Friday night lights and small-town traditions. Football is the breath this town breathes from summer to winter. As morning hits, Sadie wakes up early enough to start breakfast. It’s football season and her son Gunnar is a lineman on the high school football team. Starting his junior year, he exceeds the amount of food anyone can eat. He gets his height from his dad and his weight, well, that just comes with food and working out.
“Gunnar let’s get a move on! “ Sadie says, trying to hurry him up.
“I’m coming, Mom! Just getting my football stuff” he responds.
“Just remember I don’t get off work until 8 pm tonight and there are meals in the fridge and $20 for pizza in the cup by the phone if you would rather have that,” Sadie says. Gunnar just nods his head and dives into his breakfast, stuffing his face before he’s off to school.
As Gunnar leaves for school, Sadie spends the next hour getting his game-day uniform ready for the big game tomorrow night. The Bulldogs are taking on one of their rivals, The Eagles, and the whole county will be there. As Sadie hangs his jersey and pants, she receives a text from her “friend” Brittany.
“Hey. Ben wants to know if Gunnar needs anything before the game tomorrow?”
“No, he’s good. Everything is ready to go, thanks though.” Sadie responds, rolling her eyes as she hits send.
“Ok, we will both see you tomorrow,” Brittany responds
Sadie sits in the laundry room and can’t help but feel annoyed at her former friend. Ben and Brittany are the last people that she wants to see. Brittany was her high school best friend, keyword, “was”. They were inseparable until a house party altered their lives and relationship. As the morning continues, Sadie quickly gets ready for work. When she arrives at the police station, she grabs her books and equipment and takes a seat at her terminal. As a dispatcher for the police station, it takes a few minutes to get set up and ready for the shift. Today is a long shift and as she finishes looking over the rescue schedule she hears a groan from her coworkers, Alice and Frank.
“God, why do we have to work with Olsen’s shift today? I mean the deputies are good, but Olsen, such a killjoy!” says Alice.
“Right! The dude needs to get laid more often or get in a good fight, you know? Let out some pent-up tension.” Frank said.
“I know he is a bit difficult but he’s good at what he does. Maybe he won’t be such a jerk today? Maybe?” Sadie says with such optimism. Yet they all know it is short-lived.
As they finish setting up, in walks the man of the hour. The man who is everyone’s pain in the ass, and the man that Sadie has been secretly in love with since High School. Though he can be cold and short with people in the department, he has always been good to Sadie and Gunnar. He more so has been there for Gunnar these past few years. Sadie’s husband Will, and Ben’s former partner, died in the line of duty almost four years back. Since then Ben has made an effort to be in Gunnar’s life. Although Sadie has always loved Ben, he chose Brittany over her and that left her devastated.
“Good morning. Here are unit sector sheets, and we are conducting security checks to limit your radio traffic during that time. Try to handle shit calls yourself.” Ben says as he stomps out of the room.
“Guess we get dick Olsen today,” Sadie says sarcastically, causing Alice and Frank to laugh.
Just as the early afternoon arrives they get a call for a multivehicle accident. The three of them are taking calls and taking turns monitoring the different radios. Three people are wounded and one was a twelve-year-old girl. Just as the peak happens Sadie takes another emergency call.
“Town Square Market! Someone stole my wallet! I had credit cards and cash and I need you to send an Officer NOW! “ Says Asher Paxton. Asher Paxton is an elderly man who continuously loses his wallet or other items he carries around.
“Yes Sir, now I can get your name and when was the last time you saw your wallet?” Sadie says, trying to verify the information over the noise of the radios.
“It’s Asher Paxon and I saw it before I came into the store. I put it in my back pocket and now it’s gone. Send an Officer right now!” he sternly says.
“Ok, Mr. Paxton, We will have an officer respond,” Sadie says. Without anything further, Asher hangs up the phone. Sadie sits back for a brief second. No thank you or goodbye? Exhausting to say the lease with this man.
“Dispatch to Unit 442”
“Unit 442,” says, Ben
“Respond to Town Square Market to meet with Paxton Individual, regarding a lost wallet”
“10-4,” Ben says with disdain.
Sadie knows this is the type of shit call that Ben was talking about. Mr. Paxton loses everything and is a repeat caller. Typically if there isn’t anything going on, dispatch can talk him through things and not have to have an officer respond. Half the time they find what he lost within minutes or before they even arrive.
As Ben drives to the Town Square Market he is cursing under his breath. He keeps thinking about this repeat caller and how last time he never checked his back pockets. This is an absolute shit call that Sadie could’ve handled. As he arrives he sees Asher pacing inside the store.
“Mr. Paxton, good afternoon. I heard you lost your wallet?” Ben says trying to be neighborly.
“Ben! My good man! Thank god it’s you! My wallet has been stolen! I had cash and credit cards and I need them back!” Asher demands.
“Alright let’s take a moment to retrace our steps. When was the last time you saw it?”
