After dozing on and off on the floor in my cell for over an hour, Blondie comes back. He opens the grate and steps inside, locking the door behind him. Brunette is standing just outside the bars.
‘I called your father. He’s coming for you.’ Blondie says.
‘I can go; no charges?’ I quiz, unsure.
‘No. You’ll be staying here until tomorrow – or today – and until we find out what you were doing. You’re still going to be charged for your colourful language. A couple of fines; maybe some community service.’
‘Am I going to court?’ I ask. I don’t want to have to go to court. I nearly had to go once.
‘Again, it depends on why you were out. You can tell us now if you want.’
I stare at him, obviously not answering.
‘Whatever. You’ll have to talk during the interview.’
‘It’ll be in a couple of hours. In the meantime, you can have these.’
Brunette passes a bread roll and a cup of water through the bars as Blondie unlocks the bars and walks out. I take the roll and bite into it as the two police officers walk off.
I slide down the wall onto the floor and eat my bread roll. It’s really dry.
I lean over and lie on my side on the cold concrete floor. I use my arms as pillows as I close my eyes. I’m so exhausted.
* * *
‘Oi. Get up. It’s time for your interview.’ A pair of boots grind into my ribs.
I unstick my face from my arms and sit up, bleary-eyed.
‘Your father came a few hours ago and has been talking to the head cop ever since. It’s now your turn to tell us what the hell you were doing.’
Blondie digs his hands under my arms and drags me up. I stand on my feet and look down at the floor as him and Brunette lead me still handcuffed towards the interview room.
I’m chucked onto a metal chair, another pair of handcuffs added to each of my wrists, attaching me to the chair. There’s a table in front of me, and a chair behind that. Two-way glass lines one of the four walls. There are cameras and microphones on the ceiling, catching every move I make. The interviewer walks in and sits at the chair, a cup of coffee in his hands. He has greying hair and a lined face. His hands are tough; he’s obviously a ‘hands on’ type of guy. He sighs and looks at me from over his glasses.
‘I’m Constable James, and I’ll be your interviewer today.’
I want to cross my arms across my chest but both of my arms are handcuffed to my side, against the chair.
‘Now, I’d like you to tell me why you got arrested last night.’ James asks.
I groan and look at my feet. I know I have to answer.
‘I went for an interview with the principal at Redstream High.’ I begin. ‘I guess I’m ‘troubled,’ or whatever the hell adults call it these days. I hate it when people make me do things I don’t want to do, or try to understand what I do and don’t want. He tried to make me want to go to school.’
James is staring at me with soft brown eyes. ‘Well, okay. Now, how did you go from an interview at the high school to wandering the streets at 3am?’
‘He tried to understand me. I got pissed and stormed out. I needed to be alone to think. I ran out off campus and down a private road. I –,’
Constable cuts me off. ‘Where is this road?’
‘It’s literally right outside the school gates. I just ducked under the barrier and walked off.’
He gives me a long, cool stare. ‘You saw the signs that said you’d be prosecuted?’
‘Yea, of course. I just didn’t listen to them.’
‘Continue.’ James says.
‘Well, I just walked down the road for hours. I came across absolutely nothing. The road just went on and on and I just followed. When it began to get dark I turned around; I figured there was nothing at the end of the road. It started snowing on the way back.’
‘So you didn’t actually do anything?’
‘Nope. Just walked and thought.’ I say, annoyed at the man across from me.
‘But you still went down a private road. The owner of that road has obviously made it private for a reason and he doesn’t want people going down that road.’
‘Yes! I understand that. I just needed some space. I had to think about why I’m such a fuck up!’ My voice breaks on the last word.
James gazes at me, seeming to know why I did it.
‘Okay.’ He breathes. ‘Okay. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I understand. I don’t know what exactly is going in your life, and it’s none of my business, but I can see why you’d do it. You needed to be away from people and not talk to anyone. It may not have been a smart thing to do, but I get it. Look, I don’t want to charge you with this. You didn’t do anything on the property, and I know that that road is over fifteen miles long, so you’d would never have gotten down to the house. I won’t charge you, but do it again and I’ll have no choice.’
