“There ya go, your bed is finally built. What do you think?” Eli asked his son. Derek and him had spent all afternoon putting together the new bed. He had outgrown his old toddler bed, and now that he was almost seven years old, it was time for a new one. Of course Derek picked out his bed: a police car. Sam thought Eli’s reaction was hilarious. At least Derek didn’t see his scowl. In the end though, it did go with the police-themed room that Derek had been going for. Grant sure did spoil his grandson, that was for sure.
“I love it! Thank you, Daddy!” He rushed in and gave Eli a hug. “This is the greatest birthday ever!”
“You looking forward to your party? Only a week to go, big guy.”
“I can’t wait! This is going to be so cool. And Grandpa is going to give me a ride in a police car too. I really can’t wait for that!” He started to jump up and down. His toothless grin made Eli’s heart warmed. If Derek wanted to be a police officer, he was going to support it.
Eli couldn’t help but laugh. “Just make sure Grandpa lets you sit in the front and not the back. Only bad guys sit in the back.”
The door opened and Bailee came waddling in. “Daddy, I poo.”
Of course she did. Eli groaned and Derek made eww noises and pinched his own nose. “That’s gross.”
Potty training Derek was easy. It took only two days, a couple of cheerios to help aim, and then one sit at the potty, and bam he was potty trained, and he was proud of it. Bailee, on the other hand, refused to even sit on the potty or go for Sam or Eli. Nope, she was one stubborn little angel.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” Eli said with a frustrated sigh.
Eli carried her into her own room and changed her on the changing table. He tickled her after and made her grin. “You need to start using the potty, baby girl.”
“No.” Bailee tugged on the diaper, and grinned widely to Eli.
He placed her down and followed her out the door. Derek had made his own way to the toys out in the office area and was playing with the new block set he got from Grandma for Christmas. Bailee picked up her doll and chewed on its head.
“Derek, have you seen Mom?” Eli asked. He hadn’t seen her for a while. Did she go out and not tell him? Or did she tell him and he missed it. Hmm.
Derek pointed through the shelving unit. “She’s napping.”
Huh. Eli made his way over to his girl and sure enough, Sam was napping. He found a blanket and covered her, turned off the news on the television, and kissed her forehead. Sam had been working overtime at work, it was a wonder she hadn’t collapsed the last few days.
Eli checked the time, and headed over to the kitchen. He was no chef. Hell, he burnt the last mac and cheese he made for Derek last week. No way was he going to cook for his kids. With a slight pause to think, he headed for the laptop across the room where the kids were playing and ordered a pizza.
That night Eli read to Derek in his bed. After they finished the chapter, Eli asked, “So, what do you think, bud? Is this bed going to be okay for you?”
“I love it, Dad. I really, really love it!”
Eli bent down and kissed Eli on the forehead. “Good. Have sweet dreams, okay?” He climbed out of Derek’s bed and tucked his son in. “Dream about catching all the bad guys for me.”
Derek laughed. “Night, Dad.”
He left his son’s room and went to Bailee’s room and found Sam reading her a bedtime story. He leaned back on the doorway and watched the two. They were so adorable and cute. Once it was apparent that Bailee was asleep, Sam kissed her good night and left, with Eli following her into their own room.
He pulled her into a hug and a kiss. “Do you know how much I love you?”
“I’m tired,” she yawned.
He chuckled and kissed her softly. “I know. You’ve been working too hard. Come on, babe, let’s get you into bed. You need to sleep just as much as the kids.”
He helped her undress, climb into bed, and kissed her. “I love you, Eli,” she whispered as she fell asleep. Hell, Eli hadn’t even gotten into bed before she dozed off. He grinned at her, shaking his head. A few years ago, they would have ended the night with more than a kiss. Now, he was lucky if he got any sex. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow night.
Marv smacked Eli on the back of his ass with a rag.
Eli jumped up from under the hood of the police cruiser he was servicing for Grant. “Yo, watch it man.” He turned to see Grant laughing. “Ass.”
“I know.” Marv chuckled. “So, I got a call from Nathan. He said Leroy’s divorce is finally settled. The guys want to take him drinking tonight. Want to join?”
“Sure.” Eli hadn’t gone out with his friends in weeks. He even had to miss a few of the poker nights because of Sam’s work schedule. “Let me just check in with Sam, make sure she’s not working late.”
After a quick phone call during lunch, Sam reminded Eli that she didn’t have work that day. Oops. Eli had forgotten which days she now had off.
“Eli, I swear. It’s up on the calendar,” Sam exasperated.
“I know, I know. Totally forgot. But, it’s okay if I go out, right? Just a couple of beers and I’ll grab a ride home after.”
“Have fun. Send Leroy and the rest of the guys my love.”
“Of course. Love you, babe.”
So this was a good thing. Eli was finally getting back out of the house. He had been stuck at home the last few months with the kids due to Sam’s scheduling at the hospital. Her promotion as Head Nurse really sucked the life out of both their social lives.
Eli and Marv locked up that evening and he joined Marv in his truck to go to the bar. It was one close by to Eli’s place, so at least it would be in walking distance of home. No one would have to worry about him driving drunk or getting home. Not that he drank that much anyway. He never really was a real drinker.
