* HELLO! If you have not read the author’s note (above), go check it out. I’ll be dropping information you should know in author notes as the story goes on.
The first time you experienced a life or death situation was on account of a grand piano.
Looking back it seemed too dumb and cliche to be real, and you’re pretty positive you’ve seen it happen in an episode of The Pink Panther. It was the classic gag where the piano’s being hoisted up to a top floor of a building, an accident waiting to happen. Just when the character rounds the corner the piano comes conveniently crashing down on them.
Of course, cartoon injury is only temporary, often with characters literally seeing stars (or birds, you never understood why birds) floating around their heads. You weren’t in a cartoon when the piano fell, however, and as you looked up and saw it, you knew injury wouldn’t be temporary or trivial.
Your day had been perfectly normal up until that point, starting with you making waffles for breakfast. Though you had recently graduated you were in that weird transitional gap between one chapter of your life and the next. You were staying with your mom for now, in the two bedroom apartment that had been your home for fourteen years.
Now that you were an adult you tried to take on more responsibility at home. You were job searching, and a prospective interview was going to happen next week. In the meantime you did your part by doing the housework: cooking, cleaning, and the like.
Mom still worked as a business consultant for the Wescott & Bailey Architecture Firm, which was responsible for many of the skyscrapers in Regence. Their biggest achievement was the Howard J. Oliver building, a popular landmark known for it’s interesting shape and views of the city. You, like the other locals, simply referred to it as Olly.
Howard J. Oliver, who the building was named for, founded the city of Regence, Oregon, in 1897. It was a little town until the 1920s, when it hit a large boom and experienced major growth. Now your hometown of Regence is the second largest city in the United States, just behind New York. In fact, Regence has been nicknamed the “New York of the West Coast”.
You loved the city. Every day when you walked out onto the street, opened the paper, or turned on the news something new and exciting was there to greet you; a cultural festival, a scientific breakthrough, even another bank robbery. Unfortunately there have been multiple multiple bank robberies. Any city has a crime problem, you understood that. You understood that better than most, actually. Your father had been an officer in the RCPD, the Regence City Police Department.
Your mom walked in wearing her customary black suit. She inhaled deeply through her nose.
“Mmm,” she hummed, “blueberry waffles.”
“Morning, mom.” You smiled, setting a plate of fresh waffles on the kitchen table.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” she replied, taking a seat. Sometimes it felt like a role reversal, you making breakfast for her instead of vice-versa.
You grabbed the syrup from the fridge and placed it on the table, sitting across from her.
“I nearly made them chocolate chip,” you commented. Those were your favorite.
“I always said you inherited your father’s sweet tooth.”
It was true, you enjoyed your chocolate. Your mom had always been the more healthy eater in the family, while you and dad had held a special affection for sweets. Some of your favorite memories involved you, dad, and sugar.
“_____, when are you going to return the waffle maker?” she asked.
“Oh yeah,” you said, looking at it, “It’s not even ours.”
It actually belonged to your best friend, Casey. During a sleepover back in high school she’d brought the waffle maker. She left it at your house, and it stayed ever since. You’re pretty sure she had at least two pairs of socks and a CD of yours in her apartment.
“You should return it,” your mom advised, reaching for the orange juice.
“Sure, I can do it before I pick up the doughnuts.”
Your mother’s face fell a fraction. “Oh, sweetie, I meant to tell your earlier. I don’t think I can make it for Doughnut Day. The firm is going to look at some new projects, and-”
“- It’s ok,” you cut her off, “There’s always the one in September.”
“Thank you, sweetie. I’m sorry about the timing.” Your mom gave you a small smile.
Doughnut Day was a matter of importance for the two of you. It happens bi-annually, April 10th (today) and September 10th. On Doughnut day the families of RCPD employees bring in boxes upon boxes of doughnuts to the headquarters in city center. It’s an appreciation gesture for all the time and energy RCPD employees put into their work. You and your mom had brought doughnuts for Doughnut Day ever since dad had joined the force, and you still brought doughnuts after he died.
Six years ago your dad was pursuing an armed criminal on foot. The man shot wildly behind him to get the officers off his tail, and one stray bullet struck your father’s head, killing him instantly. The man was serving a life sentence in jail now, for that and other crimes.
Your father had been a Corporal on the force, and was a friend of many officers. Doughnut Day had become an opportunity to thank people who had been a big part of your father’s life.
You watched her as she ate the waffles. You were actually a little relieved that mom wasn’t going today. It was a sign that she was able to move on.
When she finished her breakfast, your mom gave you a hug and left for work. After cleaning up and getting dressed you were walking out as well, with the waffle maker in a reusable grocery bag.
Your friend lived in a building a few blocks away, and like most Regencers you just walked to where you needed to go. The day was lovely, partly cloudy and a comfortable temperature. You hoped you could spend some time outside today, maybe go walk in Warren Park.
You reached Casey’s apartment and knocked. A moment later she opened the door. “Wow,” you said, staring at her head, “it’s so...”
She grinned, “Cute? Sophisticated? Exciting?”
“Blue”, you decided. Her long, wavy hair was now dyed blue. Paired with her dusting of freckles, it almost reminded you of the ocean and the shore.
