I watched the receding red lights as they reflected on the windows of the rundown apartment buildings lining each side of the street. The sounds of their sirens echoing into the night sky as they retreated further into the belly of the city. A stench clung to everything now as the smoke had covered the entire area soaking everything porous with the smells of burnt rubber, metal and a putrid sickly sweet smell that a person would never forget. The pavement around the area was awash in a debris filled soggy mess. The air was very chilly with a bit of cold drizzle misting over the city, and I desperately wished I still had my hoodie that lay torn and tattered in the alley across the street.

From my vantage point peeking just over the edge of the roof, I could see the street five stories below with no obstructions. The cops had the intersections barricaded off at both ends of the street, and the ambulance and fire truck had just left a few minutes ago. People were murmuring about the cause of the explosion in the crowd as Lookie Lou’s and reporters were taking pictures greedily of the scene before them. A large NYPD forensic’s van was there with its IDENT unit, and the whole area was teaming with cops in their wet uniforms and pissy attitudes. Several of the cops were taking witness’ statements and trying to maintain a barrier between the onlookers and the scene.

I could see the black Charger coming into view from up the street; the car had a red and blue flashing light on its roof, the hypnotic flashes blended in with the other emergency vehicles still in the area. When it was close several uniformed officers moved the crowd of people back so the car could get through, and it pulled in just past the barricade. The older man who stepped out of the car was a bad omen to me.

His black cowboy boots, blue jeans, crisp white shirt and black canvas jacket where without a single wrinkle again. He wore his black hair in a crew cut style that required minimal care and his eyes, I knew all too well were a penetrating blue. He was maybe thirty five, and if I had to admit it, he was very nice looking with his sharp features, thin lips and perpetual five o’clock shadow. Reporters frantically tried to get his attention, asking for information about what had happened, and if he thought it had been a terrorist attack or not. I could see him purposely ignoring them and walk towards the burnt mess, his boots splashing in the water that was pooled from both the hoses and the light drizzle.

Detective Roberts was taking in the scene before him very carefully. I knew the two burnt-out husks that less than an hour ago where two well used cars would give him no clues as to how they had exploded while parked on the side of the road. A body sat cooked in the seat of the lead car. The corpse looked to be now fused with the interior. Fifteen feet away from the first car the forensic team was trying desperately to figure out how a man had been partially dissolved into the concrete sidewalk. The heat and fire spewed out of the alley mouth in a controlled effect leaving that area totally unscathed. The two surviving men had been taken away in the ambulance, and I had overheard one of the cops asking if they would make it, to which the paramedic had said it would be a miracle if they did.

A grimace slipped across my lips, and I bolted toward the far edge of the building; I could feel the loose gravel and water spray against the back of my calves. My battered body felt drained; my legs and arms hurt as did my face, it made running hellishly painful. As soon as I made it to the edge I looked down, there was a nine-foot jump across to the next building at a drop of two stories, ‘Easie Peasie’ I thought. I could see that there was a cop in the alley below with a flashlight; they were surrounding both these buildings, Roberts being his efficient dick head self.

I turned and ran back several meters before turning and making a running leap for the next building. As my feet touched down on the opposite roof, I did a summersault, coming up on my feet.

“NYPD Stop!” I heard the familiar voice of Detective Roberts; I pushed myself to move faster as I heard his boots on the gravel on the roof. The sound was getting louder as I neared the face of the opposite building and then with a sudden painful jerk, I felt the ground rush up to meet me as a heavy weight slammed into me, we landed in more of a sexual position.

“Get off me, you pig!” I screamed in reflex as I struggled to get out from under the heavy body. As I resisted the wet gravel dug into me, and I got a big whiff of roof tar, and old pigeon poo, it was overpowering the smell of his cologne. My hands were being pinned behind my back and then there was the all too familiar clicking of my new cold metal bracelets.

“Damn it!” I hissed as I was hauled to my feet by the overgrown ape.

“Mouse what the hell are you doing up here?” He said before he even turned me around to face him.

His grip was strong on my arm as he held me; I looked up and smiled coyly at him; I mentally shifted gears as I prepared to play, our game begins again I thought to myself.

“Just taking in the city’s pyrotechnics” I said, batting my long eyelashes at him as two uniformed cops were stepping out onto the roof from the access door. Both were wheezing from the chase.

“Why is it when something weird happens you’re never far away?!”Roberts asked pointedly. Several prepared answered ran through my head, and I decided with the innocent until proven guilty stance.

“I didn’t do anything!” I lied.

“You’re under arrest Mouse.” He said and then read me my rights. This had to be a record for him and me; he had caught me in a matter of a few moments, usually I was long gone before he could even breathe the dust I kicked up.

“It’s not a felony to be a gawker is it Roberts?” I asked sarcastically as he started to drag me toward the two other officers. I was wet, sore, and exhausted, add to it blowing shit up and then trying to run away afterward, what had I been thinking? On the plus side I would be getting a warm cot, hot meal and be out of the damn rain.

Sitting at the table in a small interrogation room I felt like one of New York City’s most wanted; the little metal table was bolted into the floor, and my hands were cuffed through the metal hoop attached to the top. This was even excessive for Roberts. I must have really pissed him off the last time I got away. The only sound was the low drone of the heat being blown in from the small air vent up on the ceiling; it felt good to be someplace warm. The room was a very light peach color; I liked it better than the pea green colored room I was in last time. Everything else was a stone gray, including the tiled floor. The door was right beside a large mirrored window, and I knew there was someone watching on the other side; I was used to this; it’s nice to see standards didn’t slip.

