This is becoming a bad habit.
The title is not a lie, so I'm keeping things quick.
I listened to this music while I wrote:
(a debut album by the way. Who gave him the right?)
I came home and mistakenly slept from like, 6:30-8:30 like a fool. So this was written in a rush.
And my progress:
Henrietta had taken to her phone. Her captives had long finished their talkative phase, and after a few failed attempts to run away, they accepted their fate of bondage. Darlene had been gone for a while now, and though Henrietta had been nervous initially, her success in stopping the three from escaping on multiple occasion gave her confidence.
The door to the office clicked open and Darlene jumped up. So did Connor, Bailey, and Jon, but their jump was more of a wave that barely made it off the couch. Henrietta exited the conference room. Henry stood in the front room.
“Henry?” Henrietta asked, confused.
She had expected Darlene. Henry was not Darlene by any means.
“Darlene and Verge came over to the gate and Verge assumed my duties for the night,” he said, staring at the ground. “Apparently I went from new-hire probation to double-probation.”
Darlene didn’t know how to respond. She led Henry back to the conference room with their hostages.
“Did Darlene give any kind of instruction?”
“She was just a few paces behind me when I entered.”
The door to the office burst open again, and Darlene entered, of note to Henrietta, without Liza. She strode over to the conference room and shut the door.
“Grab me my stool, Hen,” Darlene commanded.
Henry looked around and could not see a stool. There were several chairs in the conference room, but no stool.
“I need my interrogation stool to interrogate. Go get it,” she said. “Front room.”
Henry ran out and returned with a stool covered in a light dusting of dirt. It had been being used as a plant stand. It had been a long time since Darlene had interrogated anyone.
“Bring forth the criminals,” Darlene said.
Henrietta looked at the hostages who were well-present in the room and back at Darlene. She pulled on their arms and urged them into three seats at the conference table. Only two, Jon and Bailey, were really able to face Darlene given their back to back to back bondage. Connor faced away.
“The girl. What’s your name,” Darlene asked.
“Bailey,” Bailey replied.
Darlene looked around the room and over at Henry. Henry shrunk in fear.
“Hen, does it look like we have a courtroom stenographer in our presence?” she asked.
“No?” Henry replied.
“Wrong answer,” said Darlene. “It’s you. Why aren’t you writing this down?”
Henry bolted to the closet and grabbed a notebook. He returned and sat down.
“How is that spelled?” he asked.
“Hen, you are not the one interrogating the criminals,” Darlene said sharply. “That is my job. Now Bailey, how do you spell your name?”
Bailey spelled her name.
“And you there, the boy, what is your name.”
Jon did not respond.
“Hmmm… Based on that ‘Diversity in the Workplace’ seminar I went to, I’m gonna guess this one is mute. Which we will respect,” Darlene said. “Hen, put him down as ‘Mute boy’.”
Henry did so reluctantly.
“Okay, moving on-”
Darlene was interrupted by coughing.
“I’m Connor if anyone cares,” Connor said, still facing away.
“Who said that,” Darlene asked looking around.
Henrietta pointed to Connor who, being a foot taller than both Jon and Bailey, was clearly visible.
“Thank you Henri,” Darlene said. “Now, you three, are you good people or bad people.”
“Good people,” Connor and Bailey said.
Jon remained silent.
“Hen, put down ‘good’ for Connor and Baily, and a question mark next to the mute boy. If we had more time we could throw him in the lake and see if he floats, but I’ve been told we can’t do that anymore, and we don’t have the time or lake,” Darlene said. “Now while you say that you are good people, would you say that you do good things? I know many a good person who does bad things and many a bad person who does good things. For example, Hen here is a good person, he told me so, but he is demonstrably poor at his job. Do you three do good things or bad things?”
“We smoked a little weed; we didn’t kill anyone,” Jon blurted out.
Darlene turned to Henry.
“Hen, write down that the Mute boy lied about being mute and that we cannot trust him,” she said.”
Henry did so.
“M’am I promise we’re not criminals,” Bailey said, trying to get a good look into Darlene’s eyes.
Darlene was too busy following a fruit fly with her line of sight. It flew over the heads of Bailey, Connor, and Jon, and over to Henrietta. Darlene had a thought.
“You know what, Hen, scratch what you have written,” Darlene said. “I cannot trust these three. I can, however, trust Henri. Henri will tell me the truth.”
Henrietta perked up, beginning to listen.
“If you were charging these three with crimes, how would you do so?” Darlene asked.
Henrietta looked around the room for help. She had a high school diploma with no criminal justice electives behind it.
“Can I phone a friend?” she asked.
“Of course,” Darlene said, waiting.
Henrietta ran a quick google search for some various key words.
“Okay, so take this very lightly as I’m still not positive,” she said. “But I’m going to go with drug possession and perjury?”
Darlene clapped seven times.
“Ooh! I like the sound of those,” she said. “Very official sounding.”
“Nobody was under oath,” Bailey said.
“Hush!” Darlene yelled.
She scooted herself towards Bailey, squinting a little.
“I don’t like your look, you,” Darlene said. “There’s something definitely suspicious. Something I can’t trust. Henri, what did you hear them say?”
Henrietta racked her brains and explained. She knew the bare bones of the plot she had heard, but not the word for word detail. She offered what she had remembered.
“Oh that’s very serious,” Darlene said. “I can give the drug possession a pass, but there’s something truly sick about that whole blackmail scenario.
Darlene stood silently, considering her options. Liza was expecting her to do all of the interrogation, and she didn’t want to let her down. At the same time, she was unsure what more information she could get from the captives.
