All weekend, I worked in the diner, busing tables, cleaning floors, talking with Mama and Papa, the owners. They had much advice to offer me, and told me stories about how they had come to America as a young couple. They had worked hard and become successful in a small way (according to them) and were trying to give back in gratitude to the country that had become home to them.
They lived very modest lives, but never turned away anyone who needed help. I admired them beyond measure, and came to love them like my own family back in Kentucky.
I kept in touch with my family back home by calling them at least once a month or so. It seemed they were doing well, mostly. My brother, Les, was in school and keeping out of trouble as far as they knew; my little sister, Marie, was growing more lovely by the day.
My sister, Rose ... well, they still didn't speak of her. Rosie, the hothead, always leading with her temper, was no doubt in all kinds of hot water. One day, I knew I would have to hunt her down and set her straight, probably get her out of whatever mess she was no doubt in.
Soon the third week of school began, and I was back at the academy every day, learning more about how to become a good policeman. I could see most of the others shaping up, but by this time three of the ten had washed out, so that left one without a partner. I felt for him, so I asked Frosty if he could join Odie and me.
"Well, Zeeb, that is a bit unorthodox, but we are here to learn to co-operate with one another, so, yes, if he is willing and if Odie is, that would be acceptable. How about it, fellas, is that okay with both of you?"
Bixby, called Bix by all of us, readily agreed.
"Well-l-l... okay," laughed Odie. "He's an okay guy. Ain't his fault his partner got sent home, so sure. Welcome to our team, Bix, old boy."
Let me tell you a little about Bix. He was older than most of the recruits. He was around thirty and married. Most of the rest of us were just out of the army or high school, so not out of our early twenties, some our teens.
Bix apparently had several jobs before the academy and seemed to have had a bit of bad luck in them. That would no doubt make anyone feel a bit down, but he seemed cheerful enough. I wondered what his difficulty had been in keeping a job.
After our morning run, we came back in to take up some basic medical training, such as artificial respiration and basic first aid. We had a dummy person to practice artificial respiration and of course the usual jokes were made. A written test followed the morning's instruction and then a performance test after that to see how well we had learned from it all.
Following lunch, we had a test over everything that we had the first two weeks of school. It was a surprise to us all, and it's purpose, I am sure, was to see if we were retaining what we had been instructed in. It was also another way to winnow out the chaff.
When we came in the next day, we were down to six; one more had washed out, so Bix left our team and joined another lone student, , D.K., who had just lost his partner
By this time, I believed that Frosty was satisfied with the competence and cohesiveness of our group.
So, we were now three groups - Odie and me; Bix and D.K., Del and Ben.
By the end of that week, we were all pretty close pals. We could almost smell the success of graduation from the academy ahead of us.
I decided it was time to try the apprehension of the thugs again. This time I swore them to secrecy. Instead of calling a regular policeman in on it, though, we would take down the three ourselves. After all, it was six against three, and we were strong young men. We'd make a citizen's arrest and take them in.
"Sorry, fellas, I can't do it. I have a wife and two kids. We're new in town and she worries about being alone at night." This came from Bixby (Bix). He spoke very apologetically.
We all turned as one man and looked at him, amazed, unbelieving.
"What are you going to do when you have night patrol, Bix?" Odie asked him. "What's she gonna do?"
"Well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Maybe I can just work in the day shifts."
That man had his head in the clouds, I thought.
"Well, if you can't tonight, you can't. We can take care of it, I reckon," I replied. "See you on Monday, then."
We all parted ways after we finalized our plans for later that night.
I wondered how long Bix would be with us.
(to be continued)