Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
Law and Order... And a Side Of Sassy
Waiting in the sheriff’s office was a real time waster. I sat there, bored out of my mind, with no book or anything, until past dinnertime. I had to remind myself once or twice that it was in the name of helping Jim and Kate, even if I’d never actually spoken to Jim. But he had cooked me up something delicious twice now, and I felt the need to vouch for him too.
Finally when the Sheriff came in, I realized it was the same man with the clean shaven face and bright blue eyes. I noticed his badge read that he was called ‘Sheriff Ternin’. I usually liked police officers, but the way this man, Ternin, accused Kate without a thorough investigation, I couldn’t respect him. But first judgements weren’t always right. He could be a very kind, sweet man who donated to charity with scary eyes and a temporary mistake. But I doubted it. He reminded me of my principal, minus all the hair.
“ So,” he sat down, “ tell me about Jim and Kate.” He glared at me, like I was supposed to say that they were horrible human beings and should be locked away in Russia forever. I glared back at him. I felt so guilty, because he was a man of the law, but this man didn’t use justice blindly. That was wrong.
“ Well,” I started, speaking clearly and sitting up straight as a rod, “ They’re sweet, supportive people that work in a diner and are still kind despite their lack of customers. They treated me fairly and were much more generous then necessary. They are respectful and helpful, and I would never see them bugging and kidnapping people. They’ve been set up. Good people don’t do that type of thing, Sir. I mean no disrespect, but the way this investigation is being conducted is probably illegal. Kate and Jim are innocent until proven guilty.” I knew I was pushing the envelope, but at least I wasn’t as harsh as I was in my mind.
“ Little girl, what would you know about the law? I mean, look at you! You’re not tall enough to get cold cuts at a deli counter, much less sass me in my own office. Kate and Jim look like hardened criminals to me, and that is that, kid!” I couldn’t believe how patronizing he was. But now, I was in my element.
“ I’m in High School, Officer Ternin, and last time I checked, my brain power isn’t affected by my height. And besides, I’m not that short that you could mistake me for younger.” I stood up this time.
Officer Ternin grimaced. He had no eyebrows, which was creeping me out because he was raising the patch of skin where there should have been hair. He took a few huffy breathes in and out, and squeezed a blue desk stress ball. I was glad that I caused his anxiety. This was like talking back to an adult except I told him the rules instead of breaking any. Taking extra classes in school had paid off after all.
“ Fine. In that case, I think I’ll need a more detailed report. You were at the scene of the crime, Miss. Danielle. We need to interrogate you, just in case you’re involved.” He dead panned, getting my name wrong. I knew that was a total lie. He knew I was innocent, he just was annoyed that I made him sound dumb. Well, I couldn’t allow that.
“ No way.” I said lamely. He looked just like Kasey when she convinced me to steal that bobble head, like he had weakened his prey and was about to pounce.
“ Come with me.” He instructed, “ I’ll just ask you a few questions. Let’s get it over with.” He told me.
“ Are you kidding? I am not getting interrogated without my lawyer. Because anything I saw will be used against me. And seeing all the bogus lies you just made up, I can already tell that you’d twist whatever words came out of my mouth into me being a horrible person who should be tossed in jail. No thanks.” I said. Great. I had to control my temper better. Normally I never lost my cool, but this guy went against everything my parents had taught me. Officer Ternin looked at the ground for a moment.
I crossed my fingers, fearing the worst. The levels of sass in this room were dangerously high. I had done my best, but I wasn’t a lawyer or an adult, and I couldn’t do what they could have.
Then, he said words that seemed so unlikely:
“ Alright, you’re free. Run on back to Windesta Creek. I will interrogate Jim and Kate, and try to find Miss. Hollis. You don’t have to worry about her. I’m sure she’ll turn up.” He told me. I stared. He had me, and Officer Ternin just decided to let me go?
“ Well, the Department doesn’t have enough funds to handle a lawsuit.” He admitted.
“ Thanks, Officer. Sorry about the attitude. I was just upset.” I figured that I should at least try to get back on his good side. He bought it. But I still worried about my misjudged Diner friends. What would become of them? How could I clear their names now?
I had one idea. I could go back to Windesta Creek, find Miss. Hollis and trace the seal. Then, there would be undeniable proof that Kate and Jim committed no crimes. Gwen and Parker would help me. In fact, I knew I couldn’t do it without them. Both were becoming my friends, although I got the feeling Gwen was still mad that I didn’t believe her warning earlier.
“ Hey, you gonna go or what?” Wondered Officer Ternin.
“ Uh, I was just leaving.” I replied. What else would I be doing, exactly? So I exited the little office (happily) and I passed by the Kate’s Sip N’ Chew with a grimace. The light was off and the shutters were down. Like Miss. Hollis’s empty mansion, the place had surrendered it’s charisma when it’s people left. Would that Diner ever have another customer? Or would the heart and soul of the place spend their lives in a slammer?
I went on the Ferry with the few Windesta Creek residents here after dinner, just two elderly ladies carrying handbags and wearing bejeweled broaches, and one young man in his late teens, with a black choker and short beardish thing.
The ride back, I was silent. Though I was off the hook, I couldn’t see how things could get worse for poor Kate and Jim.
Back at Windesta Creek, my two friends were waiting for me at the dock. Parker jumped up and poked Gwen.
“ Did you free them? How did it go?” He raced. I turned my head away towards the crashing brine of the sea. Pelicans chirped cheerfully, mocking me and my mediocre skills. The good girl couldn’t even do the one thing she allowed herself to.
“ That bad, huh?” He said.
“ Parker, I can’t focus on that right now. If you actually want to help the innocent people in a cell right now, the three of us have to solve this mystery. We know they couldn’t have done the crime because they were in Beige Town. So what are we waiting for? Let’s break into the Forbidden Room right now! What’s stopping us?” I snapped.
“ Okay, okay. I was just trying to help, sheesh. See, you’re making me say words like ‘sheesh’ now! Stop it!” Parker stumbled, taken aback at my outburst.
“ I think Dana’s right. What exactly is stopping us?” Gwen took my side. But behind her, a shadow loomed, tall and menacing.
“ Stopping you from what, exactly, children?” Lil sneered. How long had she been here? How much had she heard?
“ Uh...” Parker muttered.
“ Um, we think we can, uh, break into a room in a castle, in our video game we’re playing!” I covered, and prayed she wouldn’t ask who the innocent people were that we mentioned. Instead, her question was even worse.
“ What video game?” She tapped her dangerous looking stiletto heels covered in silk.
“ It’s called... Super Sword Hair! Yes, that’s it, Super Sword Hair. Very interactive.” Countered a flustered Gwen. I groaned internally.
“ Great, kids! But you should be outside more, don’t you think? And remember, if you snoop in other grown up’s business, you’ll get a time out! Or worse! So be careful, Dana. A little birdy told me you went into Miss. Hollis’s house without her permission. I wouldn’t want information like that leaking out to the authorities. Your record... you worked so hard on it, yet it’s so fragile. One blot, and every thing comes down. Ta ta, kids.”
And with that black mail, she whirled away, leaving a throbbing pain in my temples.
As soon as she was out of earshot, I conferenced with my friends.
“ She threatened us. How could she know we snuck into Miss. Hollis’s mansion?” I pondered.
“ The listening device, remember? She heard everything.” Parker told me.
“ The lady has no right! This settles it; we’re breaking into the Forbidden Room tonight. Bring the cooking supplies, Gwen.” I told her vaguely.
“ Why?”
“ Because that imposter is about to get burned!”
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