Thursday, September 30, 2010

Angela (V)

Officer Jackson made the final turn into the Sheridan County police station and thought about the girl in the backseat. She was pretty but she seemed awkward for a woman of twenty-nine. He thought she should have figured some things out by now, like how to defend herself against an intruder.

Maybe not everyone knows how to use a knife, he thought silently. Then again, violence wasn't always the best approach. Yet he had found Angela hiding under a bed behind a closed door. For a house that small, she wouldn't have been hard to find if someone had really wanted to.

Dwayne's thoughts shifted gears for a moment while he put the cruiser in park and killed the engine. He looked in the rearview mirror at Angela, her cheeks pink with the events of the day. Her hair was slightly mussed, giving her an I-just-woke-up-and-you-surprised-me look. Which he deemed rather appropriate for her situation. He smiled to himself, but she caught it when she looked at up.

"So, Officer..." Angela started slowly, lending a drop of sarcasm to her voice. "Are we getting out of the car while it's still daytime, or are we waiting on a spectacular sunset?" She followed the comment with a sly grin and a flutter of eyelids. Officer Jackson didn't say anything. Removing himself from the vehicle, he opened the door for her and held out an assisting hand.

"What, I can't stand up by myself?" Angela gave another small grin, stepping into a small pockmark in the parking lot. She keeled to the left and Officer Jackson barely caught her before she hit the ground.

"Apparently you have a hard time standing up in those shoes." He smiled back but she remained straight-faced. Angela's gaze slammed into him, leaving him speechless and gawking. Her cheeks seemed to be a deeper red than before. Still she said nothing, not even a thank you. Dwayne dropped his smile faster than Angela had fallen. He helped her achieve stability in her shoes and shut the cruiser door behind her.

"If you'll follow me, we'll get all the paperwork done and out of the way." He turned and walked into the station. Angela followed slowly, being cautious not to trip on anymore miniature craters. She wanted to say something, to break the silence and to see his striking smile again, but she didn't want to create any more tension than she already had. He's probably married already anyway, Angela thought to herself, frowning.

Inside the station Officer Jackson was greeted by a pretty brunette in a pencil skirt and silk blouse. Angela was too far behind to hear what her name was, but her silver name tag said "Jackson" in bold lettering.

So this must be his wife. Operating in the same field. Figures. Angela breezed by the woman and didn't give her a second glance, even though she greeted Angela all the same. Angela was too focused on making sure that she didn't lose sight of Officer Jackson. He had passed through a security zone and Angela followed suit, but they made her go through twice because she set off the alarm. She removed her shoes and tried again, only to be beeped at a third time. Officer Jackson waited as another officer checked her with his little baton, and allowed her to pass. Angela reclaimed her shoes and began to put them back on but was left behind by Officer Jackson.

"Can you wait for me? I don't know where you're going." She felt foolish asking him to wait for her, but he never stopped walking.

"You can wait here while I get someone to help with your hands and some generic paperwork."

The same officer that cleared her through security showed her a short row of hard plastic chairs off to one side of the hallway. Angela sat and finished putting on her shoes. She was confused by what had happened this morning; she was trapped and he saved her, treated her like a lady. Now that they were at the station he was cold towards her.

Maybe he doesn't want to arouse suspicion about how he really feels... Maybe he's hiding it from his wife. She sure didn't get a big smile from him when we walked in. Angela began losing herself in her thoughts, forgetting that she was waiting for Officer Jackson to bring her paperwork. Her hands stung a little but she was too tired to notice. She started drifting to sleep when she was snapped awake by the same woman she saw when she came in the station.

"Hi. I'm Miss Jackson, but you can call me Darla. I'm told your hands could use some bandaging." Darla smiled at Angela and held out a hand to receive one of hers. "I'll be gentle. I promise."

Angela didn't know what to say, so she held out her hands. Darla had brought a kit with her to help bandage them up.

"Oh, that's quite a lot of blood there. Let's get your hands washed before I do anything else."

"There are lots of splinters in my hands. I can feel them. I don't think washing them would be the best idea." Angela withdrew her hands from Darla's, but Darla was ready.

"That's fine dear. We'll just pour some peroxide to see where the bubbles happen. Then we can dig out those splinters and disinfect at the same time. Shall we?" Darla held out her hand again, this time as if to help Angela stand.

"I suppose." Angela got up and followed Darla to the bathroom for the peroxide treatment.


While Angela and Darla were working on clearing her hands of splinters, Officer Jackson was having a conversation with the Chief of Police, Charles Dixon. They briefly discussed the events of the morning, and had begun filing a report of the incident.

"I have a feeling that Miss Murray may not realize that today is not the twenty-first of April. She seemed reluctant to answer that question when I asked. Should we do a psych test?" Officer Jackson copied the information from his little notepad onto the official report form. His scribbles were hardly legible, but it didn't really matter for a case like this where the victim was still alive and in no obvious sort of danger.

