I sat in my car for about half an hour, watching the men finally put the fire out. Just as the firemen were packing up I saw Detective Carver talking on her cell phone. When she hung up, she spoke briefly to the other detective, and then they both headed back in my direction. I climbed out of the car with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, and leaned against the bumper to wait.
“Megan, this is my partner, Detective Alberts,” she said, once they stood in front of me.
“Hello, Megan. Detective Carver tells me that you were in the school parking lot when you saw the smoke?”
When Carver’s cell phone rang, she took a step away from us to listen to the caller.
Alberts ignored her and kept up his questioning. “That’s strange, because when you look over at the school from here, you can only see the football field. How did you see the house from the front of the school?”
“I didn’t say I could see the house. I said I could see the smoke.”
“Oh, I see.” He glanced over at his partner, and watched as she hung up her cell phone.
“Are you sure you were alone at the school, Megan?” Detective Carver asked, sliding her cell into her jacket pocket.
I gulped nervously, shifting my eyes between the two detectives. “Um…yes.” It sounded more like a question than an answer.
“Did you happen to see anyone on the school property?”
“I…I didn’t see anyone, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anyone there. Why?”
“Because the officers I sent over to take a look at the schoolyard found beer bottles and fireworks on the field. I would think you would have heard them if you were in the parking lot.”
“Maybe that was from last night.”
“I just got off the phone with the football coach, and he said the field was clean at today’s practice.” She was leaning on the police car, and then pushed off, walking over to stand in front of me. “Who are you covering for?”
“No one.” I glanced around the area nervously and spotted Nate standing near the parents. His focus wasn’t on them—it was on me.
“Did you know that the firemen found remnants of a firecracker on the roof where the fire originated?” Alberts asked me.
I wasn’t going to answer. It was obvious they knew what happened, and I couldn’t tell them what they wanted to know.
“You’re not going to say anything?” Detective Carver asked.
“I already told you what happened,” I said softly, the conviction gone from my voice. I was in way over my head, and I didn’t know how to get out of this predicament.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you. I think you’re covering for friends. I don’t think you had anything to do with it. It’s obvious you weren’t drinking, and you tried to help the family. If you weren’t banging on the door, Mr. Green”—referring to Nate—“would not have known what was going on, and the family probably would have died.” She paused, letting the seriousness of the situation set in. “I know you’re a good person, so do the right thing and tell us who is responsible.”
I folded my arms in front of me, staring at her with defiance, hoping to appear stronger than I felt.
“Okay, Alberts, I guess she’s not going to talk. Cuff her.”
“What? You can’t do that!” I backed up, raising my hands in front of me. I felt a rush of fear. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
“All the evidence points to you. You were at the scene of the crime, plus you called nine-one-one. And we have a witness who says you admitted it. Since you won’t tell us who really did this, we’re going to have to arrest you.” She gestured with her hand to Detective Alberts. He came over and put my hands behind my back, snapping handcuffs on my wrists. The metal cuffs were tight, cold, and dug into my skin as he led me to the cruiser.
“But I didn’t do anything,” I shrieked, the air rushing out of me as panic began to seep in.
“Prove it. Tell me who you’re covering for.” When I didn’t respond, she began reading me my rights; only I didn’t hear the words. I was so terrified, my mind went blank.
Once inside the back of the cruiser, I glanced at Nate through the closed window. He just stared at me in disgust. If I hoped he would try to help me, I was sorely mistaken.
“Where’s my car?” I asked after I was fingerprinted and my mug shot taken.
“Impound. You can have one phone call,” Detective Carver informed me, handing me an old black rotary phone with a cord.
“Dad!” I cried when I heard my father’s sleepy voice through the receiver.
“Megan, where are you?”
“Don’t freak out, okay. But I’m in jail.”
“What? What happened?” His voice sharpened with what I chose to believe was fear for me, not embarrassment or anger.
“I went to the school hoping to get in so I could get a book out of my locker. I saw that a house was on fire, and I called nine-one-one. I tried to help the family. But I’ve been arrested.” I heard him swear on the other end, and then silence. “Dad?” I asked.
“Go on.” His voice was hoarse.
“The police think that I’m covering for the people that started it, and I think they arrested me to make me talk.”
“Are you covering for someone?” he asked.
I didn’t answer.
He sighed heavily. The weight of the world was in that sound. “Fine, I’ll be right over with Edwin.” Edwin was my dad’s lawyer. My father used to be a lawyer and still was, but he ran the firm now, and didn’t practice often.
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Rating – PG13