“Are we being detained?” Jon asked. “May I leave?”
Darlene looked over in horror. She had had a seminar on this too.
“Technically no,” Darlene replied. “But I would really appreciate it if you stayed.”
Jon started laughing and Henrietta looked over at Darlene in confusion. Darlene shrugged her shoulders.
“It’s in the guidebook. We’re not technically police. He’s free to leave,” she said.
Henrietta ran to the closet and came back with a pair of scissors. She snipped off the zip tie binding Jon who immediately left the office without one look to Connor or Bailey. Connor took the opportunity to reorient himself so that he was actually seated at the conference table. Henrietta paused in her snipping.
“Do I release them too?” she asked.
“Now why would you do that?” Darlene asked. “They have not requested to be released.”
Henrietta nodded, and the two spoke up.
“My we leave?” they said in unison.
Darlene thought for a minute. Henrietta waited, scissors at the ready.
“You know what, I didn’t think this through,” she said. “If we let these two go, then we won’t have any criminals captured, and I told Liza that we had captured criminals. So if you think about it, releasing them would make me a liar, and that would be a crime in it of itself. So it would be more appropriate to keep them here, right?”
Henrietta, scissors open, stared at Darlene waiting for her to make a decision.
“So, do I cut?”
“I mean, I don’t want to tell you yes, because it does make sense because we just let the skinny fake-mute one go and everything, but also no feels right. So, maybe I should leave that decision to you?” Darlene said.
“So I don’t cut?” Henrietta asked. “I really need a yes or no.”
“Can you look up something on your phone about citizen’s arrests?” Darlene asked.
Henrietta obliged and pulled up a YouTube video on the subject. She set her phone down on the table, and everyone present, Connor and Bailey included, watched. Darlene nodded
“Did that say that it’s okay?” Darlene asked.
“I think so?” Henrietta replied. “I’m really not the one you should be asking.”
“Well, if you say it’s alright, we’ll go with that. You can put the scissors away.”
Connor swore loudly and struggled with his restraints. He had endured enough and was ready to leave.
“I’m sorry, do we need to add vulgar tongue to your rap sheet?” Darlene asked.
“You’re an asshole,” Connor yelled. “A fucking idiot and an asshole. You have no reason to keep us, and if you don’t let us go, Bailey and I are going to start kicking.”
Darlene flushed red in anger, not embarrassment. She was confident in her intelligent, but she was not accepting of such a voice in her presence. When there were hostages, dog or otherwise, they were supposed to be subservient to those questioning them, and Connor was not doing that.
“I’m sorry, are you not of respecting to the officiality of this position?” Darlene asked staring at Connor directly. “Hen, please right down that I am not a fucking idiot; I am not an asshole, and that this Connor actually said that I am a truthful, kind, and successful officer who is performing her job to the utmost standard of success.”
Henry scribbled quickly.
“Furthermore, please write that after saying this, Connor fell into a ball on the ground, admitting that I and only I was the wisest, smartest, and most valued of the neighborhood watch,” she continued.
“Um, I don’t think stage direction is traditionally included in a court reporter transcript,” Henry said.
“You will write as I say,” Darlene spat. “You know what, I’m done with these two. Throw them in the back room for the night.
Liza drove back home from the hospital with hazy eyes. There were few cars on the road at three am, especially this far into the suburbs, which was not a testament or encouragement of sleep deprived driving by any means. The entire trip Liza endured the regular sudden jolts of awakeness that would pierce through her body, reminding her not to drift off, sometimes prompted by her own body’s systems, sometimes by a pothole in the road.
The hospital staff she had spoken with said that Heather could be discharged at the time. Located close to a state university, Heather’s wasn’t even the first stomach they had pumped that night, but for comfort and for cover, Liza insisted that her daughter spend the night. Liza found it hard enough to will herself to drive back home, and she couldn’t imagine being Heather and trying to lug herself to and from the car.
Liza pulled into the cul de sac and up to the gate. Verge was on duty and was still in his pajamas as he had been when they had spoken earlier that night. Liza felt the urge to comment somewhere in her but couldn’t manage the physical effort it took to break the twenty-five minute streak of not-speaking she had started after leaving the hospital.
“Somebody’s out late,” Verge said. “You get some sleep now.”
Liza nodded, hitting the gas in anticipation prior to the gate lifting, but not so early as to clip the gate. She pulled into the drive way and threw the car into park. If the lights of the cul de sac were dimmer, she might have taken the chance to just fall asleep in the car there, but the lights were too bright, the anxiety of her neighbors seeing her too strong, and the smell of the vomit on her dress too prominent. Liza took her arm off the wheel and reached for the door handle. Sense flew through her body as it broke out of its resting state. Liza entered the house and head to her room.
Though she knew it to not be so, the house felt empty like the roads just minutes prior. The sun had not yet risen, but Liza opted to keep the lights off, walking through the hallways with only the street lights through the windows and the occasional glow of a fire alarm to guide her. There was a peace to the state, but Liza’s head was empty. This was no time of retrospect for her. She walked as if through a silent purgatory, unwilling to explore thought of the night’s events, but at the same time, unable to drop the somatic weight that pulled at every inch of her skin, even the parts where she had had work done.
Liza opened the door to her room to find Andy laying in her bed, staring at the ceiling. She too seemed half asleep and half awake. She didn’t jolt or crane her neck as Liza opened the door, but instead turned to her side to follow Liza as she walked in. The two made eye contact.
“She’ll be alright,” Liza said.
Andy gave what could have been a light nod, but also could have just been movement accompanying exhalation, none of which Liza could see. She had turned away to look out the window at the star-lit garden.