- Paul Rios
Last Week’s Memoir #18
Art by Paul Rios
Editor’s Note: The Last Week’s Memoir series is a collaborative story written by Jake Corbin, Bryce McEfee and Paul Rios. View previous LWM Serial No.1 entries to read the story from the beginning.
The captain stared with a stinkface at Officer Rodriguez for a moment. But before the captain could say anything to Rodriguez, a transponder beeped on the captain’s desk. His expression changed for a moment, and he motioned to Rodriguez to stay put. The captain walked over to his desk, swiped at the touch screen with his sausage-like fingers. With his other hand, he scratched at the stubble crusted on his chin.
Andy watched the captain. His face seemed to clench tighter and tighter, all the muscles pinching like the face of a giant upset, unshaven baby. Andy could almost hear the clink and grind of the gears in the captain’s brain. The captain was plotting.
“All right, Rodriguez,” the captain finally said. As he spoke, his face released from a grimace into a tortured smile. Andy squirmed as the captain grabbed his arm and lifted him up from the ground. He pushed him toward the direction of the door.
“Take a statement. I’m through with him for now,” the captain said with a wave of his hand.
Before Andy could protest, Officer Rodriguez whipped him out of the office, through the lobby and flashed his badge at a scanner by a door. Rodriguez clenched Andy’s arm firmly, yet it almost felt as though a ghost was guiding him. The door slid open and they walked down a corridor lined with black doors. Andy had never seen the inside of a police office before. Once, when he was in high school, his best friend Manny convinced him to ditch a week of courses and they got picked up by the Juvenile Patrol, but that didn’t even warrant a trip to the local precinct.
Rodriguez flashed his badge again in front of one of the nondescript black doors, which opened into darkness. As soon as they walked in, the lights flickered on. The room was empty except for a rectangular white table, two chairs and a camera perched in the ceiling corner. A red light blinked on the camera. Rodriguez motioned for Andy to sit. They hadn’t spoken a word to each other since the alley.
Rodriguez sat down across the table from Andy, and they looked each over. Rodriguez had tousled hair just like the man in the alley, and the same wispy goatee that made him look like a character from an Alexandre Dumas novel. The only difference compared to the man in the alley was the police uniform.
Rodriguez unzipped his police jacket, reached in and produced a small black orb the size of a clenched fist. He placed it on the table, and the orb emitted a faint glow. Rodriguez tapped the globe once, and the glow became brighter. He gave the orb a few more rhythmic taps, and then the lights in the room dimmed. Andy noticed the red light on the camera disappeared. Andy was trying to find a word, to ask him what happened in that alleyway, to try and discern if Larry was really dead. But Rodriguez spoke first.
“Hello again, Andy.”
The glow of the orb in the center of the desk lit the room in pale light. Andy remembered going on camping hikes out to the last forested zones outside of the city. When the sun went down out in the wild, the camp leader used to light a fire and the flickering light cast a glow on the faces of the boys surrounding the fire. They told ghost stories in the dark. He thought about this as he continued to examine Officer Rodriguez, his ashen skin and empty eyes.
“Who are you?” Andy asked, unsure if it was even a valid question.
“You asked that one already. In the alley, remember? And I already answered. Nobody important. Just trying to help a man in a jam.”
“I can see you’re a bit confused, Andy.”
All the gunfire, police and mystery didn’t bother Andy as much as the fact that everyone seemed to know his name.
“What do you know about The Multitude, Andy?”