Authors: KM Rockwood
Montgomery grabbed me by the back of the neck, slamming me face-first onto the hood. “Don’t make any sudden moves.”
Licking blood off my lower lip, I forced myself to remain still, my muscles tensed.
One hand tight on my neck and the other on my arm, Montgomery said, “Settle down. I don’t want to have to hurt you.”
hurting me, but not seriously. Taking a deep breath, I willed my body to relax. My nose crushed into the cold, wet surface of the car’s hood. I asked, “Is she okay?” Even to me, my voice sounded strangled.
“Good question.” Montgomery’s hand felt heavy on the back of my neck. “In the hospital right now. Hasn’t regained consciousness. Time will tell.”
I was bent at the waist, leaning forward onto the hood of the car. The muscles in my back were starting to cramp, and blood was puddling around my nose and mouth. I closed my eyes and asked, “Is she going to be all right?”
No one answered. The silence stretched on. I took a few deep breaths and tried to ease the strain in my back by shifting one foot.
Montgomery’s grip tightened. “Can I let you up?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” It was hard to talk through the pool of blood.
“I have your word for it that you won’t try anything?”
Behind us, Belkins snorted again. “You’re going to take
word for it?”
Montgomery eased up the pressure a little. “We have to let him up sooner or later.”
“We can wait for a patrol car to get here,” Belkins said. “We’re not gonna put him in this car anyhow. We just got it, and it’s too nice to mess up.”
Montgomery took his hand off my neck anyhow and grabbed my arm. “Stand up.”
I was off balance, with my feet still spread behind me, but I stood. Montgomery’s grip steadied me.
“Turn around and face me.”
I turned. Blood dripped off my chin.
“Look at him.” There was disgust in Belkin’s voice. “Bleeding like a stuck pig. For sure we’re not putting him in this car. He’s probably got AIDS or something. You’d better put on rubber gloves.”
Montgomery kept his hold on my arm and looked around. “Sit on that curb,” he told me, nodding at the edge of the alley behind me. “And cross your legs in front of you.”
With his help, I eased to a sitting position and stretched my legs out in front of me, crossing them. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it beat being bent facedown over the hood of the car. My face was tight, and I felt my nose swelling up.
A few drops of rain splashed on the asphalt, quickly turning into a chilly drizzle. Belkins adjusted his hat so the rain dripped off the back and down the outside of his coat. Montgomery continued to look well put together, as if the weather wouldn’t dare interfere with his appearance. I sat on the wet curb, the rain soaking my hair and trickling down my neck, reaching like icy fingers under my jacket.
A million urgent questions boiled up inside me, but I kept them to myself. If they were going to give me any information about Kelly, they would have done so. I tried to concentrate on taking deep breaths through my mouth to steady myself, but sharp pains radiated through my chest. I bit my lower lip. It was already bleeding, so I wasn’t going to do much more damage to it. It kept me from screaming at them. I needed to keep my mouth shut.
Montgomery pulled a flashlight from somewhere beneath his impeccable overcoat and shined it in my face. “Look up at me,” he commanded.
I closed my eyes and raised my chin.
“Do you need medical attention?” he asked.
“What the hell?” Belkins said. “So he’s bleeding. The nurse at the lockup’ll take care of it when he’s booked.”
Montgomery ignored him. “You need to go to the hospital? Your nose looks like it might be broken.”
I had pretty good medical insurance from my job that would cover most of the cost. But if I ended up in the emergency room, there’d be record of it. Belkins and Montgomery would have to do some kind of report to account for it. I’d end up with a resisting arrest or, worse, assaulting a police officer charge so Belkins’ and Montgomery’s asses would be covered.
“No, sir,” I said.
“How about an EMT?”
I shook my head.
Siren screaming, a patrol car careened down the street and slammed to a stop next to us. I had to fight an urge to pull my legs in, just in case the car skidded toward me. Two young, uniformed officers scrambled out, one with his gun drawn, the other clutching a Taser.
Belkins moved out of the way. Montgomery stood calmly over me, shielding me from the onslaught.
“Where’s the perp?” the cop with the Taser asked.
Montgomery stood his ground. “Right here. I don’t think you’ll need the weapons.”
“Dispatch said ‘armed and dangerous,’” the other cop said. “Retaking a paroled violent offender.”
“We’ve got the situation under control for now,” Montgomery said. “And you don’t want to have to do all the paperwork for use of weapons, do you?”
“Not if we don’t have to.” The cop holstered his gun.
“You shouldn’t have to.” Montgomery reached down and took my arm. “Stand up, Jesse.”
I lurched to my feet and stood still, trying to look as far from meriting the armed and dangerous designation as possible. I didn’t need anyone to get any rougher with me.
The cop still held his Taser, although it was now pointed at the ground. “He’s bleeding.”
Montgomery glanced at my face. “That’s so. You might want to put on gloves.”
Both of the uniforms reached for the little pouch on their belts that held rubber gloves. “He’s gonna bleed all over the car.”
“There are some antiseptic wipes in the trunk of our car,” Montgomery said. “Detective Belkins, could you get them for us?”
I thought Belkins was going to refuse, but he bit down hard on his cigar and went to the back of the car, scowling with annoyance. “You want me to get one of them damned teddy bears we got for kids and give it to him, too?”
Montgomery ignored him and turned to me. “Jesse, if I uncuff your hands, will you clean off your face?”
“Okay,” I answered.
“And not give anybody any grief?”
