He walked into the police station in a crisp, pristine uniform and a cup of steaming Americano in his hands. Today was going to be an amazing day. Jared was determined not to make any errors, and he vowed not to take his colleagues’ criticism personally. He calmly got into their creaky old Chevy’s patrol car.
Officer Destin switched on his computer monitor, but as you might have guessed by now, Jared’s fate had always been funny and embarrassing to him at the most inappropriate moments. “Damn, oh no, god,” he cried minutes later, inadvertently knocking the coffee cup over onto the case files that lay on the table.
Jared’s colleagues burst into laughter and couldn’t get enough of mocking him. Poor Jared was bullied again. He scrambled to wipe the table, and when he tossed the coffee-stained paper tissues in the trash, tears welled up in his eyes.
This wasn’t how he pictured his life as a cop. Jared’s late father was in the police force too, and he had instilled the value of protecting and serving the community in him. As a kid, Jared would dress himself up in his father’s oversized police uniform and cap and admire himself in the mirror. “There’s no doubt about it.
Young man, you’ll make a brave officer someday,” he’d say, and Jared’s father would smile, assuring him that he would. But his father’s words turned out to be only partially true. Jared did become a cop, but he wasn’t a brave one.
He was an insecure young cop who had recently joined the force. His colleagues often said he was better off working at a grocery store, but Jared was bent on proving them wrong. He had dreamed of becoming a cop like his father, after all.
Unfortunately, the more he attempted to prove himself, the more he failed and got into problems. He once handcuffed a young teen following an older lady, mistaking him for a thief trying to steal her expensive purse. When the older lady spotted him taking the kid, she charged at him aggressively, poking and twisting her cane into his stomach and smacked him with her handbag. “He’s my nephew,” she growled. “
Get lost, you incompetent cop.” Another time, Jared arrested a man for breaking his neighbor’s log, and it turned out the neighbor had asked him to do it and get their kitty out after accidentally locking her inside.
That’s the kind of mess Jared had created since joining the station. While all his colleagues were working on serious cases, he was looking for missing cats and dogs and assisting elderly residents in the town and safeguarding their trash from raccoons.
As Jared walked back to his desk from the trash can, he contemplated if he was cut out to be a cop. What did he achieve since day one of joining the line of duty? Nothing noteworthy, after all.
Suddenly, the station phone rang, jolting Jared out of his depressed “My career is as doomed as a cop” thoughts. Senior Officer West answered the phone, and as usual, Officer West called down, and Jared turned to face him. “
There’s a lady, uh, Mrs. Barrera. Her neighbors haven’t seen her in three days. It turns out they’re guessing she’s missing, although they hardly ever saw her leaving the house. Would you mind accompanying Ryan and checking on her?” Jared smiled and brushed his tears away. He was actually looking forward to his first case involving a human, not cats or dogs or raccoons littering the trash this time.
“Ah, you know these old folks. She’s probably sleeping in her basement or something and didn’t notice,” Officer West said, trying to dismiss the seriousness of the situation. “The doorbell ring? We’ve seen similar cases before, haven’t we? Come on, West. I got another important case, and I need you on it too.”
“Send this fool alone,” Officer West replied, dismissing Jared’s enthusiasm. “Look, Officer West,” Jared explained, “I’m your senior, and I never boss you guys around, but this woman who called me seemed uptight, and she said they usually saw Mrs. Barrera watering their plants in the garden.
She hasn’t done it in three days, and she isn’t answering the door, and the neighbors have reported hearing unusual knocks and movements in the house.” The two cops then drove to older Mrs. Barrera’s house, which had a wide lawn, pristine white picket fences, and a lovely porch. “This lady has called the station several times,” Jared said quietly, looking out the car window at the house.
“I know her,” Jared said, turning to face Officer Ryan. “This lady who called us at the station. She once asked us to find her lost cat, but the cat was simply lurking in the bushes. I found the cat for her days later. She ran away again, and this time I found her in the bushes again—dead.” Dejected, Jared went to check on Mrs. Barrera by himself.
He first knocked on the neighbor’s door who had called the station and expressed concern about the older lady. She said Mrs. Barrera had never missed a single church service, but that Sunday she didn’t show up at church and hadn’t watered the plants in her garden since that day.
As Jared climbed the steps to the front porch of Mrs. Barrera’s house, he looked around. Nothing appeared to be wrong. Everything was in place, and the house lights were on, indicating that the house wasn’t empty. Jared rang the doorbell and knocked on the door. Suddenly, Jared heard a weak “thud.” He pressed his ear to the door and heard several such faint thuds.
Something was very wrong. “Mrs. Barrera, is that you?” he asked, and there was another “thud.” Jared knew what to do. “Okay, Miss Barrera. Now, what you’re gonna do is repeat the pattern from the very start. Okay?” He got a tissue and a pen from his pocket. “I’m gonna write that down.” Jared gave Mrs. Barrera some instructions and jotted down the dots and dashes she was trying to indicate.
His heart was pounding fast, and when he looked at the tissue after finishing his writing, it said, “Help.” Mrs. Barrera was trying to say she was in danger. Jared immediately called Officer Ryan for help, but the senior cop wasn’t ready to listen to him. “Mrs. Barrera is in danger: she’s asking for help in Morse code!” Jared insisted. But Officer Ryan just hung up and downplayed the situation.
The paramedics arrived, and Officer Ryan jumped out of his cruiser and ran up the steps to Mrs. Barrera’s house and rang the doorbell. “He would have probably said a few more hurtful things to Jared if the old lady hadn’t asked Jared additional questions and received responses in thuds before the sound stopped.
When the two officers broke Mrs. Barrera’s door, they found her unconscious in the middle of the living room with her old cane beside her. Fortunately, the paramedics arrived just in time, and Mrs. Barrera was taken to the hospital.
The doctor said that if they’d waited any longer to bring her there, the results would have been disastrous. Mrs. Barrera had broken her hip a few days ago and was so weak she couldn’t even get up due to the pain. She could barely speak, and since the door was way out of reach, she couldn’t answer it.
Thankfully, she knew Morse code and could use it to call for help using her cane. But by the time they broke open the door, her strength gave out, and she fainted. Jared decided to visit Mrs. Barrera and was taken aback when he ran into the head of the State Police Department, who was also visiting her.
What surprised him the most was when the senior officer approached him and shook hands with him. “Thank you for saving my late colleague’s mother, Officer,” he said. “You must have seen Officer Barrera’s photo at our Police Department,” he added, seeing Jared’s puzzled expression, and Jared nodded. “
Officer Barrera sacrificed his life in the line of duty. Mrs. Barrera has been living alone since his death, and none of her family members visit her. She’s Officer Barrera’s mother, and I felt awful about not visiting her often. I sort of opened my eyes, Jared. I kept putting off visiting her because of my work. After what happened, I realized I could have lost her. I want to make it up to her and visit her more often.”
Jared felt terrible for Mrs. Barrera and began visiting her from time to time, bringing her food and helping her around the house. He sometimes joined his senior, and over time they became friends.
During one of their visits, Mrs. Barrera revealed her late son’s knowledge of Morse code, which saved her life and turned Jared’s career around. Since the incident, everyone in the department praised his bravery and grew to admire and appreciate the once shy and insecure cop Jared had been. He was no longer the laughing stock, and he had indeed made his late father proud.
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