I stared at the familiar eyes in the rearview mirror. They belonged to Gunnar, a friend of Chucks that I had met back at the surprise party he had thrown me.
Those once-friendly eyes now peered straight ahead, they were cold and angry, completely different than the first time I’d seen them. Gunnar and I hadn’t exchanged a single word since I’d been loaded into the back of this police cruiser, I don’t blame him for ignoring me. After all, what could he possibly have to say? “You getting enough air back there you heartless b***h?”
I stared out the window, still in a bit of shock from this morning’s events. I felt completely numb; not sad, not angry, just… numb.
My heart began pounding in my chest as we pulled up to the front of the police station. I’d been here before, quite a few times, actually. Never in handcuffs though, never like this.
Gunnar yanked the vehicle into park and stepped out. I followed him with my eyes and realized he was coming to let me out. “Please step out of the car, Ma’am.” he said, swinging the back door of the car open.
He called me Ma’am, as if I were a stranger. I slowly shook my head, and slid my way out and up onto my feet. Gunnar grabbed the chain between my handcuffs and guided me toward the entrance of the police station.
That was when I saw him.
Chuck was here too. He must have followed us. I wasn’t sure if I should smile and wave or pretend I didn’t see him, my gut told me to go with the latter.
When the doors of the police station swung open, I was hit with a burst of cold air. It felt as if I’d stepped into a freezer. I realized the withdrawals must be starting to set in as painful goosebumps instantly prickled up on my skin.
The moment I entered, it was as if someone hit the “pause” button on the world. Excited conversations suddenly stopped… and I was met with the glaring eyes of all the Deputies and employees inside the building. Some were holding folders, some filling paperwork, and answering phones, while others had been having conversations amongst themselves. Everyone instantly stopped what they were doing… and stared. You could hear a pin drop.
I took a deep breath and lowered my head. Their looks of shock and disdain igniting a shame within me that I hadn’t noticed before.
Gunnar lead me to an elevator and it felt like hours before the car finally reached the bottom floor. I had seen Chuck out of the corner of my eye – but he darted up the stairs-apparently trying to avoid having to be enclosed in a small space with me. I certainly couldn’t blame him for that.
I stared straight at the floor as the elevator carried Gunnar and I up to the 4th floor. When the elevator finally stopped and the doors slowly opened, I gasped.
At least twenty deputies were lining either side of the hallway staring into the elevator, almost as if they were waiting for me. Gunnar gently nudged me from inside and I realized I would have to walk between the two lines of uniformed officers.
I recognized almost all of them, but the way that they were looking at me made it feel as if they were strangers. I stared at the floor and continued forward, and each cop I passed took turns calling me names under their breath and shaking their heads in disgust. I choked back the tears as I realized so many of them had been to my home, celebrated birthdays with me and now, now I was reduced to nothing but a piece of shit. Just another loser being walked to the interrogation room. I was once so close to these people and now – I am no one. I am no one. I am nothing.
The interrogation room had a television screen attached to the wall outside next to the door, I’m assuming this was for people outside to observe the interview taking place inside. I was immediately filled with dread once I realized that all these people were about to hear all my dirty secrets. Secrets I’d kept hidden for years, they were all about to be revealed and once they were, I knew that all of the people outside that door would never look at me the same way again.
Upon entering the interrogation room I observed a single table with 3 chairs. Gunnar lead me to one of them and told me to “sit”. His voice stern and robotic.
Once seated, he unlocked one of my handcuffs and I instantly breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God, the metal had rubbed the flesh of my wrists raw. My excitement was short lived, because he took the unhooked cuff and wrapped it around the metal of my chair, and clicked it shut. “Seriously?” I asked, feeling annoyed. “Seriously.” He said, mocking the frustration in my voice and rolling his eyes before exiting. I was tempted to hurl the chair at him with my good arm, but realized it was bolted to the ground.
There were no clocks in the room, but if I had to guess, I’d say an entire hour passed and I still hadn’t seen a soul. My body was aching and the cold sweats had been in full swing. It’s impossible to get comfortable while handcuffed to a bolted chair in an ice cold room while detoxing, so my frustration was at an all time high.
“Hello?!” I yelled out to no one. “What’s happening? Did you forget about me?”
Just then the door to the room swung open and I’d never been more grateful to see a set of cops.
“I’m deputy Sherlin and this is Deputy Avalon, we have been assigned to your case.” The female deputy said shutting the door behind them. She had long blonde hair that had been twisted up into clean bun, and bright blue eyes. She appeared to be younger than me and had I not seen her with a big gun on her belt, I never would have believed she was an actual cop.
After reading me my rights, Det. Avalon slid a piece of paper toward me. “If you understand your rights and are willing to speak to us, please sign here.”
I reached for the pen and quickly scribbled my name onto the signature line. Somehow, in my twisted mind, I felt as if I would somehow find a way to get out of this. I had been an expert at manipulating, and knew that if I cried enough innocent tears and gave an Emmy-worthy performance, that they would believe me and send me home.
