Graveyard Shift

The clock on the Microwave read 10:38 PM. That microwave is almost as old as me Mike mused. He stood up from the kitchen table, stubbed out his cigarette and put his coffee cup in the sink.
He was late for his shift. Goddamn Graveyard shift. Another night of dealing with the crazies, drunks and other dregs of society. He threw his holster over his shoulder and fastened the buckle. If all else fails him, his trusty 9MM never will. He grabbed the jacket off of the back of his chair and went to the door. As he opened it he heard the shuffle of feet in the kitchen. He turned and saw his daughter at the cupboard, she was getting a coffee mug.
“The water is still hot if you want the instant stuff.”
“No thanks”, she said. “I’ll use the Keurig.”
“You gotta have that Starbuck’s crap dontcha Sarah?” he chided.
“Leave me alone, Daddy. I’m too tired.”
“I’m just playin’ kid.” He looked at her intently. “You ok?” He was worried about her. Between his job and hers he never saw her. She didn’t look good.
“I’m fine. Just tired. I would worry about yourself if I was you, Dad. You look like shit.”
“Thanks”, he said. “I’m late. Let’s chisel out a spot of time that we can hang out. I miss you.” He couldn’t think of the last time he had spent any real time with her. Maybe it was Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Who knew, time went by so fast lately. He dug into his breast pocket, pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds and stuck one in his mouth. He lit it, exhaled and coughed. Goddamn things are going to kill me.
As if on cue Sarah said, “those things are going to kill you.” They both chuckled. “Got one for me?”
He begrudgingly reached into his shirt and tossed the pack to her. She took one and tossed the pack to him. She stared at him sarcastically for a moment until he realized why and tossed her the lighter.
“I’m late, kiddo. Gotta go. Love you.”
“You too, Dad. I’m going out soon.”
“Work or pleasure?, he asked.
“Out”, she said.
He knew nothing about her lately. Where she went, who she was hanging with. As a Police Sergeant in a college town of 45,000 people, his job had him pulling doubles, living on bad coffee, fast food and no sleep. Consequently, his relationship with his daughter had really suffered. He wasn’t even sure what she was doing for work right now. She had changed jobs so often. His lack of connection with her was haunting him and he didn’t see a break in sight. At least until the kids went home for the summer.
“Out. Ok then. Wherever that is, don’t have them call me.” They both chuckled. He went over to her and kissed her on the cheek. “Love you.”
“You too, Daddy.” She never looked up from her coffee.



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