“Sorry, I was… I’m just in a bit of shock. What did you say?”
“I asked what time you left the house today.”
Detective Green was sitting across the table from me, his eyebrows furrowed as he stared through my soul. I knew that I wasn’t a suspect, there was no way anyone would believe that I had anything to do with this, but there was something about his unrelenting gaze that made me incredibly nervous.
I wasn’t prepared for questions, I couldn’t f*** this up, I’d seen enough crime shows to know that anything I said in this moment, could be used against me in the future if shit went south.
“I left around, um, 5:30. I think.” I said, staring down at his notepad as he jotted something down.
“Okay. Where’d you go?”
Those piercing eyes, it was like he took a class on “How to get people to confess to murders they didn’t commit.”
“I met up with a friend of mine, Jake. I had an old yearbook of his so, we met up. So that I could give it to him.” God that sounds so stupid.
“A yearbook?” He asked, seeming confused.
“Yes, it’s his, I’ve had it for years, and he’s been hounding me about getting it to him, so. I just met him. So he’d leave me alone.”
As he scribbled something down, I glanced back over my shoulder and noticed Chuck shaking his head while conversing with another officer. He looked devastated, confused, violated.
Guilt suddenly washed over me like an ocean wave, and I struggled to catch my breath.
“Will you please excuse me?” I said politely, realizing I hadn’t taken the pill Jake gave me. That would make this so much easier. “I have to use the restroom.”
“Sure. Go right ahead.” He smiled, gesturing toward the hallway. It was the first time I’d seen him smile, and it was then that I was reminded that this wasn’t an interrogation. He was just trying to straighten out the facts.
The moment I locked the bathroom door behind me I quickly smashed the pill into powder. I wanted more than anything to shoot it, but that would take way too long. I leaned down and quickly snorted the pill with a rolled up dollar bill. As I wiped the remaining powder from the surface of the counter, I could hear the low murmur of voices outside the window.
I stepped a bit closer and closed my eyes to see if I could make out what they were saying.
“Yeah apparently there’s been a few break-ins in this area. Not this neighborhood specifically but 2 roads over a lady had her house broken into while on vacation.”
“You think it’s related?” A second voice asked.
“No telling. We’ll see what the latent print exam report says. His patrol car wasn’t in the driveway, so whoever did this either waited for him to go to work, or didn’t know a cop lived here. Either way, they f***ed with the wrong house.”
“Babe, you okay?” Chuck asked, gently tapping the door. I nearly jumped out of my skin.
“Yeah.” I replied opening the door. “Just got my damn period, as if this day couldn’t get any worse.” His face fell, and he stretched out his arms for a hug. I wrapped my arms around his waist and closed my eyes. “I’m so happy you weren’t here when it happened, I don’t know what I’d do if something would have happened to you.” His voice broke and I could tell he was getting emotional.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to give Jake the money and things were going to get better. I was going to quit doing pills. I was going to leave the past behind and dedicate myself to Chuck and our future. Instead, there’s a swarm of cops with black lights and fingerprint dusters turning my damn house upside down.
They were investigating a crime that I committed.
They were looking for some unknown “bad guy” that didn’t exist.
They were wasting their time and effort to catch and crucify someone, not knowing that someone was 2 feet away offering them cold sodas while they worked.
What kind of a monster could do something like this?
What in the hell is wrong with me?
“Detective Green has a few more questions for you, Babe. Then they are gonna call it a night.” He said, looking exhausted. “Okay, Love. Don’t worry, we are gonna find out who did this, okay?” I nodded, and headed back to the table.
“Just a few more things, okay?” Detective Green asked, typing something into his cell phone before sliding it into his pocket.
“So, there was no sign of forced entry, did you lock the door when you left today?”
“Hmmm. I think so. I mean I always do, I don’t see why I wouldn’t have today. Then again I am kind of scatter-brained, so forgetting to lock it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities.” I said.
“Okay, well I need you to think hard, because it’s important.”