My body relaxes as I hear I’m not in trouble. I feel extremely lucky but I have to push the knife a little deeper.
‘What about the swearing? The blond cop said I’d get charged for that.’
‘You were scared, and not functioning properly. It was snowing out there and you only had a jacket and jeans on. I’ll just write it off.’
‘Wow. Okay, thanks.’ I say, not believing my luck. I decide not to dig any deeper in case I do get charged for something.
‘I’ll refer you to a counsellor, so you can have someone to talk to when you feel like it, instead of risking your freedom and doing stupid things.’ James writes down a phone number on a piece of paper and puts it in front of me.
‘Thank you so much.’ I say. ‘This means a lot. And I only ran from the cops chasing me because I was scared, not because I was doing something illegal.’
‘Well, technically you did something illegal, but as I said, it’s okay. I trust you. But if it happens again, not so much.’
I smile at him and stand up, only to be pulled back down hard onto the chair since I’m still handcuffed.
‘Can you please take these off?’ I ask.
There is a click from the closed door and Brunette walks through and hands James a key. James walks to me and undoes both sets of handcuffs.
‘There you are, you can go now. Your dad is just behind the door, waiting for you.’ Brunette says.
‘Thanks.’ I smile at Brunette, and take the sheet of paper off the desk and slide it into my pocket. I shake his hand.
‘My name’s Chase.’ He smiles broadly back.
I nod to him as I leave out the door. As I step out into the corridor, my dad grabs me.
‘What the fuck are you doing? You promised me last time that this wouldn’t happen again.’ He’s fuming.
‘Well, I didn’t plan it.’ I mumble.
‘I don’t care. You’re grounded until the end of this term, and if you stuff up school, I’ll add to it, depending on the offence.’
Chase gives me a sad look; I shrug it off. I don’t understand that boy.
‘I don’t care. Are we going now? I want to get out of here.’
Dad glares at me but stalks off down the corridor. I take it as my cue to follow him.
Just as I turn to follow dad, Chase puts a slip of paper in my hand. I glance at him as I open it, and inside is his phone number.
I stare at him and he says, ‘I’m only a junior copper. I’m just nineteen. You’re sixteen. It’s totally legal.’
Suddenly, I understand.
‘What the hell mate? Why would you think I’m gay?’ I cry; when inside…a different story. Inside battles for coming out or for ignoring it.
‘I just – ’ he stammers. ‘The hair, body…’ He trails off.
‘Whatever, man.’ I crumple the phone number and shove it in the pockets of my jeans, with the counsellor’s number. I put my head down and jog after my father, who is already at the end of the corridor.
* * *
As soon as I walk in the front door, I make to go up the stairs and straight to my room.
‘Hold it right there, young man.’ Dad says. I groan and swing my head around to face him.
‘What.’ I ask.
‘We need to talk.’ Dad says. ‘You can’t keep going and getting arrested like that! You were incredibly lucky that the Constable let you off with only a warning.’
‘I don’t want to deal with your shit. I need to think.’
‘You’ve been doing an awful lot of ‘thinking’ lately, but I don’t see anything changing.’ Dad snaps.
‘Believe me, you don’t want to see what’s changing.’ I mutter.
‘What?’ Dad sneers.
‘Just, leave me.’ I walk up the first couple of stairs, trying to control my anger.
‘No! I’ve left you alone for too long. I need to know why you distance yourself and why you talk to no one and yell and scream at people who try to help!’ Dad screams, enraged.
‘It’s because no one understands what’s going on in my head!’ I yell back, equally enraged.
‘Well, what is going on in your head?’ Dad shouts.
‘I think I’m gay!’ I scream. A silence settles over the room and I storm up the stairs before I cry and before dad realises what I’ve just said.
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