The sound of Kelly’s chuckle snapped me back into the office. I had been so wrapped up in my story I’d forgotten where I was. Re-living those memories had brought me right back to that time, the day when my world came crashing down. A small part of me was relieved that I was in fact, safe at rehab, and no longer suffocating in that room.
“Are you laughing?” I asked, as she covered her mouth, to conceal a smile.
“I’m sorry, it’s just. My gosh Tiffany did you really say that?” She asked trying to keep a straight face.
“Yeah, I didn’t know. I had never been in trouble before. I mean I’ve seen crime shows, so I knew that you could like, call someone to bail you out. I thought that’s how it worked. I had no clue how much trouble I was actually in, ya know?” I said.
“Yes. I’m sorry. It’s just so funny how you were like, “Okay guys, I’m ready to go. Thanks for your time.” She laughed.
“Stoppp. I didn’t know man!” I was laughing too at this point. I actually thought I was going home that night after the interrogation. I thought Chuck and I would sit on the couch, have a good cry and work through it. Looking back at what actually did ended up happening, I could see the humor in my naïve assumption.
Kelly glanced above my head at the clock on the wall behind me, her face fell as she noted the time. “Okay, well I’ve already kept you past Marriage and Dating class, I’ll talk to Felicity about that, I’m sure she’ll understand. You have spoken so candidly, so honestly about everything that has happened to you and it’s helped me immensely to understand your history. Usually I don’t keep clients over the allotted time, however if I’m being completely honest with you, at this point I’m intrigued.”
“ Yeah, I mean it’s basically over. The fact that I’m here at rehab tells you how it all ended, right?” I asked.
“Of course I know how it ultimately ended, but the way you tell it leads me to believe you were still defiant at this point during questioning, a bit closed off. I want to hear about the moment you realized the jig was up, you could no longer carry the lies anymore – that’s what I want to hear.” She said leaning back in her chair.
I knew the exact moment she was referring to, I remember like it was yesterday.
Just three hours ago I thought I was going home. I thought I was going to leave the police station and head to my house, where I’d pet my dog and kick my feet up on the coffee table in front of the couch while convincing Chuck that I should be forgiven.
I was wrong.
My shirt was soaked with sweat and every joint in my body was throbbing. I stared across the table at Det. Sherlin and her eyes peered right back into mine. I had managed to maintain a poker face and clutch my truth tightly to my chest for hours, and it was exhausting.
They were trying to get me to confess to stealing the guns, however I knew they didn’t have proof that I had. I continued to adamantly deny having anything to do with it and each time I claimed to be innocent, they left me in the room alone for 45 minutes.
The detectives would return, try a new strategy, and when I didn’t give in – they’d leave again.
At one point they removed my handcuffs, I’m assuming this was so I would think they gave a damn about my comfort. When I didn’t confess to being the culprit, they promptly slapped them back onto my wrists, tighter this time, and left the room.
I curled up into a ball on the floor next to my chair, my arm twisted at an awkward angle, and my shirt pulled down tightly over my bare knees in hopes of generating some warmth. My withdrawals made the cold room, almost unbearable. It felt like I was locked in a restaurant freezer, except a camera was pointed at me and an entire police department was watching as I shuffled around on the floor in pain, trying to find a comfortable position.
The fact that I hadn’t had a cigarette in over half a day was only adding to the homicidal thoughts I was experiencing.
The Detectives eventually returned after what seemed like a life time, and scoffed at my crumpled body on the floor.
“I need a cigarette.” I said confidently as they sat down above me at the table. “You aren’t exactly in a position to be making demands, are you Miss. Johnson?” Det. Sherlin said, asserting her power. I could feel the anger rising and I clenched my fists so tightly that my knuckles turned white.
“May I please have a cigarette, Detective Sherlin. Please.” She sat down on her chair and crossed her arms in front of her chest. The coy smile plastered on her face made me realize why they kept us handcuffed in here. It took every ounce of willpower within me to refrain from wrapping my hands around her neck and squeezing the life out of her.
“I dunno,” she said, looking over Det. Avalon, “Should we give her a cigarette break?”
“Mmmm…Well I don’t think she has earned it. Do you? I mean, we have spent a long time in here, Det. Sherlin, and she refuses to tell us what happened. Maybe if she was willing to divulge some information, we would be more willing to provide her with a smoke.” They were speaking as if I were a child and again, thoughts of violence bubbled to the surface.