I closed my eyes and pretended to think for a moment. I was trying to buy time to figure out how the hell someone could have gotten in if the door was locked.
“I was in a rush, I remember… I remember I couldn’t find my keys and then I grabbed a soda from the fridge. Let me think. I went out to the car… and then, oh! I left my cell phone inside, so I ran back in. I probably forgot to lock it after I left. I think. I’m really not sure. I’m sorry.” I said sheepishly.
“Okay, no that’s fine. Running back in for your phone and running out could absolutely mean you forgot. Now, do you know of anyone, or can you think of anyone, who would do something like this? Anyone who would be capable of doing something like this?” He asked.
I slowly shook my head while making it appear as if I was going through a mental rolodex of everyone I’d ever met.
“I don’t. I mean we only surround ourselves with good people, hardworking people. I can’t even imagine the kind of person who would have a need for guns. I mean I know people with guns but like, they get a license for them and purchase them. They go about it the right way. I don’t know anyone who would burglarize a home to get them, ya know?” Except me, because I’m a piece of shit.
“I know what you mean and unfortunately it happens more often than you’d think.” he said, flipping his notebook shut and tucking it into the front pocket of his shirt. “A lot of desperate people out there. I’m sure it’s drug-related. We’ll know soon enough.”
I looked down toward the floor and nodded. I was afraid that if I made eye contact with him he’d be able to see the scene that was playing over and over again in my head. Me taking the guns. Me loading them up. Me bringing them to Lazarus and laying them out on the bed. Me giving him extra boxes of ammo before walking away with the money. Me smiling as I pulled out of the driveway, because I knew the worst was over.
Me being so incredibly wrong. The worst was yet to come.
“Alright Tiffany, I think that’s it. Oh, was anything of yours missing? Jewelry, electronics, anything?” He asked, standing up from the table. “Honestly I haven’t even had a chance to look yet. I mean there wasn’t much to begin with, but I can check real quick.” I replied.
“No, it’s okay. Check it out and if you do notice anything, let Chuck know and we will add it to the report. We are going to do a pawn search in case the piece-of-shit decides to pawn the guns, so we can have them check for anything else you may have had go missing.”
“Great.” I said, swallowing hard. A pawn search. F***.
“Well thank you for your time Tiffany. You are very lucky, you know.” He said.
“Yeah. I am. I’m glad I wasn’t here.” I replied.
“That’s what I mean. You took Chuck’s truck to meet your friend. Whoever did this, saw your car in the driveway and still chose to burglarize your home. It could have been much worse. Have a good night.” He said, giving me a quick wave and walking away.
I took a deep breath as the last of the Deputies and Detectives left the house, and Chuck closed the door behind them.
“I’m gonna change and lay down.” He said, walking past me to the room. His face looked like that of a little boy who’d just had his bike stolen. He was devastated. Tears began to form as the reality of what the hell just happened set in.
I changed into my pajama’s and laid down in bed. I closed my eyes when I heard the water start to run in the shower. What the hell have I done? They are never going to solve this crime, because I was the one who did it. They will never think it was me, because why the hell would the cops innocent girlfriend need a set of guns? What the hell are they gonna do? Just give up?
Chuck and I laid together in silence for a moment, my head resting on his bare chest as he stared at the ceiling.
“I’m f***ing pissed.” He said, interrupting the silence. “We bought this house, in this nice neighborhood. We put our blood, sweat and tears into making it our own — and someone just walks in like they own the f***ing place and steals my shit. Shit I worked f***ing hard for. Last week someone stole my damn money out of my wallet, and now this shit. I don’t know why this is happening to us Tiff, what kind of lesson is God trying to teach us, because honestly I don’t f***ing get it.”
I wanted to speak up, but I couldn’t find the words. I’d told enough lies and deceived enough good people for the day. So I remained quiet.
“You know, and… like you told me not to file a report about my wallet and the money and honestly I’m wondering now if I should have. If I’d still have my guns.” He said.
The wallet… I had tried to block this from my memory. I barely remember doing what I did that day. I was on Xanax and I was desperate.
