Dark Matter

Page 69

He’s young.

Late twenties if I had to guess.

Short and stocky.

A Marine-like hardness in his eyes and an intelligence too.

The manager takes a step back, relieved.

Now the officer stands beside me, says, “We have a clean indoor air ordinance in the city, which you’re violating right now.”

I take another puff from the cigar.

The cop says, “Look, I’ve been up most of the night. A lot of these other customers have as well. Why do you want to ruin everyone’s breakfast?”

“Why do you want to ruin my cigar?”

A flicker of anger passes over the cop’s face.

His pupils dilate.

“Put that cigar out right now. Last warning.”

“Or what?”

He sighs.

“That was not the response I was hoping for. Get up.”


“Because you’re going to jail. If that cigar isn’t out in five seconds, I’m going to assume you’re resisting arrest, which means I get to be a lot less gentle.”

I drop my cigar in my coffee cup, and as I step down off the stool, the officer deftly whips the handcuffs off his belt and locks the bracelets around my wrists.

“Carrying any weapons or needles? Anything that could hurt me or that I should know about?”

“No, sir.”

“Are you on any drugs or medication right now?”

“No, sir.”

He pats me down, then takes me by the arm.

As we walk toward the entrance, the other customers applaud.

His cruiser is parked right out front.

He opens the rear door and tells me to watch my head.

It’s almost impossible to gracefully duck into the back of a police car with your hands cuffed behind you. The officer climbs in behind the wheel.

Buckling his seat belt, he cranks the engine and pulls out into the snowy street.

The backseat seems to have been constructed especially for discomfort. There’s no legroom whatsoever, my knees are crushed into the cage, and the seats themselves are made of a hard plastic composite that feels like I’m sitting on concrete.

As I stare through the bars that protect the window, I watch the familiar buildings of my neighborhood scroll past, wondering if this has any hope in hell of working.

We pull into the parking garage of the 14th District Police Station.

Officer Hammond hauls me out of the backseat and escorts me through a pair of steel doors into a booking room.

There’s a row of desks, with chairs for prisoners on one side and a Plexiglas partition that separates them from a workstation on the other.

The room smells like vomit and desperation badly covered over with Lysol.

At this hour of the morning, there’s only one other prisoner aside from me—a woman at the far end of the room, chained to a desk. She’s rocking manically back and forth, scratching herself, tweaking.

Hammond searches me again, and then tells me to have a seat.

He unlocks the bracelet on my left wrist, cuffs it to an eyebolt in the desk, and says, “I need to see your driver’s license.”

“I lost it.”

He makes a note of this on his paperwork and then goes around to the other side of the desk and logs in to the computer.

He takes my name.

Social Security number.



I ask, “What exactly am I being charged with?”

“Disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.”

Hammond begins to fill out the arrest report.

After a few minutes, he stops typing and looks at me through the scratched-up Plexi. “You don’t strike me as a crazy person or an asshole. You don’t have a sheet. You’ve never been in trouble before. So what happened back there? It’s almost like…you were trying to get arrested. Anything you want to tell me?”

“No. I am sorry I messed up your breakfast.”

He shrugs. “There’ll be others.”

I’m fingerprinted.


They take my shoes and give me a pair of slippers and a blanket.

When he’s finished booking me into the system, I ask, “When do I get my phone call?”

“You can have it right now.” He lifts the receiver from a landline. “Who would you like to call?”

“My wife.”

I give him the number and watch him dial.

When it starts to ring, he hands me the receiver across the partition.

My heart is pounding.

Pick up, honey. Come on.


I hear my voice, but it’s not my message. Did Jason2 rerecord it as a subtle marking of his territory?

I say to Officer Hammond, “She’s not answering. Would you hang up, please?”

He kills the call a second before the beep.

“Daniela probably didn’t recognize the number. Would you mind trying one more time?”

He dials again.

It rings again.

I’m wondering—if she doesn’t answer, should I risk just leaving a message?


What if Jason2 heard it? If she doesn’t answer this time, I’ll have to figure out some other way to—




Tears sting my eyes at the sound of her voice. “Yeah, it’s me.”

“Where are you calling from? It says Chicago Police on the caller ID. I thought it was one of those fraternal order charity things, so I didn’t—”

“I just need you to listen for a minute.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Something happened on my way to work. I’ll explain everything when—”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, but I’m in jail.”

For a moment, it gets so quiet on the other end of the line that I can hear the NPR show she’s listening to in the background.

She says finally, “You got arrested?”


“For what?”

“I need you to come bail me out.”

“Jesus. What did you do?”

“Look, I don’t have all the time in the world right now to explain. This is kind of like my one phone call.”

“Should I call a lawyer?”

“No, just get down here as soon as you can. I’m at the Fourteenth District Precinct on…” I look to Hammond for the street address.

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