Travis

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say.”

‘’Well, say whatever comes to mind.”

“What if nothing comes to mind?”

He waits.

“Take your time.” He says, patronizing.

She wrings her hands in her lap.

“Why don’t you start with what your mother said to you.” He says, leaning back in his chair.

She scoffs.

“My mother? She doesn’t know anything.”

“Maybe, but what did she say?”

“She said to report Travis to the police. And if I didn’t, she would.”

“And did she?”

“No, because Travis died.”

She starts to cry.

“And that upsets you.” He says.

“Of course! I really loved him. Even if he seemed like just a dumb hick.” A faraway look comes to her eyes.  “He had something in his soul, a poetry that he didn’t even know he had.” She becomes lost in thought.

He waits a moment for her to continue. 

“Go on, this is a safe place.”

“I guess he was just someone I could let go around. He was always so in control, I never had to think around him. I could just forget everything and let him think for both of us. I liked that.”

She stops.

“And?”

She stares at her hands in her lap, and blushes again.

“Well, he sort of, freed me, in a way.” She mumbles.

“What do you mean?” She didn’t look up and missed him move to the edge of his seat.

“He, well, he – he – he was always very gentle!” She blurts out.

“Yes?” 

“He never did anything that I didn’t want to do! I don’t care what my mother says!” 

“You’re mother isn’t here now. You can be open about what happened.” His breath is quick.

She pauses.

“Well, there were lots of times.”

He leans forward and rests his arms on the desk.

“Choose one.”

She thinks for a moment.

“There was this one time after one of my soccer games, we took his car and drove back to my house. He always drove, that was one of the things I loved about being with him. When we got there Mom’s car wasn’t in the driveway. He had his hands on me even before we got to the door which I didn’t mind so much – he was always touching me in one way or another. Once we got into the house he wanted to go up to my room but I was a little nervous. We’d only done it a couple times and always at his place. But he was really begging me by that point so I said yes and we went up and started messing around.  Well, we’re right in the middle of doing it and all of the sudden my Mom’s there screaming at me, calling me a whore and chewing me out like I was a little kid! Saying that I was grounded for crying out loud! Right in front of Travis! I was totally embarrassed, I though I would die!”

“How old were you at the time?”

“16”

“Don’t you think that’s a little young to be sexually active?”

She jumps up. “No! You can’t put an age limit on love! And I loved Travis! He showed me things about my body that I never knew were possible!”

His eyes lit up.

“What sorts of things?”

“What?”

“What sorts of things did he show you?” His eager red face stares up at her.

She looks down at him. Her brow furrows in disgust. She falls back into her seat. He follows with his eyes, never blinking. 

“Um…lots of things. I – I – I don’t really feel comfortable talking about them.” 

“But you can talk about anything here.” He gestures with his hand. “Like I said, this is a safe place.” 

“I know you said that, but I don’t feel safe.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Well, you make me feel unsafe.”

He sat back in his chair.

“Me? How do I make you feel unsafe?” There is an edge to his voice.

“Because you’re really interested in the details about what Travis and I did in the bedroom.”

“Look, I’m just trying to conduct a thorough investigation.” He makes a peak with his hands, “I need to collect details of the incident in order to write the proper report for the authorities. That includes details of your sexual encounters with the deceased. If you find that you’re unable to cooperate, I will make a note of that in my report.”

He looks at her pointedly, cool anger on the edge of his eyes.

“Do you find you are unable to cooperate?”

“No.” She says quietly, eyes downcast.

“Fine. Then we will continue.” He leans forward again and puts his arms on the desk, making a peak with his fingers. “You said that Travis freed you – how so? In what way?”

She doesn’t answer.

He closes his eyes.

“Do you find you are unwilling to cooperate?” He looks at her hard though she still looks at her feet.

She doesn’t answer.

“Fine. I’ll make the appropriate notes in my report. You can go.” He takes a notepad from the desk, clicks a pen, and begins to write.

She doesn’t move.

He looks up at her questioningly. He looks down and continues to write.

“I said you can go. I’m done asking questions.”

“What happens to me if you write in your report that I didn’t answer your questions?” She is very quiet.

He doesn’t answer right away. She is forced to look up at him.

“Well, I imagine you might be sent to a juvenile home, or some such facility. They won’t put you in foster care, you’re too old for that. But, if you are able to cooperate, I could see to it that you would remain in custody of your aunt. Until you reach 18.”

