After all the criminals have been questioned and put into their cells, the interrogator, Chief Kovalenko, all the police officers, the detectives gathered into one big room. Even though Officer Ratownik was included in the meeting, the four cousins were not. The room was white, had an enormous wooden table with wooden chairs, the symbol of the Philadelphia police department, and the American flag. Also various certificates and diplomas were plastered to the wooden walls from various degrees and various colleges.
They were all seated in their chairs with the chief at the end of the table; he faced them all from left and right sides of the tables. Kovalenko had his hands folded with his elbows on the table but he had his police cap place neatly in front of him. None of them were wearing their police caps on their heads as part of Kovalenko’s rule “No hats or any other head attires shall be worn inside the building unless it’s for religious reasons”. Chief Kovalenko bore a serious expression on his face.
“The train incident from a couple weeks ago,” Chief Kovalenko began “was a very interesting jigsaw puzzle piece in such a huge puzzle. There are so many other criminal cases that we have had like the other time when two men had gone on a kidnapping spree and a police pursuit followed.
Also, at the same time on that same year, tons of people escaped from an underground “hospital” that turned out to be a black market for selling organs. Both cases were linked into one huge incident and the culprit was a psychotic doctor named Dr. Damian Smok that we have failed to find. These criminals that we have captured in the past several weeks are admitting to be kidnapping people and taking them into unknown places. We have of course found out that these people are terrorists such as the late Daquan Espina who made bombs for the supposed organization “Blades N’ Bullets”.
All these people and incidents are parts of this complicated puzzle but the big question is: ‘What is the picture of this puzzle?’ ”
“Only God knows Chief,” said one detective in a gray suit and red tie as he shook his head.
“But Chief,” objected Officer Ratownik “how do you know that the other cases from a few years ago are connected to this one.”
“Good question Albina,” replied Chief Kovalenko to Officer Ratownik “you see, both the underground black market hospital and the supposed “Blade N’ Bullets” organization they both capture people for something as our criminals have admitted to us. The criminals that went on a kidnapping spree that I caught them in the pursuit a few years ago as well as the terrorists that kidnapped most of the passengers on the train, they both kidnapped not for themselves but for a single high boss.
The criminals and the bomber both used advanced technology as well. The kidnapping spree criminals that I chased in a pursuit tried to kill me and other police officers by using a crossbow that shot flaming arms that later exploded while the bomber’s body was filled with mines and flashed very brightly before he exploded.”
“How do you know that these train passengers were kidnapped before the train exploded?” asked one police officer.
“Because I interrogated the criminals.’ answered Akiyama coldly.
“Also, we have found a surviving yet slightly damaged smart phone that recorded the terrorists’ actions,” answered another detective “they must have left it on the train on purpose instead of taking it with them.”
“I have a feeling that the terrorists must have left our four suspects on the train on purpose to confuse us,” said another police officer as he rubbed his chin.
“Or even frame our suspects Filipina, Antoni, and Cecylja Padak as well as Jacek Lew,” suggested Officer Ratownik “they were telling the truth about the terrorists on the train.”
“Both are good possibilities,” agreed Akiyama
“Albina,” said the chief through gritted teeth “I would really appreciate it if you would stop defending our suspects; looks can be deceiving. The suspects might have helped the terrorists and they might have been sent straight from the organization ‘Blades N’ Bullets’ to confuse us even further by pretending to be innocent. They might have been sent straight from their organization to even kill us.”
“Why do you hate them so much Chief?” asked Officer Ratownik with a furrowed eyebrow.
“N-n-no I don’t!” he exclaimed as he stood up from his desk as waved his arms around “They...they are sketchy you know!”
“A couple of innocent kids that have no evidence against them and are trying to find their missing siblings are sketchy?” asked Albina sarcastically. “Yup, they look really suspicious to me.”
“Albina, they’re not kids,” he disagreed in a serious tone as he planted both of his hands on the desk and hunched over “three of them are adults; Cecylja Pajdak is twenty; Jacek Lew is nineteen; and Filipina Pajdak is eighteen. One of them, Antoni Pajdak is fifteen; he is a freaking teenager. Also, they could be making up this missing sibling thing.”
