This week is funny, Robert thought. People have been acting strange. Every time some citizen reads my theft report - they act odd. Staring... That's what it is. They stare at me. That's what the janitor did when I told him it would be okay to change the air filter in my apartment. The grocery clerk had stared when I told her I didn't mind her going to get some small denomination bills. He hadn't thought of the janitor or the clerk in two weeks. Why would they stare?
Then all week ...the crazy reports. I must be losing my mind. People outraged at my reporting of their thefts. Each time the face value of the goods stolen had been inflated. Every time I put down the value of the merchandise stolen, the complainants would scowl and sometimes, verbally abuse him for writing down amounts that were less than they had told me.
Two days off left him in a more jovial mood since nothing strange happened to sully his relaxation. A weekend where all he did was sleep, eat, drink beer and watch television ...nothing to mar a perfect weekend.
Tuesday saw him at roll call ...on time ...at least he would start out right, he thought. The sergeant said hello to him as if he was one of the Prodigals (the officers on this detail that were the image of the progressive, clean-cut street cop ideal). It wasn't until the end of the shift that the night began to drag and become routine again.
Robert acknowledged the call for a missing child report. It was twenty minutes before shift change when Robert finally located the address. Robert parked the patrol car and approached the medium sized brick suburban home.
West Meade. Nice neighborhood, Robert thought as he looked up and down the street of neatly trimmed lawns and carefully maintained houses. The kid must be staying with a friend. I hope I don't have to call a Youth Services officer. It'll take 'em an hour to get out this far. They'd skin me if this turns out to be a 'hummer'. A wild goose chase this close to shift change isn't going to make me any more popular with the sergeant. God, I love the quiet of these neighborhoods on a night like tonight. The moon was full and the streetlights gave off a lovely pinkish-orange glow.
He took a deep breath of the cool, fresh night air, turned around and knocked on the door. A man, about fifty-five and balding, answered the door. Robert introduced himself as Officer Thales and the man answered that he was Ray Spain. Mister Spain ushered Robert into the living room where he introduced his wife Charlotte. The Spain's expressed concern that their only daughter, Debbie, hadn't returned home at nine when she was supposed to ...they were upset.
Robert sat down and prepared to go over the standard questions before beginning his report.
"How old is Debbie?" asked Robert.
"She's only thirteen," Charlotte answered. "She's a good girl and she has never done this before."
"Done what?" Robert asked to clarify her answer.
"She didn't come home on time," Charlotte answered. "She's a perfect daughter."
...A perfect little bitch...The spoiled little brat...
"Excuse me. What did you say Mister Spain?" Robert asked, shocked by the outburst.
"I didn't say anything," said Mister Spain.
I wonder what this asshole knows. He looks like a clumsy oaf but you never know...
"I'm not an oaf Mister Spain," said Robert.
Ray Spain began to sweat and fidget in his chair.
God damn. This son of a bitch is reading my mind.
"What do you mean by that, officer?" Charlotte asked Robert. She was confused and knew her husband Ray was worried about Debbie too. Ray looked terrible.
Robert was upset. What's going on here? This guy is Mister Polite on the outside and yet he's getting really hinky. It's like I can hear what's going on in his head. Everything he almost says. I may be going nuts but this Spain character is even nuttier. Maybe I can push him a little. Mrs. Spain interrupted.
"Officer. Debbie was supposed to be at the Taylor's house down the street but we called and she didn't come over this evening. Ray has already driven around the neighborhood looking for her," Charlotte said.
"When was the last time you saw your daughter, Mr. Spain?" Robert asked.
My step daughter... Ray looked angry. "I took her over to the Taylor's house after dinner."
"Did you see her go into the Taylor's house?" Robert asked.
"Nah. She got out and headed toward the house. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood," Ray answered.
The little bitch would take off. This guy must have become a cop because he couldn't do anything else.
Robert kept knowing...feeling...hearing what this guy, Ray, was thinking. Robert decided to use this...intuition.
"Mr. Spain. Did your step daughter have any problems at home? Did she seem upset or disturbed?" Robert asked.
"What do you mean by that? How did you know she was my step daughter? She seemed fine to me," Ray answered. "Girls that age are always moody."
I bet the little bitch told the cops I was nailing her. This guy came out to get me to confess.
"Debbie did seem upset officer," Mrs. Spain interrupted, not being able to sense the undercurrent between her husband and the officer. "At first I thought she was upset that I got married again. She seemed kind of depressed and shy around Ray."
Shy, my ass...Always leaving the door unlocked when she was taking a shower...Not wearing a bra under her sweaters... It wasn't that she didn't like it. I showed her how to do all kind of things. Now this cop ...She must have snitched. "We never did nothing. She's lying. Don't believe a word of it. She made it all up!" Ray blurted out.
"Ray!" Charlotte exclaimed. "I wasn't lying. Debbie has been upset since we got married."
"I wasn't saying you were lying Charlotte. Debbie isn't lost. Don't you understand? She went to the police. That's why this guy is here." Ray yelled.