She sits and says nothing.

“So, are you going to comply? Will you cooperate?”

“Yes.”

“Then, what about the second incident, the one we’re here to discuss today? What happened then?”

She doesn’t speak at first. Then the words come slowly, without feeling.

“Travis stole a car that night. He was all worked up, he had met up with some friends and done some cocaine. I wasn’t going to see him because I hated when he was high, but he…he just kept pushing. He kept calling over and over again. He wouldn’t stop. He started talking about hurting himself if he couldn’t see me. Eventually I gave in and let him come over. He showed up in the stolen car, it was a nice one. I didn’t want to ride in it though, I didn’t want to be a part of that whole thing. He was offended and started to yell. I went back into the house and locked the door. He stood outside and pleaded with me, begging me to let him in. When he started to wail, I was afraid that he’d disturb the neighbors so I let him in. From the moment he was in the house he was all over me. I tried to push him away, but he was too strong. So, since I couldn’t fight him, I just let him have his way and waited for it to be over. He carried me up to my bedroom and laid me down on my bed. I think he was trying to be romantic, but he was all rough and jerking because of the cocaine, not gentle at all.”

She takes a shaky breath and suddenly a tear rolls down her cheek. Her voice breaks.

“He – he – hurt me that time. I was telling him that he was hurting me, but he wouldn’t listen. He just kept on going. I tried to get him off me but he was too strong. He wouldn’t stop. He just smacked me and kept going. I started screaming at him to stop.”

Her tears are flowing freely now. Her breath is ragged. He doesn’t console her.

“All of a sudden, I see my mom in the doorway. She was holding something in her hands but I couldn’t see what it was. She started yelling at Travis. I don’t know what she said but he was just about to come and wasn’t listening. He just kept going harder and harder, not stopping no matter what anyone said. Suddenly there was this loud bang that made me jump and Travis and I got…disconnected and I thought that he would get really mad about that but he just stayed there on top of me and he didn’t move or say anything he just stared down at me and then there was blood dripping from his mouth and I tried to push him off me but he fell down on top of me and I was screaming and my mom was there to roll him off me but his blood was already on me and I couldn’t stop screaming.”

She holds her head in her hands and cries. He doesn’t console her.

After a moment she continues.

“My mom held me tight and told me everything was going to be alright and that helped a bit. I stopped screaming and was able to think a little bit clearer. She said that Travis was dead and we were going to have to do something about the body. For some reason I started laughing and she said that was because I was in shock. She took me out of the room and led me downstairs to the kitchen and gave me a glass of water. I asked if I could have some ice cream and she gave me some. I ate the ice cream, chocolate mint chip, and then threw up in the sink. I sat down in the living room and watched TV for a couple of hours while mom took care of Travis’s body. I don’t know what she did with it. I guess she left it in the stolen car because that’s where the cops found it.”

She takes a deep breath.

“I know Travis wasn’t the best person in the world. I know he was just a dumb hick. But he was a good person at heart and he didn’t deserve to be shot like that. My mother was wrong for what she did and I think she should have to pay for her crime.”

He raises his eyebrows in surprise.

“So you agree that your mother should go to jail for what she’s done?” He asks.

“Yes.”

“Most children would want to be with their parents regardless of the situation.”

“Not me. I think she deserves what she’s getting.”

“Well, I’ll make sure to note that in my report.”

She is silent for a moment.

“Will that make a difference in anything?” She asks.

“Will what make a difference?”

“That I think my mother deserves what she’s getting. That I don’t want to be with her. Does that make a difference in anything.”

“Well, actually, it does. It goes to explaining your psychological makeup and your feelings about the incident. We need to know how best to take care of you now that this has happened and to do that we need an accurate assessment of the situation.”

“Do you think you have an accurate assessment?”

He pretends to think for a moment, making her wait.

“I think we need to have several more conversations to study this event further. I think much more information is still inside you that needs to me let out, that you’re holding back. We need to get at that information in order to create a full picture of the event and then to provide you with the proper care you require.”

“But I’ve told you everything! What else is there to tell?”

He paused again and it made her feel uncomfortable, though she didn’t know why.

“I disagree. You haven’t told everything. You may think you have, but I believe there’s more to tell. We’ll have more discussions and the full truth will be revealed. Until then, I think you should remain here with us.”

She jumps out of her seat. “What?! You mean I can’t go home?!”

