We arrived at a county jail. I’d never seen the inside of a prison, and I didn’t want to now. I know snitches get stitches, but I was going to snitch the fuck out of Robert. I’m not going down for something I didn’t do. “Get off me!” I struggled as the officers guided us through the gates to people screaming profanity and telling Robert he has a nice ass. Oh, great, now I’m going to have to make a shank and join a gang. The officer escorted me into an interrogation room. I wondered if they were going to waterboard a confession out of me. I watched one of those ID shows and learned the interrogation rooms have cameras and audio. I tried to act as naturally as possible. I had my hands folded on the table; my shoulders pushed back to exude a sense of confidence. I didn’t want to overdo the whole self-confidence thing, just enough to let them know I wouldn’t crack (at least not easily).
An investigator entered the room. The man wore a three-piece suit with khaki pants and brown loafers. His clean, shaved face told me he’s a meticulous man. A woman followed wearing a skirt and blouse and had long blonde hair — great a woman to elicit sympathy for the victim, like a mother figure waving her finger at a child, to tell the truth. I’d been in a mental prison since Robert killed the clerk. It’s almost as if I’d been waiting for this day. I couldn’t take back what Robert did, and to be blamed for it, made me want to kill Robert. If I go to jail for that son-of-a-bitch, I might split his wig as the kids say (or kill him).
“Well, you two are dressed to impress.”
“Mr. Smith, let’s get straight to the point…”
“Don’t be so formal, just call me Ben.” I gave a dismissive wave. I had to keep the whole self-confidence thing going. I made eye contact. My grandfather told me to look a man in the eye when you talk to him. If you want to be an alpha male (which I totally wasn’t), you need to take control, and eye contact shows strength and maturity. I’d kept eye contact so well, the detective looked away. I noticed the rise and fall of his chest quicken.
“I’m detective Frank, and this—” he waved in her general direction—”is Detective Sandy.”
I raised, then lowered my hands on the table. “Well, what can I do for you?”
“Let’s start from the beginning,” Sandy said. “Where were you on the night of the shooting?”
I tapped my chest. “I’m the victim here.” I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts. “We were on our way to a funeral when we had a tire blowout. It was Robert. He—”
“You’re telling me Robert had popped your tire?” Sandy crinkled her eyes.
“I know this sounds bizarre—”
“You can say that again. Do you think we started yesterday, son?” I could tell the detectives had no interest in the truth; they wanted a confession to move on to the next case. It didn’t matter whether I was innocent as long as they had a confession, they were good.
“You have got to believe me. I’m telling you the truth.” I knew these cops weren’t buying the truth, so I thought I should make shit up as I go, but then traveled back to the truth. “After we wrecked, we headed for the hotel as it was the only place we’d seen in one hundred miles. It was late, dark, and we were starving. And, by the way, that hotel isn’t fit for human beings.”
“Why did the clerk die?” Frank said. “Who shot him?”
“Jenna and I had an argument, and I went on the porch to smoke a cigarette. I saw a masked man enter the lobby, and the clerk filled a bag with money & then I saw a flash and heard the gunshot. I tried to hide behind a pillar, but Robert caught me. Robert and Jill, his girlfriend, took us. At first, they didn’t want to leave witnesses.”
Frank doubled over and laughed hard. “Good one.”
I gave him a tight-lipped stare. “So, this is one big joke to you?”
“Oh. I’m sorry. You expect us to believe this?” Frank leaned back in his chair. “We’re listening.”
“You got to believe me. I’m telling you the truth,” I pleaded. “I had no reason to shoot anyone. I didn’t need the money.”
“So, we’ve been doing some digging into your past after Dr. Jane tipped us off. Just tell us the truth,” Sandy said. “You wanted to prove yourself to Jenna’s father. You wanted to say you finally landed a job on a fancy corporate board.”
“Why don’t you believe me?” I stood to my feet and raked my fingers through my hair. “This isn’t true!” I couldn’t deny her logic was spot on, but I didn’t do it. Sandy looked at me like a disappointed mother when her kid got suspended. But they gave me a great idea of how to impress Jenna’s father. If I could rob a bank or three, maybe I could pass myself as a businessman of sorts? “Robert is the killer. If you don’t believe me, lock me up.” I attempted to call their bluff. My stomach tightened, and my fingers turned cold to the touch. The detectives abruptly stood to their feet and exited the room without saying a word. Why did you mention jail? You idiot, I thought. I’d heard of jail through my brother. Over the years, I’ve gotten plenty of calls from him telling me how I needed to bail him out. I didn’t have the money, but it terrified me every day he’d spend in there. I couldn’t sleep because growing up, I’d never believed he’d be the jail type. It scared me to death. And now, I might be on my way to the pen. The gravity of it all began to weigh on me. I held my head in my hands.
Detective Sandy entered the room alone. “Robert confessed.”
“Believe me now?” I asked. I stood up. “I’ll see myself out.”
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