The coolest thing about police interrogation rooms anywhere in the country is that they all look exactly like they do in the movies or on TV. There's variety, of course--some have shackles, while others don't, and their sizes differ, but that's really it; they're all decorated with a metal table and plastic aluminum chairs, and they're all lit by unflattering fluorescents. Through the two-way mirror--also a prerequisite--I watched a uniformed policeman enter, legal pad in hand. Tradition dictates that he should have had a file folder as well, but this was the twenty-first century, and paper costs money and trees.
"So your friend in the other room told us the whole story," he said.
"Are we really going to do this?" I asked him.
"Well, there's no Good Cop with you, and you don't strike me as a Bad Cop, so I guess that makes you Mildly Irritated Cop."
"Shouldn't you be taking this a little more seriously?" he asked.
"Look, Officer..." I squinted at his name-tag. "... Reynolds. Do you know how many times I've done this?"
"A hundred and two."
His expression told me nothing.
"That's really cool." I reached into the pocket of my trademark brown leather pea coat and pulled out my notebook and pen, which, for some reason, they hadn't confiscated. "Can I write that down?"
"Be my guest." He clicked his own pen so he could record the upcoming conversation. "Do you know why you're here?"
"Because some guy in a trucker hat got punched in the face."
"And the girl..."
"Don't call her a girl to her face," I interrupted. "She hates that."
"... woman with you, a Lisa Green, states that you were punched in the stomach."
"Did you happen to see who did it?"
"I did not," I replied. "I'm assuming it was the same guy." It wasn't.
"That seems unlikely."
"The bar was kind of crowded, and my attention was already occupied."
I smirked. "By the ladies. The attention-getting ladies, if you catch my drift."
If he had, he didn't let on. Definitely Irritated Cop. "Why did you volunteer to come in to sign an affidavit then?"
"I didn't," I replied. "My friend did."
"She gave us a description of a white male, age eighteen to thirty-five, dressed in blue jeans and a denim jacket."
"That could be anybody."
He rolled his eyes. "The victim said he didn't know who assaulted him either, so he's not pressing charges." That was probably because he didn't want to admit that a diminutive woman knocked him out with one punch. "That said, between you and me, were you the one who did it?"
I snorted. "If I had, my knuckles would be broken, and he wouldn't have suffered a concussion. I'm a wimp, Officer."
"I see." He jotted that down. "So you think it was your companion?"
"She hits like a girl." Well, a cave girl. Especially when somebody knocks the wind out of me.
"I thought you said she didn't like to be called a girl."
"There's no reason that statement has to leave the room, is there?"
He shook his head.
"Then she hits like a girl."
"Is that a no?"
"That is a 'I can't tell you for certain.'"
He stood and said, "Mr. Fuentes, we don't want to take up anymore of your time." What he meant was that he didn't want me to take up anymore of his time, but calling him on that was a good way to get pepper-spray in my face. "You can go ahead and check out and go your own way."
"Do I need to sign anything?"
"Only whatever Roger gives you when you check out."
"Roger?" I both grinned and frowned. "Is he ever not at that desk?"
"Not as far as I know." Heading for the door, he recommended, "Stay out of trouble, Mr. Fuentes."
That wasn't likely. "Have a nice evening, Officer!"
After I'd been processed, I exited the building, only to be greeted by Lisa, who was leaning against a lamppost, lighting a joint.
"You've got balls of solid steel," I told her, "going into a police station with an eighth of weed in your sock."
"Being here with you after all these years," she replied, "inspired me to act out."
I chuckled. "Why don't we head back to the Village and find ourselves bar without fisticuffs on tap."
She held out her arm, and I wrapped mine around it. "Let's."
A quick train ride later, we wandered the narrow, vibrant streets of my favorite neighborhood in which to drink a lot. While contemplating a well-worn pub, a douchebag in a gray, three-piece suit, a black shirt, a white tie, and a camel-hair overcoat rounded the corner, thus lowering the tone. Something about the way he studied us with his expensive, horn-rimmed glasses and looked away as if we weren't there made me want to break my knuckles on his nose. It didn't help that he was informing his cell phone, "Our business partnership goes into full effect at the start of the next quarter. I suggest that, between then and now, you grant Mr. Franklin sole contact with my company, inasmuch as you can't be trusted to ..."
All of the color drained from Lisa's face. "Wait a fucking minute! I know that asshole's voice!" She then squeaked, "Sean?"
The douchebag turned back around, this time with his eyes wider than I'd ever seen anybody's get. "Fuck me in the ear!" he replied before dropping his phone and running like hell.
"What the fuck was that?" I asked, intending the question for anyone who might be listening.
"Take me home," Lisa replied.
"What... ?" I repeated.
"Take me home now."
Since she was my best friend in the history of the entire world, I obeyed, but not before picking up the discarded cell and pocketing it. I loved myself a good mystery.