There were four walls, a mirror, and the table that we were sitting at. Detective Redding sat with his fingers just touching the edge of his coffee cup, staring at me–waiting. The smell of roasted coffee was losing to the stench of sweat and filth in the air. With the handcuffs forcing my hands together, I knew how it felt.
Redding was somewhere in his fifties with a paunch beneath a plain black suit. He looked well rested with a neatly trimmed moustached, and clean-shaven. He sat with an amused half-smile while I stared at the table.
The last thing said was him asking me if I wanted to tell him my side of the story. In the silence that followed, the doubt lingered in the air like a spiteful ghost. So when Detective Redding finally spoke, I breathed a little easier.
“You know what I’ve learned in the fifteen years I’ve worked here?” He paused until I looked at him.
“There are a lot of ways of to be smart in this world, but there are just a handful of ways to be smart in a situation like this. Waiting isn’t one of them.”
With that, he took a sip of his coffee and finished with a soft sigh. It made my nostrils twitch and flare.
“Is my lawyer here yet?” I asked, letting the words come out like gravel being rubbed against concrete. It wasn’t all anger, but it was mostly anger.
“She’ll be here soon,” he said pleasantly, “I’m sure…”
I looked at the wall with my mind filling with numbers. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to reach the station from Luna’s office, but without a clock I had no idea how much time had passed. As the number of minutes she was late grew with my estimates of how much time had passed, I saw Redding chuckling silently to himself. I had been mouthing the numbers.
Gritting my teeth I let out an exasperated sigh. I could feel the warmth of blood rushing to my face.
Beneath the yellow light that poured down, I felt circled by an invisible tiger. A feral spirit made up of every horrible thing that had ever been confessed here. My nerves began to fray as I tried not to think about the time.
“You know,” the detective said as he rose to his feet, “I’ve done everything to be a good host. I have offered you a beverage. I even gave you a bit of advice while waiting with you.”
My lips pulled involuntarily into a smirk. I took my wrists off the table and settled back in the chair.
“But you on the other hand have been a less than appreciative guest.” His voice turned indignant as he began counting down his points with his fingers.
“You were rude when I expressed interest in how you came to be a legal distributor of marijuana. Then you give me the silent treatment when I ask to hear your side of things. Which is the only thing that could have helped you in this situation, by the way. So when I leave, I want you to remember this.”
He tapped his watch and I scoffed with my fingers tightening into fists beneath the table.
“Remember, that I spent forty-five minutes trying to be a friend to you. That I gave you a chance to be a man about this and you chose to be a punk.”
When the door slammed shut behind him, I lowered my head and exhaled the nausea from my chest. With my fingernails still digging into my palms, I raised my head with a single thought.
My stomach sank the way it did when I drove down a hill. Forty-five minutes… I closed my eyes and tried to draw a clean breath, as the invisible tiger went on circling the table. The fear felt like a sudden sickness. A virus that, in an instant, paralyzed your body and filled the lungs with dirt. The world came in and out of focus as I saw my own panic stare back at me from the mirror.
Then the door opened. Air rushed into my lungs as Luna’s unforgiving glare locked on to me from the doorway. She closed the door behind her and though I should have been relieved, I suddenly felt a little more sick with fear.
She was slim with rich dark skin and straightened black hair. Even standing in a gray skirt-suit there was no hiding the muscles that she had brought back from her time in the marines. Luna also had the tendency to stand like a soldier at attention. Which is what she did, while she looked me over.
It was the same look she would give me whenever our mother put her in charge of making sure I did something. She was searching my face to see if I was going to give her trouble.
“You came.” I said softly.
“I want to be clear on something.” Luna said in a stern voice. “If I do this, you will do exactly as I say the entire time. And after this is over, you will continue to do exactly what I say.”
“I didn’t do anything.” I protested as I raised the cuffs so that she could see them. “This is a bullshit charge.”
“I told you before. I’m trying to become a judge, Miles.” Her voice rose as she stabbed the air with her finger. “I’ve told you a billion times how important this is to me. How do you think my chances look with my little brother selling weed and getting ready to be arrested for fraud and assault.”
“Tell them he’s your foster-brother,” I replied bitterly. “ And you’re nothing like him.”
“Why do you keep bringing that up?” Luna asked and then sitting down in front of me. “I was the one that was adopted remember. I keep trying to help you and you keep saying that shit—why?”
There was a glistening in her eyes and the inside of my heart twisted in pain. Placing my hands on the table like I was pleading, I told her.
“I’m sorry, okay. Look, this is just a really messed up situation.” I said in a voice heavy with exhaustion and guilt. “Can you just help me? Can you just give me a chance here without making me feel like my existence is ruining your life.”
Luna pursed her lips and brought her palm down to gently pat the desk with restrained outrage.
“I don’t think that. And yes, I can give you a chance to tell me your story.” She paused and then added. “I want to help you fix this. The assault part may be difficult.”
Relief washed over me like a cold ocean wave. With an easy breath I thought about what Detective Redding had said about being smart. Watching Luna relax and become my sister again, I had to agree.
There really were just a handful of ways to be smart in a situation like this.
So I decided to be a weekend warrior, since the next few weeks will be filled with studying. I’m having a bit of a tough time balancing school and writing, but trying to stay committed to Blogging 101.
Photograph by Smuk Luka.