The police station was located in an ancient building. It was dwarfed by the skyscrapers surrounding it but kept their looming presence at bay with its deep rooted gravitas. It had been built in a time were architecture was intended to impress generations instead of a current design rend feeding the pride of a contemporary architect. Its massive stone walls stained by centuries of rain had if anything only gained in majesty by the passage of time. While the towers surrounding the station had been built to look large and imposing making the people who entered them look insignificant in comparison, the police building had beed designed to instil awe in those who beheld it.
It was a temple built to pay respect to law enforcement. Columns as thick and large as century old oaks holding up a massive stone ceiling that could only be hold aloft by a supreme effort. Every aspect of the construction was there to demonstrate great force used with utmost care. This appearance of power was broken by the tall arched windows which allowed for the people outside to clearly view the inside of the building and for the interior that would have otherwise been dark and foreboding to be flooded with bright daylight. This wasn’t an empty display of power, it was a declaration of intent.
While Hartley had relaxed and was leading the way without ever looking back, his partner McLean was still not convinced by neither Franklin nor Amy and was trailing a few steps back watching them carefully for any suspicious behaviour. She reminded amy of a feline that was smelling a rat.
Amy had passed this police station hundreds of times living in the City and had often paused to admire the architecture, but she had never been inside of the station before. Even when she was still training to be police herself she had been sent to a station in the impoverished north of the city. A late twentieth century shit hole of a neighbourhood that had been built around the idea that there was nothing more heartwarming that the look of houses that had all been built out of the same standardised slabs of concrete which could be given individual character by how they were put together. There had even been plans to allow the inhabitants to wait the concrete in colours that pleased them and would allow for even more fanciful variation. In the end though city planning had decided that the choice of colour of ones house was a power to great to be granted to the great unwashed masses of the cities slowly declining middle class and left it all grey. In the end the entire quarter ended up looking like the sketchbook of an autistic cubist painter.
It had been planned prison for the poor. Move there and you were free to leave of course. But you were also free of money, free of job offers, free of a decent credit rating. The police station there was more like a fort. An ugly grey, cubist fort reinforced to withstand a siege by the unwashed masses. However the unwashed masses there were far to broken to revolt, being pushed forward by the dream of prosperity to go on with their lives one more day, because their break would surely come.
Being stationed there as rookie police served to immerse the new generation into world of addicts and petty criminals. Most people who went there were stripped of their faith in humanity in months. Amy had not been one of them. She saw the shit hole but kept wondering whose fault it was that it was there in the first place. It was there where she decided that she would not become part of the executive branch of a state that let things devolve into what she was seeing there. She was not going to be willingly turned into cannon fodder for a state that was working so very hard to abase its citizens turning them into cattle kept under conditions that would have been illegal when applied to livestock.
However the place she was now in was completely different. Everything insight was bright and clean. The large rooms with their high ceilings and massive walls radiated authority. Measuring those working there and seeking help while making those being taken there as suspects feel insignificant. It had its intended effect on Franklin whose usually square shoulders had slumped significantly. His usually magnificent expression had become demure. Amy was by now hard pressed to find the handsome man that had entered her office that morning in the nervous wreck in front of her.
Her own feelings were more complicated. In part she was impressed by the police station, feeling reassured that places like these existed. On the other hand it was feeding the ambers of her resentment, slowly reviving the flames of an anger she had thought she had left behind a long time ago. In away this station was a sham. It was one of the central stations that housed the police force for the wealthier neighbourhoods of the northwestern part of the city. The people who mattered, if they ever came into contact with the police would come here and be presented by something much closer to what everyone expected from the police. Nearly non of them would ever witness the soul crushing pit she had spent her rookie time at. Thus inconvenient questions from these kind of people were artfully prevented, while no negate a shit about the complaints of the criminally poor.
Hartley and McLean lead them into an interrogation room that was four walls a metal table bolted into the floor and several chairs.
“Tea? Coffee?”, Hartley asked. McLean just frowned at the offer.
“Tea.” Amy said. Franklin just shook his head falling into a chair.
Hartley left the room. He paused at the door. He cleared his throat to catch the attention of his partner. His expression told her to stop being a dick and come with him. She grunted and followed him out of the room.
After the door had closed Amy turned back to Franklin.
“You didn’t do anything Christopher.” she said. “So relax. Be wary of Hartley. He is going to be the one who is going to tempt you into cooperating with him, who will promise you to make everything easy. The sentiment might be true, but he’s also looking to ‘beat’ you. For him you are probably a game of psychological chess. He’ll try to make you ‘come clean’. This will tempt you in telling him shit that will compromise you. So keep your mouth shut. Don’t get drawn into a conversation. It might be pleasant but you will walk into traps without realising it.”
“But I didn’t do anything.” Franklin said looking up for the first time. He looked at Amy. “I didn’t do”, he repeated, “anything. I wouldn’t. Linda was crazy and I was glad when it appeared that she was finally not a part of my life anymore. But I… I actually had hoped that she would find some peace and move on with her life… and now…”, he hung his head again.
