A Different Blue
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My door was wrenched open, and the cop who had been waving wildly for me to pull over was standing there, his legs and arms spread, making him seem very big and very scary.
“Hi there.” I smiled nervously. Sweetness usually worked on Jimmy.
“I need you to get out of the truck, Miss.” The officer had muscles popping out from his sleeves and a handsome face framed in sandy hair, neatly parted and brushed off his face.
“I'd rather not leave my dog, Mister,” I replied and didn't move a muscle. “He bites strangers. And you are a stranger. I wouldn't want you to get chewed up.” Icas looked like a bean bag with a dog head, lolling on the seat. Nobody was going to get chewed, unfortunately. I poked at him in frustration. “Icas?”
The policeman looked at Icas and then back at me. “I think I'll be okay. Please step out of the truck, Miss.”
“What are you going to do to me?” I asked, staring him down. “You haven't even asked me for my driver's license.” I knew that's what cops were supposed to do. Jimmy had been pulled over about a year ago because his truck had a broken headlight, and that police officer had asked him for his license first thing.
“How old are you, kid?” the officer sighed.
“Old enough to drive . . . most likely,” I said, trying to sound believable.
Another policeman joined the first just beyond the opened driver side door. He was tall and very thin, and his head was bald on top. The sun shone off it like glass, and I looked away wincing. I told myself that was why my eyes were wet and smarting.
“Plates and Vin say the vehicle belongs to a James Echohawk.”
At the mention of Jimmy's name, my heart lurched and the smarting in my eyes intensified. The moisture escaped and started sliding down my cheeks. I swiped at the water and tried to pretend it was the heat.
“Shoot! It sure is a hot day! Look at me, sweating all over the place.”
“What's your name, kid?” The skinny officer had a deep voice totally at odds with his appearance. He almost sounded like a frog.
“Blue,” I replied, my bluster fading fast.
“Yes. Blue . . . Echohawk,” I mumbled. My lips trembled.
“All right, uh, Blue. Does your dad know you've got his truck?”
“I can't find him.”
The officers looked at each other and then back at me.
“What do you mean?”
“I can't find him,” I repeated angrily. “We were camping, and he said he would be back. Icas came home, but he didn't. He's been gone for a lot of days and Icas is acting all sick and the water is almost gone in the tank, and I'm scared he isn't coming back.”
“Icas is the dog, right?” The sandy-haired, muscley policeman pointed at Icas, who had yet to even open an eye.
“Yes,” I whispered, trying desperately not to cry. Saying the words out loud made them real and terrible. Jimmy was missing. He was gone. What in the world would happen to me? I was a kid. I couldn't help it if worry for myself was equally as terrifying as worry for Jimmy.
They coaxed me out of the truck, although at the last minute I remembered the duffel bag I had filled with tools. I ran back to the truck and dragged it out from behind the front seat. It was extremely heavy, and I ended up dragging it behind me. The muscle-bound police officer had lifted Icas from the passenger side, and was looking at him with a furrowed brow. He looked at me as if he wanted to speak, thought better of it, and laid the dog gently in the back of his cruiser.
“What in the world . . .” The skinny officer, whose name I learned was Izzard – like lizard without the L – tried to lift the duffel and didn't put enough heft into his effort. “What've you got in here?”
“Tools,” I clipped. “And I'm not leavin' 'em.”
“Okaaaaay,” he hedged, looking at the other officer.
“Come on Iz. Just put them back here with the killer dog.”
They both laughed, like it was a big funny game. I stopped and stared at them, glaring from one man to the other, thrusting my chin up and out, daring them to continue. Amazingly, their laughter died off, and Izzard lifted the tools in beside Icas.
I rode in the front of the car with Mr. Muscles, also known as Officer Bowles, and Officer Izzard followed behind us. Officer Bowles radioed a message to someone, telling them about the vehicle and saying some numbers I didn't understand. It was obviously a code for “what do I do with this crazy kid?”
I was able to show them where our camper was. It was just a straight shot back up into the hills. I hadn't turned right or left coming down from the canyon because I was afraid I wouldn't remember how to get back. But Jimmy had not miraculously returned in my absence. My note lay on the table where I had left it.
They ended up calling in some guys they called search and rescue. That sounded good to me – searching and rescuing – and I felt hopeful for the first time in days. They asked me for a description of my dad. I told them he wasn't as tall as Izzard but was probably a little taller than Officer Bowles, just not as “thick.” Officer Izzard thought it was funny that I called Officer Bowles thick. Officer Bowles and I just ignored him. I told them he had black and grey hair that he always wore in two braids. When I reminded them that his name was Jimmy and asked them if they would please find him, I had to stop talking for fear that I would cry. Jimmy never cried, so I wouldn't either.