“I don’t like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there.” - Charles Bukowski
I have never been arrested before. I have been questioned, pulled over, handcuffed, put in the back of squad cars, but I have never been formally charged with any crime. It goes with living in a small Southern town, listening to punk rock and doing my fair share of alcohol and drugs. But I straightened out. All that was behind me. So I thought.
“You can type hundreds of cards for the catalog, memorize every book system ever, but you can’t figure out how to download one little MARC record into the system?” I said.
“You back off me,” Mom said, “By the time this stuff came along I had a staff that could do all this for me.”
I put my hand over my heart, “Oh, I’m wounded. Low blow. And remember you had me to teach you all this newfangled technology when I was in school.”
“Yes, yes, you are very clever with these blasted machines. I owe all my email and cat pictures to you,” she said, “Now show me how to do it again before you go off walking on water or whatever the all powerful are doing these days.”
I laughed and used the mouse to navigate back to the starting menu when a knock came at the office door.
“Come in,” we said together. Mom smiled at me.
Darling opened the door and stepped in, “Um, there are some policemen here to talk to you.”
Mom stood up and smoothed her dress, “Do they say what they needed? Did something happen?”
“They want to talk to Evan, ma’am. Nothing about the library as far as I can tell. It’s all quiet out here.”
I stood up and walked to the door, “Probably want me to sign a report or something from last week.”
“I hope that’s all it is,” Mom said.
I walked out to the circulation desk. Captain Stein was hovering around the new books rack. Detective Parker smiled when he saw me. I took that as a bad sign.
Gerald Parker was several years older than me and about a foot shorter. He had joined the Bannville police about the time I began my rebellious streak and our relationship was a bumpy one.
I had several run-ins with Parker when he was a patrol officer. He had found myself and some friends drinking and taken us home a couple of times. Generally nothing too serious except for one incident. I had had a few too many around a campfire when Officer Parker and his partner had come upon us. It was all well and good until I told them I had to pee.
See, I did not really have to pee. Well, I did but I also had to dispose of a bag of weed in my back pocket. The officers let me walk to the edge of the fire and attempt to put the flames out the old fashioned way. I did so, also reaching into my back pocket and dropping the baggie into the fire. Parker saw me and grabbed my shoulder, spinning me to face him. When he did I spun around and peed on him. Total accident, I swear.
So Parker has a bit of a grudge against me. Maybe it is because of the incident, maybe because he is one of those small guys that feels he needs to prove something, I dunno. But seeing him smile at me while on official business with a captain is not the best sign in the world.
“Mr. Banned,” Captain Stein, shaking my hand, “Mrs. Banned.”
“How are you, Robert?” Mom said.
“Okay, busy with all this,” Captain Stein said, “Evan, we were wondering if you would come down to the station with us and answer a few questions.”
“Sure,” I said, “What’s this all about?”
Parker stepped up to me, looking up at me with his jaw clenched, “Just come with us, Mr. Banned, and this can go a lot easier.”
I looked over at Stein. He frowned at the younger man.
“We just have a few... look there’s been some evidence in the Devillis murder and some stuff has been pointing... well, it points to you.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Mom said, “Evan wasn’t even here when that happened.”
“I can’t argue about it, Louise. We want to do this as easy as possible. Evan, just come with us and we won’t have to do all the unpleasant stuff, okay?” Stein said.
“Am I under arrest?” I asked.
Parker took out his handcuffs, but Stein waved him off.
“Not at the moment, but you need to come with us. If you don’t, well, you will be sooner or later., but even so... It looks like they are going to try to charge you with something. I can’t help that. Now come on.”
Mom positioned herself between the officers and me, “If you aren’t charging him with anything, he’s not going anywhere.”
“Mom, it’s okay. I want it to been known I want my lawyer and won’t answer any question without him there, okay?”
“Hell, let’s just arrest him now,” Parker said, “Only the guilty got something to hide behind a lawyer, Banned.”
“Do you only watch Law and Order?” I asked, “Let’s do the scene where you shine the light in my eyes, huh?”
Parker clenched his jaw again, fingering his handcuffs. Stein put his hand on Parker’s shoulder.
“How about bright and early Monday you and your lawyer come down to the station and we talk about this?” Stein said, “We can trust you to do that?”
I nodded and this sent Parker into a rage, “This ain’t time for this good old boy law shit, sir. I don’t care who his family is if we don’t bring him in now-”
My mother stiffened, “Detective Parker, you will not speak that way in this library. Keep your voice down.”
Parker glanced at my mother and back to Stein. His mouth was open to continue but Stein stopped him.
“Detective Parker, wait outside,” Stein said.
We watched Parker walk out the door, his feet pounding the wooden floor all the way.
“Monday,” Stein said, “My office, or we will be back here with a warrant and there’s nothing I can do.”
“I’ll be there, sir,” I said, offering my hand. The policeman did not shake it but walked out after the detective.
“You didn’t kill the girl, did you?” Mom said.
I just looked at her. She smiled, but her eyes were wet.
“Come’on. Let’s call the lawyer and then you can show me how to download those records. Seems like I may need to know sooner than later.”
I often wonder about my mother. Sometimes she is simply too collected for her own good.
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