Chapter 2: Should I Ask Who You Are

A female officer steps out of the room with a discomforting expression on her face. She’s nervous about the situation and none of us are quite sure what to make of it. This person, desperately trying to keep their identity a secret, can be anyone, here for any reason.

She reports to Terrell, “Hasn’t moved or said a word, sir. Rolled back footage to their entry and they only sat down. No words.”

Terrell turns to me, “Alright, Harris, time to do what I pay you for. I want you and the rookie inside. Find out who they are and what they want. If you come to the conclusion of there being no threat of any kind, arrest them. Clear?

“Yeah. Clear.”

“Alright. You’re up.”

The Captain enters the cheaply constructed wooden door with the officer and shuts it behind him, leaving me with the rookie. This new guy seems too observant, meaning he’s attempting to prove himself or working undercover within the ranks. Terrell would’ve given off some kind of warning about the guy, so it’s possible he is just a know-it-all fresh out of training. High strung officers like him don’t last long; still, I need to be on my toes around what I say and do in there.

I ask, “What’d you say your name was again?”

The rookie answers, “Jameson.”

“Ever been in an interrogation room before?”

“Only in training. We had negotiation assignments and I was top of my class.”

“That’s good for you but this is the real shit here. Be quiet, let me do all the talking, and we’ll be out of this in no time. Forget all that academy camp bullshit because that will turn things around on you real fast.”

“Alright.”

The wooden door opens again and Terrell sticks his head out, fastly expressing his attitude, “What’s the hold up? Get the fuck in there.”

He closes the door and we open the secure and sturdy one on the right, smelling the foul odor of sweat inside. Not to blame on our guest, this room is typically the discomfort zone for perps and we often leave them for long periods of time to sweat it out; alternatively we cut the cameras off and bang the delectable hookers on the desk. I enter first, taking immediate notice to the hooded person sitting at the table, facing the darkened two-way mirror. I glance at myself in the mirror, hearing the door close behind me and watch the perp not even flinch or shift around. Is he or she still alive.

I observe the person; baggy clothing, looks like a size nine or ten shoe, could be a male. The hands under the desk make me uncomfortable, though, looking under, I can clearly see them pressed on their knees and gloved. This person is obviously trying to maintain mystery of their identity. Why is what we need to find out? The rookie is still standing at the door, likely waiting on my next move. I drag the metal chair back, intentionally being loud, and take a seat, followed by the rookie doing the same.

I ask, “Comfortable?”

The hooded person remains silent, clearly hearing my words from remaining motionless, uncaring for any sarcasm; this person means business and I need a different approach.

I ask, “Should I ask who you are? Considering you’ve done so well at hiding your identity.”

The person answers plainly, “No.”

I can’t make sense of their voice because it’s so soft and saddened but their English is well-spoken, compared to most that end up in here. It could be a woman or just a young man, purposefully disguising to maintain a hidden identity. Maybe Terrell can pick up on it better than I can from behind the window.

I try to investigate their identity further, “I can better understand you without the hood on. I can assure that we’re safe-”

The person interrupts with the same plain tone, “Why don’t we just skip to the part where you ask me why I’m here?”

“Okay. Why are you here?”

“I need a guarantee of protection.”

“We only guarantee protection to those who need to be protected. An officer could just as easily apprehend whoever you feel threatened by, and most cases, it’s just a threat.”

The person repeats, “I need a guarantee of protection.”

I decide to play ball, “Okay, from who?”

“Quinntella Wallace.”

Everyone in this city has heard of her, and it’s not a good thing. She’s managed to climb the criminal ladder fairly quick and it was strictly through aggression; taking out the competition by any means necessary. Some of the biggest names out there are stricken with fear about her and so are most officers in all departments. Absolutely nothing is beneath doing for Quinntella Wallace and her band of psychopaths. Word is she has some people in our departments under control with threats of killing their families.

Hoping for an aggressive response, I state, “There are people out there who have never even met Quinntella Wallace that demand protection from her. What do you have that they don’t?”

I get the normally low tone of secrecy, “The bank job on Trude.”

“That won’t get you anything. She took her mask off during the robbery and left the footage. Cameras caught her clear as day. You’ll need more than what we already know to get any form of protection from her.”

“How about the stolen money from the bank job?”

“Are you saying you have it?”

“That’s why I need protection. I stole it from her after we stole it from the bank.”

“We? You were one of the heist crew?”

“That’s right.”