“I know that Christopher and I believe you. But those two detectives out there are not looking for a way to prove your innocence but for a way to find someone who is guilty.”
“I’m not guilty!” Franklin shouted, slamming his fist on the metal table in front of him. Amy was startled by that sudden outburst. It looked liked there was some residue of steel to be found in Franklin’s soft soul after all.
“The all you have to do is try to relax. Once the two detectives return I’ll stay with you here for a while, enjoy my horrible tea and make sure that they treat you well. Once I’m sure that I can leave you with them alone for a few minutes I’ll excuse myself to go and call Mrs. Ashford Stone. You’ll see, you’ll be out of here before it is even dark outside.”
“What about the other one?” Franklin asked.
“The other one?” Amy wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about. “Oh you mean the bad cop?”
“Much easier to deal with. She will be an arse and try to intimidate you. Talking about bending the rules, preferably around your neck. Just keep silent. Don’t get cheeky with her type, they usually tend to hold grudges, her you can tell basic shit, she’s probably to angry to be clever. Still try not to talk to much. And please do me a favour. Stop looking like such a victim. It makes me want to punch you, so it won’t help with her either.”
The last part didn’t really help. Franklin shrank even more, tempting Amy to slap some sense into him. She turned around to regain her composure when the door to the room opened up again. McLean held the door open for Hartley who entered the room holding four paper cups in his hands.
“I thought I’d bring you a tea, too, just in case.” he said to Franklin as he put the cups down on the table pushing one towards Franklin.
They had just finished going through the opening formalities, about to open the very promising looking file lying conspicuously on the side of the table when the door to the interrogation room suddenly opened. A young woman in a business dress so smart it made everything else around it look out of place entered the room with a fierce expression on her face.
“Detective McLean and Hartley?” she asked.
“Who the fuck are you?” was McLeans answer who got up immediately getting ready to throw the new arrival right back out again.
“Who let you in?” asked Hartley who remained seated but whose expression instantly hardened, his hand inching instinctively towards his weapon.
“I am Amanda Welles, I am Mr. Franklin’s lawyer. I want to inform you that I have already filed a complaint against both of you”, she said with a cold voice, “for harassing my client, not allowing him his right of attorney and trying to force him into a false confession before he can be properly counselled.”
“You are his lawyer?” McLean said looking at her then looking over to Amy, venom in her eyes.
“Yes.” Welles answered.
“Then who the fuck, are you?” McLean asked Amy.
“I am his private investigator.” she answered with a thin smile, ignoring her own advice not to get fresh with the bad cop in the room.
“You are his what? You are this close to get arrested too.” she spat.
“Really? What for?”, Amy asked.
“You put Mr. Franklin under arrest.” Welles asked one eyebrow arched.
“No. Not under arrest.” Hartley said his eye now also cold resting on Welles. “He is here to clarify a few points for us…”
“Pretending to be his lawyer is going to get you into big trouble miss.” McLean said to Amy.
“I never said I was Mr. Franklins lawyer. I said he was my client which is the truth. I have no responsibility for your actions.” she answered still sporting her thin smile.
“Get out!” McLean said.
Amy shrugged and left passing Welles whose reptilian eyes followed her out of the room.
She was glad having gotten out of there earlier than expected. This day so far had only given her one question after the other and it was about time to get some answers. Not having to baby sit Franklin had given her precious time. It also helped enormously that she had not to pose as his defending counsel. She might be able to weasel her way around for a while based on her semester of law and her police training, but that would only get her so far. It also carried the risk of causing Franklin additional trouble.
She left the police station wondering how Ashford Stone had known to send one of her attack dogs to save the day. Was it the gas repairman? Or was Franklin himself tagged like the good little pet he was.
She was favouring the repairman theory when she felt a hard object being pressed against her back.
“Mrs. Anderson.” a male voice behind her said in the tones of someone commenting on the weather. “I am pointing a military grade auto injector at your back. I am going to ask you to be so kind as to come with me, there is someone who would like to have a word with you. It would be best if you just came along. If you do not cooperate I will have to sedate you. That will be unpleasant for you as well as for me, for I will have to carry your unconscious body away to get you the medical help you poor woman obviously require. Either way you will come with me. Please be so kind and chose the easy way.”
Amy chose the hard way. At this distance the weapon or auto injector or what ever was very close to her, but she was only one quick side step away from sweeping away the hand holding it and giving the guy behind her a proper thrashing.
She spun around. She felt a sharp pain in her back. The man in front of her, a mountain in form of a human in a casual suit looked surprised as Amy’s arm hit his hand with unexpected force sending the object in his hand scattering over the side walk onto the street under the wheels of a car. His expression then went from disappointment to that slight annoyance.
‘It was a release trigger…’ Amy thought as a cold wave of numbness took over her body.
She fell. Caught by darkness.