A simple flash tale, with thanks going to Editor Dave T for making the fable readable. A shout out to my retired detective neighbor who helped fill in some blanks. All and any errors are mine and mine alone.
The room at the Metro PD station was an institutional gray color with obvious Government Issue table and chairs that had seen better days. The place did not look like any of the interrogation rooms you saw on police TV shows, mainly because the room was so small. The cramped location was not much bigger than an average sized home bathroom.
An older burly man with 'law enforcement' written all over his face maneuvered his bulk around the beaten metal table and plopped into a chair. He dropped a set of file folders on the table top and motioned in two more men standing in the doorway.
"Sit there please" the big man said pointing out two chairs opposite him.
First to enter was a middle aged adult in an expensive suit. He shepherded in another male of the same age dressed in a presentable suitcoat that he clearly was not comfortable wearing. One look at his hands displayed someone who did not spend his days pounding away on a keyboard. In contrast the 'suit' had trimmed manicured nails and looked as if he was born in a shirt and tie.
The burly man opposite from the pair, pointed at a cassette tape recorder on the table. "Counselor, thank you for coming in with your client today. I hope you do not mind if we record this conversation."
The suit let out a laugh. "Really Detective? You think this is my first rodeo?" He pointed at the tape deck. "We both know you have not recorded anything on that museum piece since Pink Floyd was singing 'Another Brick in the Wall' and you were wearing parachute pants with a pony tail."
The attorney leaned back and motioned to what resembled an oversized smoke detector on the ceiling. "I'll gamble your paycheck that any conversation in a police station interrogation room has no expectation of privacy, and EVERYTHING is being recorded by your 'little eye in the sky' there."
They went through the motion of reciting their names, the time, date, etc. for the 'record' when the attorney held up his hand to ward off any more questions.
"As long as we are stating conditions for 'the record' Detective, I wish you to acknowledge my client is not under arrest and is free to go at any time."
Settling back in his chair the Detective replied casually. "We are all just having a conversation and speaking freely here."
"Very good Officer, so now that you have made it clear we will having a speaking conversation and will not be using sign language, or texting, or sending smoke signals, can you say 'My client is not under arrest and is free to go at any time'."
"Fine Counselor, your client is not under arrest at the present time."
The attorney stood up and motioned his client to do the same. "Apparently we have a failure to communicate. Detective, if I do not hear the words 'My client is not under arrest and free to go at any time' we are leaving immediately and you can go get a judge to issue a subpoena to speak with my client."
The Detective just smiled to himself. He was not fazed by the barrister's little speech. He knew the peacock was just showing off for his meal ticket. The Detective had been in this job way too long to take these verbal jousts personally. He looked at it more as a duel between a baseball pitcher and batter. There were a lot of other players on the team, but this was between the two of them. No matter the outcome, both would move onto the next encounter with a different, but familiar opponent.
Putting his hands on the table, the Detective language was monotone, as if talking to a child. "Your client is not under arrest and is free to go at any time."
The attorney looked at his client who shrugged and sat down.
Opening a folder from the top of the pile the Detective pulled out a series of color photos, tossing them to the center of the table. The pictures displayed a fire ravaged residence.
Putting on reading glasses from a shirt pocket, the burly lawman referenced a printed report deeper in the folder.
"This is from the Metro Fire Arson Squad." He said, shaking the multipage report in his grasp. "It states the cause of the fire that destroyed your home and wife's BMW in the garage was deliberately set, and the accelerant used was an acetone based fluid. The blaze started in the hallway outside the master bedroom shared by you and your wife."
The Detective peered over his glasses at the man next to the attorney. "In any case of arson by the policyholder, Insurance will not pay claims for damage or reimbursement of any expenses."
When no response came from the attorney or his client, the Detective put down the Arson report. "In my experience an innocent man would wish to speak up. Not appear guilty by hiding behind a lawyer."
The man started to speak but was silenced by the Attorney's grip on his sleeve, who then turned to the Detective before replying. "Well Detective it is a good thing we don't rely on your experience, but Constitutional law and the Bill of Rights, where every man is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
The attorney fixed his tie before continuing. "As far as 'hiding' behind a legal representative, my client is a simple father, homeowner, and tax paying citizen. YOU on the other hand have a several thousand strong quasi-military force at your disposal, complete with full crime lab facilities and million dollar war chest backed by a massive metro city legal department. Yet you wish to have my client just face this onslaught without even the simplest of legal protection? Who is real Bully in this room?"
The attorney leaned back in the chair. He also knew how to play the game. "Detective. Can we get to the real reason we are here. I do not recall arson investigation being under the Metro Police jurisdiction. Or is crime so low in our fair city you need to find something to do, like harass homeowners who have been burned out of their house?"
The Detective did not reply at first, but took two remaining photos out of the folder. "Counselor, you are correct. The Metro PD leaves arson to our firefighting brethren. However murder, assault and attempted murder cases do land on my desk."
He tried to pass the photos to the man sitting next to the Attorney. But the Attorney's well manicured fingers intercepted the pictures. The Detective did not object but did not pose his question at the attorney.
"Sir, do you care to comment on these pictures?"
The two photos showed the outside wall of a dwelling mostly blackened by fire. The standing wall still had glowing embers at the base and smoke was visible. Most prominent in the picture were large letters spray painted on the wall.
CHEATING BITCH LIVES HERE!!!!
The Attorney studied the two pictures with great interest, even turning them on their sides. Then with a furrow of his brow he placed the two pictures on the table.
"You know Detective I worked my way through college and law school as a photographer. In my opinion I think whoever shot these pictures did a nice job on the framing. But me personally? I would have used a different filter and maybe increased the f-stop a bit. This would have increased the depth of field more and made the subject matter really stand out from the background. Naturally this is more of a subjective nature and completely dependent on what your shooter was going for."
"Don't be a wise ass Counselor. I really would like to know what your client there thinks of this little artistic statement."
"Detective, I have known my client for almost three decades, and can testify in a court of law he has no interest in photography and would be unable even as an amateur to give any constructive criticism on these pictures. Therefore I am advising my client not to comment on your collection."
The lawman let out a breath while opening another folder. "Fine, if you want to sit mute and let your mouthpiece lead you to a jail cell, be my guest."
He then threw some printed papers onto the table. "That is a statement from your wife. It details her seven month affair with one of her co-workers." Seeing no response he continued. "I must tell you she was not very forthcoming until she found the bank accounts empty. Then BANG! That was one pissed off female. She could not wait to throw you under the bus."
For the first time the silent man spoke. "Stupid bitch" the man muttered.
The Detective raised his eyebrows. "Interesting choice of words." He pointed at the photo of the graffiti like scrawl on the blacken wall. "Not 'stupid' but 'bitch'. I think it was Einstein who said only two things are infinite, stupidly and the universe, and he was not too sure about the universe."
The man facing the detective, just shrugged.
Shuffling the wife's statement back into the folder, the Detective continued. "Your wife was extremely fortunate she was not in the house the night of the fire, although her car was parked in the garage. The car in the garage would indicate she was home which could have made this arson fire a homicide, not just attempted homicide."
Seeing no response from the two men, the Metro Detective tossed another sheet of papers on the table with a photo attached. "Now, what was the source of your wife's good fortune as not to be home when a blaze consumed your domicile?"
He placed his finger on the picture of man in his early thirties. "This is your wife's 'paramour'. He may be hard to recognize as a few weeks before the fire someone tried to rearrange his features with a baseball bat."
.... There is more of this story ...