The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said “Excuse me, ma’am? I’d like to order a coffee for that young man over there. Tell him it’s from me.”
Detective Jones pointed his gaze towards a boy who’s dirt-caked fingers were hungrily digging in to a stack of pancakes dripping in maple syrup. The waitress nodded and disappeared behind the counter where Jones sat, clutching his own warm cup of joe. Despite his best efforts, Jones could not tear his eyes away from the boy who he had been following for the past month. He should have been used to the kid’s unkempt appearance by now. He should no longer be surprised by the greasy hair framed his freckled face, nor the faded green sweatshirt that the boy wore every day. Most of all, he should have been used to the piercing look of determination that was etched into the kid’s steely blue eyes. But the ramifications of the document tucked into Jones’ jacket meant that the detective was seeing this boy in a whole new light.
Two months ago, Jones had received instructions to investigate a string of burglaries at local stores in his home town. What at first seemed to be an easy case turned into a complicated web of lies and coverups which eventually pointed to a group of friends at the local high school. Jones, known for the quality and thoroughness of his work, launched an investigation on each of the kids, digging through their backgrounds and stories until he could pinpoint the ring leader. His investigation lead him to John, a troubled orphan who had fallen in with the wrong crowd at school. After a rough childhood, John had fallen in love with the thrill of shoplifting and burglaries. He and his signature green sweatshirt had been spotted around the scene of every crime in town.
Now, Jones sat on the edge of his seat, watching the curly-haired waitress deliver a steaming cup of coffee to John. She nodded in the direction of the detective, and John looked up to meet his gaze. One pair of steely blue eyes met another, and the two stared at each other inquisitively.
The weight of the documents of from the orphanage weighed heavily in Jones’ pocket. Etched permanently in his mind was his own signature, hastily scrawled at the bottom of note the orphanage had saved for the past 14 years. A note that described how sorry he was for leaving behind his own son, John.
Jones stood, feeling emotions of guilt, excitement, and fear pounding in his head. He walked slowly over to John, feeling more and more conflicted with every step. Soon, he found himself standing over the boy, staring into his inquisitive steel blue eyes.
“Hey there, kid,” Jones said.