Seconds Away Page 6

But the hand\'s grip tightens. I spin all the way around and there, standing over me, with that same hope-crushing expression on his face, is the green-eyed, sandy-blond paramedic.

More knocks on the door.

The paramedic vanished. So did my parents.

I was back in my basement bedroom. My heart pounded. I sucked down air and tried to calm myself. The knocking grew louder.

Why hadn\'t Myron answered?

I rolled out of bed and climbed the steps.

More impatient knocks.

’’I\'m coming,’’ I shouted.

Where was Myron?

I reached the front door. I knew I should have asked who it was, but I just opened it. Two policemen in full uniform stood there.

I took a step back.

’’Mickey Bolitar?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’I\'m Officer McDonald. This is Officer Ball.’’

’’Is something wrong?’’ I asked.

’’There\'s been a shooting. We need you to come with us.’’

Chapter 5

For a moment I couldn\'t speak. When I found my voice, I said, ’’My uncle?’’

The one named Ball said, ’’Excuse me?’’

’’Myron Bolitar. My uncle. Was he the one who was shot?’’

Ball looked at McDonald. Then he turned to me and said, ’’No.’’

’’Then who?’’

’’We aren\'t at liberty to discuss the case with you, son.’’

’’I need to ask my uncle.’’

’’Pardon?’’

I started up the stairs. The two officers stepped inside too.

’’Myron?’’ I called out.

No answer.

I entered his bedroom. Myron\'s bed was empty. I checked his bedside clock. It was seven A.M. I guessed that Myron had woken up earlier and left without telling me. That wasn\'t like him.

I came back down the stairs.

’’Are you ready to come with us?’’ Ball asked.

’’Am I a suspect?’’

’’How old are you, son?’’

’’Almost sixteen.’’

’’You really need to come with us.’’

I didn\'t know what to do, but really, what choice did I have?

’’Let me throw on some clothes,’’ I said.

I hurried down to the basement. My cell phone was blinking. I checked for messages. There were two. The first was from Ema. She had sent it at 4:17 A.M. Did that girl ever sleep? Ema: we need to find the paramedic who wheeled away your dad. I have an idea.

Man, I wanted to know what it was, but it would have to wait.

The second text was from Myron: Had to leave early and didn\'t want to wake you. Have a good day.

Terrific. I tried to call Myron\'s cell, but it went straight into voice mail. When the beep sounded, I said, ’’The cops are here. They want to take me . . .’’ I stopped. Where did they want to take me anyway? ’’To the station, I guess. They won\'t tell me what\'s going on. Call me when you get this, okay?’’

I hung up.

Ball yelled down the stairs, ’’Son, we really need to hurry.’’

I threw on some clothes and headed back up. Two minutes later, I sat in the back of a police cruiser as we pulled down the street.

•••

’’Where are you taking me?’’ I asked.

McDonald drove. Ball sat next to him. Neither replied.

’’I asked ’’

’’It would be best if you were just patient.’’

I didn\'t like this.

’’Who was shot?’’ I asked.

McDonald turned around. He narrowed his eyes. ’’How did you know someone was shot?’’

I didn\'t like his tone.

’’Uh, you told me,’’ I said. ’’When I opened the door.’’

’’I said this was about a shooting. I didn\'t say someone was shot.’’

I was going to make a dumb wisecrack something about how I must be clairvoyant but fear was starting to take over. I stayed quiet. Up ahead I could see the Kasselton police station. I remembered my last visit there, two nights ago, and now I also recalled that Police Chief Taylor hated Myron and thus by extension me.

But the squad car drove straight past the station.

’’Where are we going?’’ I asked.

’’I think you\'ve asked enough questions. Just hang on.’’

Chapter 6

Fifteen minutes later, I sat in what had to be an interrogation room in a Newark police station. A small woman came in and sat across from me. She wore a tasteful suit, and her hair was pinned up in a bun. I guessed she was about thirty.

She stuck out her hand and I shook it.

’’I\'m homicide county investigator Anne Marie Dunleavy,’’ she said.

Homicide?

’’Uh, I\'m Mickey Bolitar,’’ I said.

’’Thanks for coming in to talk to us.’’

She took out a pen and made a production out of clicking the top. The door opened behind her. When I looked toward it, my heart sank. Chief Taylor stomped into the room as though the floor had offended him. He wore his police uniform and, despite being indoors and in fairly dim light, aviator sunglasses.

I waited for Chief Taylor to say something sarcastic to me. He didn\'t. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. I looked back toward Dunleavy.

’’I\'m underage, you know,’’ I said.

’’Yes, we know. Why?’’

’’Are you allowed to question me without my guardian present?’’

She flashed a quick smile, but there was no warmth in it. ’’You watch too much TV. If you were a suspect in a crime, it might be different. As it is, we just need to ask you some questions. Is that okay?’’

I wasn\'t sure what to say, but I settled for, ’’I guess so.’’

’’Who is your legal guardian?’’

’’My mother.’’

Uncle Myron had wanted to be, but that had been part of the deal. I would live with him under the condition that my mother, despite being in rehab, remained my sole legal guardian.

’’If you insist, we can call her.’’

’’No,’’ I said quickly. That would be the last thing Mom\'s already fragile psyche would need. ’’It\'s fine, don\'t worry about it.’’

’’Do you know why you\'re here?’’ she asked.

I was going to say that it had something to do with a ’’shooting,’’ but that assumption hadn\'t helped much in the car.

’’No.’’

’’No idea at all?’’

So much for that play. ’’Well, the officer said it had something to do with a shooting.’’

’’It does. In fact, two people were shot.’’

’’Who?’’

’’Is there anything you can tell us about it?’’

’’About what?’’

’’About the shooting?’’


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