Peter was dreaming of Iraq when the Austin Police Department called.

"I hope I didn’t wake you," the officer said.

"You didn’t," Peter said. He sat in bed with his fingers to his forehead, waiting to hear what it was all about. His heart still pounded from the dream.

The officer said, "I’m calling about your daughter."

"Audrey?" He got up and went barefoot into the darkened hallway. The floorboards groaned and popped under his weight.

"Yes sir, she hasn’t been in school all week."

"I see," Peter said, opening the door of his daughter’s room. Sour mounds of towels and clothing were piled in every corner. The boy in bed next to her woke up but she did not. On one elbow the kid squinted up at Peter and flopped down again, apparently vexed at having been woken.

The officer said, "By law, I’m required to inform you."

"Yessir," Peter said. The boy’s jeans lay at the foot of the little twin bed. Peter bent and scooped the wallet from the back pocket. He left the bedroom, shutting the door behind him, and went to the kitchen.

"Well sir," he said to the police officer, fitting a battered kettle under the faucet, holding the phone to his ear with his shoulder, "I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll speak with her about it." He set the kettle on the range and lit the gas burner with a kitchen match. "I thank you for calling. Yessir, you do the same."

While the kettle heated, he thumbed through the cards in the boy’s wallet, pulling out the drivers license t examine it front and back.

 

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