A voice crackled over the sergeant’s shoulder mic giving out a police incident code and address sending Sgt. Kaplan to Roger Caldwell City Park about a bicycle.
“How long’s it been here?” Kaplan asked Mrs. Edith Wexcombe, the person who called in the complaint.
Mrs. Wexcombe had on her good lavender chenille house coat and her fuzzy lambswool slippers. Her left hip pocket held a wad of folded Kleenex and the right pocket held the used tissues. Pink foam curlers kept her short, faintly blue hair in neat, compact rows down the center and around the sides of her head. She barely reached Kaplan’s shoulder, and Kaplan only stood five-foot-six.
Flipping through a small, spiral notebook, her tiny, tight handwriting filling its pages, Mrs. Wexcombe grumbled to herself until she found the entry that prompted her call to the police.
“I told Bob Simpson, he’s the neighborhood watch captain, two weeks ago that that bike had been abandoned at the parkside pavilion,” Mrs. Wexcombe said, holding up her notebook and tapping the watch notation about the deserted bicycle. “Gives the park a jakey appearance and we’ve worked hard to keep it nice.”
All right, Mrs. Wexcombe,” Kaplan began.
“Please, call me, Edith,” Mrs. Wexcombe smiled. Her tiny, yellow teeth reminded Kaplan of Chiclets gum.
“Mrs. Wexcombe,” he continued. “I’ll go take a look, you stay here.”
She frowned at his back as he strode across the park lawn.
Activating his mic, Kaplan reported back to dispatch.
“Roger, sergeant, standing by,” the dispatcher responded.
Mere months from retirement, Kaplan was reassigned to a city beat investigating minor disturbances. He didn’t want to go out with a bang, he wanted a quiet mew, and Mrs. Wexcombe was trying to throw a wrench in the works.
The sun was beating down from a clear azure sky. No clouds to break up the heat and blinding light. Even his mirrored aviators didn’t filter out enough sun and Kaplan held his hand over the gap above his sunglasses.
His gun hand went to his service weapon instinctively when he reached the pavilion. His nerves were tingling with near panic. Kaplan scanned the rafters, his Maglite held high over his head. Leaving the bike, he walked around the perimeter of the pavilion, looking for footprints or other evidence. The longer he was there, the more frantic he became.
“Dispatch, Sgt. Kaplan,” the sergeant spoke into his shoulder mic.
“Dispatch,” a voice responded.
“Dispatch, send Det. Simms to this location,” Kaplan instructed.
“Roger, sergeant.” The voice disconnected.
When his cell phone vibrated, Kaplan answered immediately.
“What’s going on Kap?” the detective said.
“I’m at an abandoned vehicle scene at Caldwell Park, a bicycle. It’s bullshit, but that’s my life now,” Kaplan said. “Or, at least I thought is was.”
“A bike, Kap?” Simms. “You’re calling me about a bike?”
“Kap, you know that’s not possible,” Simms said after a long silence.
“No, it’s Tony’s,” Kaplan said. “I know this sounds crazy, but Simms, I know it’s his. Remember I etched his name in the crossbar? It’s there. The thing looks like the day I brought it home.”
“The bike disappeared with Tony ten years ago, Kap,” Simms said. “We held his funeral.”
“I know, but his bike’s here,” Kaplan said. “What’s your location?”
“I can be there in two,” Simms said ending the call.
When his phone buzzed again, Kaplan thought it was his friend calling back. He answered without looking at the ID on the screen.
“What did you forget, Simms?”
“Hi, Dad, it’s me, Tony.”
When Det. Simms arrived at the park, the bicycle was still leaning against the wall inside the pavilion. Sgt. Kaplan’s cell phone was on the ground by the bike with last caller ID still on the screen.