A metallic thump, thump came from the front door. I shot it an evil look, licked the bitter tang of pickle juice off my fingers, and switched the phone to my other ear. “Yeah sure Jake. More later. Gotta run.”
I hit the end button, cutting off Jake’s protest and set the phone in its cradle as I slide the pickle jar in the fridge. I’d never understand Dad’s logic of hanging onto a landline rather than graduating to a cell phone like the rest of the universe. Too easy to track your location, he’d say. “As if a landline can’t be traced,” I mumbled.
The thump, thump, thump sounded a bit louder the second time. “I’m coming. I’m coming,” I muttered and quickly reset the tripwire on the fridge door. “No wonder I never have anyone over,” I told it and shut the door. “No one would survive.”
Three steps later, I peered out the hidden peep hole Dad installed just to the left of the door frame. The porch light illuminated a uniformed officer rocking on his heels. I squinted but couldn’t make out a partner. That’s strange, I mused. They usually come in twos. Then again it’s happened before.
The virtually silent door swung open and the officer froze with his hand extended. I opened the security door and waited for him to speak. “Georgina Blackinsworth?”
“That’s me.” I folded my arms, waiting for whatever news he had to tell me. A list of previous incidents similar to this ran through my head. I half wondered what Dad had set in motion again, hoping it might be something other than the usual and perturbed he would actually make me go through it the night before my birthday.
He scratched his head and shifted his weight a few times. “Uh, we just got word that your father . . .” He glanced at the ground and back up again, like he was trying to remember. “Kent Blackinsworth has been killed in a car accident.”
My heart sunk. Come on Dad! I thought. How about something different for a change. I’ve heard this one a million times already. I focused past the officer, into the too warm, dark night. No police car. No partner. Not the standard procedure for informing someone a family member had just been killed. It had to be another drill. I shifted mental gears to play along and shrugged, leaning against the door frame.
The police officer cocked his head. Apparently he didn’t expect me to react that way. I briefly contemplated breaking down in tears and wailing hysterically, but Dad would kill me if I responded that way. That’s not according to protocol, he’d remind me, and then I’d have to do it over again tomorrow night. Not something I wanted to deal with.
The officer cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sorry to say we haven’t found his body yet. The fire was pretty hot and all, but we did manage to salvage his wallet.”