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The Paths We Take #4: The Interview

Mar 6, 2018




The light poured down on me, almost blinding, as it reflected off the white windowless walls. I sat there, hands cuffed behind my back, cut off from the outside world. The only thing I could do was watch the uniforms pass by the narrow window in the door. The room was cramped, not much larger than a closet, filled only with a square metal table and two chairs.

I thought about how I ended up there. Outside of the normal instructions, the officer that transported me to the station only spoke to the voice on the other end of the car radio; he failed to ask me a single question about Claire, about the kidnappers, or how I was involved. When we arrived at the Red Pines Police Department, the officer led me through a hallway, the doors to the left and right read “Interview Room,” each equipped with red, yellow, and green plastic flags that were hinged at the top left corners of the frames. I guessed that they were some type of status indicators. He sat me down in the chair furthest from the door and told me to wait.

A few minutes passed before a stout, stone-faced man in a brown suit opened the door and eased down in the chair on the opposite side of the table. He glared at me through his narrow brown eyes for what felt like minutes before he took out a spiral notebook and a pair of reading glasses. He opened the notebook and took out a red folder, and then thumbed through a few of the papers inside before closing it and placing it face-down on the table. He removed another white piece of paper and slid it across the table to me.

“I am going to need to ask you a few questions, but first I need you to read along with me as I read you your rights,” the man said in a deep voice where every word seemed to scratch its way out of his throat.

“Am I under arrest or something?” I asked. I could feel my throat tightening as I choked out the words. He looked at me, his face still devoid of all expression.

“You are being detained for further investigation, and by law, I need to make sure the you understand your rights.”

“I know the law,” I blurted out as I shuffled in my seat.

“I know you do,” the man said as he started reading. He read the Miranda rights aloud and my eyes bounced around from the paper, to the door, to the man with the silver hair and the cheap brown suit. His tie hung loose from his collar and he reeked of Lucky Strikes and cheap musk; he was basically the stereotypical two-days-from-retirement cop who was ready to move to Florida and live off his pension.

“So, do you want to talk?”

“No, I am just here to play Yahtzee… Yes… I have been trying to talk for an hour now,” I said as I leaned forward in my chair. The man looked out over his reading glasses, picked up the paper with the Miranda Rights typed out in black ink, and then tucked it away in the red folder.

“So, Mr. Dawson, I’m the supervisor of the Detective Division, Lieutenant Mason.” “I have several of my detectives out looking for this van you say took this woman…Kate. You were supposedly following the van until you were stopped by our patrol officers.”

“You mean before I was arrested by your officers,”

“You were being detained for further investigation of the incident. There are a lot of moving parts to our investigation right now,” Lt. Mason said as he leaned over and looked at the handcuffs on my wrists and rolled his eyes.

“Why the hell are you still in handcuffs?” he asked. He got up, opened the door, and yelled “come get these cuffs off.” A uniformed officer hurried into the room and removed the handcuffs while Lt. Mason glared at him, hands resting on his hips, and his eyes fixed on the ceiling. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable the handcuffs were until I was free from them. I looked down at the indentations on my wrists and tried to massage the dull pain out. The uniformed officer handed Lt. Mason the handcuffs and hurried out. Lt. Mason shut the door, adjusted his belt, and sat back down at the table.

The ring of the cell phone echoed off the bare walls in the room. Lt. Mason explained that his lead detective was calling him, and he needed to take it. He struggled to lift himself out of the chair and waddled out, shutting the door behind him, leaving me alone except for the digital echo that kept ricocheting from wall to wall.  I let myself sink back in the chair and take a deep breath for the first time since I left Nancy’s. I thought about Claire, about the kids at the park, and the photo of the woman that haunted my thoughts. I wanted to mention it to Lt. Mason; I wanted the burden off my chest and the freedom to breathe fully again. I wanted my life to go back to normal shitty, not the enhanced version of shitty of the last twenty-four hours.

I heard the metallic click of the door opening. I glanced over as another detective slid through the doorway, cell phone to his ear. After a few seconds, he ended the call and walked over to the table.

“Her name is Claire by the way,” I said, “not Kate.”

“Excuse me?” the new clean-shaven detective questioned. He sat his coffee cup down on the table and looked me over with his blue eyes framed by a chiseled square jaw-line and sharp pointed eyebrows. He ran his hands through his blonde hair and then he took a pen out of his jacket pocket.

