“Tell us what happened,” two detectives sat across the table from me.
I shivered, thinking about how the day had unfolded.
It was easy to see where things had gone wrong. They stood out now like a predictable heist film. My upstairs neighbor, Sam, paced back and forth, yelling expletives at someone named Julius. I continued with my Saturday cleaning duties, scrubbing nooks and sanitizing surfaces. Shelves in my home office were reorganized. Food I stored in the refrigerator for later was tossed. Trash was collected from every room. On my way back from the garbage dumpster, I saw Sam standing next to my car.
“Hey, I need you to take me somewhere.”
“I’m kinda busy right now, Sam.”
“You owe me…remember?”
“I do…” I recalled the time she took me to work. “We were going to the same place,” I defended.
“Fine,” I agreed. “Give me five minutes,” I held up my empty trash can.
I went back inside, leaving Sam standing next to my car. My apartment smelled of cleaner, so I turned on a fan. I grabbed my purse and an energy bar as I left. On my way back to my car I made a mental list of what I still needed to do when I got back.
“Where are we going?” I asked Sam as I approached.
“I’ll tell you when we get in.”
It wasn’t until we were in the car and driving through the gate that Sam finally revealed our destination.
“Head east on Roosevelt. There’s a jewelry store.”
“The Diamond Mine,” I announced, Sam nodding with irritation.
Rain sprinkled onto the windshield, so I turned on the wipers. They made a loud scrapping sound, smudging the windshield with dirty water.
“You need to clean your car,” Sam complained.
“Are you getting something at the jewelry store?” I changed the subject.
Sam ignored the question, choosing instead to look out at the traffic. The roads shined, their sleek surface catching impatient drivers off guard. Taxis double parked to let little ladies carrying large umbrellas exit. People rushed in and out of shops not letting the rain interrupt their cravings for coffee, baked goods, and pizza. On Roosevelt the scene was replicated, with security guards monitoring the streets from the safety of dark colored vans and cars.
“Let me out here…and wait,” Sam opened the door before I could stop the car.
“How long are you going to be?” I asked, Sam’s door slamming.
I parked behind a shuttle bus and let the car idle. Ambrosia played on the radio, and I rocked to the catchy melody. The smell from Luigi’s Pizzeria wafted through the vents. People exited the restaurant with large pizza boxes and to go containers, their smiles big as they rushed towards their cars. Coffee shop customers walked with large cups, their scalding hot brew safe inside, except for the occasional patron who proudly sipped on an ice cold drink topped with whipped cream. My mouth watered for a coffee, for a sweet pastry.
My decision to get out the car is what put a wrench in Sam’s plan. I zipped my hoodie, opened the door, and ran to Kat’s Koffee. There were three people ahead of me, which gave me time to work through the lengthy menu: white chocolate and caramel drizzle, peppermint sprinkles, foam/no foam, fat free milk, almond milk, soy.
It was the woman behind me, the one in a long, black trench coat, who alerted me of the chaos ensuing across the street.
“I looks like something is going on at the jewelry store,” she said, staring out the rain-stained window. “Should we leave? I really want to get some coffee.”
The woman’s laughter filled the small shop. I excused myself and went back outside, meeting a frantic Sam.
“Get in the car!”
I ran around to the driver’s side and unlocked the doors. Sam threw a velvet jewelry bag onto the seat and hopped in.
I started the car and checked my mirror just as a security officer in a black van pulled up and blocked us in. Another officer wasn’t far behind, along with the owner of The Diamond Mine himself, strutting with a cane.
“Shit,” Sam yelled, taking off by foot down the slippery sidewalk.
“That’s the one,” the owner yelled.
I don’t know how far Sam got. Security waited next to my car until two police officers came and took me away.
“Sam put the jewelry bag in my car,” I told the detective. “I had nothing to do with it.”
“Are you saying you didn’t know what was happening when you dropped Sam off at the Jewelry store?”
“I didn’t know. I dropped her off across the street from the jewelry store,” I explained. “I was getting coffee when she came out. I didn’t know what was going on.”
“How do you know Sam?”
“She’s my upstairs neighbor, and we both work at The Furniture Warehouse.”
“When did she ask you to take her to the jewelry store?”
“When I was coming back from the trash bin. I was cleaning my apartment. I heard her yelling at someone named Julius on the phone.”
“Do you know Julius?”
“So are you saying you didn’t know why Sam wanted you to take her to the jewelry store?”
“That’s what I’m saying. I was helping her because she had helped me once.”
“What do you mean by she helped you once?”
“She gave me a ride to work once, so I owed her.”
“So you were doing her a favor?”