A simple story
The cop took a seat at the counter, removed his hat and turned his radio down. He took a menu, glanced over it and put it back and looked into the mirror in front of him that ran the length of the counter. Without turning to look at the man to his right he said “Aren’t you one of the O’Donnells brothers?”
“I haven’t done anything, I’m just sitting here” the man answered.
“I didn’t say you did anything wrong” the cop answered “I just asked a question, that’s all, no point in getting all rambunctious on me”
The man turned to face the cop and said “I’m Mick O’Donnell”
The cop shrugged and made a motion with his hands that asked O’Donnell to calm down “I was just ask’n” the cop said “That’s all.”
They stared straight ahead at the coffee pots for several minutes, each feeling uncomfortable with the others presences.
“Where are your brothers?” The cop asked, “There was two of them”
“Three” O’Donnell answered “Their dead. They died”
The cop turned in surprise “Dead?”
“Yeah” O’Donnell said with a nod.
“How?” The cop asked genuinely surprised “What are you guys, in your forties, maybe?”
O’Donnell spoke without looking at the cop “Rory died a few years back, lung cancer. Cigarettes. Lonny died in prison doing time on an armed robbery charge”
“I remember that” the cop said. “In prison. What happened?”
“Stabbed” O’Donnell said “They stabbed him on his way out the chow line. Denny….”
He tilted his head a bit to the cop “He was the youngest” and then looked back at the coffee pots “He was shot in California. Went out there to start over and bam! That’s that….some kind of dispute with his girlfriend’s family; we still don’t know what it was all about”
“I’m sorry. That’s hard luck.” The cop said and he meant it. He watched O’Donnell count the change in his pocket and then order a cup of coffee and Danish. When the waitress came to the cop for his order the cop said “Bacon, two eggs over, toast and home fries” and then cocking a thumb at O’Donnell he added “he’ll have the same, my check”
“You don’t have to do that” O’Donnell.
“I know” he answered “I don’t have too, I want too”. He thought about what he had just said and remembered his pledge to tone down his edges and to strive to be a kindler gentler person. He turned to O’Donnell and said “I guess I should’a asked you first”
“That’s all right” O’Donnell said waving t off.
“Still” the cop replied “I would appreciate it if you would allow me to pick up breakfast”
“Sure” O’Donnell said softly. He was hungry. “Any reason?”
“Well” he answered picking up his coffee and taking the empty stool by O’Donnell “I guess it’s my way of saying thank you, without you breaking the law every other week, I’d be without a job”
They both grinned.
“So what are you doing now days?” the cop asked
“I’m a house painter” O”Donnell said happily and reached into his worn shirt pocket, pulled out a white business card and handed it to him.
“Kids?” the cop asked.
“A daughter” he answered “You? Married?”
“Separated” the cop answered “I got a temper issue, stress related and I also have issues relating to people’s situations. What’s that…? Um…em..empa”
“Empathy?” O’Donnell asked.
“Yeah!” the cop answered “there you go, that’s it. I’m work’n on it, you know”
“Hey listen” O’Donnell said “No shame in a day’s effort”