I sit in the front seat of my dad’s brown shitbox Honda Civic. It’s my weekend with him and we are on our way somewhere fun at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. It’s mild outside, even as the sun begins to set. I wear a white shirt and so does he. We match today. We drive past his condo on Legion road with the windows rolled down half way. Goosebumps erect upon my exposed arm from the cool wind. I like the circulated air on my face. He says something and I respond with a smart ass quip through a slow forming smirk.
I hear the sirens.
I look behind me and see a police car follow us. I can see the officer motion Dad to pull over, and he does less than half way between Humber Bay Park West and East, and stops the car. I look at Dad. He glances into the rear view mirror and looks uneasy. His face bloats a little, tense, as if something could happen. It’s not a face I’ve seen Dad make before. He rolls down the window completely for the officer to speak.
The officer bends down, his head peeks into view.
“Licence and registration, please.”
Dad opens the glove box in front of me and shows him. The officer looks at them for a moment, and coolly commands Dad.
“Sir, step out of the car.”
Dad opens the door and steps out. He closes the door behind him and tells me to wait in the car.
I sit in silence, my seatbelt still fastened to the seat. All I can hear are the sounds of cars closing in as I swallow spit. My eyes wander around. I look ahead of me and see cars driving by in silver blurs. I look to my right and see the green-leafed willow trees filtering the sunlight. Then I look behind me and see Dad leaning against the trunk with the officer inside his car, looking down at something.
What are they doing? Are they running his plates?
I face front, hoping nobody notices that I am looking. Racial profiling creeps into my head. I know it exists, even in Canada, and I begin to wonder.
Is this it? Are they going to arrest him?
I look behind me and see another squad car park behind the first one. Two more officers join the first and outnumber Dad. They talk for a moment. I can see the mouths of one of the officers move. They spread Dad’s legs apart and move his arms behind his back. One of them places handcuffs on Dad’s wrist, and mouths something I can’t hear from inside the car. The other officer opens the white car door while the first one guides Dad into the back seat with a palm on his head. I face forward again remaining stiff in my seat. As one of the officers appears by my window, I jump.
“Can you drive home?” he asks. He’s wearing sunglasses.
The words stick in my mouth. I sometimes stutter when I’m nervous.
How old do they think I am?
The officer leaves my sight and I turn back. I think he’s still close, but I don’t check.
What am I going to do with the car? Dad told me to wait in the car.
What are they going to do with me?
I wait in the car, like Dad told me.
Mom appears. I don’t know where she comes from or when, but I don’t care.
What is she doing here?
Mom is talking to the officer who asked if I could drive home. She is a little shorter than the officer but not by much. Her head comes up a little past to the officer’s chin. They’re saying something. I only hear parts of the conversation.
“I’m his mother,” she said looking past the officer to me.
Only now I find the strength to get out of the car, now that Mom is here. I avoid eye contact with the officer and fix my site forward. Mom and I walk across the street to the parking lot where she parked her plum purple Honda Civic. No cars drive along the curved road. I ask her, in a little disbelief “What are you doing here?”
“I was just passing through and happened to see you guys.” Mom says
I sit in the front seat and look across the street. I see Dad’s head peeking out from the backseat’s window. He looks small from where I’m sitting. Mom steps into the driver’s seat and turns to me.
“You okay, kiddo?”
I say nothing. I watch the officers return to their squad cars. The first officer is in his car with my Dad handcuffed in the backseat and the other pair back to their own car, and drive away.
Mom pulls out of the parking lot and starts to drive home. It was a silent ride.