Mary did not like walking over to the jail from the courthouse. There were multiple checkpoints, fences, and guards. Each step resulted in a little less hope, a little more resignation to lost dreams. A sixteen-year-old who had stolen one too many cars was locked up waiting for her to perform an evaluation. He was charged as an adult, but she could still recommend a sentence back to a juvenile program, if warranted.
The deputy at the entrance cleared her name and escorted her to an interview room. Thirty minutes later, Mary realized she was not going to be able to complete the evaluation. Keyshawn, the young man, was agitated about being in jail and too angry to participate. Mary went to exit the interview room and the door was locked. Keyshawn banged the table and yelled, “I want to get out of here.” Mary felt the beginning of fear trickle down. Keyshawn was almost six feet and outweighed her by about 60 pounds. Being locked in an interview room with him was not ideal. The deputy who put them in the room was new, but Mary specifically asked her if she would be able to leave the door unlocked. The deputy assured her the door to the interview room only locked on the inside. Mary kicked herself for not testing that theory.
“Okay,” she said softly to herself. “Don’t panic, just keep knocking loudly on the window.”
Two minutes later a guard escorting Joseph to his cell heard the noise and stopped to let her out. She couldn’t take her eyes off Joseph, who looked sheepish and shrunken in faded blue jail scrubs. She wanted to reach out to him. She owed that to him.
Seconds later she was back at the entrance, giving the deputy in charge her photo ID again and asking to visit the new prisoner, Detective Joseph Russo. ”Former Detective Russo,” the deputy said sarcastically. “But I guess your badge gives you the right to see him. Wait here for about ten minutes and I’ll bring him to an interview room.”
Mary paced back and forth inside the entrance, having an argument with herself. On one hand, Joseph was innocent, he was a tool of law enforcement and he deserved her support. On the other hand, she wasn’t supposed to know about his assignment. She might give it away.
The deputy returned and said Joseph was on his way to the interview room. Just two minutes more. Mary nodded her appreciation, but kept pacing. Yes, Joseph was a hero now but she was supposed to think of him as a pedophile. How could she face him? How could she not?
The deputy motioned for her to follow him to the interview room. Mary walked behind him, rehearsing what she could say to Joseph that wouldn’t give away Kristin’s broken promise. She practiced a few openers, but nothing seemed right. She could see the interview room ahead. She felt more than awkward, actually speechless.
As they approached the interview room, she could see Joseph through the window, elbows resting on the scratched up table and one hand cupping a black eye. A few more steps and she couldn’t turn back.
“I’m sorry, Deputy,” she said, grabbing his sleeve. “I’ve changed my mind. This isn’t a good time for me to see Detective Russo.”
“Jeeze, lady,” he said turning around abruptly. “Make up your mind. It’s not very often that one of our own gets busted, much less for diddling little girls. The inmates hate guys who abuse kids. They especially hate cops. Former Detective Russo may not last long here. Did you catch the black eye? He’s already been in one fight and not yet here one whole day.”
Mary felt her face redden. Neither of them spoke again as she hurried to leave the jail. Then she stopped abruptly. Someone was shouting from the booking area just inside the entrance. She recognized that voice. Germaine.
Mary stepped outside into the glare of the hot, bright sun. She always felt dazed and a little sleazy after visiting the jail. Mary was lost in thought in thought as she walked on the pathway, startled when she felt a strong arm around her waist.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Are you okay?
She looked up at Raphael.
“What brings you out here?” she asked, still unable to process the last few minutes. Hell, this whole day was impossible to comprehend.
“I had a meeting with the Sheriff’s office about youthful offenders. I’m on my way back to the courthouse,” Raphael answered.
“I just saw Joseph,” Mary said. “I didn’t speak to him, although I wanted to, somewhat. I guess he is at risk as the other inmates hate cops as well as…as well as…”
“As well as child molesters,” Raphael interrupted. “Look Mary, I know you and Joseph were close. Maybe really close at one time. But the guy is scum. He took advantage of his position to lure little girls to his den. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”
His eyes begged a response. He wanted her to denounce Joseph. She should, shouldn’t she?
“I know it sounds bad, Raphael. But don’t we still believe in innocent until proven guilty? Should we rush to judgment now? Isn’t that unfair?”