“Chief,” said one detective calmly as he stood up “it said in the train records that Jacek and Filipina indeed do have siblings by the names of Brunon Lew and Lilka Pajdak. If the other passengers - ”
“You stay quiet.” spoke Chief Kovalenko serenely yet dangerously with a richer Ukrainian accent as he pointed a finger to the detective.
The detective sat back down and closed his mouth. He did not say another word but he still maintained eye contact with his boss.
Officer Ratownik exhaled a loud sigh and closed her eyes. She did not speak against Kovalenko anymore because she didn’t want to provoke him into a bad temper.
“Now about these two cases, the current and the underground hospital one…” jabbered Chief Kovalnko as Officer Ratownik kept her eyes closed and drifted into space.
All these previous cases of people escaping an underground hospital, she remembered it very well because she was there. She made the idea of escaping in the first place and she remembered when she saw the underground hospital collapsing. Those memories of being down underground in the hospital flashed back to her like a bad nightmare.
She was a bit angry at Kovalenko for bringing them up because she wanted to forget about it all. She wanted to leave her old family, her old demons, her old prison, her old friends who died back there, her old life behind. She felt all the memories coming back. A tear flowed down her pink diagonal scar that was eternally engraved on her eternally white-chalk face and drip like a shiny rain drop to the shiny, wooden table.
“Albina, are you all right?” asked the concerned chief.
“I’m fine,” she lied “I don’t feel like talking about it, I just need a minute.”
Silence hung in the air as every police officer stared at her. Albina Ratownik felt every eye staring at her even though she had her eyes closed. She pulled out a napkin from her pocket and dabbed her eyes and white face. Though her face was never red when she got embarrassed, sad, or angry she still felt the heat in her cheek burning. She sniffed and wiped her nose with the napkin. She got up and threw the napkin away into the garbage bin. She pulled herself together and everyone rued their eyes back to each other.
“Finally,” continued Kovalenko as he cleared “the criminals all had scars and the way they had been cut looked like they had been cut by a razor, perhaps an electric one. They way these scars were cut must have been the same way Ms. Roawonik’s scar was cut by Dr. Damian Smok once.”
“You do have points there Chief” said the interrogator “but I can’t believe you had to look through the suspect’s stuff without their permission. If you don’t trust them very much, we shouldn’t have to make them complete unauthorized missions with us.”
“Everyone,” sighed Kovalenko “We will talk some more tomorrow. You can all go home now; I have to send a report to the mayor about this case.”
“Chief, you are not going to include the fact that we are the suspects be unauthorized police officers and go on missions with us are you? We would all be terminated and be thrown in – “ said the detective in the gray suit and red tie.
“Jackson,” replied the Chief with an exasperated look “I am very aware about the consequences I am not that stupid. Besides, we won’t keep them for long; they may work for us, may be trying to find their lost ‘siblings”, and may be trying to prove their innocence but I will break my promise to them to not release their names. I will get them thrown in prison if it’s the last thing I do.”
They all stared at him including officer Ratownik. Chief Kovalenko stood up and displayed a slight trace of a grin. He took all his papers from his desk and tapped them on the desk to keep them all neat in file. He put all he papers in a manila folder, opened a gray metal cabinet, and shoved the folder inside there.
“Well why are you all standing?” asked Kovalenko “You all can go home now. That’s an order.”
The officers obeyed the chief and shuffled out of the room. officer Ratownik was the last one left in the room; she slowly put on a police jacket and buttoned it. As she put on her police cap on, she started walking out the door, Kovalenko called her name and beckoned her with hisfinger. She took off her police cap and walked towards him.
“You called me Chief?” asked the policewoman with a look of question on her face.
“Albina,” said the Chief “why don’t you start calling me Yuri instead? That is my first name and I would like you to call me that like I call you by your first name.”
“Chief – “ said Albina.
“Yuri,” corrected the Chief.
“…Y-Yuri” she succumbed.
“That’s better,” he said in a deeper Ukrainian accent. He stepped inches closer to Albina Ratownik and made out a slight smile.
“Yuri?” she asked her boss “Why do you call me by my first name even though you can call me by my last name like everyone else does?”
