The Policeman As Dan stood on his porch step, he looked out at all of his friends. His wife stood on the step as well, about to branch into a speech about his fiftieth birthday. He stood there; looking out at all of his friends, wondering what he did to deserve all of these people in his life. Wondering how he made his way to the top of the local police force.
He looked to each of his children, met their eyes and smiled at all three of them. Dan was a respected and well-liked man, whose friendly nature seemed to draw people to him. He was quite a tall man, still maintaining his good looks, although he was now a slightly more wrinkled man then he was in his youth.
Dan stood on the step thinking about all of the stories his wife shared with the crowd, joining in with the laughter, enjoying his night.
He thought about when he met his wife and the joy he found in his three children. None of the people standing before him knew the entirety of his past. How could they, he only moved to Sydney when he finished his years of schooling in Orange? He restarted his whole life when he moved to Sydney. He left his family and friends behind, knowing that moving on was the only option.
Dan and Michael grew up together in Orange. They had been next-door neighbours. They did everything together and they continued their friendship all the way through. In their youth, they got up to all sorts of mischief. They spent most of their time swimming and fishing at the local water hole, and going for bike rides. Their primary years were a breeze, everything came as easily as it went. The boys were looking forward to going to high school though, they thought they would be the best days of their lives, and for most of it, they were right.
On the first day of grade eight, Dan met Chris. Chris was a tall blonde haired girl. She was a polite soft talking girl, who gained a lot of attention from all of the boys. Chris and Dan clicked as soon as they met; they had so many things in common. Michael and Chris got on well too, but they didn't have quite the same connection as Dan and Chris.
It didn't take long for Dan and Chris to start dating; they spent a lot of their spare time together. Michael was never left out though, Chris had lots of girl friends, which she invited out whenever they were going somewhere.
The group of three, never had time to themselves, they would always be off to one party or another, always involved in some amount of fun. In grade ten, Dan got a job at the local video shop, and although it took up some of his time, he would focus on all the money going towards his first car. He already knew how to drive, most kids in Orange were taught at a young age, the police knew, but they didn't really mind, no harm was being done.
Dan was becoming quite an accomplished driver, his dad would let him take the car out on Saturdays. They still went to the water hole on weekends, but their time there was no longer spent swimming and fishing. It was now spent drinking and trying different drugs. A different person would drive home each week, they al knew that it would be forgiven if they were driving a car underage, but if they were drink driving, it would not be tolerated.
In grade eleven, Dan bought his first car, it was a 1978 model Datsun. It was a blue car and had only a small ding in the side. A grandmother down the street had owned it, and it was in very good condition. Dan now had his learner's license, which meant he was almost legally allowed to drive. He now drove the other two to school, and if they were bored they would make their way to the coast for the weekend, camping out on the beach. It was always risky driving outside of Orange though, everyone knew that the police would not be as lenient as those that lived in Orange.
It was a Saturday night, Chris, Dan and Michael were at a local party. They were finally in grade twelve and this party was signifying the end of year. They had all finally finished high school. Dan, Michael and Chris now all had their licences. Before they went to the party, Michael suggested that if Dan bought the drinks for the party, then he, Michael would be willing to drive home. As long as Dan bought him some "Red Bulls."ÃÂ As expected, Dan took Michael up on this plan, he thought they would all just walk to the party, but if someone's willing to drive, why not? They got to the party, just after 9:00pm. There were a lot of people there already, and most of them were already drunk. Tonight was going to be a very special night for Dan, he had decided that he would propose marriage to Chris that night. He had bought a ring, after saving money from his part time job and was sure she would say "yes,"ÃÂ because they had discussed it before, and it was always seen as the next step for them both.
The three friends all went through the normal motions of a party, drinking, joking and talking to different people. Michael was having a lot of fun, the other two didn't realise that he decided not to drink because he bought acid along with him. After taking his acid, he was very happy, everyone easily associated his behaviour with the drinking of red bulls, and so no one, including Dan and Chris thought anything of it.