“Hm…No, not yet, I think. You still have memories you need to expunge. As soon as we get everything from you, I think you’ll be ready to go.”

“But what else can I tell you?”

“You can tell me more about that night.” He looks at her pointedly.

She looks into his hungry eyes. She slumps back down in the chair. She sighs and stares off into space, speaking in monotone.

“After he carried me up to the bedroom, he laid me down on the bed. The first thing he did was pull off my pants and underwear. He tried to go slow but he was too hyped up and couldn’t wait -“

“Ok, you can stop there.” He said. His face is red and he is sitting very close to his desk. “You may step out for a moment while I consider what you’ve said and make some notes.”

She looks up, confused.

“Please step out for a moment while I make some notes in your file.” His voice is urgent.

She gets up and walks hesitantly to the door. She has her hand on the knob and looks back. He is watching her with a strained look on his face.

“Please go, I’ll call you back when I’m ready for you.”

She opens the door and leaves the office. The door shuts with a click behind her.

She stands out in the hallway, waiting, while a large clock ticks on the wall in front of her. Other people walk by and her reflection in the clock face looks out of place.

After several minutes, he calls for her to come back into his office. She enters and he gives her a relaxed smile. She looks back at him, frowning in confusion.

“Thank you for waiting.” He says casually. “Please, sit.”

She slowly sits back in the seat.

“I’ve made the necessary notes in your file and it seems like we have all the information we need for now. You’re free to go back with your aunt today, but we may need you to return for further questioning if the investigation warrants it.”

She looks up and sees there is still hunger in his eyes.

“So, do we have an understanding?” He asks.

“Yes.” She says quietly.

“Good. Now, you’ll need to sign these papers in order to be released.” He turns the files to face her and holds out the pen.

“What do they say?” She looks at the multicolored papers.

“That we talked and you gave information to the best of your knowledge and I interviewed you in a fair and impartial and safe environment.”

She looks up at him, meeting his eye. After a moment, he looks down at the papers.

“Please sign them.” He says, curtly. “I can’t let you go home unless you do.” He lays the pen on top of the papers and pushes them towards her.

She looks down at the papers again. White, yellow, pink. She picks up the pen and flips through the multiple copies.

“I have other appointments today, so could you please move it along.” He says.

She picks up the top copy, sits back in her seat, and starts to read.

“What are you doing?” He asks.

She looks up.

“Me?”

“Yes! What are you doing?”

“I’m reading.”

“I can see that!”

There is a pause while he waits for more answers.

Why are you reading that?”

“Because.”

He gives a deep sigh.

“Because why?!”

“Well, because I have a right to know what I’m signing before I sign it, don’t I?”

He stands and walks briskly over to her, ripping the paper out of her hands, tearing it. She flinches, small piece of paper still caught in her hand. He marches back to his desk.

“So you don’t want me to sign it?” She asked.

“That will be all. You can leave now.” He pulls his chair up to the desk, looking at the papers.

“But I thought you wanted me to sign the paper?” Fear creeps into her voice.

“No, you don’t have to sign it. It was only a formality.” He doesn’t look at her.

“I’ll sign it. I don’t have to read it. I was just kidding around!” She tries to laugh it off.

“No!” He looks at her, anger in his eyes. “It’s too late for that! You wanted to make a joke of this, well I’m going to have the last laugh. You’re going down to juvie where I can keep a very close eye on you. I’ll be visiting you quite often down there.”

Her eyes grow wide and she holds herself tight.

“No!” She begs. “No! I’ll do whatever you want! I’ll sign the papers! I’ll tell you what you want to know! I’ll get into more detail about Travis and me. About all the times we were together.”

“You’ll tell me that regardless.” He goes back to shuffling papers.

Gripping her chair, she shakes her head.

“No I won’t! I won’t tell you anything if you send me to juvie!”

He leans over his desk.

“Yes, you will. I can make things very uncomfortable for you if you don’t cooperate. You’re being difficult and I have an established system of dealing with types like you. There are treatments you’ve never even heard of that bring about very effective results in cases like this.”

She sits there, staring at him. He doesn’t drop his eyes. Her lip begins to tremble and a tear falls from her eye, followed by another.

“Please, I don’t want to go to juvie. Please let me go home.”

He snorts.

“Ha! Nice try, but I don’t fall for that! That whole crying thing doesn’t work on me. I’m offended that you’re even trying it. You’re going to juvie now for sure!” He writes in firm strokes.