“What’s unfair is what happened to those little girls. Mary, you shock me when you don’t seem to care about them.”
Mary saw concern in his eyes, but also distance. They hadn’t spoken about work much since their disagreement over Robby. How much unresolved baggage could she carry around and be any good at her job? She needed to know where they stood. She took a breath and forced a small smile.
“I guess we need to talk as well. Do you have some time to sit with me by the picnic tables outside the courthouse?”
“I think we could probably choose a place a little more private than the picnic tables,” he said, backing away.
“It’s the end of the day. No one is likely to use them. I’d rather not talk with you at home because I know where we’ll end up,” Mary said, feeling new tears threaten. He raised a brow, but didn’t comment. Then he nodded and she let out her breath.
“Look, Raphael, the sex has always been great, but personality issues keep cropping up.”
He sat down next to her on the picnic bench but looked into the distance. His words were soft, quiet.
“I thought maybe you were the one. The one to settle down with, to have kids with. The one to live happily ever after with.” He looked totally defeated.
She laughed bitterly. “I’m not going to say it’s me, not you. I think the issue is that I’m never going to be who you need.”
“Who do you think I need?”
“Someone who puts your political ambitions first and is willing to put aside her own ambitions to support you. Someone who is more conservative and plays by the rules.”
“Playing by the rules is important, Mary. Look at what happened to Joseph.”
“That’s not a fair comparison and you know it. But see what I mean? You were willing to use it to make your point. Is your point the only one that counts in this relationship?”
“It’s no secret that I play to win, Mary. I’m intense and stubborn and can get tunnel vision, I’ll admit that. And, you’ve seen it in the courtroom, you can’t say you haven’t. But your statement about putting aside your ambitions for me is not fair either. It’s not like I was going to demand you stay home and have kids and walk away from your career,” Raphael said heatedly.
“No, but it’s problematic when my opinion differs from yours and possibly doesn’t put you in a good light politically.” She stopped staring at his profile and turned her gaze to the horizon as well. She could swear she heard her heart breaking along with the song of the late afternoon birds around them.
Raphael turned her toward him. “You are quick to call Joseph or Kristin to review actions. I feel as if I’m the afterthought.”
Mary turned away. “Sometimes I do rely on Joseph and Kristin too much. I’m used to them. That doesn’t excuse making you feel like you’re second place,” she said, turning back to him.
Raphael’s eyes softened. He cleared his throat and glanced at her. “Is it too much to ask that we come to a consensus about the important issues before you go forward in court?”
She looked straight at him and shook her head. “It is too much to ask, Raphael. I am who I am. I can’t compromise when it comes to the kids. Some of them don’t have anyone else to fight for them.”
He stood up. Mary could see he was struggling with the direction of the conversation.
“It sounds like you’re telling me it’s over. Are we done?”
Mary stood and put her hand on his arm. “Not yet, Raphael. I just need time to think about it. I know relationships aren’t one-way streets. I’m not sure what I’m willing to give up, but I’m sure of what I can’t give up. We used to work together all the time, very well. Our goals and expectations in our personal relationship are the problem.”
Raphael took Mary in his arm in a quick embrace. He kissed the top of her head.
“Okay, but just so we are clear, none of that is more important to me than you. No case, no ambitions, not running for judge. Somehow, I didn’t communicate that to you. I’m sorry.”
He walked away quickly, not giving her a chance to respond.
She sat back down at the picnic table. She put her head in her hands.
Could this day get any worse?
She texted Kristin
Bad day. Jail Evaluation didn’t go well. SAW Joseph. Black eye. we didn’t speak. Difficult talk with Raphael.
Within seconds she heard a ping
sad about black eye
bring some ice cream. We’ll talk
Two minutes later Mary’s phone rang.
“Okay, make sure you buy lots of ice cream,” Kristin said. “I just found out they’re releasing Chad from federal prison next week. I thought I had another year before I worried about him, again.”
“I’m not sure there’s enough ice cream in the world today,” Mary sighed.
“Me neither. I’m fetching a bottle of Acquavit, Norway’s strongest drink. It makes a great ice cream float. See you at your place”