I turned on my local "Smooth Jazz" station this morning and heard Stevie Wonder, Santana, Marvin Gaye and the Doobie Brothers. Santana I can almost see (they played "Oye, Como Va"), but the others? Those are rock and soul acts. They did play Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" shortly after all of that, which almost absolves them. I can't justify the cost of satellite radio yet, unfortunately.
I'm almost caught up here with what I wrote while I was in Tennessee last week. This is last Tuesday's entry.
Nothing but the truth
So, I spent my Tuesday in the interrogation room of the Rogers Park precinct of the Chicago Police Department. I spent about an hour writing out my statement about my abduction on Sunday, then spent the rest of the morning looking at photos of guys who fit the general description of the guys who had taken me and the guys I had talked to. Every time I found a guy who looked familiar, I pulled his picture out of the book and put it into a pile in front of me.
By lunchtime, when Detective Johnson came into the room, I had a pretty good-sized pile in front of me. "Whoa, there weren't that many guys, were there?" he asked when he saw it.
"No, it's just that it was dark and a lot of these guys look pretty much the same to me. And there are a couple of them who look like they might have been there, but since they were all wearing hats, I can't tell which one might have been there. I'm trying to imagine some of them with hats on." I shrugged.
He grinned. "OK, so who we got here?"
I pulled a couple of pictures out of the pile. "These are the only two guys that I'm somewhat sure of. The guy on the left looks like the guy who talked to me. The guy on the right might have been one of the guys in the car with me. I'm not sure."
"You're doing fine. See, what we'll do when we get these pictures together is bring the guys in and let you look at them in the flesh, hear their voices, whatnot."
"You're kidding. I'm going to have to talk to these guys?" That scared me. I tried to light a cigarette, but I couldn't hold my hand steady.
Johnson took the matches from me and lit my cigarette. "You'll be fine. You'll never have to go face-to-face with them. You'll be behind a one-way mirror. You'll be able to see them, but they won't be able to see you. If you need them to say something, you'll tell me, and I'll ask them to step forward and say whatever it is that you want him to say." He picked up the remaining cards and flipped through them. He stopped and held one up. "The guy who looked like this guy, was he a flashy dresser?"
I shrugged. "He might have been. He was wearing a black overcoat and a hat. His tie looked pretty expensive, but I didn't see any of his other clothes."
"OK. What we'll do now is bring these guys in and put them in a lineup for you to look at. Probably won't be today. I think what we're going to do is to wait for the fingerprints to come back on that letter and that C-note you gave me. Used to be they'd have to go through them by hand, now they're using computers to do some of the job. Amazing what they can do nowadays." He sat across the table from me and lit a cigarette. "Tony, you gotta know that you're in deep shit right now."
"Uh, yeah, I'm sorry about the original statement." Mom would be furious with me if she knew that I hadn't told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
"That's not what I'm talking about, kid. What you did there was understandable. You were scared to death of those guys. And, in a city like this one, you should be scared of those guys. Where'd you go to high school?"
"So did most of them. I went to De La Salle. Anyway, don't sweat the original thing. We looked it over, and we think you probably told us more than you think you did. Now that we have a pretty good idea of who the guys might have been, we can start narrowing our search."
"What was the thing with the guy who was a flashy dresser?"
"Oh, we have a few local wise guys we deal with all the time. That was one of them. Anyway, as I was saying, you're going to have to watch your back for a while. There are some guys out there who are looking to hurt you, or to try and pump you for information for whatever reason. And, I would hazard a guess that it has something to do with this Rosalie, or whatever her name is."
"I'm starting to think that's probably not her name," I offered lamely.
The detective threw his head back and laughed. "You wastin' your time with business school, brother! You should be in the police academy!"
I laughed along with him. "No, I don't think Mom would like the idea of me carrying a gun, and my sister and her girlfriend would probably call me some kind of fascist pig or something."
He laughed even louder. "You got one of them in your family too, huh?" We talked for a few minutes about family dynamics, then he pushed his chair back. "Come on. Let's get some lunch, then I'll take you back to the dorm."
We stopped at a local hot dog stand for lunch. He ordered two hot dogs with the works and a bag of chips. I had an Italian combo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper. We sat at one of the plastic tables and started eating.
"OK, we need to discuss personal safety here," Johnson said.
"Sure," I said, and took a bite of my sandwich.
"First of all, I know this is going to be hard here, but I want you to quit taking the subway for a while."
"What? How'm I supposed to get to school?"
"You can take the bus to and from school."
"Yeah, but, man, it takes forever to get there on the bus," I protested.
"I understand that, but I have a good reason for it. Someone decides to shove you on the tracks, you could get really badly hurt."
"Someone could shove me in front of a bus, too, couldn't they?"
"That's true, but the chances that you could be killed if you fall in front of a bus are a lot less than if you fall on the tracks and hit the third rail. I know it's a pain in the ass to take the bus, but it's just for a while. OK?"
I shook my head.
"Tony, we're talking about your safety here. It's a lot safer for you to take the bus, especially this time of the year when there are so many people on them. It's just until we figure out who's aiming for you. OK?"
I sighed. "OK," I agreed. "What else?"
"Number two, I don't want you traveling by yourself if you can help it. It's another reason that I'm asking you to stay out of the subway. Do what you can to travel with someone. I know it's not always possible, but do the best you can.
"Number three is kind of like that. I don't want you getting impaired."
"Drunk. Stay out of the bars for a while. You need to be alert here and aware of your surroundings. If you're like most guys your age, you have a few drinks, you lose track of where you are. I don't want that happening to you. Is that clear?"
"Can I drink in my dorm room?"
"Yeah, if you're not going out afterwards. I mean it. No hanging out at Huey's for a while, until we get this figured out. OK?"
"All right. What's next, you want me to wear a chastity belt?"
He laughed. "No. Nothing quite that severe." He pulled a roll of dimes out of his pocket. "You don't go anywhere without change to make a phone call. Anything happens, you are to call me immediately, as soon as you can. That means anything that looks bad or doesn't jibe with normal, you drop a dime. Clear on that?"
"I'm clear." I took another bite of my sandwich and washed it down with some pop. "Can I ask you a question?"
"I think you just did," he said, and laughed. "Just kidding. Sure. What's up?"
"Why is this happening to me? I haven't done anything."
He leaned back and thought for a minute. "I think you're just in a bad place at the wrong time. I think we can both agree that this started shortly after you started your relationship with this gal Rosalie." He leaned across the table. "Just between you and me, is she the woman that took your cherry?"
I could feel the heat rise in my face. "I...I never heard it put that way. At least not for a guy."
He smiled. "It's OK, man. It explains a lot. I'm just letting you know, there are some women in this world that work that way. Don't let that interfere with your safety. She comes back, don't let your little head do the thinking. I want to know about it as soon as you can tell me. Dig?"
I nodded. "I dig."