There is silence in the office except for the scratch of his pen and her occasional sniff. After several minutes he barks at her.

“Are you still trying to get at me?! I told you, that doesn’t work! Turn off the water works or I’ll make you regret you ever started that manipulative trick!”

She takes a deep breath and holds her blotchy red face in her hands. The tears still run freely.

“I said to stop it!”

She attempts to calm herself again with another deep breath. She wipes the existing tears off her face and sniffs again. She meets his eye.

“I’m not trying to pull one over on you.” She says firmly. “I just want to go home.” 

He stares at her in an attempt to discern the validity of her statement.  He shakes his head.

“That doesn’t matter anymore.” He says. “Your wants and needs are irrelevant. You refused to cooperate with me and so now this is the result. You are going to juvie and the next step – prison. You’ll never get a normal job, never get into a major collage. Not coming from there.”

Her eyes widened. He sat back in his chair, smiling.

“Please…don’t send me there! I’ll do whatever you ask!”

Again, he stares at her. The hungry look creeps back into his eyes and she drops her head. His smile widens.

“Well, well, well.  Finally you’re starting to see things my way! Maybe there’s hope for you after all!” He stands and walks around to the front of the desk where he leans against it, feet crossed at the ankles.

“So you see, it can all be very simple. Do what you’re told, and I make things happen for you. Comfortable things. Supportive things. Things that make the bad stuff go away.”

She raises her head to look at him.

“Like what?”

“Like working with the lawyers to get you tried separately from your mother. Then at least you have a fighting chance. I can vouch for your innocence, your lack of knowledge of the killing, your lack of involvement.”

She sighs and looks at her hands.

“I can be your advocate through this entire ordeal. I can work on your behalf in the midst of all that’s going on to make sure you’re best interests are being followed and that you’re being protected. Wouldn’t you like that?”

She looks up at him, tilting her head.

“But at what cost?” She asks.

His brow furrows.

“What do you mean?”

“What do I have to do for you to be my advocate?”

His smile fades. 

“Well, we’ll just have to come up with the specifics on that as we go along now, shall we?”

She meets his eyes.

“I’d just as rather know now what I’m getting into.”

He raises his voice.

“This is exactly what I’m talking about! Your lack of cooperation! Either you take my offer or you don’t! I’m not going to explain myself to you!”

She drops her eyes again. After a few moments her head drops then her shoulders slouch.

The smile creeps back onto his face.

“Ok then. It looks like that maybe we’re finally in agreement. Are you ready to sign the papers now?”

She nods her head.

“And you’re not going to go off and read them?” His voice patronizing.

She shakes her head.

His smile broadens.

“Ok then.”

He walks around to the back of the desk and sits. He writes quickly and then turns the file around to push it towards her. She reaches for the pen and signs the bottom of the document without looking at the contents.

“Good. Very good!” He compliments. He picks up the phone and presses a number. There is a short pause after which he says “ok” and then gently places the receiver back in the cradle. He looks up at her and silently smiles.

Her eyes flicker back from the phone to his face, then grow wide. She trembles for a moment, then leaps out of her chair towards the door. He calls after her, then fumbles with the top drawer of his desk. He pulls a gun out of the drawer, but it’s too late. He shoots a bullet in the wall, but by then she’s already running down the hallway. 

She hears someone shout behind her, but she keeps on going as fast as she can run. She sees the exit sign in front of her and runs faster. She hears a loud bang, like the sound of a door slamming, and something whizzes past her ear. She turns her head to the left and sees a posse of men running toward her. They have guns pointed at her. She didn’t think it possible to run any faster, but now she knows she is running for her life. She grows closer and closer to the exit when suddenly there’s there’s a loud bang and it feels someone punched her in the back. She falls forward from the force of it, stumbling to her knees. She quickly gets up, but feels strangely lightheaded, her vision blurred. She has a hard time getting her feet to move and is only able to take a few steps before stumbling again. When she’s able to get up, she’s punched again, this time even harder. It knocks her down completely, and she has no energy to get back up again. She looks down and notices a large pool of dark liquid growing under her. She wonders where it’s coming from and tries to stay away from it to keep her cloths from getting stained. She suddenly realizes she feels so tired, all she wants to do is close her eyes for a few minutes and she’ll feel much better. She does, but never opens them again.

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