A moment later the two officers joined Billy in the tiny room. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” J.D. said as he set up the tape recorder in the middle of the table. “This is Officer Sweet, he’s working the case with me, and if you have no objections, he’s going to sin in as we talk and perhaps ask a question or two.”
Billy stared blankly at the other officer whom he never seen before. He remembered his dad mentioning a second officer who came to the used car lot to talk to him as he was talking to Officer Larson. He assumed this was the same man. “Nah, it’s cool,” Billy said, trying to seem macho and uncaring, but his voice cracked and ruined his intent.
“How about you and I have a seat,” J.D. said as he pulled a chair out for the teen. “I’m going to record this conversation, just in case I need to come back to things you say later on. I can only right so fast,” he joked.
Billy stared at the tape recorder, bewildered by the officer’s levity of the situation and watched as J.D. pushed down two buttons. Uncomfortably he sat down in one of the old wooden chairs.
“Billy Johnson, you are fully aware that this conversation is being taped,” J.D. said clearly as he took the seat perpendicular to Billy’s so he didn’t create an adversarial position between the two of them.
“Yes sir,” Billy found his voice once again cracking.
“Okay,” J.D. said in a casual manner, trying to relax the teen just a little. “You mentioned that you had some information about Officer Milan, the officer who was shot this past Wednesday.”
“Yeah. I know who did it,” Billy said as he stared directly at the electronic device on the table, not wanting to make eye contact with either officer.
“Why don’t you tell us who,” Skeeter said as he spoke sternly in the boy’s ear while standing over Billy menacingly. “And this time tell the truth.”
Billy realized that the cops knew about his attempt to point the finger elsewhere, he didn’t think it would work in the first place, but his father had insisted on throwing the police off course. He took a deep breath and the fear in his eyes was magnified a hundred fold. He placed his hand on his forehead and whispered, “It was my brother, it was junior.” He quickly turned his head and buried his face in his hand. He felt like a traitor.
“Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch that,” Skeeter said as he firmly grasped the back of Billy’s chair. “Say it again, and speak up.”
Billy took another deep breath and stood up. His knees trembled while he tapped the palm of his hand with his fingers. “I said it was my brother who shot that cop and killed Mr. Jones, okay,’ Billy angrily said each word clearly. Even though his voice trembled he said it loudly enough to please Skeeter. As quick as he stood up, he slumped back down and stared blankly at the wall, knowing there was no longer any turning back. He made his bed and now he had to sleep in it.
“We heard you,” J.D. said as he gave a quick glance to Skeeter, telling him to back off for a little and return to the corner silently. ‘And how do you know this,” J.D. asked very calmly as he placed a comforting hand on Billy’s forearm.
“I was there,” Billy said as he pulled his arm away. “I was at the Zips and I was in the car when the cop was shot,” Billy blurted out as the tears welled up in his eyes.
“And why didn’t you come forward with this information earlier,” J.D. asked as is the sudden news was just as trivial as talking about the weather.
“You don’t understand, he’ll kill me. He’ll kill me like I meant nothing at all to him. He already said he would, even put a gun to my head.” A tear trickled down Billy’s face, but he wiped it away quickly and tried to compose himself the best he could.
“And where is Junior now,” J.D. asked as he jotted a note on the inside of the folder.
“He had to drive a car up to Kentucky; he won’t be back ‘til tomorrow. He’s been watching my every move like a hawk. I can’t live like this,” Billy said desperately.
“I think we need to start at the very beginning, get the whole story and decide where to go from there,” Skeeter said as he took the seat directly across from J.D., on the other side of Billy.
“We know you weren’t fired from the Zips for selling beer to your friends,” J.D. said knowingly. “In fact you never worked the register at all.”
“No.” Billy swallowed hard, knowing the only way to limit the consequences for himself was to tell the complete, unadulterated truth; something he’s heard of before but never quite saw practiced by anyone in his house. “Mr. Jones didn’t trust me enough to be around the money.”
“And why was that,” Skeeter asked.
“Because of why I worked there; it wasn’t like I filled out an application or nothing. A few weeks ago I tried to drive off without paying for a tank of gas. Well, I returned to set things right and the deal was that I work there a few weeks or he’d report me and I’d lose my license.”
“Okay, so what happened Wednesday,” J.D. asked, trying to seem more patient than he actually was.
“And try not to forget any important details,” Skeeter added.
“Okay, this is what happened. My brother and I were kind of ticked off because Jones was making me work instead of just paying for what I took, especially since I came forward and all. Junior said we should teach him a lesson and after two weeks I got his routine down. Man, I even knew the combo to the safe,” Billy rambled. “You see, Mr. Jones deposited the weeks take on Friday night, but Friday is so busy that we knew we couldn’t do anything then. Junior decided to do it on Wednesday because that was the lightest day and there is like no one there that day in the morning after the rush.”
