This is how it starts. With politeness.
Would you mind coming down to the station? Just to answer a few questions. It’ll help us out a lot - thanks. It’s a standard script the cops use when they call. Like telemarketers. The good ones know how to ad lib, to make it sound like they haven’t said those lines a thousand times before. Like you’re special.
Of course, if you’re really special, it won’t be a call - it’ll be a knock on your door. Would you mind coming down to the station with us? We’ll give you a lift, no problem, while they gesture behind them to that standard-issue Crown Vic on the curb. Keys in hand. Eyes mostly bored, with just a little bit of irritation. They hold the pose a little too long, just long enough to make you feel like you should go with them, you should get into that backseat.
Then comes the waiting.
Once you’re in the precinct, you’re on their time now. They’ll offer you a hard, dinged-up wooden chair next to a standard-issue, dinged-up metal desk. Make yourself comfortable. We’ll be with you in a few minutes. They’ll give you what passes for coffee, a cheap paper cup of hot, brown-gray water that smells vaguely of boiled leather. And then they leave you alone. To wait.
Your mind spins slowly at first. You still think you’re helping out, doing your civic duty. You’re not worried. But little by little, you start noticing things - things that in any other situation you’d never pay attention to.
The scrape of chairs against linoleum. The constant ringing of phones in the background. Those reports on the desk by you, they’re all stained with coffee...
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