From The Ashes – Part 2
Jason pulled up to the precinct as he always did, but he wasn’t going to work. This time, he was in a squad car and about to be questioned like the many witnesses and suspects he had interrogated in his career on the force.
His mind ran wild trying to remember details of the night before. He recalled the dead girl when she was very much alive at the bar. She had handed him her number scribbled on a napkin. It had to still be on him somewhere, and if he could find it, he may at the very least identify her.
Jason’s thoughts were interrupted when Officer Morgan opened the squad car door. Jason nodded in thanks and walked with his coworker into the precinct.
“Let’s get your clothing processed,” Morgan said. “You’re okay with a DNA swab, blood test. I mean, you aren’t going to fight anything for evidence, right?”
Jason could tell the officer was treading lightly. He didn’t want to make him feel like a common criminal, but the man still had to do his job, even if that meant treating a detective like a suspect.
“I know the drill. Whatever you need. I’m not hiding anything,” Jason said.
Before taking off his jacket, Jason reached inside the pockets, hoping to find the girl’s phone number. After a few seconds of digging, he felt the crumpled napkin.
“And here, this is her number,” he said, reading the paper and then handing it to Morgan. “Tara Simon. She gave this to me last night.”
“Okay. I’ll let the boss know you’ll be in interrogation.”
Sitting on the opposite side of the interrogation room table was frustrating. Jason knew he wasn’t capable of murder, but with no memory of the night before and the girl’s number in his jacket pocket, it looked bad.
When Captain Frank Warley walked into the room, Jason had trouble meeting his superior’s eyes. He was embarrassed that he was even a potential suspect. Being a witness was unsettling enough. Waking up in an alley next to a dead girl—unfathomable. Luckily Warley was always nice to him, supporting his career at every turn. Now, the captain’s eyes seemed sympathetic.
“Start from the beginning, Detective. We are going to figure this all out, I promise,” Warley began.
Jason took a deep breath and explained, “My buddy, Nick, invited me out for his birthday.”
Jason and Nick sat at a diner. It was hours before Nick’s big birthday bash, and Jason still wasn’t sure he was going to go. He watched as Nick inhaled a fully loaded burger platter, complete with fries and onion rings. The former high school football star still had his size but not his athletic physique. Jason remembered how great a player his friend was all those years ago, but Nick peaked in high school, and the years afterward were not kind to him, especially recently.
“It’s going to be fun, Jay. You remember what fun is, right?” Nick said between mouthfuls of meat, interrupting Jason’s memories.
“Hmm? Oh yeah. I’m sure it will be, but I’m working late, and then I’m back on tomorrow morning.”
“Here we go,” Nick interjected dramatically.
Nick chomped down on his burger and explained with a full mouth, “My friend Jason used to be fun. Well, never as fun as me, of course. But this cop thing has got you wound tight, bro.”
“Nick, come on…”
“Dude, it’s my thirtieth birthday. It’s a big one!” Nick whined. “I’m officially supposed to be an adult now. I barely see you, and with my brother’s accident last week and dealing with the funeral and all that.”
Jason said quietly, “I’m sorry about Matt, man. When I heard about his car wreck…”
“It happens,” Nick dismissed.
“Anyway, I need a night out with my friends,” Nick said, barreling over Jason’s words. “To forget about it all. And you need a night off from everything, too. All you do is work. When’s the last time you went out?”
Jason stabbed at his salad before answering.
“A few guys from the precinct went out for a beer the other night.”
Nick shook his head and said, “That doesn’t count. That’s still work.”
“Sure, it counts.”
“Meet any girls?”
“Well, no,” Jason admitted.
“See? Work event. And no females. Doesn’t count.”
Jason laughed. “I interact with women every day. My partner is female.”
“Doesn’t count unless you are hooking up with her. Are you?!” Nick asked excitedly.
“Of course not. Work and play don’t mix.”
“Just as I suspected,” Nick said before stuffing his mouth once more with lunch.