Everyone knows Quinntella ripped off a bank recently, resulting in the deaths of a few hostages and a massive shootout. The bank was protected by S.W.A.T., which were paid for to be on retainer by Danielle Melligan, rich bitch with powerful friends. Quinntella got off with approximately three million between herself and her remaining five masked accomplices; a stiff in the morgue and one bag were recovered. Danielle would love to know that we’ve got a lead and one of the people that stole her money.

I simplify the perp’s words, “You’re willing to turn in the money from the bank job instead of running with it. Why would you do something like that? Three mill can take you to another planet if you wanted to get away from her.”

The perp states, “You get away from gangsters; you get away from police officers and on-site S.W.A.T. teams at a bank; you don’t get away from Quinntella Wallace. I’ve worked with her for years and no one has ever gotten away from her. Especially not people who steal from her.”

“How exactly did you take three million from under her nose?”

“She trusted me and I want out. She’s a psychopath. Sticking with her for too long would only get me killed. I have names, locations, and her money nearby. All I need is a guarantee of protection from a federal agency outside of the city.”

“It’ll take a while to get clearance like that and guarantee or not, you don’t get to just leave this police station, if we don’t play ball with your demands.”

“We’ll see about that. When Quinntella finds out from anyone that I’m here with her money, she will come. This hood isn’t just for my safety, it’s for yours too.”

Three million in cash ready to be handed over with a package deal of locations and accomplices seems too good to be true. I’m certain Captain Terrell is still watching and I’d love to hear his spill on the situation. Danielle pays him very well to keep the on-site team, which backs this person’s story as one of the accomplices to the robbery. We’d recovered one of the bags with five hundred thousand and we’re on the way to being handed six more bags.

I state, “I need to step out and go over what you’ve told me with the friendly people behind the window and we’ll go from there.”

Silence is the only reply I get, as I rise from the metal chair and head for the exit door with the rookie on my tail. Exiting the room brings me back to the normal sense of smell and cool temperatures. Before we get the chance to enter the observation room, Terrell steps out first.

I immediately ask, “You believe any of that shit?”

He steps back inside and we follow as he asks, “Can you give me a reason not to?”

“Plenty. This person obviously just wants a guarantee of protection before presenting the goods or intel. You think this person really has a connection to Wallace?”

“Hard to tell but I’m leaning towards the idea. The mention of S.W.A.T. has me on the fence about it. We need detail about the robbery from their perspective. Only then do we consider moving forward with offers of protection and such.”

The rookie speaks, “Any call on the perp being male or female?”

“Can’t pick up much from the low pitch but I say female. Belonging to Wallace’s group, I doubt she’d have soft-spoken men like that around.”

“Why don’t we just rip the hood off and call it square? It could be Quinntella herself.”

“Not until we’re certain on what this person’s intentions are. They’re masking their identity for a reason, meaning their info can be reliable. That little bitch has been tearin’ up my streets for too long and we need to pick this person for whatever they’ve got.” He says to me, “Dig deeper. I want play by play on the bank job. If this person were there, they’d have no problem matching up the story with the footage. The story checks out, we get the cash back to its rightful owner, we background check the info and talk to the FEDs. We got the only potential chance to take her down and we can’t fuck this up with obvious mistrust. Get back in there.”

We follow orders, returning to the smelly room. There’s reason for us not to believe this person but every department is after the psychotic Quinn. Getting her off of the streets would be a step in the right direction for criminals alike. She’s stepped on the toes of some of the most dangerous people and company owners who’ve been employed her people as a hired gun. Our perp is still seated like a clothed statue; as if we’re not talking to a person at all, but a mannequin with a cell phone strapped to it.

I take my seat and deliver the good and bad news in unison, “We won’t be able to grant your protection without some information from your end first.”

The perp asks, “Regarding?”

“We need you to take us through the bank job. Every detail from the beginning to the getaway.”

“I’m sure you have the footage from the bank. Why are you wasting my time?”

“To make sure you’re not wasting ours. Everyone in their right and wrong mind knows Quinntella hit that bank. We need to corroborate your story with what we have on tape before we decide whether your telling the truth or-”

The perp rudely concludes, “-full of shit. I get it.”

“Then?”

“You determine my story to be legit, you give me your word that you’ll help me. Locations and cash only come after you grant me protection. Do we have an understanding?”

Calling in protective detail is an easy task, and if this person is being hunted by Wallace, they’ll need all the protection they can get. She has lowlife criminals everywhere and absolutely refuses to pay any of the departments a cut of what she has; she’s an enemy to everyone, intentionally, and does whatever she wants, with no regard. There are a few small bounties on her head and it won’t hurt to collect on one for the highest bidder.

I approve, “Sounds like a fair trade to me. Let’s hear it.”