Breathing Space

The officer led me into a depressingly gray room with one steel chair and an overhead fluorescent light. There is an obvious two-way mirror facing the chair. Is this some sort of cliche torture chamber? I haven't gotten arrested, but I'm afraid this could end in a trial by fire.

It's comfortable here for a place that looks like the site of multiple fingernail removals. The steel chair must be some sort of power move to make me feel uncomfortable. A detective will flaunt his power over me. Maybe it eliminates the whole "good cop, bad cop" routine, unlike my visit to the station. At this point, all he can do is ask questions.

I didn't need to be interrogated. I know I'm not the most morally sound person walking the tightrope of legality. But I've never physically harmed another person. I know my rights if he says something that I might not like or sweet talks me into self-incrimination, I'll ask to leave.

I take my place in this performance for one with two others behind the mirror and cameras recording it all. "You mind if I smoke, Detective Fisher? It doesn't look like you're worried about discolored walls or bad smells."

"Not at all, Tyler," Fisher replied while I pulled out a cigarette. He lit it to be a nice guy. I guess it's going to be a pissing contest of who can make this into a noir scene. "You can ash on the floor."

"Okay, thanks," I said playing along. "Y'want one?"

"No thanks, I'm trying to cut back for the wife," he said waving his left hand. There's a faint tan line on his ring finger, so he's working to keep her around or we're going from playing nice to lying games. By the look of his messy, cheap, navy blue suit, I would suggest the former.

I dragged off my cigarette, making sure my hands were in Fisher's view the whole time. I felt my cheeks flush and sweat form below the epidermis, perhaps from the stress of being here or they turned up the thermostat.

"Mind if I take my jacket off?" I asked. "It's starting to feel pretty warm in here."

"Sure thing, then we'll get started," Fisher replied. I slipped off my leather bomber jacket and slung it over the back of the chair, revealing my ratty, old Motor City Five shirt. I made sure to keep everything kosher with him. Act natural and shift the cigarette from hand to hand as I freed myself. "Nice shirt, great band."

"Thanks," I said, flicking the ash. "It was my dad's. I found it after going through his things after he died."

"Well, now that you mention death..." he started. "Tyler, what do you know about your brother's stabbing?"

What the fuck? How can he consider me a subject in how Kevin died?

"I'm not sure," I said. "It was sudden. I was in the library when I got the phone call. Why are you asking me about this?"

"We're following up on a few leads," Fisher said standing over me. "Did you two argue about anything the night before."

At least he's cutting to the chase, I've gotta admire that.

"Yes," I answered through the smoke. "He got into some trouble with a few guys from our old neighborhood. I was sick of dealing with him and his messes. Nothing more than two brothers arguing."

"And what about your mother?" he asked.

"What about her?" I asked.

"Was she involved in the argument?" he asked.

"She was," I said. "He's the lovable screw-up. She would take his side if he set the house on fire after I finished paying the rent. I have to be the hard-ass to make sure we are, were, all safe at the end of the day. She thought I was too hard on him."

"What was the nature of the argument?" Fisher asked. "Give me more than the words."

What is he getting at?

"We yelled, we argued," I said.

"But it wasn't an ordinary argument, was it?" he cut in.

"Like I said, he got in trouble and I was fed up," I said. "I laid into him because I shouldn't have to be his parent. I was done cleaning up after him, but my mother thinks I should have treated him better. Nothing I don't already know."