“Why’d ya do it?”
The detective knew what he was doing. His questions were blunt and straight-forward and, frankly, much too open-ended for a cop with his pedigree. His line of questioning was awful, to the point he left me enough openings where I could dance around the truth like I was Verbal Kint; openings wide enough to drive through a truck full of a dozen Rosie O’Donnells, their bloated opinions included. I knew he was just batting around our conversation like a cat playing with a wounded Smurf.
No, the skill the detective was employing was subtle: He didn’t need to interrogate me in the one room with two-way mirrors that doubled as a lunchroom, but he did. I’ve no doubt that was calculated. It was doubly effective considering I hadn’t been able to eat in three days. The taste of bread and water had become as foreign to me as womprat stew to an Imperial Stormtrooper (or a bacon cheeseburger to a Kosher Deli). My body rejected these things; it craved meat, red, juicy beef pressed into patties, topped with lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and shoveled into my mouth by the handful.
The detective slammed his fist down on table and sent various papers and fast-food wrappers flying.
“You don’t want to talk, eh? You little criminal. You worm-hearted shitbag!”
He pulled up a chair with the back right next to me and sat down with a bag of food. In my periphery I could see the grease seeping through the bottom, soaking the bag in delicious, fatty juice.
“I’m just gonna sit here and eat my lunch then. I’m sure you won’t mind.” He pulled two hamburgers from a sack and delicately unwrapped one. As soon as he pulled the paper back, the smell of steamed red meat hit me like a frying pan to the face. Oh so sweet! He shoved it into his mouth and took a hearty bite. The prick. He wasn’t even enjoying it, he was just taunting my hungry eyes. Half-chewed bits dropped from his mouth as he spit words through his food. “This might be the best damn hamburger I’ve ever had.”
I’d heard that somewhere before: ah yes, Christian Slater in True Romance after he killed the pimp. Killing pimps whets the appetite for hamburger, I should know. The detective waved the half-burger that was left in front of me. A pickle, laced in warm ketchup, a few diced onions clinging onto it for dear life, slipped out of the burger and into my lap. I broke.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh! I’ll talk, I’ll talks! Just one bite, I’ll talk.” I screamed.
The detective backed up and the chair made an unearthly screech as only a metal chair scratching against the linoleum floor of an interrogation room can. He threw the half-eaten burger in the garbage along with the rest of the food, which was wholly untouched. Ah, Conrad, now I know what ye meant as I face mine own Heart of Darkness. I began to weep uncontrollably, whimpers bleeding into desperate pleas of “Save me, spare me.”
“Enough Schmeckler! I’ve had just about enough of you.”
The detective leaned over the table, his gruff-looking meat hooks balled into fists, his forearms swollen and hairy like Popeye’s. He even had the anchor tattoos. “Why the fuck do you keep stealing? And where are you stashing the goods? The mayor is really pissed this time,” he screamed. “And the pimpin’ too … ain’t easy, my ass.”
I remembered what my mother had always taught me: control your fear, and whistle a happy tune.
“Stop that whistling and answer me, you kleptomaniac before I run my fist so far up your ass, I’ll be pickin’ your nose for ya. A gugg gugg guuugggg”
“Thats it!” I screamed through tears. I’d had enough and was damn well sure I wasn’t going to let this two-bit keystone cop get the best of me. I knew I’d been had, but I regained any composure I had lying around in the junk drawer of my mind and prepared to settle in for the worst. “I refuse to answer any more of your questions until you grant me my due respect. I want my lawyer. Robble robble.”
The detective knew I was right. I could hear him grinding his teeth as his face turned nine shades of red. He looked like a beet. Maybe he was a beet for all I knew. He stormed out of the interrogation room. Behind the two-way mirror I could faintly hear his conversation with who I presume was his immediate supervisor.
“The bastard wants a fuckin’ lawyer. But we got the Hamburglar red-handed this time, boss. Red-handed.”