“So how much did you get from the safe,” Skeeter asked impatiently.
“Three hundred, maybe a little less,” Billy admitted.
Skeeter leapt out of his chair and lifted the teen by the collar of his t-shirt, swinging Billy around. Skeeter slammed him into the far wall, momentarily stunning the boy. “Don’t you lie to me, there’s no way a convenience store makes only three hundred dollars in five days,” Skeeter said angrily.
“I’m telling the truth. Jones must’ve made a drop the day before or something. That was all that was in there and a hundred in the till, the rest were credit card receipts,” Billy became stoic.
“So you killed a man and shot a cop, for what, a few bucks to blow on video games?” Skeeter’s forearm found its way under Billy’s chin, though he wasn’t cutting off all of the oxygen to the teens lungs, Skeeter applied enough pressure to let the teen know it was coming.
“No one was supposed to get shot. I didn’t even know there were bullets in the gun. It was suppose to look like a hold up, but as soon as Junior came in, Mr. Jones called to me that my brother was there. We didn’t even know he knew who Junior was. By that time the gun was out and Jones was cursing up a storm. Junior wasn’t even supposed to have a gun at all, it wasn’t suppose to go that way. He had me tie up Mr. Jones and gag him. I thought that would be all, maybe hit him over the head with something. I didn't think he’d him, but he did; like it was nothing, with Jones tied up and defenseless. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way and I didn’t know what to do anymore, so I just went along in a daze. Man he’s going to do the same to me next, you got to help,” Billy pleaded.
“I’ll save him the satisfaction, ”Skeeter said as he pulled his arm back.
“Whoa,” J.D. said as he caught the arm before it crashed forward.
“Break it up,” the Sarge said as he barged in the room. “Young man, you wait out front and get some fresh air, but I swear to you, if you stray any further than the front door I’ll have every cop in this precinct hunt you down like a dog, and many aren’t as restrained as Officer Sweet here. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir,” Billy said and slinked out the door.
“And you,” the Sarge addressed Skeeter. “There are limits you know. What, because Chase isn’t here, you got to take his place in doing before thinking?”
“I was just playing the bad cop. The kid was going to drag that story for days and omit his role in it as well.”
“We’ll take care of his role later. Now take a breather,” the sergeant ordered.
Skeeter nodded, bowed his head and walked out the door.
` “And you,” the Sarge turned to J.D. “I expect a little bit more out of you to keep you guys in check.”
“Sorry sir,” J.D. said, though he enjoyed Skeeter’s display. “I won’t let it happened again.”
Skeeter walked back to his desk, he didn’t like being reprimanded, but he couldn’t help feel pleased with himself as he remembered the total look of fear in Billy’s eye as he cocked his arm back. He never did intend to let the punch fly, if he had, then J.D. would’ve never been able to catch the blow. It would’ve served the kid right though and Skeeter wished for a moment that he didn’t have his badge to think about.
“Officer Sweet,” a deep voice called from the front desk.
Skeeter looked up and saw Robbie Payton standing with his arms on the counter, his tight t-shirt did nothing to hide the rippling muscles and he noticed many female officers staring at Robbie’s finely tuned body. “Didn’t expect to see you today,” he said casually.
“I came to check on my car. It’s a pain jogging to the gym to work out and my dad said I should get my prints taken to remove all doubts.”
“Forget it. That won’t be necessary,” Skeeter told him.
“Huh, what do you mean?” Robbie looked at the officer, perplexed.
“Come over here,” Skeeter whispered and motioned with two fingers towards the glass door.
“Okay,” Robbie said, wondering what could be so secret.
“You see that guy out there, with the blonde hair,” Skeeter still spoke softly.
“Yeah, that’s the kid from the gas station. What about him?” Robbie kept his eye on the pacing figure.
“I’m not suppose to tell you this, but between you, me and this wall, that’s the guy who ratted on you. What’s more, he knew all along you didn’t do it, he was just covering for someone he knows. Now you can go and get your car at the impound lot, but as for me, I’m going over to my desk and be so buried in paperwork that I can barely manage to look up, nonetheless see out the door, and I think everyone else is going to be just as busy.”
“I see,” Robbie said with a certain fire in his eye. One in which he often had before pouncing on the mat. “I think I better go and see about getting my car.” Robbie grinned mischievously and nodded as if a silent agreement had been reached. He watched the officer take two steps towards a desk then made for the door.
Skeeter turned back as the door closed and looked out the tinted glass, watching in anticipation an event he put in motion.
Robbie made his way down a few steps and walked directly to Billy. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” he asked as he sized up the boy.
“N-No,” Billy stammered as his eyes looked everywhere but directly at the college student standing right in front of him. “I don’t think so,” he said though he knew exactly who he was talking to.