He reached behind me and unlocked the handcuffs. I took a few of the proffered wipes and dabbed my mouth and nose with them. They stung and the sharp smell tickled my nose.
“What happened?” one of the uniforms asked.
“We startled him, and he reacted without thinking,” Montgomery said. “So I had to slam him down on the car. But I think he’s got himself under control now. Don’t you, Jesse?”
I looked at the blood-streaked bits of damp paper in my hands and answered, “Yes, sir.”
Belkins pulled the cigar out of his mouth and spit on the ground. “Sometimes you’re a goddamned idiot, Montgomery. Damon’s a murderer. He don’t need to be treated like nothing else. Certainly not like somebody who’s your goddamned
“There are four of us here,” Montgomery pointed out. “What’s he going to do? You don’t understand what makes him tick.”
Belkins spit again. “I understand all right. He’s a killer. Killers kill. People like him should never be paroled. He should be in prison for life.”
I hadn’t picked up a life sentence—more like thirty nine years—and Belkins knew it, but I didn’t see much point in correcting him.
Montgomery shrugged and turned back to me. “Looks to me like the bleeding’s pretty much stopped. Let’s get those restraints on again.”
One of the uniforms held out a plastic bag and I put the dirty wipes in it. Then I turned around so Montgomery could snap the cuffs back in place.
Another car pulled up and stopped halfway down the block. The driver got out and walked toward us.
Montgomery glanced toward the newcomer. He gestured at the patrol car and said to the cops with the patrol car, “Take him down to Central Booking. Tell them we’ll be down in a little while to get him processed.”
No one was going to bother to read me Miranda rights. They knew I wouldn’t complain. And I knew no one would listen to me if I did.
“Okay.” The uniform took me by the arm and propelled me toward the car.
A camera flash went off in my face, temporarily blinding me.
Belkins stepped up next to us. “Hurry it up.”
I stumbled. The other uniform, still grasping his Taser, grabbed my other arm and asked, “What charges should I tell them?”
Montgomery shook his head and said, “I’ll be right there to take care of it.”
But Belkins blurted out, “Rape. Kidnapping. Assault. Attempted murder. That’ll do to start.”
My gut tightened.
. This was
they were talking about. I looked pleadingly at Montgomery. I knew he probably wouldn’t tell me, but I had to ask. “What happened to her?”
“That,” Belkins said, his voice distorted by the cigar he had stuck back in his mouth, “is what we are hoping you will tell us.”
, I sat on the cold, metal bench in a holding cell at the detention center. Except for the solid steel door, cinderblock walls painted grey surrounded me. The door had a barred hatch near the top which opened from the outside for staff to check on me. There was also a waist high rectangular port, once again opening only from the outside. It was designed to pass meal trays. On the wall opposite the door stood the standard one-piece, all-purpose plumbing unit.
I’d splashed cold water on my face until there were no traces of blood in the sink. When I touched my lip and nose gently, they were swollen, but I didn’t think my nose was really broken. No big deal if it was.
For once, I was looking forward to the interrogation I was sure was coming. I knew from experience that Montgomery was a master at extracting information, and he’d gone to great lengths to set himself up as being on my side. He had ignored Belkins’ verbal swipes and protected me from possible rough treatment at the hands of the two uniforms who’d been sent to bring me in. He was hoping his payoff would be my cooperation in giving him as much information as I had. Which, in this case, wasn’t much at all.
He might very well be right that I’d be willing to cooperate with him. I wanted him to find out who did this to Kelly, and I’d tell him anything I could.
He’d told me just enough about her to make me sick to my stomach and desperate for a chance to learn more. I knew what to expect. To encourage me to talk, he’d divulge selected bits of information that wouldn’t compromise the case he was building. I hoped that would include how she was doing, and if she was expected to recover.
I felt the same tightness in my chest I always felt when I knew I was going to be doing this verbal dance with an interrogator. But this time, my stomach clenched, too, and I was afraid I was going to throw up. Usually all I had to do was try to say just enough so nobody could complain to my PO that I was being uncooperative. I’d only been back on the street for a few months, but I’d already realized I was going to be stopped and questioned anytime anything even remotely suspicious happened around me. And it seemed like things happened a lot.
This time, though, if I wanted to get any information back, I’d have to be a more active participant in the game and dangle bits of tantalizing information in front of Montgomery, so he’d tell me about Kelly. That is, if I could manage to
any tantalizing bits of information to dangle. And keep my focus well enough not to say anything stupid. Or incriminating.
Montgomery had more experience than I did and was much better at it than I would ever be. Besides, the stakes for him weren’t nearly as high.
Keeping me waiting was part of his ploy. It would give me time to get more worried and anxious. If I was particularly unfortunate, they’d keep me in this holding cell for hours. With no windows and lights on 24/7, the only way I’d know how much time passed was by the guard shifts changing every eight hours and the meals that would be delivered.
I couldn’t afford to be out of work for long. I was barely making it financially as it was, what with parole expenses, court costs and fines, restitution I owed. All in addition to the usual expenses of living.
Of course, if I ended up with new charges like this anyhow, I wouldn’t have to worry about all that. The state would be providing room and board, and nothing else would matter.
I was sure a camera was trained on me, probably linked to both a screen that was monitored in the control room and a recording device.
Sleeping would help pass the time. If I could sleep. Controlling access to sleep would be part of the interrogation process. The more tired I got, the more confused I would be and the more likely to make unguarded statements. Once Montgomery got me out of the cell, he’d also control my access to food and drink. So I should take advantage of any food I was offered. And any opportunity to get some shut eye.