"But Ray. You called the police yourself," Charlotte told her husband. Suddenly Mrs. Spain paused and looked horrified. "What did Debbie make up, Ray? What didn't you and Debbie do?"
Ray looked like a cornered bull. "The little bitch is lying. We never did anything."
"You bastard. You god damned lecherous bastard. She has been trying to tell me something for weeks. You animal! How could you?" she screamed.
Robert was going through a crisis of his own. Unbelievable. I actually read that bastard's mind. I could hear what he was thinking. Un-fuckin believable, Robert thought in a daze. Robert hadn't noticed that Spain had gotten up and was shouting at him.
"Get out of my house! We don't need you here. Get out of my house!" Ray Spain shouted. Wait 'til I get my hands on that little bitch. "You can't prove nothin'. Unless you have a warrant, I'm gonna sue your ass off if you don't leave."
"Don't you leave officer? Stay right here. I pay the bills in this house," Charlotte said standing up too.
"I told your ass to get out of here cop! You'll hear from my lawyer," Spain explained while pointing his finger at Robert.
"I want him arrested. No man is going to molest my daughter and get away with it," Charlotte said angrily.
"Get out. I'm not telling you again...cop." Ray Spain said through his teeth, jaws clenched. Ignoring his wife, Ray stomped across the room to get closer to Robert, who by this time, had stood up and moved away from the couch.
"Look Spain..." Robert said but before he could finish, Ray had lunged for his throat.
Robert anticipated his move and knew that the guy was going to try to strangle him. Robert sidestepped, almost casually, and drove a big ham fisted punch into the man's solar plexus. Ray crumbled up into a heap. Robert jerked the man's hands behind him while the man was heaving for breath and handcuffed him.
Unbelievable, he thought. I can read her thoughts too.
Sergeant Clifford Washington drove up to the Spain residence right as the unmarked youth services car arrived. Robert had phoned in after Spain's attack rather than using the radio and the sergeant had been advised.
The youth services detective, Ted Calahan, got out of his car and approached the sergeant.
"You have an officer here already?" Calahan asked.
"One of my men had some trouble while taking a missing child report. The dispatcher gave it to me pretty garbled. My car's mobile computer terminal hasn't been right since I had that wreck in July," Sergeant Washington answered. "What are you doing here Calahan? I haven't seen you since in-service last year. Did Thales call you too?"
"Thales? Oh, the officer inside. Nah. We had a little gal, that had been molested, show up at the precinct station. I had just gotten a warrant for her stepfather when I heard you had a missing child report at the same address. So, here I am," Calahan added, as they walked toward the Spain residence.
Thales came out guiding Ray Spain in handcuffs. Charlotte Spain was following in tears.
"What's the trouble Thales? Why'd you have to arrest this guy?" the sergeant asked.
"Spain jumped me," Thales answered. "It looks like he was having sex with his stepdaughter and that's why she ran away."
"Did you ask him if he was having sex with his stepdaughter?" the sergeant asked ...disturbed that Thales might have used an improper interview procedure that could cause complications in the prosecution of the case.
"No sir," Thales answered. "He just let it slip while I was taking the missing person report. He must have felt pretty guilty to say anything like that," Thales said with a sly grin. Thales was thinking about the thoughts...the thoughts he had overheard. He was too excited now but he knew he'd do it again.
"It's entrapment!" Spain shouted. "You sent this cop here to trap me. The son of a bitch read my mind. That's entrapment. I'm not sayin' nothin' else 'til I see my lawyer."
"See Calahan," Sergeant Washington said while indicating Thales. "Don't tell me my patrol officers can't handle any situation." Washington turned to Thales, "Why didn't you call me on your mobile computer terminal when you ran into trouble?"
"Sarge. Report writing cars don't get mobile computers and I didn't get a chance to call. I'd have messaged you if I had had one," Robert answered.
"Well...good work Thales. We'll see about getting you out of this report writing junk and get you into a tough zone where we can really use you," the sergeant said as he helped put Ray Spain in the patrol car. Sergeant Clifford Washington had just moved Robert Thales up a couple of notches in his pecking order.
As the cars pulled away to booking, Robert remembered the wreck on the interstate. I put on my brakes before I saw any car. I read the other guy's intention...that's when I slammed on the brakes. No wonder the guy tailgating me was upset. Robert chuckled to himself as he drove his prisoner to booking.
This son of a bitch ...I'll break his jaw when I get these cuffs off. Damn these things hurt ...Hate to ask him anything but damn these hurt.
Robert heard Ray Spain's thoughts. As Ray inhaled to ask Robert to loosen the cuffs, Robert spoke up. "Comfortable back there," Robert said sarcastically. "Let me know if those cuffs are too tight." I'm sure Debbie wouldn't want you to bruise your wrists, Robert thought to himself.
You damn bastard. I won't ask you for a damn thing, Spain thought and Thales overheard his thoughts - his unvoiced words.
"Good," Robert said sote voce. Robert grinned even bigger.