"I'll see what Phyllis thinks about her when she's done having her hands fixed, but I don't think we would need to do a full evaluation just because she got the date mixed up. The twenty-first was only two days ago." The chief pulled a long drag from his cigar and leaned back in his chair. His Elvis-style combover was heavily grayed, but he didn't care. His wife would beg him to use Rogaine but he didn't see the point.

"Sounds fine with me. Should I follow up on her since she'll be out at that house alone?"

"That depends. How long does she intend to stay up there?" Chief Dixon leaned forward, stubbing out his cigar and placing it in the right hand drawer of his desk.

"We did not discuss her intentions of her stay, or her intentions for the house." Dwayne paused. "Now that I think of it, we didn't discuss much of anything. She was pretty quiet the whole drive down."

"Huh. I saw her walk in on the camera. She doesn't seem like the kinda gal to just 'not talk.' What's she playing at I wonder?" He squinted his eyes at the camera that showed the bathroom doors. He waited for a few moments and then shook his head as if to rid himself of a fly. "Maybe I'll order that psych eval after all."

While Chief Dixon dialed Phyllis, Officer Jackson was thinking about Angela's golden hair, flipped out a little at the bottom. She seemed harmless. But he knew better than to take anything at face value. With a flip of his hand he excused himself from the chief's office and headed back down the hall. He knocked lightly on the door of the women's bathroom.

"Darla? Miss Murray? How's it going with the splinters?"

"Really, you can't let a lady do her business alone can you?" Officer Jackson jumped back from the door when Darla opened it with her exclamation. Darla laughed, and he saw a brief smile creep across Angela's face. He couldn't be sure, but it seemed like maybe that smile was meant only for him to see.

"You have to stop jumping out at me like that Darla. You're going to get me in trouble. A poor helpless guy like me can't take a strained heart." Darla laughed again and dismissed the comment. Angela looked confused.

"Well, regardless of the condition of your heart, you should be glad to know that we got all the splinters out of Angie's hands. She's all taped up and good to go."Darla turned her smile to Angela, who grimaced back. Angela muttered a small "Thank you," and stepped around Darla.

"Thanks Darla. I appreciate your help." Officer Jackson sent her a wink, then looked toward Angela. Her pretty smile was completely disappeared now. She crossed her arms against her chest and looked down the hall, towards the chief's office.

"Miss Murray, why don't we fill out this paperwork, then we'll be done with all this official stuff."

"Great. Let's get out of here." Her words were quietly sharp, as if to soften the blow. It didn't really work. Maybe I shouldn't be so snappy, she thought to herself. But it doesn't matter anyway, he's standing here joking around with his wife in front of me. Gross.

Angela followed Officer Jackson to a small conference-like room for the paperwork forms. He handed her a pen and passed her some papers.

"I thought this room would be a little more comfortable than an actual interrogation room. Have a seat." He closed the door behind her as she entered, and she sat in one of the many office chairs around an oblong mahogany table. She wondered what this room was typically used for, when people weren't filling out paperwork.

"I'm glad we get to be alone for this part." Angela said absentmindedly, flipping through the papers for a good starting point. She looked up at Officer Jackson, but he was staring at the window. She looked back down at the papers. Full name: Angela Emmaline Murray. This was going to be a piece of cake.

Angela filled boxes in silence for a few moments before Officer Jackson started asking about the house that used to belong to her uncle.

"So what were you doing up there in that old house anyway?"

"Oh, um. That's my uncle's house. Or it was, anyway." Angela fluttered her eyelids but didn't look up at the handsome cop. Her lip quivered slightly and when she next spoke her voice was softer, more vulnerable. "He just died last week."

"I am sorry to hear that." Officer Jackson replied. Angela put down her pen a little more dramatically than necessary and covered her face with her hands. She heaved a fake sigh and peeked at the officer through her fingers.

"Shh. It will be alright. He's in a better place now." Dwayne reached across the table and pulled her hands away from her face. He held them gently in his own, marveling at the redness in her cheeks and across her freckle-flecked nose.

"We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to." He said this softly, still holding her hands in his. Dwayne reached down the table and passed her the box of Kleenex. "Let's finish this paperwork, then I'll help you find some dinner."

"Okay." Angela said this meekly, dabbing at her imaginary tears with one of the offered Kleenex. She looked up to find Dwayne looking at her dead-on. Angela held the eye contact, and with a deep breath asked, "Do I have to go back to that house tonight?" She stuck out her lip and fluttered her eyes, catching imaginary tears with the Kleenex again.

"Oh, of course not. We'll get you set up with a nice room at the bed and breakfast. I think that would do you some good."

"Thank you," Angela said. "I really appreciate it." She fluttered her eyes again.

Officer Dwayne Jackson smiled gently in response.

"This paperwork can wait until tomorrow. You've had a long day. Why don't we get some dinner?"

Angela's eyes lit up like the night sky over North Dakota.

"I would love that." Her smile was the most sincere he'd seen so far.

They walked back out to the cruiser and he escorted her to the front seat this time. He held the door open for her. She flipped her hair over her shoulder as she got in, flashing another dazzling smile his way.

She's so beautiful, he thought to himself. This is going to be difficult.

(2,156 words)

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