January 23, 2013

Literary LEO 2013

Flash Fiction — First

Traffic Stop

BY ROBERT L. PENICK

Today you took your daughter to soccer practice.

Now it is 11 p.m. and the bars are emptying out first shift factory workers and single mothers too tired to stay, too poor to pay the babysitter another hour. You cruise by The Crow’s Nest. A bickering couple in the parking lot make up as soon as they see your car. Your daughter hasn’t scored a goal in four games and she is losing heart. You want her to win at everything, even sixth-grade kicking contests. Two miles away a burglar alarm goes off and you hit the freeway on-ramp to back up the nearest officer. He waves you off as the owner of the grocery smiles sheepishly. Back on the freeway a car weaves in front of you. You ease off the gas, listen to the radio, the officer clearing out from the grocery. He’s eager and young and wants to make every call first. He’ll get over it, you think. That car in front of you crosses the center line and you turn on your lights. Your dashboard rattles as you both hit the gravel of the emergency lane. You study the car as you approach, your holster unsnapped, your flashlight in your left hand. A rusted Ford Escort, with clothes piled in the back seat. Smiling, the driver hands you his license, says his registration is in the glovebox. As he reaches over you gaze down at the license and think.

Today you took your daughter to soccer practice.