“What’s your name? How old are you?” Detective James Curtiss fired the questions at me from behind my back. His deep, sonorous voice echoed in the empty office. Without waiting for me to answer, he yelled, “What's your height? What do you weigh?”
I sat on a metal chair in an overheated interview room of a run-down police station in the Lower East Side of New York. A dimly visible clock, showed the time as 6 am. I'd been awake for more than twenty-two hours. Tired, dirty and in need of a shave, I fidgeted uncomfortably in the chair.
Surveying the dank interior of the room, I thought this old building needs redecorating. There were no locked doors and no obvious devices to record ...view middle of the document...
The escaping vapor decreased the effective illumination of the single low-wattage bulb in the ceiling. The place reeked of decay; linoleum, scuffed and worn, paint peeling from the dingy walls showed me the room needed redecorating.
Smoke, from a thick stub of a cigar in an ashtray on one desk, billowed upward in the stifling atmosphere to join the wispy strands of vapor under the filthy ceiling. In addition to the metal chair I sat on, there were two swivel chairs. A couple of filing cabinets and a wastebasket completed the sparse furnishings.
My bulky torso where I sat hid the small chair from view. Sitting on bare metal for so long, my rear end was sore.
“OK," I grinned, I'll come clean if you'll pardon my stink.” I flapped my arms up and down like a chicken's wings, ensuring a good aroma from my arm pits wafted around me.
Detective Frank Jones, who I dimly saw in front of me, turned his broken nose up in distaste. These typical big-city cops found nothing funny in my remarks. I wondered if they smiled after they hit me; they had cold-cocked me yesterday evening. The only sense of humor they apparently possessed was to laugh while they victimized their prisoner; in this case, it was me.
Jones, as big as his partner, was white. His blank expression revealed nothing about what he was thinking. Over the back of one chair, he had draped his jacket while Curtiss’s was lying at one end of the desk. Jones’s shirt light blue with the cuffs buttoned, the neck opened after he removed his tie, which lay on his jacket. At least his shoes, also of a large size, made no sound. I could follow Curtiss's movements by the sounds from his shoes, but not Jones's.
It amused me to note the pair of them lived up to the appellation of flatfoot. Both men wore empty shoulder holsters, their guns lay in a locked desk drawer, and with their physical size and my present condition, weapons were not required to subdue me.
Last night was a case of yours truly being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I licked my dry lips before I answered questions asked repeatedly for the last eight hours.
“You already know my name,” I said wearily, “its Smith, John Smith.” I forced a smile onto my unshaven face. “I’m thirty-three years old, six feet four in height and I weigh two sixty pounds.”
I pride myself on my physical condition, but at this moment, I felt like a limp bag of jelly; don't ask what flavor. I thought I'd aged overnight to age seventy. My stomach rumbled noisily; I'd not eaten since yesterday afternoon, and now these two bulls appeared interested in my vital statistics.
The two behemoths questioning me removed my prone body from the alley...