7

“Your son is telling you the truth, sir.”

“What? Who are you?”

“John Ceepak. Chief of Detectives. Sea Haven Police Department.”

“Excuse me,” says the dad, “but this is a private, family matter.”

I’m standing now, too. “Donna gave him the crayons.”

The dad shakes his head like he’s clearing out his ears. “What?”

“The waitress,” says Ceepak. “Her name is Donna. She told your son that it would be perfectly fine for him to draw on the paper tablecloth. All the children do it.”

“Some adults, too,” I toss in because I know one who does. Me.

The boy is looking at Ceepak like Superman just dropped in to the Pancake Palace to protect him from the evil fiend known as Dad, The Crayon Snatcher.

“Well, who exactly gave some minimum wage waitress permission to tell my son what he can and cannot do in my absence?”

“You raise an interesting if somewhat moot point,” says Ceepak. “Be that as it may, it does not mitigate the fact that you accused your son of a very serious offense: Lying.”

“Is this what you cops do down here? Butt into private, family affairs?”

“We try not to,” I say. “But sometimes, well, we just can’t seem to avoid it.”

See, I know something Poppa Bear doesn’t: John Ceepak lives his life in strict compliance with the West Point honor code. He will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do. So, to accuse someone of lying, especially your own son, well, geeze-o, man, that is an accusation that should never be made lightly.

“Come on Christopher.” The dad grabs the kid’s wrist.

“But …”

“We’ll pick up frozen waffles at the store.”

“I wanted pancakes …”

“There’s no need for you two to leave, sir,” says Ceepak, picking up a napkin to dab at his lips.

“Well, I sure don’t want to sit here eating breakfast with Big Brother’s nose up my butt.”

He means Ceepak and me. We are the police state. The big, bad butt-sniffers.

“Then you are in luck,” says Ceepak. “My partner and I were just leaving. Danny?”

“I’ve got this one.” I lay some bills on the table, enough to pay for everything we would’ve eaten if, you know, we had ever ordered anything besides coffee.

“Have a good day.” Ceepak gives the father and son a crisp two-finger salute off his right brow.

Little Christopher salutes right back.

Super Man and I leave the building.

Yes. When you work with John Ceepak, sometimes you miss a meal.

Contents