“Are you sure?” Robbie looked up as if he was thinking. “Didn’t I do something once to make you really mad?”
“No man.” Billy felt a sudden chill in the ninety degree heat. “Like I told you, I never saw you man, I don’t know you from nothing.”
“I remember now, didn’t I kick your ass?” Robbie said as he closed the distance between him and his opponent.
Billy stood defensively. “You never kicked my ass. I never even spoke to you before,” he said vehemently.
“Let me remedy that,” Robbie said and hit is opponent with a solid left jab to the eye, followed by a short tight right hook to the side of Billy’s cheek and nose.
Billy fell to the ground as he bled on his shirt. Though he was expecting the blow, he underestimated the speed and quickness at which they would come or the pain he would feel. He figured he could’ve dodged any punch coming, but now he was on the floor knowing he was at Robbie’s mercy. Quickly he wrapped his arms around his head.
“Next time you think of pinning a crime on someone remember this and if I see you again anywhere near me, I’ll do you even worst,” Robbie said, then kicked Billy in the stomach, knocking the air from the teen’s lungs. He then simply strolled away like nothing ever happened at all.
“Whoa, what happened?” Skeeter said, feigning concern as he came running out of the precinct after a few seconds and stood over the teen.
“That wrestler guy from the gas station decked me,” Billy explained.
“Didn’t you try that excuse once already,” Skeeter said smugly.
Shawn walked in to daycare strolling hand in hand with Jenny and Christine, which was a rare eye opener for Angie who was so use to Shawn’s only interaction with other children as being negative.
“And who do we have here, it certainly looks like Shawn Sweet,” Ms. Angie teased.
“It is me, Ms. Angie.” The boy laughed and turned red.
“And I see you made some friends,” Ms. Angie said as the girls ran off.
“Yes I did,” the boy said proudly. “They’re nice and fun.”
“It’s nice and fun to see you getting along with the others. Now run along, you have a little time before it’s nap time.” Ms. Angie patted his head and sent him off.
Shawn ran into the room where the girls were simply talking and sitting on a bench. The boy looked at them for a moment, each wearing a dress with their long hair flowing behind them. He smiled at the group. “Girls aren’t so bad,” he thought. Jenny alone smiled back, the other two girls were deep in conversation.
“Shawn,” Jenny walked to him and took the boy by the hand. “You been nice t’day so you don’t got to stand all by yourself,” she tugged him towards the bench.
“Jenny, can we be friends now?” Shawn asked as he looked at her pink and white sneakers.
“Do you promise to stay being nice like you been all day?” Jenny asked.
Shawn nodded his head though he didn’t say a word, and then looked on eagerly.
“Okay, then we’re friends,” Jenny announced and found the other two girls giggling.
The children sat and talked about things important to four year olds. Ms. Angie looked in and almost felt bad for having to break up the bonding that was going on. She ushered the group into the lunch room last so they could have a few extra moments alone together.
Skeeter walked into the daycare center a few hours later. He saw his son sitting at a table with the three girls as they worked on some crafts. Shawn gave a big toothy smile when he saw his dad and waved. Skeeter waved back and motioned to the boy to finish what he was doing.
“Skeeter,” Ms. Angie said as she straddled beside him. “I must say that the change in your son has been a sight for sore eyes. He’s getting along very nicely with his little group of friends he seemed to pick up.”
“I had a little talk with him and I think I put things in a way he could relate to.”
“Keep up the good work then,” Ms. Angie praised. “I thought with that shiner, maybe he got into a fight and decided to change his ways.”
“Jenny, I made this for you,” Shawn said as he handed her a picture of a large red heart with her name in purple in the middle.”
Rachael quickly whispered something in Jenny’s ear.
“Thank you, Shawn,” Jenny said in a high pitched voice that dripped with sweetness. She then leaned in and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Shawn immediately turned red as the girls giggled. “You’re welcome,” he gushed and quickly retreated to his father.
“Come on, Casanova.” Skeeter chuckled. “Let’s get you home.”
“She kissed me,” is all that Shawn could say as they walked out the door.
Author note: I know the case pretty much solved itself and that may be disappointing to some. I actually had the case take a little longer in the original, but the work was so long as it was and the police work actually detracted from the main focus of the story, which is really about relationships and also what is going on in the Sweet household (as of now). In the original, there was a side story that Robbie's Camaro left the rec center during the time of the shooting, and my original plans was for him to be in a homosexual relationship that he was covering up. I then changed that for him to be having a relationship with a 16 year old girl (that he was covering up for legal reasons). I scrapped that all because of focus. I was also going to have more police pressure put on Billy, as the officers kept catching him in lies. But I didn't want that broad of a focus and I didn't want this to become a Law and Order episode, mainly because I know nothing of police procedure and doubt I could write something convincing to the knowing eye. I hope I'm forgiven.
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