Keep Her Safe
Corporal Jackie Marshall
“There’s gotta be a pound in each.” Abe nudges the ziplock bag of marijuana with the tip of his pen. The kitchen table is shrouded in these bags, along with bundles of cash. I’m going to take a wild guess and say there’s plenty more, hidden around this dive of an apartment.
I peer over at the guy we just busted, handcuffed and lying on his stomach, under another officer’s watchful eye, waiting to be transported for booking. He’s a scrawny nineteen-year-old with a temper. “Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be beatin’ on my girlfriend if I had all these drugs in my house.” His neighbors heard glass smashing and him making threats of death, so they called 9-1-1. He gave us cause to kick in the door when he uttered a string of racial slurs and then spat in Abe’s face. That’s how we found the bloodied blonde girl and this.
Now the paramedics are treating the gashes on her face, while we wait for Narcotics to swoop in.
Abe smooths his ebony-skinned hand over his cheek. “What do you think this is worth, anyway?”
“Depends how good it is. Ten grand? Maybe twenty?”
He lets out a low whistle. “I’m in the wrong business.”
“You and me both. We bounced our mortgage payment last month.” Blair told me we couldn’t afford that house. I ought to have listened to him. But I also hadn’t planned on getting pregnant when
I did. Not that I regret having Noah. I just expected to have earned a few stripes before I was elbow-deep in diapers and formula.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be making the big bucks soon enough, Sergeant Marshall,” Abe mocks with a dimpled grin. He’s been calling me that for months, ever since I passed my test and was put on the promotion list. “Just don’t go forgetting about us beat cops when you start pinning those stars to your collar.”
“You’re ridiculous.” I roll my eyes at him.
“Am I? You are one damn ambitious woman, Jackie, and my money’s on you over half the clowns around here, present company included.” He sighs. “My days won’t be the same, though.”
“I’m gonna miss being your partner, Abe.” After seven years, there’s no one else I trust more in the APD—and in life—than Abe Wilkes.
He lets out a derisive snort. “Don’t worry, you’ll see me plenty enough. Heck, Noah’ll probably be at my house more than yours.”
“Dina’s managing alright, what with a baby of her own? Don’t want Noah to be a burden on her.”
Abe waves off my concern. “Dina’ll steal that kid away from you if you’re not watching. She insisted.”
I can’t be sure if it was Dina or Abe who offered to mind Noah while Blair and I work. I’ve never seen a grown man dote on a little boy as much as Abe dotes on mine. Even Blair doesn’t pay that much attention, and Noah’s his son. “That beautiful wife of yours is a blessing. I wish you’d have knocked her up and gotten married years ago. Would have saved me a ton on daycare bills.”
Abe struggles to keep that booming chuckle of his at bay—it wouldn’t be appropriate given current surroundings. “I’d say we’re movin’ plenty fast, don’t you?”
Pregnant three months into dating and married at City Hall the week after finding out? I’d say so. “Your mom come around yet?” A good Christian woman like Abe’s mother was less than pleased when she found out her twenty-eight-year-old son had knocked up an eighteen-year-old girl. An eighteen-year-old white girl. I’ve met
Carmel Wilkes. I don’t believe she has an issue with Dina, per se; she’s more worried about other people taking issue with Dina and Abe together, and the problems that may arise. As progressive as Austin is, there’s still plenty of hate to go around when it comes to the color of a person’s skin.
Abe shrugs. “Slowly but surely.”
“I’ll bet that gorgeous little Gracie is helping.”
It’s inevitable, the second anyone says his daughter’s name, that Abe’s face splits open with a wide grin. He’s about to say something—probably tell another story about how cute she is—when our radios crackle with voices.
“The cavalry’s here.” I pat my stomach. “Good thing, too. I’m starving. Let’s get this lowlife booked and then get some food.”
“Hey . . .” Abe lowers his voice to a whisper. “I wonder, how honest do you think these narc guys are?”
“Honest enough. Why?”
His chocolate-brown eyes roll over the bundles of cash. “Wouldn’t it be easy for one of those to go missing?”
It’s a question you don’t pose, especially not while you’re in uniform and standing in front of a pile of drugs. “Pretty dang easy, I’ll bet.”