Yuri Kovalenko dropped off his smile and peered over her shoulder. He stepped away from her and walked towards the doorway as Albina stayed in place. Yuri Kovalenko put his hand on the door knob and looked out in the hallway; all his officers were gone. He closed the door and walked back to Albina who had a confused expression and was still standing in her place. When he got to her, he stepped a couple inches closer to her.
“Albina, I know you have a good heart but you cannot let those two suspects take advantage of you. As I said earlier, they may look innocent but they will make you form decisions that you will regret. If we find evidence against them, are you going to keep defending them? When you have kids and they get into to trouble in school are you going to let them get away with their punishment?”
“Chief, you can’t just keep – “
“Don’t call me Chief,” he interrupted.
“When are you going to stop interrupting me?” she asked annoyed.
“When you start calling me Yuri,” he answered.
“Yuri, they are innocent, you can’t just – wait a moment!” she responded shocked “Since when did the topic of me having children come up?”
“Albina,” replied Yuri as he took Albina’s hand and held it tightly but gently. He took off his police cap and put it on the long table. With his other hand, he placed it on Albina’s jaw; with his thumb, he softly stroke her cheek. “I wanted to tell you…”
“You want to…to…” she trailed off.
“Yes,” he answered her question before she could even finish it. “For me, you are the only woman I love. You are very compassionate and your heart is pure; you are very beautiful as well.”
“Yuri,” she said softly “that was very deep but…”
“How can I beautiful with skin as pale as death, eyes as cold and grey as stone, and this ugly scar on my face?” she asked him.
“Well for me, you are beautiful. Your white skin reminds me of how pure you are; those eyes are like shining, exquisite silver; and that scar shows me that you were strong enough to survive your old life, the horrors of the underground…’hospital’ and that…Damian Smok who calls himself a doctor.”
Albina stood there stunned by what he said. She could not believe that he could think of her this way. No one had ever thought of her that way. She was also astonished that Kovalenko had this soft side of him.
“I see...I never thought that you cared that much about me,” she said as she felt invisible blush on her cheeks.
“Well I do.” he said as his face got closer to hers.
“I understand now.”
He leaned even closer to her face and turned his head diagonally. His lips got closer to hers.
“Wait!” she exclaimed.
The Chief who had his eyes closed opened them and backed his head a couple inches away from her. His ears were blushed in embarrassment.
“Wait for what?” he asked confused.
“I don’t know how I feel about this…” she answered.
“What do you mean?” he asked shocked.
“I just don’t know how I feel about this,” she answered “I need some time to think my life over and how I feel about going into relationships. Also, I don’t like to get too close to people because I have trust issues. I mean, I will help those that need help, are suffering, are innocent and have to clear their names and everything but I don’t want to form any bonds with people.
When I was in high school, I had lost many friends and some of them betrayed me. My sister has almost never been kind to me; siblings, I heard, are supposed to be your best friends. My family and my sister both betrayed me and handed me over to Dr. Smok a couple years ago. Also, in that underground “hospital”, I had lost two of my friends that I became close with; they are both dead now because Smok killed them both. I feel that one of my friend’s deaths…is…my fault. Also, my other friend died because, someone snitched on us and betrayed our escape plans; after that, Smok caught us all and killed my friend.
I don’t want anyone to get close to me because I am afraid that they will betray me; they will be taken away from me and handed over to death; or that they will grow weary of my moaning and problems and soon leave me. I won’t hesitate to strike up a conversation but just not to go to deep into a bond with that person. I forgive Smok and the people who hurt me like this but these demons are holding me back and just won’t let me go. ”
She was crying and sniffing again. They were both sitting down on chairs and Yuri was handing her some tissues. She was heating up, quivering, and breathing heavily. The Chief was patting her on the back.
“It’s all right,” he said “I understand. You can trust me thought. I am really interested in you and I will give you time to think it through.”
“Thank you.” she said gratefully. Sh stood up and walked towards the door. Before she turned the knob, she turned to Kovalenko.
“Have a good night.”
“Same to you and be careful.”
Then she left and Kovalenko was alone in the room. He wished he could have her but he knew that he would find out in the future.
“Time to send that report to the mayor.” he muttered as he stood up.