“Listen,” I began, “Give me a God damn cigarette and I’ll tell you—” Before I could finish my sentence, the door to the interrogation room swung open and a small Spanish woman entered the room. She walked straight over to Det. Sherlin and placed an envelope on the table in front of her, before leaving the room without saying a word. I looked past the woman as she exited and saw that the group of Deputies were still huddled around the TV, as if they were watching the Superbowl, Chuck was there too.
“Well what do we have here?” Det. Sherlin said, peering into the mysterious envelope. She glanced up at me with her hand wrapped around the contents of it. “Anything you want to tell us before we open our present?”
“Nope.” I replied. I tried my best to sound confident, but in actuality I was on the verge of vomiting.
What the f*** was in that envelope?
She pulled the papers out, and smiled as she rifled through the pages. Once she finished, she looked up at me and slowly passed the stack over to Det. Avalon.
“Wow.” He said after he finished reading. I looked at him, then back to her, then back to him. The looks on their faces led me to believe that there was no way I was getting out of this unscathed. They had something on me, I just didn’t know what.
Det. Avalon looked over at her and nodded, and they both stood up from the table and headed toward the door. My heart felt like it was going to exploded as my mind raced through a thousand possible scenarios. Fingerprints? Of course they had my fingerprints, I lived there.
Det. Avalon exited the room without saying a word, while Deputy Sherlin hung back for a minute, and waited for the door to close behind him. She leaned down, placing the palms of her hands on the table and put her face about an inch away from mine. Her bright blue eyes were glaring at me and I could smell the gum she’d been chewing on her breath.
“Gotcha.” She whispered, before slapping her hand on the table and exiting the room.
I was alone once again, this time with a thousand voices in my head. I had no idea what kind of proof they had pertaining to me stealing the guns, and I was going crazy trying to figure it out. I was too sick to think straight, but my anxiety over the unknown refused to allow me to relax.
After what seemed like an eternity, Det. Sherlin returned to the interrogation room with the ‘envelope’ and a cigarette. She rolled the cigarette across the table toward me and my heart leapt in response. It had been close to 15 hours since I’d been arrested and my withdrawals were in full swing. I pounced on the cigarette with my free hand and leaned forward for her to light it.
She should have done this a long time ago, because the moment I took a drag I was instantly in a better mood. I closed my eyes to savor this moment, this taste, this relief. I knew whatever was in the envelope was most likely going to be the nail in my coffin.
“Miss. Johnson, I’ve given you ample time to be honest with me and you haven’t. I’ve offered you a lie-detector test to prove your innocence, of which you declined. I’d like to give you one last opportunity to be honest with me as I already know the truth, I’d just like to hear it from you.”
“I was honest with you. You pulled out the photos of me at the pawn shop and I admitted to taking the stuff, I’m not sure what else you want—“
“Of course you did! You had to!,” she screamed. “We’ve got your face, clear as day pawning all of Deputy Henlin and his parents shit. You signed a piece of paper with your fingerprint at the pawn shops stating you were the rightful owner of these items.. We have copies of your drivers license from the pawn shop. So yeah, I can understand why you admitted to those things, because you didn’t have a God Damn choice.”
She leaned forward and tapped the table with her index finger as she continued berating me. “When I asked you why, you claimed you owed some drug lord money which is obviously complete bullshit. Now what I need from you is some honesty regarding the guns and the wallet. It’s clear you took them. So let’s just get this over with.”
Part of me wished Det. Avalon were in here too. He was much nicer, and her presence alone indicated that they no longer needed “the nice guy”. They were done trying to coax a confession. They didn’t need one anymore, they had their proof.
I stared across the table at her, refusing to say a word. For all I knew, the envelope was filled with pictures of cats, and if these cops were bluffing, I was not about to rat myself out, they’d have to come all the way to me.
“Okay, you wanna play it that way?” Det. Sherlin asked, realizing I wasn’t going to cooperate. “You want to make it difficult, that’s fine, I can play too. In fact, I wanna play a game now. Let’s play ‘Guess What’s In The Envelope.”
I crossed my arms defiantly and settled into my chair.
“Okey Dokey.” She said, pulling the stack of papers from the envelope and laying them face up in front of me.
I leaned forward to get a better look, and the moment my brain processed what was on those papers, every muscle in my body gave out at once.