“Police! Arrest this man!” Harold ran along the sidewalk careening back and forth as though the city were twisting beneath him.
The police officer at the corner looked up from his hot dog unsure of what to make of Harold. Fifty feet behind him a younger man, probably in his late forties, was also running toward the corner. The younger man was running in a straight line, but, nevertheless, Harold arrived first.
“He talks in maths,” Harold exclaimed. “He…he buzzes like a fridge! He’s like a detuned radio!”
The officer stared at Harold dumb-founded, his hot dog hanging in front of his mouth. “What’s this about?” he asked.
“Karma!” Harold exclaimed. “I’ve given all I can.”
The younger man joined Harold and the police officer on the corner. The cop was eying Harold suspiciously.
“I’m sorry,” the younger man said. “He’s my father. He’s not well. Alzheimer’s.” The younger man was panting. On his face was the unmistakable mark of worry mixed with fear.
Beside him Harold was muttering, “It’s not enough. I’ve given all I can, but we’re still on the payroll…”
The cop huffed and tossed what was left of his hot dog into a nearby garbage can. “I’m going to need to see some ID,” he said to the younger man.
The younger man fished his wallet out and handed over a driver’s license which the officer took to his cruiser, parked nearby at the curb. There he swiped the license and waited with the patience of a monk.
Three minutes later the cop rejoined Harold and the younger man on the sideway. “Jacob Anderson?”
The younger man nodded.
“There are no warrants for your arrest,” he said matter-of-factly, “but I’m going to have to insist that you escort your father home immediately. I don’t believe it’s wise to let him explore the city like this on his own.”
“Her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill,” Harold said under his breath.
“We—my mother and I—we don’t let him out of the house on his own, but she was taken to the hospital today. We were at the veteran’s parade. Dad was in it. She started feeling chest pains and I had to call an ambulance. I was supposed to meet dad at the end of the parade route, but I was late.”
“I see,” said the cop. He looked toward the trash can that had recently been fed what was left of his lunch.
Harold looked to Jacob and said solemnly, “For a minute there, I lost myself.” Jacob put a hand on his father’s shoulder and squeezed.
“Well, Mr. Anderson,” the cop said, “see to it that you don’t…misplace him again.”
Jacob clenched his jaw and, taking his father by the arm, said, “Thank you. I won’t.”
The cop nodded and turned away from them.
“This is what you get,” Harold said, “when you mess with us.”
Jacob gave his father a tired smile. “Let’s get you home, dad.”
The two of them turned and walked west, toward the hospital district.