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“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney…”
I’d fully zoned out.
I’d had my “rights” read to me what felt like a hundred times. I knew the drill. I glued my eyes to River’s as the cold handcuffs confined my wrists. I searched for comfort, and all that stared back at me was fear.
“What the hell is going on? Why are you cuffing him? He didn’t do anything wrong!” River yelled before helplessly pressing her heart-shaped lips together.
I could tell by the distant look on her face and the glossy haze over her eyes that she was completely devastated over the entire thing. The sight of tears sliding down her round face made my knuckles tense up and set my throat on fire. I hated seeing my baby like that. It was enough to make me want to break out of the cuffs and kill everybody in my way just so I could catch them before they fell. All I ever wanted to do was make her smile and do anything to wipe away the pain she was feeling.
“I’m going to get out, don’t worry. Everything is gon’ be fine, I fuckin’ promise!” I yelled out to her.
I stared, refusing to tear my eyes away from her even when they pushed me into the back of the dirty ass police car. I wanted to capture everything about her, even if she wasn’t at her best. Her hair was in a high messy bun with loose ringlets of her natural curls swinging at the nape of her neck. There were small beads of sweat populating on her forehead as terror sparkled in her cedar brown eyes. She dug her nails into her clover honey colored skin, screaming, crying out to deaf ears with twisted lips and a crinkled nose. When the car pulled off, all I could do was pray too much time didn’t pass until I saw her again.
WHEN I GOT to the jail, I made my phone call. Little did they know, I had a lawyer on payroll. Joel Weinberg was one of five partners at Weinberg and Associates, and he was a fuckin’ shark.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Get down to the precinct. They got me fucked-up out here, tryna pin Luca’s death on me.”
“What? Okay, okay. Sit tight. I’ll be down there soon.”
“Call Sosa and tell him to check on the house. He’ll know what I mean.”
I hung up the phone, knowing whoever put the target on my back was honing in slowly but surely. Niggas would always show me respect in jail, but I could never be sure if someone would try something. At that point, everybody was lookin’ like an enemy to me, and I needed to talk to Sosa. He was the only person outside of myself I could trust to help me get to the bottom of who’d killed my brother, and why they thought they had the power to set me up to take the fall for it.
They put me in a holding cell with nothing but four concrete walls and a door with a rectangular cut out for a window. I propped my foot up against the leg of the steel table just as two investigators in cheap ass suits walked in.
“How ya doin’, Maverick? That’s a cool name, huh, Pratt,” one said, elbowing his female partner in the side.
“Sure is, Wilson,” she nodded, “but listen, Mav. Can I call you Mav? We just want to chat, that’s all.”
“I ain’t got nothin’ to say.”
“Oh, sure you do,” Wilson said, leaning in to me. “Let’s start with you telling us where you were the night your brother was killed.”
The smell of old coffee and cigarette butts on his breath churned my stomach. “I don’t have to tell you shit because I ain’t do shit, but somethin’ tells me you already know that.”
Pratt folded her arms. “If you’re innocent, then what’s the harm in telling us where you were that night? If your story checks out, you have nothing to worry about.”
I cut my eyes at her and shrugged. “I ain’t worried now. We both know if y’all had shit, there would be no need to talk. You’re just trying to buy time before my lawyer gets here.”
“Listen, the faster you cooperate with me, the easier this will be for everybody. So, I’ll ask you again, where were you the night of the accident?” Wilson interjected.
“You really wanna know where I was?” I asked, adjusting my position in the hard plastic chair.
“Yeah.” He nodded.
“I was in the crib gettin’ topped off by your bitch.” I smirked. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing see me sweat.
“Oh, I see we got a real clever mothafucka on our hands, huh?” Wilson retorted.
Pratt nodded, pulling her dark brown hair into a ponytail. “Not clever enough though…looks like cell phone towers pinged your number not too far away from the scene of the accident that night. Can you explain that?”
Before I had a chance to respond, my lawyer stormed in, letting the door ricochet against the wall. “Don’t say another word, Maverick! And you two, what do you think you’re doing? Step away from my client!”
“Relax, we were just chatting with him!” Wilson retorted.
“My client doesn’t have to say anything to you because there’s nothing to say! Where is your evidence, huh? My client has paid his debt to society and for you to have the audacity to accuse him of the murder of his own brother while he is still in mourning sounds like nothing short of harassment to me. So, if you continue to waste our time, I’ll be sure to file a lawsuit against everyone in this precinct to the point where you’ll be wishing you never placed cuffs on him!”
Joel may have been a brittle looking, middle-aged white man, but he showed no weakness, which is exactly what I paid him to do. The two walked out of the room as silent as church mice, leaving the two of us alone.
“What the fuck, Joel?” I asked. I still couldn’t believe they had the audacity to think I was behind any of that shit.
“I made some calls on my way down here, just trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and honestly, I wish I had better news.”
“What am I up against?”
“The word conspiracy is floating around. They’re trying to link your past charges and involvement in the drug business as your motive. If they can make anything stick, they’re going to try to use the Kingpin Statute. Minimum thirty years, max is life.”
“Kingpin? Come the fuck on, man. I’m done with that shit. How many fuckin’ times I gotta say that?”
“You know that, and so do I, but it’s not about what we know. It’s about what we can prove. The justice system is funny like that. What did they say to you?”
“Nothing much, just somethin’ about some cell phone towers putting me close to the accident.”
“Did you say anything to them?”
“No, besides the fact that I was fuckin’ his bitch.”
Joel sighed. “Goddammit, Maverick. How many times have I told you not to antagonize these investigators? Do you have anything that can put all their questions and suspicions to rest?”
The room fell silent. I knew Suki’s cell phone would prove my innocence, but I wasn’t ready to give that up yet. I had my own reasons for keeping that close to me.
“No,” I answered.
He sighed. “Okay, well until we can make sure all this blows over with no problem, you have to keep your hands clean, and I mean squeaky fuckin’ clean. They’ll be watching you like a hawk and will try to use anything against you to help them build their case. Don’t make it easy for them.”
My head bobbed in agreement. “I’ve been clean. Don’t worry, I’m never goin’ back to the game or to a cell,” I assured him.
“Good. Now, let me go do my job. I’m going to make sure you walk out of here as soon as possible,” he assured me.
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