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122 Rules(3)

By:Deek Rhew

“Seems you had a little meeting today,” Good Cop smiled. Please tell me everything, his eyes seemed to say.

In her psychology classes, Monica had studied ways to get information from people. One of the most effective techniques was to make a simple, open-ended, often-wrong statement then remain silent. In response to this non-question, the other person, more often than not, would start babbling, if not to correct the inaccuracy then to fill the uncomfortable empty space. Monica didn’t answer, letting the quiet spin out.

Several tense but wordless minutes passed. He seemed reflective when he continued. “Not sure what part you play in the operation. We also didn’t see how you got there. We have been trailing those guys for months, waiting for a meeting just like that one. You must have slipped in before we arrived.”

“You mean that little tryst between Baldy and the guy that sounded like Joe Pesci?”

He chuckled again, though it sounded forced and placating. Just barely Good Cop; more like Annoyed Cop. “Yes, that.”

“Look, I don’t know what this is all about. I was just reading, minding my own business, when these guys showed up and started talking. I don’t know what they were talking about exactly. But it sounded shady, so I did the Good Samaritan thing and tried to help.”

Good Cop vanished like an apparition. “So you want me to believe that one of the biggest drug dealers in New York and his favorite knee buster just showed up without a care in the world and started yammering about their business right in front of you? Only a couple of people knew that meeting was going to take place, and you coincidentally happened to be there? That’s what you’re trying to tell me?”

Indignation fed her building rage. “I didn’t know about the meeting, and I have no idea who those guys are. What I do know is I don’t want any part of you”—she pointed at him—“or any part of this. I’ve got midterms to study for, so unless I’m under arrest, you have no right to hold me. I am leaving now.” She stood and started moving towards the door.

“You understand that it would be easier to take you seriously if you hadn’t just been arrested on drug possession.”

Monica rolled her eyes. “It was only about a gram of coke. At a small get-together back in Alabaster Cove, a friend of mine gave me a little as a going-away present. I forgot about it, and when I got pulled over for speeding it fell out of my purse. I did a few hours in custody and was released. You obviously have the report, so you already know all of this.”

“I see.” He had opened the folder flat on the desk and appeared to be reading.

She stood next to the door, arms folded, fingers drumming against her bicep.

“Can you as easily explain the time you spent in juvie for murder?”

Oh shit. Dread flooded her veins and invaded the hollow of her gut. Monica moved slowly back to her seat—her very short seat—and dropped into it. Her eyes settled on the pictures Jon casually perused. They were upside down to her, but she didn’t need to see to know what they contained. Blood on the floor. Blood on the bed. Blood splattered in a rainbow pattern across the wall. A dead man with his head caved in. A baseball bat with Louisville Slugger in blue script and clumps of scalp and bloody fingerprints—her fingerprints—along its sleek oak-colored length. Her body threatened to disgorge her stomach’s contents right there on the no-color floor, and only by herculean efforts did she prevent the tuna salad she’d had for lunch from making a grand reappearance.

“I thought those records had been sealed?” Her voice sounded barren and deflated even to her own ears. “I thought it was illegal to access them without a direct order from the court.”

Jon smiled a non-smile while his eyes drilled into her skull. “What you need to understand is that we are above the law. The sooner you get that into your genius-level head, the easier this will be.”

Defeat, as thick as molasses, dulled her senses and deflated her spirit.

When she didn’t answer, he continued, “So let me spell this out. Someone with a history of drugs and murder has recently traveled across the country. She allegedly ‘attends’ school but has no formal address and, as far as we can tell, no friends. Her instructors say she has well above average intelligence, but only sporadically attends class and speaks to no one. This woman with almost no societal ties and little traceability attends a meeting with a high-powered dealer and a hitman. You’re a smart girl; do you see the picture this paints?”

The little man sat ramrod erect in his high chair in an attempt to make himself into a larger-than-life bully. Compensating for something? Heat and anger replaced the liquid lead that clogged every thoroughfare in her circulatory system. “Look, if you actually had anything on me, I’d already be in jail. But seeing as how we are having this little conversation and I have no cuffs on, you clearly don’t have any proof. Just access to records that you shouldn’t and a wild imagination for the dramatic. Thus unless you plan to formally charge me, I’m free to go.” She stood again.