Twenty-ThreeMature

My whole body feels numb, my thoughts move like icebergs in the still waters of my mind. The two police officers gave up on asking me questions shortly after they arrived. She seemed to understand; he looked like he wanted to toss me behind bars.

They are at the counter with Karl, listening to the message over and over and over again. I don’t hear the words anymore, just the voice. I can’t even remember what exactly Ashes said, just the general idea – but it’s enough. Too much, maybe.

I’m sitting on the floor at the far end of the store trying to figure out how my life ended up here. I’m trying to work a job while my half-sister torments me; trying to stay clean and make things right with TJ. Life was easier without hope.

Karl keeps looking my way to make sure I’m okay… I don’t know why – I’d think it’s pretty obvious that I’m not. He told the cops that I started showing signs of shock shortly after he had called them but I don’t remember when this cold, dull ache set in.

I rest my head on the display case behind me and close my eyes. Having one less sense giving me input seems to help so I plug my ears with my index fingers. A thought appears on the horizon that says I probably look like a lunatic right now. I smile.

I open my eyes to find Karl’s face inches away. I have no idea how much time has passed… had I fallen asleep? I unplug my ears.

“They want to take you to their precinct to take a statement,” he says slowly, like he’s talking to a child. “Do you think you’re up for that?”

“What about the store?”

“I’ll cover for you, I’ve already called the office to let them know I won’t be in today.” He eyes me with concern before continuing. “If you’re not ready I can take you there tonight, we can run the shop together today.”

“I’ll go now. I’ll be fine,” I tell him before he can object. “Besides, I can’t go later – I’ve got a date tonight.”

He raises an eyebrow at this but lets it go without comment. He helps me to my feet, nice and slow, before turning to tell the cops that I’ll go with them.

“What about the other one?” I’m starting to really dislike the male cop.

“They’ll need to speak with Tommy as well,” Karl tells me quietly. “He’s the only one who can give them a physical description of Ashes and he can back up your story. Can you tell them where to find him?”

“Did you tell them about the gun thing?”

“The gun… that’s one way of putting it,” Karl says with a laugh. “I had to. But if you don’t press charges and that couple remains just happy to be alive then there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Or his drug problems? He can’t be considered a very reliable witness – he couldn’t even tell me what color her hair was,” I whisper as the male cop starts making impatient noises in the back of his throat.

“Tommy is all we’ve got to go on – it’s better than nothing.”

I take a few seconds to absorb his point. He’s right, of course, but I don’t want to get Tommy arrested. And I wouldn’t be doing him any favors if I brought the cops to the front window of his less than legal home.

“Tell them I’ll come now to give them my story,” I say, “then I’ll come back later with Tommy as soon as I can convince him to go.”

“I don’t think he’s going to like that,” Karl says after a quick glance over his shoulder. “Officer Cruz seems like he usually gets what he wants, one way or another.”

“So tell his partner and let her deal with him; I’m sure she gets plenty of practice.”

“All right,” he says and looks me up and down. “You sound like you’re feeling better but you still call me when they’re done with you and I’ll come pick you up.”

I nod and he turns away to pass on the news to our guests. Having something useful to do is pushing the numbness back but I can tell it’s only temporary.

“Let’s see how long I can make myself useful then,” I mutter and move towards the cops. Good thing I got some sleep last night; it looks like it’s going to be a while before I’ll be able to get some more.

The End

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