Old teammate of subject 1


Francis? Yeah, I paddled with him for a while. Nice guy, quiet but with a good spirit, you know?

He left when he got a big promotion out of the blue, or maybe it was just a temporary assignment. Those quiet types, when they actually talk, you tend to remember what they say. Chatterboxes like me, it’s just words out, nothing worth listening to. The gold passes with the sand, you know what I mean? Eh, don’t worry about it.

Yeah, sure. I remember it well enough to talk about. We had gone for drinks after practice. A Latin-Asian fusion place: absolutely fantastic. Disturbingly affordable, if you know what I mean. You might say grossly affordable.  We were all slightly surprised when Francis came with us that evening. He doesn’t usually come out for the casual team bonding stuff, usually packs up pretty quick. But he’s no stranger, don’t get me wrong. Nobody was bothered by his presence either, right. Especially that day, since he was just so. . . Chipper, I guess is the word for it. Happy, but with something extra, I don’t know how to describe it. He paid for all the drinks at the end, before we even had a chance to chip in.

By the way if you ever go, the lychee margaritas are way too sweet, but they pair with the habañero maki like uhnf. No, it’s not just Japanese fusion, they do all sorts of Asian, like the mapo dofu tacos and curry burritos. A waitress once told us there’s like seven different kinds of rice in the kitchen. We make the same joke about the team!

Right, Francis. So, we’ve all sat down, just got there and ordered, and Francis is sitting next to me on the outside edge of the corner table we’re sitting at. This was the time to do the standard conversation starter and so I ask him what he does. First he says “Oh, well I’m a beat cop,” and then he did that surprised transition look. The kind people do when they catch themselves saying something that used to be true, when there’s been a very recent change, then correct themselves. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You probably do it when mentioning the year every January.

So “Oh,” he goes, “actually, I’ve just moved up.” Or something like that. I ask him to explain, and I’m actually interested. Everyone likes friendly cops, and they always have interesting work stories. I love that stuff. So, he says that while he’s only been out of the academy for a year, he suddenly got a big break because he happens to know a lot about a particular field. He was really excited about it, but I couldn’t get him going on that bit. He just didn’t go into a lot of details, because he said it was kind of classified or something. Not undercover mob stuff or anything, but just out of the public eye stuff. So we mainly talked about his time in the academy.

No, none of us actually knew he was a cop before then. He joined the team after his old club folded, and our boat was in the same casual-competitive range he was looking for, so he wasn’t brought in by a friend or any of that. He’s a great paddler, hell of a snap. He’ll knock your paddle if you’re in front of him and not fast enough on the exit. Really motivates you.

Videogames? Yeah, I guess he was a gamer. Not my thing, but I heard him talking about Starcraft with Rusty, the older guy. I remember thinking it weird, since Rusty must be fifty, but it’s a game my teenage cousins talk about all the time. Not my thing though, as I said. Work, paddle, drink. That’s me. Nothing against it though. Is that an important thing, his games? Francis certainly wasn’t the stereotype, not that I’ve ever actually met a proper greasy basement nerd. I guess some stereotypes take a little more from reality than others. Do you know what he’s doing now? Would be great if he could come back to the team, he had a really strong back.

Turn the page to chapter 3