Book: Ask the Right Question

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Miller made a special trip in for me about ten thirty. That was the nicest thing anybody had done for me in quite a while. It meant that he hadn’t forgotten me.

He was in high school with me, in my class. But I never met him until near the end of the summer after we graduated. One Saturday I had nicked a convertible from a Broad Ripple parking lot after a movie at the Vogue. I was heading out Westfield Boulevard going no place in particular and I recognized him hitching. I knew I’d seen him somewhere. So I stopped and picked him up. He’d been going to watch a baseball game at North Central. We got to talking. He had to pitch against one of the teams in a few days and he didn’t have anything else to do.

We learned that we had some interests in common. Like exploring foreign neighborhoods.

We decided to take a ride. We drove that damn car about a hundred and fifty miles. Up to Kokomo and through Muncie, all around the northeast of town until we ran out of gas just outside of Oaklandon. From Oaklandon we walked back to the city. Ten miles. That sort of thing does something to a couple of people. No matter how different you are when you meet, and what ways you go after you part, you have a community of feeling that you never forget.

He had called my mother for me and when I was called in she’d already been and gone leaving the five-hundred-dollar bail.

I was in Miller’s office by eleven forty five.

He gave me a fat manila envelope full of pictures. Prints from the rolls I popped the night before. “I’ve been reviewing your case,” he said. “I think you may need these to prepare a proper defense.”

I smiled. “Bet the lab loved this.”

“It kept them out of trouble last night. They get horny if they just sit around and read Shakespeare all night.”

We had a little more chatter and then he told me about Crystal’s lawyer. “That guy, Ames. His lawyer’s apparently been around here all morning finding out whatever he can.”

“What’d he find out?”

“Finally, your name. Not much else that he didn’t know. When you were caught, doing what. He wants the pictures and he’s talking tough about prosecution. By the way, they’ve added possession of burglar’s tools to your charge sheet. Thought you’d like to know. They picked up your car in that shopping center. It’s in the pound. You’ll owe thirty bucks towing charges plus a parking ticket for leaving it there overnight.”

I shrugged it off. I wanted to get going, but I’d had a night to think on my experiences. “Something else. Can you tell me what the problem is with the desk sergeant who was on last night?”

“Yeah. His old lady split the sheet with him. Took off. After twenty-three years. He doesn’t know where. Every night when he comes on he checks at missing persons.”

“Kind of rough on the people he books.”

“Yeah, but it’s kind of rough on him too.” All heart, that Miller, too soft to make it against the odds. But a good man. I would still have trouble gleaning myself for sympathy for the sad-sack sergeant.

“You better go,” he said. “I got to get home. I don’t go on duty till four, you know.”

“I know,” I said. And I knew.

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