By the time they got to the station Derek had prepared himself for the inevitable. He was surprised at how relaxed it made him.
The officer led him into a room full of desks then he sat Derek down in a chair next to one and took the hand cuffs off.
“Wait here, someone will be along soon to take your statement.” The officer said then walked away.
Derek couldn’t believe that after all that the cop left him un-cuffed and alone.
He looked around the room. There were a few people working at their desks but apparently the police station wasn’t different from any other night shift, staffing was minimal. The door that they had come in through was behind the front desk where there was an officer answering phone-calls. Derek looked for the rear exit that the policemen used when they parked their vehicles in the back. He finally found it between the stairwell and the alcove that led to the men’s room. True to night shift form, the door was propped open with a stool that had an ashtray on it. There may be hope after all. He looked around the room once more to be sure that no one was looking then got out of the chair and headed for the door.
As he walked across the room he tried to appear calm and casual but on the inside he was ready to crack. The return of hope had brought with it the threat of complete destruction. His palms were soaked with sweat and he could feel himself tremble. Just a little bit further he told himself. Then he heard a door open in the other room by the front desk where the officer was. All of a sudden there was a flurry of activity and people began pouring into the room. Derek was nearly to the alcove of the men’s room. The distance between him and freedom was only a matter of feet. He kept going, increasing his speed slightly, so far no one had noticed him.
The voice had come from behind him, directly behind him.
No! Don’t stop. Are you crazy? Keep walking, he told himself, just a few more feet and you’re free. But what if it’s the cop that had brought him in? If he runs then the guy will know that Derek was lying in the alley and may decide to go back and search it. He’d find the back pack. Or worse yet, it could be the cop who was covering for the man who killed his mother and he’ll shoot me in the back for trying to escape.
Derek decided that he didn’t want to die running away. No, if they were going to kill me they were going to have to look into my eyes while they were doing it.
He turned around.
A man was standing in the men’s room doorway. A detective badge was attached to his belt.
“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” The man said, “give a few minutes to air out.”
He thought I was heading the bathroom, Derek realized. He breathed a sigh of relief. “S-sure I can wait.” Derek answered.
He waited for the detective to walk away but the man didn’t budge. Derek looked around, pretending to be waiting. The room was packed with police officers and the china men from the restaurant.
The detective spoke again. “Hey, you must be the kid they called me about.”He held out his hand, “I’m Detective Morris.”
Derek reached out to take his hand then thought twice, remembering his sweaty palms. They were twice as bad now. He quickly bent down, adjusting the cuff of his pants and wiping his palms on his pant leg at the same time. He was relieved that by the time he stood back up the offer for a hand shake was gone.
The Detective motioned to the desk where Derek had been sitting, “If you’ll just come over here and take a seat I can take your statement and get you out of here in no time.”
Derek followed the Detective back to the desk, cursing every foot, inch and millimeter he had to retrace- away from his freedom.