Stephanie sat up in bed staring at the wall. In her hand was her father’s police badge. She ran a thumb over one of the Maple Leaves flanking the word ‘Police’ on the bottom of the badge. She heard the toilet flush and a moment later her brother, Robert, was standing in the doorway. “Steph,” he said, “you need to get up.”
“No. I don’t.”
“It would be a good idea though.” He came into the room and sat on the bed. He was in the blue uniform of the gym he worked in. “You weren’t there when it happened. You didn’t…”
“I know,” Robert said, “but you need to get up.”
“Am I the only one who cares! You and mom. You’re both going back to your lives like nothing…”
“Not like nothing.” Robert said. “But we have to go back to work.” Robert stroked her hand and took the badge. She let it go. “Look at this. This could be you one day. Do you still want to follow in his footsteps?”
“When I was slumped over him,” Stephanie said, “and held his gun. A saw his murderer die by my doing. I don’t think I could kill like that again. I hate the bastard he killed dad but no… I don’t want to be in a position like that again.”
Robert kissed his sister on the forehead. “Then think of what else you can do. I know whatever you do dad would be proud. Now I’ve got to get to work.”
“I’ll be okay.” Stephanie put more strength into her voice than she really felt. Robert smiled again before kissing her once more.
Stephanie heard the click of the front door. She allowed the tears to come and she closed her eyes. She kept seeing the face of the man she’d killed. It had been ruled as self defense. The man had threatened her. Was it really self defense? The judge and the entire Toronto Police service had been on her side. She was a sixteen year old girl who’d just seen her father murdered. The man had his gun pointed at the store clerk he had said “I will kill her if you don’t do as I say.” She’d shot him in the back.
She got out of bed. She had the most cursory of washes before heading down stairs. On the wall was her father’s guitar. It had been signed by all six members of the Arachnids – her father’s favorite group.
Stephanie took the guitar down from its hook. She strummed it. Her father had taught her how to play. She sang. “The Minstral Boy to the war has gone in the ranks of death you will find him.” Her father had taught her the song. He’s liked war songs. His favorite was The Green Fields of France but she couldn’t quite remember the melody. Now just like Willie McBride her father had died but unlike the subject of that song his deeds we known and the city would remember.
Stephanie hung the guitar back up. She slowly walked up the stairs to her father’s bedroom. Above the bed was a horseshoe. Stephanie stood on the bed and ran a finger along the shoe. It had been a gift from her grandfather. He had served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Stephanie’s great grandmother had been a police officer in the Vancouver police department.
She jumped down off the bed when she heard a knock at the door. On opening it she saw Inspector John Henderson. He’d worked with her father and had made a point of regularly checking in on Stephanie. “How are you doing?”
Stephanie smiled weakly. “On the good side of having good and bad days, just.”
“You been practicing?” He asked holding up the chess set he’d brought with him.
“Yes,” Stephanie said, “come in.”
They set up the chess set in the dining room. The pieces were carved from maple wood. Rather than being the traditional black and white they were two different shades of brown. John always took the darker brown and let Stephanie go first. “Let’s see if you can win this time.”
“I’ve got to medium difficulty on the computer.” Stephanie moved a pawn forward. Despite what John might have expected she knew the purpose of these chess games. It was to give him an excuse to come over and it would enable her to open up when she felt like it. Teaching her gave him a skill to nurture in her. The games were usually short but they played several each time. At length Stephanie final decided to speak. “I feel I should be punished.”
“For shooting that man?” John said.
“It wasn’t in self defense,” Stephanie said, “his gun wasn’t even pointed at me at the time.”
“He had threatened your life though.”
“I fired when his back was turned. You know this!”
“What I know is that you must have been terribly frightened. He made one swift turn and your father was dead. Who’s to say he couldn’t have done the same again? I’ve seen you on the range you’re accurate but not terribly fast if you had waited you might have been dead. The judge said it was self defense and nobody was going to miss that bastard.”
Stephanie nodded meekly. She moved her rook. “Checkmate,” she said.