I slept through the afternoon and all night, as though I had never slept before. My grief had overtaken me and left me bereft of my friend.
When I awakened, I remembered anew that in this lifetime, I would never see my friend again. However, I knew that one day I would see him in the hereafter. That gave me strength to go on.
Upon arising from my bed, I heard a knocking on the door. When I went to open it, I found a notice tacked to the frame. It was a note telling me that unless I could pay the rent on the place, I was to vacate it immediately. I knew I had to leave because I had no money to speak of.
I decided that I would find employment for the time I wasn't going to school at the academy. I certainly wasn't getting paid for attending the school.
I decided to ask Mama Nina if she knew of a place where I could work and perhaps stay until I was earning money as a policeman. It didn't take me very long to pack up my belongings in the duffel bag; I was soon on my way to the diner to talk to Mama Nina.
They had closed the diner the day before in order to attend Jackson's funeral services. It would have meant a lot to him to know how they had honored him by doing so.
I carried the uniform carefully along with my duffel bag to the diner. Mama and Papa hugged me when I arrived and asked if they could do anything for me. I could see the concern and affection in their faces.
"Well, since you ask, could you perhaps tell me where I can get a part time job and a place to live until I begin to earn money as a policeman? I realize you all know a lot about the community and might have an idea for me."
Mama looked at Papa and lifted her eyebrows at him. He gave an almost imperceptible nod back to her.
Wiping her hands on her apron, she began speaking to me.
"You know, Zebbie...we've been needing someone to help out around here for awhile. Perhaps you could wash dishes and clear tables, perhaps sweep and mop, too, on your time off from school. We have a small room at our house that we can clear out so you will have a place to sleep."
"Are you sure? I wouldn't want to be any bother to you."
"We can't pay you much, of course, but you will get all your meals free, and a few dollars to spend, to boot."
It really humbled me to realize how kind they were being to me. They didn't have to do what they were offering to me, but I knew they meant it and it would have been churlish of me to turn up my nose at their offer.
"Thank you, Mama and Papa. I appreciate your offer and I accept."
"Okay, Zebbie, you may begin after your classes at the academy today. We'll expect to see you around four o'clock this afternoon."
I hugged them both. It was a real comfort to feel their arms around my waist.
"You might as well leave your duffel bag and we can stow it in the back somewhere until we all go home tonight."
I left with my heart singing their praises.
Bobby Joe Odum greeted me at the door to the academy.
"Hey, buddy! How are you doing today? Are you ready to begin our run this morning? We had an assignment to turn in today that you missed yesterday afternoon. Do you reckon Frosty will penalize you?"
I hit my forehead, feeling like I was days behind instead of just one day; I hadn't gotten the assignment, because I had gone home right after the funeral instead of returning to the academy. I would need to talk to the Captain to see about making it up.
Pretty soon all ten students were present and we ran the laps before settling down for the day's work.
"O'Hanlon, if you would remain a few minutes after class this noon, we need to discuss a few matters." Captain Wintermeyer spoke quietly to me.
"Yes, sir." I hoped the ax wasn't getting ready to fall.
That morning we had some more practice with shooting and the use of the baton. We cleaned guns and then reviewed a chapter in the manual about the use of excessive force in making arrests. We seemed to be taking small bites in our training.
I was pleased to see that Odie (his nickname) was settling down and less obnoxious in his behavior. My nickname among the other students became Zeeb. It seemed everyone eventually received a nickname.
(To be continued)