He turns around and looks me over with exasperation written all over his face. “Innocent, huh?”
“Oh, yeah! Totally innocent! I shoplifted a chocolate bar when I was nine, but I felt so bad that I went back when I was seventeen and paid for it. The cashier looked at me funny. I think he just pocketed the money. Maybe you should arrest him.”
He glances down at the white powder all over my black t-shirt. It looks like I had a catastrophic baking accident.
“I’m guessing that cocaine has kicked in.”
I shake my head, wondering why I don’t have the ability to blink anymore. “I’m innocent. I don’t do cocaine.”
“You just sell it?”
“No! I work at the coffee shop. Down the street. You know it?”
He shakes his head. I’ve never seen him in there before. He doesn’t look familiar.
“Well, I work there! I’m working now.”
“Where’s your apron? Or your name tag?”
I swallow hard as I look down at my apron-less waist and name tag-less chest. “It’s on the counter at work. I took it off before I ran outside.”
“How convenient,” he says as he turns back around.
“Hold on!” I screech as he puts his hand on the key. “Don’t drive away! I didn’t do anything wrong. That bag wasn’t mine. I’m innocent!”
How many times do I have to tell this buffoon that before he lets me go?
He turns back around with a huff of frustration. “You think you’re the first handcuffed person I’ve had in that backseat to claim they’re innocent?”
“But I am! This time it’s true!”
“Listen to me. Every criminal I apprehend hoots and hollers about how they’re innocent and how this is all a big misunderstanding. Every. Single. One. Although, most aren’t covered in cocaine while they say it.”
He turns back around and my mind continues to race, although now, it’s only one word spinning around and around—criminal. He called me a criminal.
“I’m not a criminal by the way,” I tell him as the car starts rolling. “I’m a kindergarten teacher.”
He chuckles. “I thought you worked at the coffee shop.”
“I do! I’m studying to be a kindergarten teacher.”
He shakes his head as his eyes stay focused on the road. “Not anymore, you’re not.”
His eyes meet mine in the rearview mirror. “You’re going to have a criminal record after today. You can’t teach with a criminal record. Not to mention, you have enough drugs in that bag to send you away for forty years. Add that unlicensed firearm and you won’t get out before you’re eighty years old. At least.”
I’m going to be sick.
“Maybe you can teach convicts to read in prison,” he says with a laugh. “Just try not to get stabbed before you get to the end of the alphabet.”
All I’ve ever wanted was to be a kindergarten teacher.
I’m going to be locked away forever. My life is over.
There’s a numbness in my chest as defeat sets in.
I can’t be a convict. I look horrible in orange.
“Sir,” I say in my sweetest little girl voice. “I’m going to ask you one more time to please, please, let me go.”
He flicks on the radio and blasts it, singing along to Adele as he ignores me.
Tears stream down my cheeks when he hits the high notes.
I feel you, Adele. I feel you.
I get the whole five-star convict treatment at the police station. Photographs, fingerprints, inappropriate frisk down, you name it.
Thankfully, the jail at the police station is empty. There’s not much action in the friendly quaint town of Cherry Falls so I have a cell to myself.
There’s a metal toilet in the corner that is severely lacking in any privacy and a cot that looks like it was confiscated from a crackhouse.
I’m trying hard to hold it together.
I’m behind bars and looking horrible in this orange jumpsuit. Normally, I would get to keep my clothes they told me, but there was evidence sprayed all over mine in white powdered form, so I had to give them up.
The police officer in charge of watching the cells walks by, looking bored as she listens to a podcast on speakerphone. As far as I can tell, it’s about growing your garden through the power of positive thinking. Whatever that means.
“Hey!” I say as she walks by.
She pauses her podcast and looks at me with a sour expression on her face. There’s definitely no positive thinking going on in there. “What?”
“What do you mean?”
“When do I get out? What happens next?”
“You came in here with a gun charge and a bag full of cocaine.”
“It wasn’t mine!”
She rolls her eyes. “Right. Well, your imaginary drug dealer friend is nowhere to be found so you’re taking the wrap.”
Panic starts to take over again. My hands are shaking so I grab onto the bars to settle them.
“I have to get out of here.”
“Another drug deal to attend to?”