California Route 86 [Jai Brooks]


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1. Things You Hide

"Whatever you do, just don't get caught."

Once again, I'm pushed into a tiny room with no windows and peeling gray wallpaper. There are three plastic chairs and one of those large mirrors that covers an entire wall, but that's as far as furniture goes.

The first time I was in this kind of room was three months ago. I remember I was so nervous that I couldn't even remember my name. My boyfriend suggested that I tattoo it on my wrist, just in case I forget and the police gets suspicious. It's still there, written in Jai's handwriting-Becca Alvarez.

I'm forced to sit and my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I don't bother struggling. By now I was used to the drill; this was like my second nature.

Two men enter the room dramatically, a stocky bald man followed by another with mouselike features and a Sherlock Holmes style trench coat. The Sherlock Holmes wannabe sits directly in front of me and his friend goes over to the corner, ready to scrutinize my every move.

There's a long and uncomfortable silence. "Well, well, well. What do we have here?" the interrogator says, trying to sound menacing but failing miserably. Not only does he look like a mouse but sounds like one too. It doesn't help that on his chest is a 'Hi! My Name Is...' name tag that says Detective Roy Allen, with the word 'detective' underlined three times and a smiley face underneath.

"You have an innocent little girl tied up to a chair in a dirty room," I say sarcastically.

"And your age is...?"

"Seventeen."

"Why aren't you in school?"

"Didn't feel like it today."

Jai always told me that during an interrogation, the detective tries to pry a confession out of you by using small talk. Weeks of practice and experience is the only reason I'm sure that Detective Allen will never find out the truth.

"A toy store cashier was robbed last Sunday. A video taken by the store's security camera shows a boy and a girl in their late teens taking the money. Do you have any relation this?"

I shake my head. "No," I lie.

"Where were you during the time of the crime?"

"At my friend James's. His kid sister's birthday is coming up so I'm helping him plan a party." James doesn't really have a sister, but no one doesn't need to now that.

Just as Detective Allen opens his mouth to ask his next question, the other man speaks up.

"Let her go. She's not guilty."

I can't believe my luck. This was the easiest interrogation I've ever gone through. No wonder this town has the highest crime rate in the country-the police force is number than a bag of hair.

Detective Allen considers this for a while. "Well, then."

I stand up and try not to smile. I walk out of the police station and reach for my cell phone, but then I realize that I had left it in the car. So instead I fish a few coins from my pocket and head towards the nearest payphone.

I dial a number and wait for the person on the other end to answer. When he finally does, I break into a wide grin.

"Jai!"

And that's all I get to say, because suddenly I'm grabbed from behind by a strong hand. The last thing I see is a large metal object before I black out.

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