“Wait, did you tell the cops tonight about the wallet?” I asked, suddenly feeling panicked.
“You’re damn right I did. I should have told them before. I mean honestly, who gets their badge and $100 stolen one week, and their house burglarized 2 weeks later. I must have pissed somebody off in a past life or something.” he joked.
It felt like I was standing in one of those rooms. The rooms where the walls are slowly coming toward you from both sides and you know eventually the are going to meet in the middle… where you’re standing.
“Anyway, the guys are gonna figure it out. I gave them my wallet for DNA analysis and they dusted the patrol car as well. We will see if the two are connected and we are gonna get this piece of shit. In the meantime, I don’t want you to worry, Babe. Okay?”
“Okay.” I replied, suddenly more worried than I’d ever been in my life.
“I’m not going to let anything happen to you… I promise.” He kissed my forehead and a tear rolled down my cheek. I wanted so desperately for those words to be the truth. But he didn’t know, he couldn’t know, that I wasn’t the one who needed protecting.
“Babe, wake up, the detectives want to talk to you.” Chuck said, shaking me awake. The moment my eyes popped open I instantly felt like shit. As the memories of what had happened the day before came rushing in, I was overwhelmed it anxiety. “What the hell? I already talked to the detectives yesterday when they were here.” I said from under the covers. I could feel that my hair was soaked from sweat, and my stomach was bubbling. I hadn’t had a pill since the cops were here yesterday.
And I was out.
“Please, you need to get up and get dressed, they just have a couple more questions.” He said,. I could feel the anger rising up from the depths of my soul. I was suddenly very hot with rage. “G** damn it, what is going on?” I asked, kicking off the covers and storming to the closet. “Why do they have to question me again? I already gave them all the information I have.” I said, ripping a shirt off the hanger and angrily pulling it over my head.
Something was off. He wasn’t responding to me. “Hello? I’m talking to you? I have to work in 4 hours and I hardly slept last night, it would have been nice to have some kind of warning that they were coming back. Why are you being so weird?” I asked, pulling the pants up over my hips.
He didn’t say a word, and I watched a single tear stream down his cheek. I froze.
The hair on the back of my neck suddenly stood up. “Are you crying?” I asked, stepping closer to him. He put his hands up to keep me at a distance.
“What the hell Chuck?” I said. “Why aren’t you responding to me-” Suddenly our bedroom door swung open with such force that it banged into the wall. A man was standing in the doorway with once hand resting on his gun, and the other holding up a badge.
“I need you to step into the living room Miss. Johnson. Now.” He said, holding the door open and stepping back to make room for me. What the hell? Why was this guy talking to me like this?
I looked at Chuck and he was staring at the floor, avoiding me. As I stepped out of the bedroom and into our living room, Tatum ran toward me wagging her tail. Chuck intercepted her. I watched in shock as he scooped her up and took her to our bedroom, closing the door behind him. Why would he leave me alone out here with his guy?
When I turned back to face the man, I noticed there were five other deputies in my house. Two of them in uniform and the other three in regular clothes, with guns and badges clipped to their belts.
“Please have a seat.” The man said, ushering toward the couch. “I’m Detective Kallin. I have a few questions I’d like to ask you, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to do it out front on the porch. It’s gorgeous outside today, we can just have a little chat.”
“Okay, yeah. That sounds good.” I replied. I smiled at each of them. I sensed something was off, but whatever it was, I needed to seem as normal and unassuming as possible. This would be much easier if I had taken a pill this morning, but something told me these guys wouldn’t wait for me to run to my dealer’s real quick.
As we headed to the front door, I glanced out the window and realized both sides of my street were lined with patrol cars.
The moment I stepped onto my front porch, the world slowed down and everything began to happen in slow motion.
The moment I saw the man in my peripheral vision standing at the side of my front door, he lunged at me, grabbing my arms and, pulling them behind my back.
I felt the heavy, cold metal of the handcuffs wrapping around my wrist and clicking tightly into place.
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came.
“Miss. Johnson, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”