scowling.
"Get in!" I said brusquely, and shoving Tobias aside Mike opened the rear-door and got in the back. Jane got in on other side, leaving Tobias to ride shotgun up front with me. He didn't look happy about it.
As I took my hat off and got in, I heard more snickering from the back, and Mike saying under his breath to his sister, "So, he does still have hair!"
And her answering, "Yeah. And a full head of it to. So, dorky, bald, back and sides by choice".
As we drove home Tobias was looking out the window the entire time, and the two s**ts in the back took turns snickering and fiddling with their cellphones.
At one point it looked like Jane took a picture of me from behind, and after thumbing the damned thing a little she showed the screen to her brother and they both burst out laughing.
By now I was fuming, but still managing to control my temper. My blood was up though, and I clenched my jaw and felt my ears going red as I held my anger in.
They had their own rooms at my house, and they knew my rules, although they hadn't been there since the summer my mother had passed away, and they came to stay for the funeral.
That had been awkward to. I'd been living with Linda at the time, and she and the kids had gotten a much better relationship during those few days than I had ever had with them. But Linda was gone now. She'd needed to "move on" as she called it, and I hadn't seen her for two-three years.
And now the kids were here again, and I had no clue how to "bond" with them, nor any desire to.
This was a Friday, and I actually had the whole weekend off. But by the time we got home I'd decided I needed to get some time in at the office. Anything to get away from these three for a while.
I helped Jane with one of her bags, opened the door, and stood aside to let them in. Jane turned to me, and I wondered briefly if she was going to say "Thanks Dad," or something like that, but no.
"What's the password?"
Scowling I pointed at the desk in the corner, "It's written on an envelope in the top, right, drawer."
No "Thanks Dad" now either. Not that I deserved one I suppose, but these kids seemed to be totally lacking in common curtesy. The boys joined their sister, and they were all thumbing in the password on their cells.
I barked an order at them to behave while I was gone, and I drove off.
They were probably as relieved as me that I left. But this pisses me off as well.
"Way to go James Gallagher," I thought to myself, "You're running away from your own home, 'cause you can't stand being with your kids?"
Once, about eight years ago, I went between a desperate father and his family to stop him from shooting them.
Shielding them with my body, I wandered whether he'd shoot me, or himself, and he'd ended up propping his chin on the barrel of the shotgun, and blowing his whole head off. And my focus had remained especially on shielding his kids. Protecting them, so they didn't have to see their father with a widely scattered mess of brains, tissue and blood instead of a head.
I'd have done the same for Mike, Jane and Tobias. But that's not how fathering is. Not in a day-to-day, regular sort of way.
I'm a much better cop than I am a Dad. In fact, I'm exceptionally good at being a cop. I'm impartial, honest, tough and a well-respected chief of police. There's only 34 people working under me, and I like it that way. I know everyone, and they know me. And they know me as a guy who has their back, but who also demands their full commitment and complete honesty in their service. We don't do things half way here in our town.
I give my job my all, and there just isn't room for kids. Or a wife.