Forty minutes had passed since Chief Parker dragged me into the police station though to the rest of the officers, it looked like I was there of my own free will. He grabbed my phone from my jacket pocket before leaving me alone in the small interrogation room: four blank concrete walls with a metal table, three uncomfortable chairs that were plucked from Hell itself, a two way mirror, and a table lamp that shined brightly on my face. ‘ A camera was perched high in the left corner of the room and the sweltering heat led me to imagine that it was able to follow my every movement.
I only knew how long I had been sitting in the room because of the clock high above the door, ticking ominously. Each second seemed to take longer than the previous one and I was slowly losing my mind. It was forty minutes of tense silence, leaving me to my own thoughts. Elena was sprawled on the floor, with Belmont pinning one arm behind her back. He was the only reason that she had not jumped Chief Parker in the police car, with the intent of scratching out his eyes. Belmont refused to release his grip until she promised to not attack Chief Parker the moment he entered the interrogation room.
Her responses—“Mrmph”—were muffled by the carpet but knowing Elena and her tendency to hold a grudge, she would likely never forgive him. Just as the second hand on the clock passed over the twelve, Chief Parker and Garren entered the room, looking like complete opposites as the three of us made eye contact. Garren managed a weak smile but his fingers drumming against the back of the clipboard like some kind of Morse code revealed his true feelings. Sitting across from me, Chief Parker lowered the lamp, allowing me to see for the first time since I was taken into the room. “We have a lot to discuss, Tessa.
Officer Garren is here to assist me. He’ll be writing down your responses so we can review it all later,” he explained as Garren walked over to the third chair in the corner, briefly glancing at Elena and Belmont. “Where are my parents? ” “On their way. It’s just a few questions, nothing more. You made the call to the station about what happened to Connor Mitchell, didn’t you? ” “Yes. I was heading over to Will’s house to check on Katie. She’s been really upset since the accident and some kids have been bullying her. I wanted to make sure she was okay and that’s when I heard weird noises inside the house.
It sounded like a fight. “And then you found him at the bottom of the stairs. How did that happen? ” “I guess he was pushed by that guy I saw in his office. Where—” “You’re certain that he was pushed? ” The further we went into this interrogation, the sooner I realized that it was all a sham. Chief Parker was asking increasingly obscure questions, such as the exact time I called into the police station and if Mr. Mitchell’s injuries matched the injuries of someone who was pushed down a set of stairs. Garren had been shaking his head so much, as a warning to not say something I would later regret, that he now resembled a bobblehead doll.
Having been through plenty of these interrogations, Belmont reminded me to keep my answers short. As the clock struck nine, an hour since I was brought into the station, my parents were nowhere to be found and I was now sure that Chief Parker never contacted either of them. Elena, finally freed from one of Belmont’s wrestling moves, subtly retrieved my phone from Chief Parker’s pocket and sent a message to my mother. “Where is he? The guy who attacked me. Are you questioning him too? ” I asked as Garren wrote down my answer about Mr. Mitchell’s injuries.
Chief Parker shut the folder that contained statements from the surrounding neighbors and immediate observations of the scene inside the house. He brushed off my question, muttering that the stranger, who he referred to as Jackson, was the police’s problem and irrelevant to the conversation. “He almost shot me. I could’ve been dead if I didn’t fight back. He’s the one who pushed Connor. ” “How are you so sure of that? ” He whipped his heard around at the sound of a loud crash. “Garren, what’s wrong with you? ” Garren had one hand in the air, stopping Elena from striking Chief Parker with the unplugged table lamp on the floor.
He awkwardly explained that he kicked the plug while stretching his arms, his eyes quickly diverting to his black boots to avoid the police chief’s stern glare. The moment Chief Parker turned back towards me, Garren lowered Elena’s arm and rolled the table lamp under his chair. “You weren’t there. You don’t know that Jackson had anything to do with the accident. ” “Accid—you’re seriously calling this an accident? ” I asked, bewildered. Belmont pinched my leg, hissing “Byrne, shut up,” under his breath. “He was there to get something in Connor’s office. Connor told me that himself when I found him.
I know this Jackson guy’s not exactly a model citizen but he wouldn’t just randomly walk into a person’s house and attack them. He’s not even here, is he? If you questioned him before me, his statement would be in that folder too but it’s not. I bet you sneaked him through the back door so the neighbors and Angela Starr didn’t see him. All to help you pass this off as a little accident, right? ” “We haven’t deemed it as anything yet, Tessa. Maybe Jackson did have something to do with Mitchell’s fall down the stairs, maybe not. We won’t know until we get a better look or until we hear from Mitchell himself.
It’s possible he was a distraction for an accomplice. ” “Oh like who, me? That’s what you pretty much implied when you chucked me into the back of a police car. Officer Garren, you’re supposed to writing all this down, right? I don’t see you writing,” Garren was frozen with his pen pressed against the paper. He stared at me as if I was breathing fire and for a split second, I thought my rage could make that a possibility. “Instead of threatening to pin this all on me, let’s talk about how you took twenty minutes to get to Connor’s house when it’s only five from the station.
I could talk to Angela Starr about it later over some lattes. I bet she’d have a nice spin on it…how the cops in this town don’t give a damn unless you’re throwing money at them. A man was near death and you were all just sitting on your asses like nothing was wrong. ” “Watch that tone of yours. You shouldn’t make nasty accusations like that,” he replied, the vein in his temple throbbing. “Those aren’t nasty accusations. If you want to get nasty, I can bring up how you called Fin Belmont’s death an accident too and didn’t even bother with checking the crime scene or conducting any interviews.
If you did, you would’ve questioned every single person who was at that party or at least waited a week before tearing down the tape. Who paid you to do that? Was it the same person who’s paying you now to let an attempted murderer walk free and who made you force your son to give that silly statement to trash Will? ” The entire room was deadly silent as Chief Parker and I stared each other down, a fire blazing in our eyes. Garren opened his mouth to defuse the tension but even he was unsure of how to handle the situation.