“State your name.”
The officer looks up at me and frowns. “State your real name. For the police report.” He jabs a meaty finger at the paperwork in front of him.
“Edmund Lonnrot,” I reply, making sure to keep my voice steady despite my wobbly insides. Worst Night Ever.
He sighs. “I suppose you have a middle name?”
Now, I know for a fact there are at least a dozen secret files in this office with my name on them (middle name included), so either this guy doesnt have security clearance or hes strict about official procedure. Judging from the hard glint in his eyes, hes not going to appreciate any comments I might have on the matter.
“Oh,” I say lamely. “Xavier.”
He rubs his temples, clearly counting to ten in his head the way he’s supposed to when it comes to dealing with children.
“All right, Mr. ‘O Xavier,’ here’s how this works: I’m going to tell you what we know, and then you’re going to tell me what you know. I expect your full cooperation.”
“We have a detective in the hospital. We’ve got a smashed van, suspects in custody, and a street in chaos. And we’ve got you, a material witness covered in blood. Does that sound about right?”
I nod again. Misery.
He sits back in his chair, tapping a pen on the desk. I half expect him to shine one of those bright lights in my eyes like they do in the movies. Instead he just starts chewing on the pen cap, swishing it around in his mouth, reminding me of a cow chomping on its cud.
“I want to know what happened,” he snaps, his count-to-ten demeanor cracking.
I gaze at the desk, numb. Where’s the trauma counselor? The psychiatric attention? I’ve been through a lot tonight.
When I don’t respond, he starts a lecture a mile long about what he can do to me if I don’t answer his questions: hold me there indefinitely, take me to court—to jail even. Maybe the jail for grownups, and wouldn’t that be a horrible thing to have happen? This guy has nothing on my mother. She and my dad are going to skin me alive. And as far as Detective Bovano is concerned, I am dead meat. He’s going to grind me into burger, serve up Edmund patties to his buddies.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone about the stakeout?” the officer shouts, full on angry now. Policemen usually don’t yell at kids like this, but I’ve broken about two million laws tonight, so I guess I have it coming. The kicker is, I did tell someone. Detective Bovano. A fat lot of good that did him.
Thinking of the detective snaps me out of my stupor. I put on my extrapolite voice, the one I reserve for church, weddings, and funerals; there may be a dead body by the end of this conversation. “I would like to speak with Bovano. He’s my supervisor.”
“Yeah, great. Sure. Except he’s in the hospital. Gunshot wound. You know, the bullet that could have killed you?”
“Is he going to be okay?” My voice cracks. They told me it wasn’t serious, but maybe they lied. If anything’s happened, then it’s all my fault.
Officer Molino (finally I have read the nameplate on his desk) scratches the short black hair on his head. Come to think of it, he’s sort of a younger version of Detective Bovano: bulky, Italian, and perpetually irritated at the world. Although, unlike Bovano, this guy seems to have a soft spot for kids with crackly voices.
“He’s fine. The bullet just grazed his chest. You can see him this weekend if you want.” He offers me a small smile.
I relax my shoulders and start to breathe a little easier. Bovano isn’t dead, Edmund. You stopped the bleeding. You helped him.
“I still need answers,” Molino pushes, more gently this time.
“Have you called my parents?”
He nods. “They know you’re safe, but you can’t speak with them until we’re done here. You signed away your rights when you joined the force—you know that.” He leans forward, eyeballing me. “Just answer the questions, Edmund.”
I put my head in my hands. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I’m exhausted. And extremely nervous about the impending parental wrath, not to mention feeling guilty about Detective Bovano. “I’m tired,” I say. “It’s nine at night, my parents are going to kill me, and I just want to go home. Can’t we talk about this tomorrow morning?”
The officer shakes his head. “It’s gotta be tonight.
While it’s fresh.”
I sigh, smelling defeat. “What do you want to know?”
“Where should I start?”
“How about at the beginning, hmm?” he says, holding his pen ready above the desk.
“All right, but I’d like to have some water, please. And an orange soda. I need some sugar if I’m going to get through this.”
He stares at me, mouth open in disbelief, and then he caves. Muttering something under his breath, he turns and signals to someone across the room. I smile. Orange soda, a forbidden beverage at my house, is on its way.
I shouldn’t be here. I should be at home watching a movie, hanging out with my best friend and doing normal things that eleven-year-olds do, like wrestling until a lamp breaks or making things explode in the microwave.
But instead, I’m Eddie Red. And I am in a lot of trouble.
If you’re a kid, there are three things you need in order to solve a police investigation:
1. A unique crime-fighting talent
2. A best friend who’s a genius
3. A boatload of dumb luck
The dumb luck began with an ice cream cone on the Upper East Side during a January thaw.
The term January thaw is a lie, at least in New York City. The forecasters tell you it will be fifty degrees out and everybody gets all excited, and gullible kids like me wear shorts to school. But what they don’t tell you is that the wind chill will be negative ten and the sun will only be out for three hours, so in the end it
all balances out to a nice thirty degrees on the street.
I’ve had goose bumps the size of icebergs all day. At least my mom made me wear my winter jacket.
“I’ll have pistachio, please,” I say to the lady behind the counter. The ice cream shop is warm and cheerful, with sunny paintings on the wall of kids playing Frisbee in the park and swimming at the beach.
The fact that it’s January also means that the ice cream has been sitting there undisturbed since October, so in ice cream years that’s about eighty. The woman goes elbow-deep into the tub of pistachio and forces the dregs of the barrel into a cone. Dregs that are covered in freezer burn. My suspicions are confirmed: this ice cream is going to...