The lamp clicks on in the dark room. My eyes wince as the bright light shines right into my face. Between the cracks of fingers I spy the door opening in the small room. Three men enter and approach the desk, their features harsh and uncaring. Two of the men stand guard by the third who pulls out his chair and takes a seat. From his hand, a manilla folder stuffed to overflowing slaps down on the wooden surface. The sitting man places arms on the desk and leans forward.
“Ms. Hickman, you do know why you are here?”
I shake my head. “Naw, man. This ain’t for real. You got the wrong girl. All us dark gray people look alike!”
“We have the right person, Ms. Hickman.” The folder flips open. My picture lies on top of the paperwork along with a case number. “We have been following you for some time now. You hid yourself with that fancy feather icon and it threw us off your trail. But your ego got too big and you showed yourself. This always happens with people like you.”
I push my chair back and stand up, waving my arms in anger. “No way, man. That ain’t right. This is called profiling. You see a sister like me driving a nice car and you got to pull her over for nothing. I wasn’t carrying, man. The moment I smelled the hoochie at the party, I walked right out of there. I want my lawyer. I want a phone call. I’ll get the NAACP, the ACLU, and the YWCA out on your asses! I got rights. Fight the Power!”
The three men stare at me. I can hear someone tapping a foot, waiting, as I end my rant and lower my arms. My hand scoots the chair back toward the desk as I take a seat. My voice is meek. “Sorry.”
“Well, if we can continue on now.” The sitting man begins to go through the paperwork. “It has come to our attention that you were involved in a murder.”
I tilt my head to the side with indignation. “Ah . . . come on! You know as well as I do that those surveillance cameras always error on the side of caution. You slap a ski mask on anyone and the next thing you know is that your granny is getting carted off to the cellblock and you have to pack your bags for Guatemala. Besides, everybody has the Photoshop program. You can take any picture and slap someone else’s head on your body. That is how Uncle ‘Max’ became Aunt ‘Maxine’ for those mail-order bride scams.”
One of the standing men snickers as his buddies throw him a glare. The man at the desk takes out a computer printout and slides it in my direction. “You do call yourself by ‘The Surly Writer’ moniker?”
I nod my head while keeping my eyes off the page. What I don’t see they cannot call upon me to testify about in a court of law.
The man gives me a return nod and clasps his hands together on the desk. “And you do remember a post you did awhile back titled, ‘I killed someone today?’Right?”
I think for a moment then my mouth drops open in an O shape. “Yeah, I did. Wow! That takes me back. Hee-hee! I still remember everything I did with those two bodies. Bending. Folding. Inking. They weren’t expecting a thing.” I start laughing.
“That is all the information we needed to know.” The sitting man gets up to feet. He gestures at me and his other two buddies take the cue. They charge around the table and grab my arms. A pair of handcuffs fits snugly on my wrists.
“Wait!” I try to plead my case as the men pull me toward the door. “Those weren’t real people. They were trees. Paper. I printed out my manuscripts on paper. Why would the FBI arrest me for that?”
“We are not the FBI.” The three men take out wallets and show their shiny badges.
“We are the EPA.”