“Lt. Mason called her Kate.”

“Well, Lt. Mason is old, so, you know-”

“Sorry… I’m sorry. I just don’t understand what is going on, and I would really like to know why I am being questioned inside this room like a criminal. I was the one who called to report the crime.” The words came out louder than I intended and were met with a blank stare.

“I’m Detective-Sergeant Marks,” the detective said as he picked up the red folder and skimmed the pages inside before putting it back face-down. “Mr. Dawson, I will be handling the investigation from here on out, and I just need to get all of the details down, so we can move forward. Alright?”

He asked me to tell him every detail of what happened at Nancy’s. I told him the whole thing, and he listened in silence, occasionally jotting down a few notes here and there. He asked me to describe Claire, the kidnappers, and the van in detail, and how sure I was about the license plate number on the van. I told him that I was sure that I had given it correctly to the operator at the time, but that I didn’t memorize it or anything.

“How do you know Claire?” he asked.

“I don’t know her… I mean, I saw her yesterday, but-” Then it hit me. They took my jacket; the photo was in the pocket. Did he know?

“You saw her yesterday?” He asked. “Was she with anyone?”

Det. Marks lifted the edge of the folder, just enough for him to see the front cover. I couldn’t see the front of the folder from the other side of the table.

“She was with her husband and her two kids.”

“Did you get a look at the guy, the husband?”

“No, not really. I guess he was her husband; I didn’t really see his face.”

“Would you recognize him if you saw him again?” Det. Marks asked. He wrote something else down on the notepad before closing it and grabbing the folder.

“I don’t think so,” I said.

“Look, Mr. Dawson we had to detain you for our safety. We had a call come in at around the same time you were on the phone with emergency communications. The caller gave your vehicle description. They said that you robbed Nancy’s.”

The words spun around in my head like debris inside of a tornado. I squeezed my eyes shut to try and stop the dizziness. I couldn’t hear Det. Marks’ voice, but when I opened my eyes, I could see that he was still moving his mouth and jotting something down on the notepad.

After what felt like minutes, I was able to make out his words. “Now we stopped by Nancy’s and she is fine, but we had to treat this as the real deal. Right now, you are not being charged with anything. Nancy said that you came in and bought a coffee, but then you left in a hurry,” he explained as he wrote something else down on the notepad.

“That is ridiculous. Why would I rob a place that I go for coffee almost every day of the week? I have known Nancy for a long time,” I scoffed. I could see a uniformed officer look in through the window at me. “What about Claire? Did you find the van?  It looked like a work van, brand new probably,” I said. My head swam with questions. “What did Nancy say about Claire?”

“Like I said Mr. Dawson, this investigation is ongoing, and we have some other problems,” Det. Marks took the notebook and put it inside the red folder before continuing. “The license plate number that you gave dispatch came back to a stolen plate for a Chevy Impala out of Philly. Now assuming you read the plate right, we still can’t trace it back to a van unless we find it on the van, and that leads to the next problem. None of the officers saw a van when they found you.”

“What?” The room spun again, but this time, closing my eyes didn’t steady it. There is no way that this could all be happening to me. Hadn’t I been through enough already?

“I know you have a lot of questions, but you should be happy to know that you are not under arrest. In these situations, it is always good to revisit the facts after things have calmed down a bit” Det. Marks gave a half smile. “You are free to go, but I am going to need to keep in touch with you as this thing moves forward. Maybe you can help us if you can think of anything else.”

“Yeah, of course. It keeps playing through my mind, but I told you everything I know.”

“Look, I know that you have been here before, and I know it has been several years, but Detective Townsend is over in Drugs and Vice now. He might be willing to come over for a few minutes to talk with you if you want someone familiar,” Det. Marks said in a soft tone.

“Yeah… sure. Thanks,” I said.

Det. Marks stood up, went over to the door, and knocked. “Keep your cell on, and if you think of anything, let me know.” He walked back over to the table and pulled something out of his jacket pocket. “Here is my card.” He handed me a business card and shook my hand. “One of the uniforms will make sure you get your stuff back and show you the way out. I will let Det. Townsend know that you were here.”

A uniformed officer appeared in the doorway as Det. Marks left. “Let’s go,” the uniform said. I stood up and started towards the doorway as I looked at the business card. In bold black letters it read “DET. SGT. Royce Marks. Major Crimes Unit.”

© Josiah A. Miller 2018. All Rights Reserved.