I managed to get the bandage on Steve’s arm and the bleeding under control before the first of three Birmingham PD Ford Explorers screeched to a halt on the street. Two cops jumped out of each, guns drawn, and ordered us all to the ground. They searched us, disarmed me, cuffed us all, and then asked what had happened.
After about fifteens minutes they let the medics in to check out Raymond and Steve. Raymond was dead right there, but they loaded Steve onto a stretcher and put him into an ambulance that left for a nearby emergency room. One of the cops helped me up off the ground and escorted me over to one of the police Fords and put me in the back seat. I watched as they released the woman in the green dress from her handcuffs. They must have realized she was just a witness.
An unmarked police car pulled up and a detective with a stocky build and black hair in a crew cut stepped out. I recognized him from his visits to the cigar shop. He was an old friend of Walt’s, and a veteran homicide detective. He walked over to the two patrol cops who had first arrived on the scene and talked with them for a minute. Then he walked over to the woman in the green dress. He talked to her longer, asking a lot of questions and taking notes. I watched, wondering what was being said.
I tried to keep my imagination from going out of control with worry by focusing on the woman in the loud green dress. She was attractive enough to be a decent distraction from the growing sick feeling in my gut as I wondered what was going to happen to me, if I’d be arrested or charged with murder. Logically that would be nuts, but you hear horror stories if you’ve been in the self defense training community for any time.
Ms. Green Dress was about five-six, maybe one hundred thirty pounds. Long, athletic legs with some well defined curves in the bust and ass. She had that golden shade of skin the old timers called “high yaller,” shoulder length dark hair, and light green eyes. She was a gorgeous woman, I decided, with lips that a lazy novelist would describe as pouty. The dress she was wearing, on the other hand, was fucking hideous. I liked a woman in a sun dress and she clearly had the body for it, but that color did her no justice.
She crossed her arms over her chest as she talked to the detective and glanced my way. I noticed a glint of metal in one nostril and realized she had a hoop piercing there. It was cute and made me smile. She made eye contact with me and smiled back for an instant before dropping it and returning her gaze to the detective as he asked another question. It was the most uncanny thing, having a beautiful woman smile at me after seeing me turn some guy’s head into a canoe like I was Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Carrol.
That last though sent my mind spinning in a new direction. I had killed a man. Now I was sitting in the back of a cop car, maybe under arrest, maybe not, but definitely under a lot of scrutiny. I knew, without a doubt, that I had done what I had too. Had I not acted when I did Steve might be dead right now, and the thought of letting someone innocent die when I could stop it made me feel sick inside. I wasn’t ashamed of what I’d done. In fact I was starting to get a little pissed off. I’d done what any cop worth his badge would have done in a similar situation, but here I was sitting in the back of a patrol vehicle in cuffs.
The detective finished with Ms. Green Dress and gestured her over to the bench seats by one of the picnic tables. He looked over at me then and stared for a a while before narrowing his eyes and then quirking one eyebrow. He walked over to where I sat and opened the door so he could get a better look at me.
“Mr. Devereux?” he asked.
“I’m Detective Darren Wilson, Birmingham PD homicide,” he introduced himself. “I’ve seen you before somewhere, haven’t I?”
“Yes, Sir,” I answered. “At the cigar shop. Walt’s place.”
“That’s right,” he said, nodding. “So what happened here?”
“The man that was stabbed, Steve,” I said.
“I gave him a ride to meet the dead guy. He said his name was Raymond.” I looked him in the eyes as I spoke, holding his gaze and trying to keep my voice even. “Raymond was supposed to have a collectible Rolex that Steve was interested in buying. I came along as backup because it was going to be a cash transaction and Steve was worried it was a too good to be true situation. He didn’t want to be walking around out here with ten grand and have this guy try something. Steve’s not in the best physical health so he had me come along.
