Yanking his coat from the back of the wood slated chair and practically tipping it over with the momentum of his movements, Austin Sanchez practically ran out of the detective's office. Outside of the door, he angrily pushed his arms into the sleeves of his smoke gray leather jacket and jabbed the 'down' button of the elevator.
"Doctor Sanchez." The detective poked his head out of his door. "Don't forget that you have to remain in town. Until your son is found, you are unfortunately considered a suspect."
"I'm not about to forget that too soon," Austin answered in a flat furious tone. He stepped into the elevator and stalled the door's closing by putting his foot in the doorway. "Just keep my name and number close at hand; you may want to put it on your list as a murder suspect before the night is over."
"Listen, Doctor Sanchez, don't do anything you’ll be sorry about," Warned the detective, pointing his pen towards Austin. "You'll find yourself right back up here and not sitting comfortably in my little office."
"Never fear, if I do anything, I can guarantee you I won’t be sorry." He jabbed his finger into the button that closed the door.
Shaking his head as the doors closed, the detective empathized with Austin's feelings. What a hell of a way to find out you’re a father. He had seen and heard a lot of things during his years as police detective, but this was a new one. To never know that you are a parent and then to get the knowledge when your child is missing had to be a horrendous blow to both your ego and your sense of righteousness.
Remembering the shocked look on Austin Sanchez's face, he had no doubts that the man knew nothing about the child's whereabouts. As a matter of fact, he had been afraid that he would have to call the paramedics. The poor guy had looked like he was about to have a stroke.
"Man, what way to find out that you are a father," The detective repeated out loud. Slipping his arms into the sleeves of his coat, he too left the building.
Unknowingly echoing the detective's thoughts, Austin stepped from the elevator and walked out of the police station. He was so pissed he could barely think. If it weren't for the fact he was dead tired from spending the past eighteen hours between two different surgeries, Austin felt as if he could drive straight to Catrine's apartment and beat the life out of her. But then again, he was really tired. He needed a shower, a bottle of extra strength aspirin and a cup of coffee.
From the moment he had gotten home from work and heard the message on his answering machine telling him to report to the detective's office or face the possibility of being arrested, Austin had thought that there was nothing left in the day to shock him. Finding out that he was a father and being accused of that child's abduction, he had definitely been on a trip to another dimension that he could not get out of his mind. He recalled each step of the visit with each step he took towards his car.
"Come in Doctor Sanchez."
The detective ushered Austin into the cramped little room and directed him to a slate backed chair at a long wooden table. Shutting the door, he sat opposite of Austin with his arms folded, rocking back and forth on the rear legs of the chair. He studied Austin as if he were staring at a specimen under a microscope. Then, without uttering a word, the detective let the chair fall back on all four of its legs, the sudden thud startling in the quiet room. Tapping the unsharpened end of his pencil on the table as he studied the notes in front of him, the detective repeatedly hummed a couple of tuneless notes.
Austin, assuming that this was another form of police psychological torture, nervously glanced around the small room. It was a mess. The clutter made him fill slightly claustrophobic. Shelves, floor, and table were packed with files, office equipment, and other office paraphernalia. There was barely enough room for him to move. Breathing slowly, Austin strove to put on the face of extreme confidence. After all, he had done nothing wrong. He had stolen nothing. No one had died on the operating table while in his hands and he owed no one any money. So what was the problem? Why had he been called here? He could feel himself slipping into the Black man's sense of injustice and fear. No matter how professional a Black man became, the idea of dealing with the law could put mortal fear into his soul.
Examining the tips of his manicured nails and then the tips of his well shined shoes, he waited for the detective to stop the tuneless humming and speak. When the humming stopped, Austin thought he was about to learn the reason for his summons and he sat up straight, but he was mistaken. He watched the detective with a burning anger as the man tossed the useless pencil, pushed back his chair and moved away from the table before crossing the room to the coffee maker.
"Would you like a cup of coffee, Doctor Sanchez?"
"Why not, I guess I have nothing to lose by taking a cup." Deciding to get the show on the road, he employed sarcasm as his tool. "Maybe after that, you will tell me why you requested my company. Unless you called me here because you were lonely."