“Okay, now that we have your signature, we’d like to ask you some questions.” Det. Avalon said. He was young too, he was dark skinned with a Spanish accent and there was something so kind about his big brown eyes.
I watched as he reached down into a briefcase and pulled out a stack of papers. He placed the pile on the table in front of him and looked over at me. “Do you know what these are?” he asked.
“I don’t.” Nice try though copper, you aren’t getting me that easy.
“Well here, let me show you.”
He grabbed the first paper on the top of the stack and slid it toward me. It was a photograph.
I looked down at the picture of Chucks drill that I had pawned, and just as the realization of what this was set in, he began flipping over photos in quick succession. Suddenly the table was covered completely with pictures – evidence- of all the things I’d been pawning in secret for months, none of which belonged to me.
“Now do you know what these are?” he asked.
Obviously I know what these are, Asshole.
“Yes I do.”
“What are they, than?”
“Ummm, clearly, they are pictures of all the stuff I’ve pawned.”
“Do any of these items belong to you, Miss. Johnson?”
“What do you mean by ‘not really’?”
“Well, technically, they were in my house, and they belonged to my boyfriend. We kind of share everything so… I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
I could tell by the sudden look of disgust that had simultaneously crossed their faces, that I probably shouldn’t have said that.
“Wow. Okay, well what about these then? Huh? These weren’t in your house were they?” he asked, handing me 2 photos of the things I’d taken from Chuck’s parents house. “You didn’t live there. Therefore, technically, you burglarized their home. Now, they say that if you cooperate today, they won’t press charges. However if you aren’t forthright with us, you will be charged with burglary.” he said leaning back into his chair.
Jesus Christ. F***ing burglary? Hell no.
“Are you kidding? I didn’t burglarize their home. I used to live there and they let me in.” I said feeling annoyed, I felt like a child being threatened with consequences, I didn’t like it.
“I’m going to ask you some questions, and I need you to answer them truthfully.” he said.
“Okay.” I replied, looking over at Barbie who had been sitting there quietly. So far she wasn’t that great of a Detective. She just sat there looking pretty. They probably had her in here to make me feel more comfortable or something.
“Okay, did you steal, and then pawn these items.”
“I pawned them, yes. But I didn’t steal them. I borrowed them and was going to get them back.”
“Did you know it was illegal to do that.”
“I knew it wasn’t good. But I didn’t know like, the charges or anything. And to be honest I never thought Chuck would press charges even if he did find out. I thought he loved me, but instead of talking to me about it, he sent in the troops to take me away.”
Just then, Det. Sherlin leaned forward in her seat and scowled at me.
“He didn’t press charges you f***ing idiot. While investigating the burglary at his home we did a pawn search. Just for shits and giggles we typed your name in and GUESS WHAT?! Surprise! You’ve been robbing him blind since back in October. Chuck had no clue until our supervisor called him into the office this morning to inform him of what had been going on, and to let him know Deputies were in route to arrest your stupid ass. He didn’t have to press charges, we were investigating a crime and all roads lead back to you. We had no choice, he had no choice. I had to watch Chuck breakdown into sobs today in his supervisors office when he realized his life was a lie. So don’t sit hear and question his love for you. You are the one who f***ed up. So, how bout you drop the attitude before I drop it for you.” she said, with her eyebrows raised.
Well… Damn Barbie.
“I’m gonna take over this interview for now, I think Det. Avalon is being too generous with you.” she said.
“Good cop, bad cop. I get it. Look, I’m cooperating here, okay. I am admitting I took the items and pawned them. I’m willing to pay for them or whatever. I really don’t feel good though and would like to go now, please.” I said, sitting up straight.
The detectives looked at each other and Det. Sherlin cracked a smile before looking back at me. “Oh my God, you are serious right now aren’t you?”
“What? What do you mean? Yes I’m serious. I answered your questions. Chuck and I can talk about this later and I’ll just give him the money. I will pick up some extra shifts at work. Now that I know he wasn’t the one to press charges, I am pretty sure he will understand once we talk.”
Det. Sherlin stood up from her chair and Det. Avalon followed suit. I took a deep breath, relieved that this shit was over. I needed to get to Lazarus’s asap, my bones felt like they were breaking inside my skin. Shit, I didn’t drive here. “Excuse me,” I said, stopping the Deputies before they exited, “I’m not really sure how this works, since you guys drove me, do I have to call a cab or something or do ya’ll take me back?”
Det. Sherlin leaned opened the door and I caught a glimpse of all of the deputies that had been standing outside watching. Chuck’s bright orange shirt stuck out like a sore thumb, and I saw he had his head lowered while another deputy sympathetically rubbed his back. “You guys seeing this?” I heard her whisper to them.
Before anyone could answer she leaned back into the room and smiled.
“Oh Honey, you just don’t get it. You aren’t going home, not for a long time. We aren’t done here, in fact… we are just getting started.” She said, slamming the door behind her.