“So, this guy Raymond pulls up in that piece of shit Caddy he’s lying in front of and Steve goes over to talk to him. They talk for a minute or two but I could tell Steve wasn’t impressed with what Raymond had to show him. Raymond got mad, pulled out a screwdriver, and yells at Steve to give him the money. Steve throws his hands up and starts backing way and Raymond stabs him. By this time I realized what was going down and was drawing my gun. Steve tripped and fell back over the curb trying to get away and Raymond kept coming at him like he was going to stab him again. I shot Raymond a couple of times in the chest and he didn’t stop so I shot him in the head. He stopped then. I told the lady in green to call 911 to tell them what happened and get an ambulance for my friend.”
Detective Wilson ha been nodding his head as I talked and when I finished, spoke.
“Yeah, that’s what your friend told my partner at the hospital. The lady told me pretty much the same thing.”
He waved over one of the patrol officers.
“This officer will take those cuffs off of you.” The officer did so while Detective Wilson continued, “Hand tight for a little while longer. I’m going to go take a look at this surveillance video, but if it shows what I think it will you should be free to go tonight. We might have some more questions later, and it will ultimately be up to the DA whether to charge you or not.”
I sat in the back of the BPD Ford and rubbed my wrists where the cuffs had been. I was feeling a lot of relief, especially if there was video. All I had to do was keep my cool and wait to be released.
Detective Wilson returned a short time later and opened the door.
“Well, Mr. Devereux,” he said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. The video pretty clearly shows the deceased attacking your friend in a manner that to me appears to justify lethal force. I can’t speak for the DA, but I think you’ll be fine. I’d like to get a written statement from you if you feel up to it, or you can come downtown tomorrow for that.”
“Thanks, I can do that now,” I said, eager to get it out of the way.
“We’ll have to keep your gun as evidence, of course, but you’re free to take the rest of your personal items.”
“I understand,” I said.
Wilson waved over the officer who had removed my cuffs.
“Take his statement, please.”
He walked off toward where the crime scene techs where photographing Raymond’s body and the surrounding area and I heard him mutter almost under his breath, “Another day in the Tragic City.”
I followed the officer over to the picnic tables where Steve and I had eaten. Ms. Green Dress was there writing out her own statement. I sat and the officer handed me a paper form and a pen. I wrote what I had told Detective Wilson, and when I finished I signed and dated it then handed it to the officer. He took it away and came back a few minutes later with a plastic evidence bag containing the contents of my pockets. I took out my phone and saw I had a couple of missed calls, the most recent from Steve.
I called Steve back and he answered on the first ring.
“Hey, Man,” he said, “I just wanted to check up on you and let you know Bobbi just picked me up from the hospital.”
“That’s good to hear, Steve,” I said.
“Yeah, they cleaned me up, re-bandaged me, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and another for good painkillers. They say I should heal up fine. We’re about to pick up the ‘scripts and then I’m going to pop one of the painkillers with a glass of Scotch. I think my ass hurts more from falling on it than the arm does. You okay? The cops cut you loose yet?”
“Just now,” I said. “They just took my statement and let me go. The detective says I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
“That’s awesome, Man,” Steve said. “I told them you saved my life. You really did. Me and Bobbi can’t thank you enough. Well, she’s a little disappointed she doesn’t get to collect the life insurance on my sorry ass, but other than that she’s thankful.”
I chuckled as I heard his wife scolding him in the background.
“I’m glad I could do it, and glad you’re okay. I was a little slow realizing what was going down. Sorry about that.”
“Nah, Man,” Steve said. “You did just fine. Got to go, Man. Later.”
“Later,” I said and hung up.
I stuck my phone in my pocket and looked up to see Ms. Green Dress staring at me.
“Thanks,” I said to her.
She crinkled her eyebrows. “For what?”
“For telling the cops what you saw,” I said.
“It was the truth,” she said with a shrug.
“I know, but most people would not have wanted to get involved even to tell what they saw,” I said. “I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” she said.
Her voice was a nice contralto, and I liked hearing it.
“I need a drink,” I said, looking into her eyes. “Buy you one?”
“You going to introduce yourself first?”
I laughed. “Roger Devereux.”
She held out her hand, and I took it. “Laura Pike,” she said. “And yes, you can buy me a drink.”
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