Short Story #1: Law and Papa's phone conversation
Characters: Lawson Fisher & Papa (Lincoln Fisher)
Summary: Papa tells Lawson about Dad's prognosis.
Law and Papa's Phone Conversation
Rolling my shoulders, I fell onto my bed. The springs squeaked under my weight, a sound that I’d become accustomed to. It was a cheap thing I bought from a yard sale when I first moved to LA, but I wasn’t the kind of person who wanted fancy furniture anyway. As long as it did its job, I was satisfied.
My twelve-hour shift left my muscles sore, but I couldn’t sleep before I had a long, hot shower and changed into my boxers. Making myself move was the hardest part though. My feet felt numb, my hands ached, and my limbs protested. While busy shifts made the hours fly by faster, and I enjoyed the adrenaline fuelled chases, I wasn’t a fan of having to wrench someone’s arms behind their backs to link the handcuffs around their wrists or slam their chest against the hood of their car. Some shifts were harder than others.
A pleasant noise—too pleasant—chimed from my phone, signalling a call. Specifically, a call from my parents. I groaned as I shoved myself to a seated position on my squeaky bed and grabbed the phone, accepting the inevitable.
An eerie silence answered me for a short second, then Papa’s voice sounded through the line. “Law.”
His voice shook, a tremble of fear and sadness etched through it, which put me on alert. My fatigue disappeared, leaving me as awake and aware as I was on patrol. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Law.” Papa’s voice shook harder and he huffed, like maybe he was trying not to cry. “I need to talk to you.”
“Are the boys okay? What happened?” I couldn’t stop myself from demanding answers. The urge to protect my family shoved its way to the forefront of my brain.
“Your dad…Christ. Your dad isn’t well. You know how he’s been sick for a while now?”
I swallowed around the lump in my throat and nodded before I realized he couldn’t see me. Dread filled my chest, making breathing harder than usual. Cold terror pressed down on me as I imagined all the things that could be happening at home. Shit. Nothing serious could be wrong with him, right? “Yeah.”
Papa sighed with another little huff, something similar to a sniff. “It’s lung cancer.”
My world tilted around me, and I nearly toppled to the floor. The only thing that saved me was the bedside cabinet that I grappled at, but I dropped my phone onto the carpet.
“Law? Are you okay?” Papa’s voice yelled in the phone as I scooped it up again.
I swallowed, the blood rushing to my head. My mind was a jumbled mess, his words echoing over and over until I squeezed my eyes shut. I pinched the bridge of my nose, focusing on Papa’s frantic calls of my name.
“I’m here. How bad is it?” I exhaled slowly and quietly. I needed to be strong.
Fuck. Not what I wanted to hear. I fell back onto the bed and leaned forward on my knees, dropping my head into my hand. “What are they going to do?”
“We’re not sure yet. They are starting with chemo, I think. We’re going to talk to the doctor later today.”
“And the boys?”
“We haven’t told them yet. They’re only nine. They wouldn’t understand.”
I snorted. Papa always tried to treat his sons like children. Even me, at twenty-four, was a child in his eyes. My triplet brothers were more mature than Papa gave them credit for.
“You should tell them. They need to know. They’re going to see things happening.”
Papa sighed. “I know.”
“How’s Dad taking it?” I ran a hand through my hair and focused on the bathroom door on the other side of the room. Suddenly, a shower and sleep didn’t seem so important.
“He’s trying to be strong. You know your dad, he always has to be an alpha. You’re so much like him.”
That sounded like Dad. He was the silent type, but get him in a courtroom in lawyer mode and he was a bulldozer, wiping out anyone in his way. “I’m coming home.”
“No! That’s not why I called, Lawson.”
“Papa, you’re going to need help with the boys and Dad. I’ve seen people go through chemo before. They’re weak and tired and ill. You’ll need my help.” The thought of returning home made bile rise in my throat. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go home to my family, but I hated Cherry Hollow. I hated what it represented.
“I don’t think—”
“I’m giving my notice to work tonight. I’ll be there in a few weeks after I get things locked down here.” I stood, adrenaline already pumping through my veins. A to-do list began forming in my head as I reached under the bed and dragged out my suitcase, the same one I brought with me from Cherry Hollow. “Don’t argue, I won’t let you. You and Dad need me right now.”
“You have a life there,” Papa protested weakly, but there was already less stress in the way he spoke.
“Yeah, I do, and I’ll come back to it once Dad’s better.” I threw open the lid of the suitcase and grabbed a handful of clothes from my drawer with one hand. I threw them in.
“I don’t want you to put your life on hold for this.”
I frowned and paused. Papa had protested when I told him I was moving to LA. He’d begged me not to go, told me to stay in Cherry Hollow and focus on my law career there. I’d waved him off, giving him no choice. It was weird hearing him beg me not to come home.
“I’m not putting my life on hold. I can still pursue my career there. Maybe find a job in the sheriff’s office or something. It’s fine. We’ll figure it out.”
Papa fell into silence for a short moment. Then, he let out a long exhale. “The boys will be happy to see you. It’s been about six months since we came to LA.”
The thought of my brothers made me smile. They were a big “oopsie” for my parents. Dad and Papa thought they were too old to have more children, and I was their miracle baby. As it was, I was a late in life baby for an omega and alpha couple. They never thought they’d have any kids until I came along. My brothers gave them a new excitement in life now that I had moved out of the house.
“I will be happy to see them too. But Papa, promise me you’ll tell them about Dad. They deserve the truth. They’re not too young to understand he’s very sick.”
Papa sniffled, then cleared his throat, like he was trying to be strong. “I know. I’ll tell them. I promise.”
I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me. “I’ll be there in a few weeks. I’m already packing some essentials, so as soon as I’m given leave, I’m heading to Cherry Hollow. No arguments, okay?”
I imagined Papa pressing his lips together tightly, which is what he did when he tried to hold back emotions. But like Dad, if you got him in the courtroom, Papa was a no-nonsense, strict judge that the whole town respected. At home, he was a big softy when it came to his family and friends.
“Very well, Lawson. I won’t complain about the help, but you’ll have to convince your dad. He’ll be upset that you’re coming home. He’ll blame himself.”
“Don’t let him. Where is he now?” I threw underwear into the suitcase and glanced around the room, assessing it. There were lots of things I needed to do before I went, like find someone to sublet to, which would take about a day if I wasn’t too picky.
“Sleeping. He’s weak.”
“All right. Tell him to call me when he wakes up. I don’t care what he says though, I’m going to be there.”
Papa chuckled, and I didn’t have to ask what was funny. Dad and I had butted heads before, and because we were so much alike, we were two bulls constantly butting heads.
“I’ll let him know.”
“Take care of yourself and Dad until I get there. Send the boys over to Ambrose’s place if you need to. I know he won’t mind having them there. Then relax for a little bit, Papa.”
“I don’t need—”
“Yes, you do.” I sighed and fell onto the bed, massaging my temple. “Please?”
“Very well. I’ll get your room ready for you too.”
“Thanks. I need to go and get things taken care of.”
Papa sniffled again, and his voice lowered. “You’re a good man, Law. You know that, right?”
I smiled and glanced at myself in my bedroom mirror. When it came to family, I’d do anything, even return to a small town I hated. “Yeah, I know.”
“I love you. We’ll see you soon.”
“Yeah, I love you too.” I ended the call and stared at my phone. Papa’s picture disappeared off the screen, leaving the wallpaper of myself playing my guitar on a stage visible behind the app icons. Shit. So I was returning to Cherry Hollow? Damn it. Not what I wanted, but I had no choice. My family needs me.
Mind focused on that thought, I called my boss. Time to get things done.