Eli and Marv found their buddies sitting at a bar table. Nathan introduced Marv and Eli to the two other cops there. Eli had a hard time hearing their names over the loud music and cheers going on at the main bar. There was a game on the TV, so it must have just been one of those busy nights.
“A round of drinks,” Marv ordered when the waiter came by.
They toasted Leroy for getting out of the loveless marriage he had been in for far too long. Leroy’s wife and him had only married for the kid’s sake. Then he found someone he enjoyed being around, and decided it wasn’t worth it sticking around with his wife—now ex-wife.
Drink after drink, the group got sort of loud and obnoxious about marriage, sex, and life. But it all came to a stop. They weren’t the only ones rowdy and loud.
At a table close to them there were some college age kids drinking and talking shit. One in particular was making a real loud fuss and opinions known about the some recent political shit that was going on.
“…Like that dumbass over there. Just change the color of the coveralls, and he’d be a perfect example of the pieces of shit I’m talking about filling up our prisons.”
Eli knew the dumb ass was talking about him. Unlike Marv, Eli didn’t keep a spare change of clothes at the shop. He did scrub off the grease before he left at least.
Marv rolled his eyes, “Little shit don’t know anything about the real world.”
Eli and his friends murmured in agreement.
“Dad promises to clean the streets. But where the fuck are the police when you need them? Am I right?”
One of the new guys smirked and mumbled low enough for only their group to hear, “Right here, fuckwad.” The other cops clinked their glasses and laughed a little. Eli joined in with them.
“Kid’s got his nose too high. Probably a spoiled little shit,” Anthony snickered. “Doesn’t understand the real world.”
“Would hate to live in that bubble,” Eli said.
“Hey gangbanger,” they heard the kid call out. Others around him snickered. After a little bit of silence the kid shouted again. “Yo, shit head with the gang tats, I’m talking to you.”
“I think he means you, Eli,” Nathan laughed.
Eli shrugged. “Whatever. I’m not taking the bait.”
Marv clapped him on the back. “Smart move.”
“Yo, shit stain. You think you’re too good for me? You’re nothing man. See,” And Eli felt the guy closing in on him. “This is the type of trash I’m talking about. Fuckwad gang bangers like him. They should all be so lucky that our tax dollars feed their asses in prison.”
Eli snorted. “Not like it tastes any good. My baby girl eats better than I did.” Eli probably shouldn’t have said that so loud. His friends snickered and Marv laughed, patting him on the back.
No, it was the reply behind him that got Eli to see a little red. “Another reason we aught to take scum off the street. Shits abandoning their kids. How many kids you got, homeboy? Bet you toss the whores you sleep with and leave ‘em. You don’t give a shit about your baby or whatever.”
Marv held Eli’s shoulder. “Not worth it. He’s just trying to piss you off, and prove to everyone he’s got it right in the head.”
“Dude, grow up,” Anthony barked out. “You don’t know him.”
“Oh, but I do. I know his type. Your type. All of your type. What is this, gang-r-us? I thought this was a well respected establishment. Don’t worry, I’m sure I can help clean it up. And then maybe make sure his skanky ass whore he—”
The kid didn’t even see it coming. Hell, until the pain in Eli’s knuckles registered he didn’t realize he punched the guy.
The kid spat, “Oh, I think I touched a nerve. Bet that bitch is good in bed. Can’t wait to find her and try her out.”
Eli knew better, he did, but he found himself in a bar fight at any rate. He was practically beating the shit out of the kid while pulling out of his friends’ and brother’s arms to continue to beat the shit out of the asshole.
Eventually Anthony got a good enough hold on Eli to escort him out of the bar.
“Let go of me, Tony!” Eli shouted. “I’m gonna kill that fucker!”
“Get him outside, Anthony,” Nathan yelled as Leroy helped the punk-ass get onto his feet. Son-of-a-bitch. Eli was going to go over there and continue what he started. Just as soon as he figures out how to get out of his brother’s grip. Fucker, why did he have to be so damn strong?
“This isn’t fucking over!” Eli shouted.
“Dude, shut up!” Anthony shouted at him, and pushed him outside the bar.
Eli shouted when the cold wind hit his face. The adrenaline in his system was at an all time high. “Fuck!”
“Eli, you need to get home,” Anthony said.
Eli came to his senses as Anthony spoke. Oh shit. Oh fuck. No. No. No. His parole. There were so many cops in that bar. This was bad. This was really bad. “Fuck!”
He turned and took a deep breath. Nathan and Marv had followed Anthony and him out of the bar. He met Nathan’s eyes. “I fucked up, didn’t I?”
“Cops are probably on their way,” Nathan said. “Go home. Kiss your wife. I’ll see what I can do. The guy’s pretty wasted, but I’d still use tonight to get cleaned up and…say goodbye. Just in case I can’t stop the kid from pressing charges, say goodbye. I’m sorry, man.”
Eli collapsed onto his knees at the realization of what Nathan meant. “Fuuuuuck!”