The ambulance took the stranger to the hospital and the police took Joe to their station for questioning. He was escorted to an interview room that contained an old beaten wooden table and two matching chairs. The walls were bare except for a surveillance mirror. The single door was left closed.
Joe sat at the table and, one at a time, gave three cops the same story from beginning to end. Finally, they left him alone in the room with a cup of oily, terrible coffee.
After ten minutes, two cops entered the room. One, a Sergeant Rawls was an officer that had previously questioned Joe, the other he hadn’t yet seen.
Sergeant Rawls said, “Sorry to keep you waitin’, Mr. Smith. This here’s Detective Eagleton.”
Joe shook hands with the detective who then sat down across from him. Rawls remained standing by the door.
“So, you didn’t know this guy?”, asked Eagleton.
Joe shook his head, “Never saw him before.”
“And you haven’t been making unwanted advances towards his girlfriend?”
Joe shook his head again, “Not her or any women.”
“Very admirable. So, why do you think this guy was so convinced that you was?”
“I’ve got no idea. Like I said, I never seen him before and I don’t know who his girlfriend is and I haven’t been bothering women or anybody the whole time I’ve lived here.”
“Oh? You bothered some women before you moved here?”
Joe flushed with anger but kept his voice in check, “That’s not what I meant. I’ve never bothered anybody anywhere, anytime.”
“Yeah, we checked to see if you had a record of any kind. Nothin’, straight as an arrow.”
“I’ve always tried to stay out of trouble.”
“Apparently, you didn’t try hard enough tonight, Mr. Smith.”
“I was only defending myself. The guy was a maniac. He wouldn’t leave me alone. He said he was going to kill me! He was certainly giving me a convincing demonstration!”
“Yeah, you already showed us the bruisin’ ’round yer neck and shoulder.”
“And the big one on my back?! Where the idiot tried to remove one of my kidneys?!”
“Awl-right, awl-right, calm down.”
“When can I get out of here?”
“That’ll be decided as soon as we hear from the hospital.”
Detective Eagleton had no sooner spoken those words when the door opened.
An officer leaned in the partially opened door and said, “Hospital called. Guy just died a few minutes ago. Massive head trauma.”
Detective Eagleton and Joe looked at each other across the table.
The detective said, “Git this here man a cell.”