Blauer - Tactical Clothing & Equipment

"Leaning On the Sill" - By Lt. Tim Cotton

He was tired. Tired because he hadn’t slept that well in the heat of the summer days, tired of trying to figure out how to make the paycheck stretch to the next one, and tired of being grouchy with his wife just before he left for work at 7:45 P.M.

Shift work has it’s benefits, he just couldn’t think of one right now. 

She still hugged him like she always did. They had agreed early on that an argument should not trump a hug, or a kiss, or a wink. Even on “fight nights,” as he liked to refer to it several days later, he would pull into the driveway sometime during the 11 o’clock news. Inevitably it would be during the weather portion of the local newscast. He felt the forecast should last about 3 minutes but it seemed like it lasted for about 24 of the 26 minutes of actual programming. 

The summer routine was that he would pull into the driveway, flash his headlights, and she would scoot over toward the screen near the her end of the couch. He would lean on the elbow-worn outer-sill and tell her he was sorry, or that he forgot to tell her something earlier today. He could have gone inside, but this was the summer routine. It was bizarre to some, but they both liked the throwback to simpler times. The times before babies and bills, shift work and scraping by. 

He used to do the same thing when they were dating, back when she was finishing college while living at her mom’s house. The worn path to the wood-line should have been a giveaway to late night screen-talks, but her mother never mentioned it. Well, not until about a year after they were married when Sybil (he only called her Sybil, but her name was Martha) mentioned that she never had to trim the grass around her daughter’s window in years past but that the grass was growing, “wonderfully now.” She winked at him. 

Now their screen-talks only lasted about five to ten minutes, she would tell him to go save some lives, he would tell her to sleep well and that she should keep in mind that he only works after dark because, “everyone knows that’s where evil lurks.” She would shut the window and blow him a kiss.

About once a summer, sometimes twice, he would return to the window to talk to her again. Usually after a particularly bad call, or maybe a death, a fight, or even a death notification. 

When that happened, he would flash his spotlight through their left bedroom window. A couple of flashes off the mirror on the far wall would bring her around. It didn’t wake the kids like a phone ringing. It didn’t cause the dog to bark like his footsteps would if he was clunking across the back porch. She would come down and slide up the glass and ask him how he was. He would tell her. 

Inevitably he would thank her for her time, ask her how much for the session. He most often would tell her that it should only be five cents, like Lucy used to charge Charlie Brown. 

She reminded him of Lucy when she leaned on the window sill and just listened. They would joke that he did not have a nickel today, but that she could send a bill to the department. She said she would just keep his football until he could come up with the cash. They would laugh at the stupidity of comparing their lives to Peanuts, but that's what you do. You sometimes need to laugh. 

The truth of the matter was that he didn’t have even a nickel in his pocket, but he had her. On those nights - and many others - it was more than enough. 


TC (cottonblend at blauer dot com)

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