“Well, I put it in my back pocket when I got out of the car, then I came in here to do some shopping and when I went to check out, no wallet”
“Mr. Paxton, let’s retrace our steps. Let’s start at your car and make our way in, just to see if it pops up anywhere ok? Now while we walk, check your pockets one more time just to make sure it’s not there” Ben says.
As they head to the car, Ben’s frustration grows. All he keeps thinking about is how much of a shit call this is and he shouldn’t be here. As they walk, a young cashier comes through the door. Ben recognizes her; she is a student at the High School.
“Mr. Asher, there you are! I found your wallet over by your car as I was walking in.” Victoria sweetly says. She is one of the good kids in school.
“Thank you, young lady. Did you take anything?” Asher says.
“No Sir! I can have the manager come and he can review the security tapes for you if you need.” She confidently says back to Asher.
“Oh, No. That’s quite alright. Thank you for finding it. Ben, my good man, I apologize that you had to come out. Thank you for your hard work! Please tell Brittany and the Kids I said Hi. I will see you all at the fall festival on Sunday!” Asher says with such happiness. Ben can only clench his teeth in his response.
“We will see you there.”
If Ben wasn’t pissed before, he is seething now. Now he has to take time to call his wife, Brittany to let her know that Asher said Hi. God forbid her fame-hungry selfish nature doesn’t hear that someone said hi to her. But before I tackle the dragon, I need to talk to Sadie.
“This is Sadie.” She says with the best customer service voice.
“I told you to handle the shit calls, Sadie. Mr. Paxton always calls and you could’ve handled it! Asked to check his pockets or around his car. Anything!”
“We had a multivehicle accident with injuries, phones were crazy and you were right there,” Sadie says trying to defend herself.
“Bullshit Sadie. Anyways it’s handled. The cashier found his wallet and it was returned with all items accounted for. Clear me from the call, no report.” Ben quickly hangs up before another word is said on either end. He’s afraid that he will say what’s on his mind, which talking to Sadie would be a bad idea. Instead of calling his wife, he decides to text her. She lets him know she is at the coffee shop near him and so he decides to meet her there. When he arrives he watches Brittany’s latest boyfriend walking out of the coffee shop. The first time Brittany stepped out of their marriage, it was made clear to save their reputation - none of it would be spoken. Brittany is a well-known real estate agent in the area and has built her reputation as being a wholesome mother and wife. The wife of a Sargent in the force carries a lot of weight in the community. It didn’t matter to Ben anyway; he didn’t ever love Brittany or want to be with her. It just was the right thing to do after college. When Justin leaves the coffee shop, Ben makes his way inside to see his dragon of a wife.
“Hello, Love! A kiss for your wife?” she says.
“Why the hell is Justin here? You said you wouldn’t bring him close to home!” Ben whispers angrily to Brittany.
“He just came to say Hi! Don’t worry he didn’t screw me on the table in front of everyone. I know what is at stake. I am not going to put my career on the line. I’ve worked too hard for this! As far as anyone knows, Ben, we are the picture-perfect family. I don’t need your attitude to mess things up for my business.” Her quick response only heightens Ben’s anger.
“Mr. Paxton says hello to you and the kids.”
“That is so nice of him. I’ll be sure to drop by to see him and thank him for thinking of me.”
“I spoke to Sadie and she said everything is set for Gunnar and the game tomorrow. She doesn’t need anything. Are you doing the usual Friday thing with him?” Brittany carelessly says.
“Yeah, I’ll pick him up after breakfast and take him to school. I’ll meet up for dinner and review plays before warm-ups. That kid has incredible talent.” Ben can’t help but think back to when he played football with Will. Friday nights were sacred in this town then and more so now.
“Yea he’s cool, I guess. I’ll be in the stands with Sadie and after the game. I’ll go to Justin’s so I won’t see you until Saturday afternoon.” Brittany says with no regard. He knows her comments are to rub salt in the wound. She knows his feelings towards Sadie, aat nd how much he has always wished they had ended up together.
It’s conversations like this where Ben has no response for that dragon of a woman. He just stomps away and gets into his police cruiser. Heading to a secluded spot next to a running trail he frequents, he walks up the hill that overlooks the city. As he screams his frustrations out, he can’t help but wonder how. How could his life turn out this way? Ever since Sadie denied him and married his best friend, Will, he has felt nothing but empty inside. Every awkward double date Brittany made them go on, every family event that the families frequented; he only did it to see Sadie. After Will died, he felt more alone than ever. The only two people, who meant the world to him, are worlds away. One in heaven and the other flawlessly puts up with him weekly for Gunnar’s sake.
Over the years, that girl he fell in love with, grew into a beautiful woman. Still quiet and kind but her eyes show a sad empty shell of who she used to be. He wishes that he could give life back those sad eyes, but he can’t. She never wanted him; he never felt that he was an option.