"No." The detective returned to the table and placed one of the cups he was carrying, in front of Austin. "Loneliness does not happen to be one of my problems. As a matter of fact, my problem is really your problem." He took a sip from his cup.
Copying the detective's moves, Austin irritably took a drink from his coffee. The damned little detective was working on his last nerve. Having to sit at the beck and call of a White man made him want to return to his belligerent, defiant, and ignorant days in the Hood. The gulp of scalding coffee brought his control into focus and he coughed in annoyance. Slamming the cup on the table and spilling a few drops in the process, he then mimicked the detective's rocking movements.
"Doctor Sanchez where is your son?"
"What?"Austin let the chair's legs fall back to the floor with a bang. "I don't have a son. If you called me in here to badger me about some unknown child, then I'm afraid you called in the wrong person." Austin stood to leave.
"Do you know a Catrine Nechelle Teddi?"
"Yes," Austin answered hesitantly before he turned and gazed doubtfully on the detective. "I haven't seen her for a few years, though."
Pointing to the empty chair with an ink pen, a sure sign they were now getting to work the detective resumed his interrogation.
"When was the last time you saw your son?"
"I have never seen my 'son', because I don’t have one." Austin getting more irritated as the moments passed, emphasized his response angrily as he ran his fingers through his hair.
"From what Ms. Teddi has told us, you do. The child is three and a half." He picked up the sheet of paper. "He was born on the twentieth of September."
"What?" He resumed his seat slowly, staring at detective in astonishment. "You mean you're telling me that Catrine had my child and she didn't let me know?"
"Is that what you’re telling me?"
"Yes."Austin covered his mouth in shocked disbelief. "How could she do such a thing? Isn't there a law against that or something? How can a woman keep the knowledge of a child from its father and there not be a law against it? Wouldn't that be like kidnapping or something?" He stared at the detective, but didn'tt really see him. His mind, desperately trying to assimilate what it had heard, refused to take in anything else.
"Have you and Ms. Teddi had an argument lately?"
"I just finished telling you that I haven’t seen her in a few years. I'm talking about over four years, here."
"Four years," The detective repeated the words in disbelief. “So you're trying to tell me you don't know where the boy is."
"He's missing? You brought me here, tell me about a child I have never seen and then you tell me that he is missing. Am I going to be considered a suspect? Wait a minute; I am a suspect, right" Austin stood in agitation and paced the room. “Do you think that I took him?"
"Sit down, Sanchez." The detective stood and put his hand on his hip. His solid stance and the hand nearest the gun in his holster intimidating as hell and Austin sat."The mother reported the child missing and we always check with family members, first. You are not the only one we will question."
"I just can't believe this." Austin shook his head in stupefaction. Catrine had my child and did not let me know. "Do you have a picture of my son?" He looked across the room at the detective.
"No an officer is on the way to meet Ms. Teddi now to get one." He sat back down. "I won't be able to keep you too long, but I do have a few questions that I want to ask you. I want to ask you a few questions about your activities throughout today. So sit back and calm down."
Taking a deep breath and picking up the cup of coffee so his hands would be occupied, he had spent the better part of the past two hours sitting in that hard bottomed slate backed chair, repeatedly answering the same questions until he thought he would burst with anger and frustration.
"Listen, I don’t know how differently I can answer you. I have never seen him. I have already told you the same thing repeatedly I have no ideas about an abduction. For all I know the child is not even my son!"
He had stressed the statement. Losing all patience, but to no avail. The questions continued. Do you know Catrine Teddi? Where does she live? When was the last time you had any contact with her? How long have you known her? Do you think she would harm her own child? The same questions, the same answers except for the one that he had no answer for. Why had Catrine kept the boy a secret?
Angrily striding through the parking garage without a glance to his surroundings, Austin walked past his car and huffed irritably when he had to turn and retrace his steps. Pushing the button that activated the engine of his car, he cursed extensively when the car protested with an irritating grinding squeal as it was thrown into the wrong gear.
"When I get to my apartment and take a shower, I'm going to call Catrine," he promised himself aloud as he restarted the car. "I should just pop up at her house. I still remember her address. Hell, I should. It took me damned near a year to stop driving past there. This time, I will be damned if I just pass by."The Perfect Solution-A suspense of choices.
Read more-check out interviews with each character. Totally eye opening.
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