The five-year-old gripped four crayons in each tiny fist. He got down on his haunches in front of a sheet of coloring paper: a picture of policemen arresting a masked bandit. Now came the challenging part—which colors to choose. Naturally, the officers’ uniforms had to be red and blue, like Superman. The bandit would look right in black-and-white stripes. The little boy leaned closer and began coloring with all his might.
The front door swung open, and the boy looked up to see his father standing there in a suit and tie, dripping from the downpour outside.
“Daddy!” The crayons were forgotten. Many had rocketed into the air as the boy leapt up jubilantly.
“Aaron! How’s my junior lawman?” His father pushed the door shut behind him before crouching to catch his son’s embrace.
“I went to the park with Mommy,” Aaron reported. “And I squashed a bug!”
“No way! I squashed a bug too.” Daddy ruffled Aaron’s thick, dark hair, and the boy giggled.
“What was the bug’s name?” asked Aaron’s mother, coming from the kitchen.
Daddy straightened, leaving Aaron to look up at the towering grown-ups. “It was that Franklin Perotta case. The man is sick, unfit to be a father. And yet, the jury didn’t see it that way. They believe there is no substantial evidence that the man is abusive, and they let him go, just like that, back to his family. How wrong is that?”
Mommy put her hands on her hips. “I thought you said you squashed a bug.”
Daddy shrugged. “Mentally, I suppose. I did tear him apart in court.”
Daddy often talked about work around Aaron, sometimes more than Mommy wanted him to. But Aaron didn’t understand half of what was said. He just enjoyed hearing his father’s voice.
“Alright. That’s enough talking about work,” Mommy soon insisted. “Why don’t you change into something dry, and then come in for dinner?”
Daddy hesitated. Aaron pulled on his pant leg and reached up. Lucky for him, Daddy reached down and scooped him up with a sweeping motion that made Aaron laugh.
“Sweetheart,” said Daddy, too serious.
“Yes?” said Mommy.
“I want to lock all the doors and windows and close all the shades tonight. Let’s get started.”
Daddy covered Aaron’s ear that was closest to his face and whispered, “With all the bad guys I put away and those I almost put away, I don’t want any of them coming after my family. I’m a little concerned, to be honest, about that last case.”
Aaron squeezed the hand that covered his ear. “Why are you whispering, Daddy?”
“We’re just going to make this house extra safe, alright, buddy?”
“Yeah!” Of course, Daddy could have suggested they all go for a swim on this rainy night, and Aaron would have jumped on the opportunity. He loved doing anything and everything with his dad.
Aaron and his dad “made the house safe” and turned off all the extra lights. After dinner, Aaron sat on his parents’ bed in his striped PJ’s. His mom and dad sat against a mound of pillows as they looked over paper after paper together. Aaron listened to the rain strike the window across the room. Suddenly, a clap of thunder exploded through the roof, rattling the window. Aaron gasped and crawled between Mommy and Daddy.
“I thought you were going to read me a story?”
Daddy nodded. “How about... the writ of habeas corpus?”
Aaron giggled. “No, something in English.”
“Aaron, please stop squirming,” his mother said as she turned another page of the picture-less document.
Daddy sighed. “Alright. One more chapter of Treasure Island, then you’d better sail off to your own bed.”
More thunder crackled through the sky. Aaron looked up at Daddy with exaggeratedly big eyes.
“I’m safer here. Safe with both of you.”
Mommy put an arm around him. Daddy smiled. “I will always keep you safe. You’re my favorite little pirate.”
“And you’re the pirate captain!” Aaron was bouncing again. His mother held him still with a firm hug.
As the three of them snuggled up to read the story together, Aaron practically glowed with contentment. It didn’t matter what bad guys lurked outside, or what thunder came knocking. He knew he was safe with Daddy. What could possibly change that?