Bright and early the next morning, Cherry had gotten six hours of sleep, done her chores, and grabbed enough things to last her through the whole day, in case she had to go straight to work. Heading out to the Police Department, she had to grab a ride on the bus in order to get to another part of town. She was hoping that today would not be a waste of time. She was missing her time with Steven by going out to meet Officer Fredricks. All she had was his business card that Sandra had given her, and a little speech in her head for when she met him.
The bus she got on was not so bad. It was a Saturday morning, so there were less people than would usually be about on public transportation. She wondered if maybe after she and Steven got their own place if they could afford to buy a car. Maybe by the end of the year... she shook the thought away and took out her textbook to get a little more studying in. It was hard to focus, though, she typically kept to herself, and although she could be tough, she rarely had to be confrontational. And she had no idea what a police officer would be like.
Arriving at the stop closest to the police station, she stepped out into a cool, crisp morning, clinging to her backpack and determination in equal fashion. She walked a block to get there, and opening the heavy front doors, she approached the uniformed woman at the closest desk.
"Hi. I was wondering if I could see Officer Fredricks?"
The clerk looked at her politely enough but without expression. "Which one?"
"Oh! I do not know which one. Ummm, here, I have his business card." She reached into her pocket and gave it to the clerk.
"One minute." The unifrom picked up the phone and dialed a few numbers, then waited. Meanwhile, to keep from staring, Cherry looked at the pictures and things on the wall. She saw an award being given to various people, and the pictures were from various times, too. A few looked very recent, but most looked to be taken in the seventies.
"I am sorry, miss, but he is not answering his extension."
"Oh. Is there any way that you can tell me when he will be available?"
She blinked at the girl, "No. You can write down a message if you want. Or you can wait. There are some chairs over there." She pushed some scrap paper toward her and nodded and some seats across the room.
"Thank you." Cherry said sincerely. She went ahead and had a seat, determining to write a note later if she had to leave. She looked at the clock on the wall and decided that she would have two hours before needing to catch a bus back home. She was really hoping, though, that she could talk to Officer Fredricks and be out of their in less than an hour so that she could take a bus to the hospital instead and have some time with Steven.
Twenty minutes passed and many people came in and out of the station. Cherry tried to flip through a magazine but found herself looking at the clerk every time an officer passed by, to see if maybe she would be told that this was Officer Fredricks. At last, that very thing finally happened. A middle aged man in uniform came in and the clerk waved him over. She said a few sentences, then pointed at Cherry across the room. Cherry stood up as Officer Fredricks looked at her, thanked the clerk, and then came over to shake her hand.
"Hello, young lady. I am Fredricks. Miss Stanton, here, told me that you were waiting for me. Is there something I can help you with?" The Officer was very nice and sincere, although he looked a little tired.
"Yes, Sir, I hope so. See, I am... I am part of Steven Jones' family, and his mom, Sandra, gave me your card. I wanted to come and talk to you about... about the accident." She was nervous that, like the hospital, the cops would not talk to her if they knew she was just the girlfriend.
"Steven Jones? Ok, young lady, if you could come on in to my desk, you can ask your questions there." He showed the way with his left hand gesturing behind Miss Stanton the clerk's desk, putting his other hand lightly behind Cherry's left shoulder. She jumped when he touched her and he removed his hand quickly, vaguely wondering what that was all about, as they walked toward the main floor of the police department. Showing her wear his desk was, he had her sit in a chair facing him as he took off his jacket and put his briefcase, keys, and phone on the desk. She was impressed by how clean it appeared- for some reason she expected it to be messy and overwhelming, but everything seemed to have a place and be neat. She hoped that this meant she could trust him.
"Ok, young lady, I did not catch your name." He had taken a recorder out and placed it on the table. "If you do not mind, I am going to record this just so that I can take the time later and make sure taht I have all the information I need."
"Oh." The recorder kind of made her nervous, although she did not know why. "My name is Cherry."
"Okay, Cherry. What can I help you with?"
"Well, Sandra, Steven's mom, gave me your card. She said that you were in charge of the investigation for his accident. I am really worried about him, and I thought that I could talk to you about how things are going and what we can do."
"That is correct, I am heading up the investigation for the accident. Cherry, what is your relationship with Steven?"
"Uh..." She looked down. Should she lie? What could she even say? She glanced back up at him and he had a very curious look to his eyes. She decided that she should just be upfront. "I am his girlfriend. Please let me talk to you. I just want to make sure taht he can get a full recovery from this."
Officer Fredricks furrowed his eyebrows and made a funny face. "Of course we can talk. Why are you so worried?" He smiled at her and nodded that she should just continue.
"Well... I was wondering... See, Steven does not have health insurance. And I was thinking... since it is not his fault that the girl crashed, it has to be someone else's fault. And shouldn't they be the ones to pay his medical bills?" She looked at him fertively, getting nervous and worked up over the whole thing. She wondered fleetingly if this kind of anxiety was bad for her, and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"Yes, what happens is that Steven, or his mom, since he is technically still a minor, can press charges on his behalf to the responsible party. Now, we have not closed the case yet, so we have not published who was actually responsible for the accident that put Steven into the hospital. Since you are his girlfriend, you can also hire a lawyer to press charges for loss of enjoyment, etc,- anybody can really do that nowadays."
"Oh, no, no, no. I do not need to sue anyone. But once you guys figure out who was respobsible, then Sandra can go ahead and get his bills and things taken care of?"
"Well, miss, I will tell you that it is not that simple. Yes, the short answer is that the family can get his bills paid for. They can pursue all of that. But it is usually a long and rough process. They will need a lawyer, for example. It will possibly involve court hearings and that sort of thing." He looked concerned, but Cherry at least had part of an answer, and that is what she needed today.
"Yes, I understand. Thank you so much for your help today. How will we know when it is time to start that process?"
"Well, we need to finish the investigation. As soon as Steven is able to talk-"
"Oh! He has been awake for a few days! He sleeps a lot but he can commincate."
Officer Jennings made a face and glanced over at his desk phone, where a message showed that he had nine voicemails awaiting him. He snickered at himself and shook his head, then looked at Cherry again. "Well then, I imagine I will be going over there to tak to him. Was there anything else you wanted to ask me about?"
"No, sir, not right now." She stood up and grabbed her bag. "Thank you for your help. Oh! Can I have another one of your cards? The lady at the front desk took it."
"Sure. Here you go, here's a couple of them." He smiled at her and nodded his head as she left. Looking at his desk and thinking about their conversation, he shrugged his shoulders, picked up all of things that he had put down only ten minutes earlier and headed for the door. He waved at the clerk at the front desk on his way out, and saw Cherry walking out past the parking lot, still within shouting distance.
He called her name and waved her over, walking at an angle from her towards his car. When she came near, he said, "Cherry, I decided to go ahead and go up to the hospital. Is there any chance that you are headed that way? I could give you a ride."