“It’s called ‘true blue’, what do you think?” She turned on her heel, walking in to her messy, brightly lit apartment and expecting you to follow.
“I think it suits you.”
“Knew you’d say that,” she commented, plopping herself on her lemon yellow couch. You sat down with her, taking in the new hair.
“You know, dyed hair is becoming quite the rage now,” she informed you, looking the news on her tv.
“Ever since some supers dyed their hair, it’s become the thing. Supers don’t realize it, but they’re trendsetters. Of course, I was dying my hair way before supers did.”
“Yes you were,” you affirmed, still trying to absorb the drastic change from her last color, sunset orange.
This must’ve been her tenth color since she started dying it in middle school. That was during her goth faze, which you still teased her about. Now she was in a phase that mashed girly and biker chick, a combination of floral hair bows and studded leather jackets. You briefly wondered if she’d ever stop phasing.
Casey pulled her attention from the tv. “So, what brings you here, _____?”
You held up the bag sheepishly. “Waffle maker.”
“Isn’t this a blast from the past,” she exclaimed, lifting it out from the bag “I’m surprised you remembered it.” She took it towards it’s real home, her kitchen.
“Mom was the one who remembered it, actually.”
“Ha! Well I have no mother here to make sure I return things, so I’ll be holding your socks prisoner indefinitely!” she cackled.
“Oh nooo, my poor socks.”
Casey suddenly rushed over, grabbing the remote and un-muting the tv. “It’s Christopher Cavey!”
There was Christopher Cavey in all his handsome splendor. He was the lead crime scene reporter for the local news, Regence City Broadcasting. Cavey did a decent job of reporting on crime, but most didn’t watch him for the news. In the Regence Post he had been rated as the “second hottest man in Regence”. The first hottest was some male model.
Your friend had always gushed about him, fawning over his bright blue eyes, his clear skin, his golden blonde hair, his strong jawline, his flawless body, his high cheekbones, his soft lips, and she could go on and on. You couldn’t deny his stunningly good looks, but you didn’t share Casey’s celebrity crush.
“_____, I would marry that man,” she sighed dreamily.
“You shouldn’t marry a man just for looks.”
“I know, but,” she pouted, “he’s like, a modern day Adonis!”
“The greek god of beauty and desire, a.k.a. the epitome of male hotness!”
“Right.” Somewhere between her horse obsession phase and her punk phase she became well versed in greek mythology. She was a wealth of information at times, and smarter than she let on.
“Never mind what I said, go follow your dreams, Casey.”
“Thanks, buddy. How about we make some waffles? For old time’s sake?”
“Sorry,” you apologized, standing, “today is Doughnut Day, I have to go get some rings of chocolate glazed glory.”
“Yum, bring me some of the leftovers.” She gave you a customary hug goodbye.
Then you were off to get a dozen chocolate glazed doughnuts, your dad’s favorite. Once you purchased the doughnuts you headed to your next destination, the RCPD headquarters.
You weaved your way through the crowd, balancing a box of doughnuts while checking the time. It was 10:41. Technically, Doughnut Day started at ten thirty, but experience told you there would be a steady stream of doughnuts and officers coming in till noon.
You were making your way to city center, the main hub of Regence. There were barely any residencies in this section of the city. You passed under the shadow cast by a skyscraper. City center was home to the Ollie building, the RCPD headquarters, the news corporations (like the RCB and WSBC), City Hall, and other big businesses.
You looked up at the RCPD HQ. Its architecture was fairly modern in design, with cubic shapes, lots of windows, and smooth silvery grey facing. Though the RCPD had recently been preaching transparency, the tinted windows betrayed it’s continuous lack of honesty with the public.
It was fairly common knowledge that there was corruption in the system, but nobody seemed to know its scale or breadth. The commissioner denied any evidence of that, saying it was virtually nonexistent, but he and the public knew it was a lie. Once, when you were little, you had listened in on a late night conversation between your father and mother. You hadn’t understood it then, but they talked about the shady practices that went on in the police department.
You shook away those thoughts as you entered. There were good men with integrity in the RCPD, your father and his friends were examples of that. You cleared the metal detector without hassle. No one had made trouble on Doughnut Day to date, but the higher ups insisted that security shouldn’t be dropped. You understood it, allowing anyone with doughnuts free access to headquarters would be dumb.
Doughnut Day mainly happened on the second floor, so you took the elevator. Someone called out for you to wait as the elevator doors were shutting.
You held open the doors for a mother and son. There was box of doughnuts in the boy’s arms.
“Two?” you guessed, pressing the button.
“Yes,” the mother responded, smiling. The boy was small, probably around five years of age. You noticed the football-shaped doughnuts in the box.
“My, that’s an interesting shape for a doughnut,” you commented.
“They’re footballs,” the boy responded, matter-of-fact.
“José likes to play football with his papa.” His mother said, ruffling his hair.
The boy looked at the doughnut box you held. “Are those for your papa?”
You looked at the box in your arms. “Uh, yeah. Yeah they are.”
You realized that, In a sense, they were for your dad. The doors opened, and the three of you entered the hubbub of Doughnut Day.