At 12:30pm, Dan suggested to Chris that he and her go for a walk. Michael nodded at Dan knowingly, giving him a thumbs up sign, Dan smiled back. They walked down the road to the local playground. Chris sat on the swing and Dan began to push her. "Chrissy, you know I love you, don't you?"ÃÂ "Of course I do,"ÃÂ came the reply.
"And you know that I am serious in saying that I want to marry you?"ÃÂ "Yes Dan, what are you saying?"ÃÂ questioned Chris.
"I want you to accept my ring, I want you to wear my ring and let everyone know that we are engaged to be married."ÃÂ Dan stopped swinging Chris, and brought the swing to a stop. He came around the swing to stand in front of her. "Of course I will wear your ring Dan, I love you and I can't wait for us to spend our lives together."ÃÂ Chris was beaming, she had been waiting for this day for a long time, and was so happy.
The two sat and talked for about an hour in the park, discussing plans for their life together. They were deleriously happy, and as they dawdled back to the party the smiles could not be wiped from their faces.
When they got to the party, there was a lot of noise coming from the front yard, someone was lying on the ground and there was blood. Dan ran up to Michael "what happened Mike?"ÃÂ "Jesse fell over a cut his head on a bottle, we've got to get him to a hospital."ÃÂ Michael told Dan. "How long has he been lying here?"ÃÂ Asked Dan.
"He only just went down before you got here. Can I drive him in your car? You come with me and Chris can stay here, to calm the others down?"ÃÂ suggested Michael.
"Of course,"ÃÂ Dan ran and gave a quick kiss to Chris, explaining what they would do, he told her they would be back to get her as soon as possible.
When they got to the hospital, the doctors told them they should go home, that they would get in contact with Jesse's parents. Michael went to the toilet before they left. He needed some more acid, he wasn't feeling as good after Jesse. They drove back to the party, not talking much until Michael finally said, "Did you ask her?"ÃÂ "Huh?"ÃÂ Dan had completely forgotten that he had just gotten engaged. "Oh yeah, she said yes."ÃÂ "That's great."ÃÂ They rounded the corner near the party. As they did so a cat ran out across the road. Michael swerved to miss it, but must have got it, because the car jolted, Michael slammed his foot on the brake. They both got out of the car, Michael was looking for the cat and Dan was looking for damage to his car. "How can a cat make a dent this size?"ÃÂ Asked Dan. Andy, the party host came running up to them, looking delirious, "Oh my god, where did she go?"ÃÂ He screamed. Michael and Dan felt bad, for hitting Andy's cat. "I'm sorry about your cat,"ÃÂ said Michael, "I swerved, but I got it I guess. I'm really sorry."ÃÂ Michael looked at Andy and was confused by the irrational look in his eye. "Dan, I'm so sorry, god. Shit, where did she go?"ÃÂ Andy was looking around the car, and Dan was getting worried. "Andy, what's going on, we hit your cat right? That's all it was, right?"ÃÂ Dan looked at Andy, eyebrows raised.
Michael started running to the back of the car, he vomited. "Dan,"ÃÂ"ÃÂ¦.. "Dan, oh god, I think I've killed her."ÃÂ An ambulance was called, but it didn't make much of a difference, she was gone. She had been asleep on the grass on the edge of the road; she had been waiting for them to come back. Michael didn't even see her lying there; he had been so focused on the cat that he went straight into her.
Michael was fined and was sentenced to jail on a count of manslaughter. Dan left Orange immediately, he didn't hate Michael for what had happened, it was an accident. It could have happened to anyone. Dan stayed in contact with Michael in jail, but one day the letters stopped. Michael hung himself, he couldn't deal with his inner guilt, although Dan had forgiven him, he was never able to forgive himself.
Dan still looked out at all of his friends, his wife continued to talk, still telling funny stories. Dan had a tear in his eye, he held onto the ring. After her death, he attached her engagement ring to a gold chain, he never took it off, it always hung from his neck, dangling over his heart. She was the only one who ever had his heart completely and though he loved his wife and children, they would never have all of him.