While I waited for someone to come I stared at my reflection, my long tawny brown hair was a bit wet and messy, and I had a few clean streaks in the dirt on my cheeks. It helped disguise my hated freckles, and baby faced image, which is not how I wanted to appear in front of Roberts. My brown eyes were big and framed with very long heavy lashes, and I batted them playfully and painfully at the mirror and pouted my plump lips at the image of myself. The black eye was starting to develop nicely as was the bruise on my chin and my split lip was extremely obvious; Roberts would have questions about them, and I would need to have answers ready.

My wet black Seether t-shirt was torn and stretched out of shape around the neck, and my skin was showing from the holes sliced into it by my attacker’s knife. A few of the cuts had left small nicks in my skin, and although they had stopped bleeding, it still stung. As I stretched out my legs a bit, my tattered combat styled Converse sneakers squeaked loudly on the floor, I’d have to remember to make the noise when Roberts talked, I thought to myself with a smile.

My skinny legs looked lengthy in the tight jeans I wore, and it was a nice illusion to feel taller. However, the niceness soon dissipated as I saw the discolored spots. The black material was stained with dirt, blood and other things from the alley that I didn’t really want to think about. I was a little nervous at first but knew they couldn’t prove I had done anything wrong, at least not tonight anyway. Unless of course, they got my DNA off of the two who weren’t burnt beyond recognition. That thought actually had me a little nervous.

I heard the door handle move and saw Roberts enter; he had my favorite pop in one hand, two egg salad sandwiches in the other and a folder tucked up under his arm. As he stepped toward the table, he tried an attempt at a smile, it looked natural and that had me even more on edge. We had been down this road before too, and he made sure I ate every time I was dragged in here. Being so likeable made it easy to dislike him even more.

I had been known to do a little shoplifting here and there, most of it was petty crime, after all a girl has to survive somehow. I was usually pretty good at pilfering; besides it beat the alternatives which I’ve had to do a few times too in the past, although they didn’t know about that…I hoped. As he sat down he opened the can of pop and set in down in front of me along with one of the sandwiches.

“Eat, you look hungry.” He said as he eyed my thin features. I was barely five feet tall and a mere ninety lbs soaking wet, really soaking wet tonight I mused to myself. Like most street peeps, I got my eats wherever I could and a fresh sandwich made my very empty stomach growl hungrily at the sight and smell of food, the traitor that it was.

I eyed the Detective warily and the food hungrily; I didn’t want to take the bait too soon; it would make me look weak. He was looking at my black eye and torn clothes, a furrow showing on his forehead and he frowned as he took it all in. He took a bite out of his sandwich, not taking his eyes off me. Somehow he made it look sinister as if I was his next meal. It occurred to me I maybe a little pissed about how fast he caught me as I was overly snide even if it was in my own head so far.

“Go ahead Mouse eat, I can wait to ask you some questions.” He said after swallowing his mouthful of food. Great I thought now he was telling me when to eat, who does he think he is my mother my inner thoughts grumbled.

It occurred to me suddenly that my hunger was making me crazier. Hunger won me over, and I chose to dive on the helpless sandwich with the ferocity of a starving lioness. It had tasted like a five-star meal to me as I licked the remnants of the egg mixture from my fingers and took a gulp of pop to wash it down with. It had been a while since I had last eaten anything not from a dumpster, and I was glad the gnawing feeling would settle for a little while; however, it did feel uneasy now.

Roberts had sat there quietly watching me eat; he had brought me in before for being an ‘innocent’ bystander at three other ‘weird’ cases he couldn’t explain. He hated not being able to explain things. There was never enough evidence in the past for him to have me booked or held for more than the forty-eight hours.

“Ok now why were you at my crime scene.” Detective Roberts asked pointedly as he rested his hands on the folder. He leaned in; his breath smelled like eggs and onions, but there was also something sweet and smoky smelling coming from him. I leaned back in my chair my arms relaxed in front of me and my legs crossed under the table. No way did I want him to know he was getting to me already.

“I was sightseeing.” I told him sarcastically and instantly regretted saying it as he opened the file folder bringing his posse of facts out.

“Really? So you were sightseeing in an alley with four of the Jokers gang members were you?” he said and slid the photos in front of me. They were the crime scene photo of my shirts missing pieces, a tuft of my hair that got yanked out and my destroyed hoodie. One of the images was of a bloody knife; it was the one used against me when I fought with the gang members. It was more than evident that something had happened in the alley. It would be obvious to anyone much less a cop that something bad had happened there tonight.

The four gang members thought just because I was all alone when they came across me I would make for some fun entertainment as their private party favor. It seems I already had a street rep and those scum bags knew sometimes I carried drugs on me and cash for a few of the ‘family’ run places. They had smacked me around a bit, and at knife point tried to find out what I did with my stash, that was their first mistake. It takes me time to build my power up enough to hurt someone and they made the mistake of giving me that time.

I only managed to stop a few blows as I tried to focus more on creating the fire than preventing getting myself beaten to a pulp. This wasn’t the first time I had been attacked; it was a fact of street life to get mugged once in a while, but it never made it all right.

When my inner rage finally let loose they had run for the only way out of the alley, one was on fire and the other three had made for the safety of a car…that was their second mistake. I felt the heat roll off me with my rage toward the car; the paint began to bubble and peel, the tires exploded and dissolved into the melting pavement from the heat. The three men inside began screaming as they started to cook, two of them managed to get back out of the car before becoming roasted and started to crawl away as I lost control of the energy inside me.

The car exploded after only a few seconds, the fourth man who had thought he had gotten away was caught within the fireball; he was partially melted in the heat. Several nearby buildings were damaged very badly as well, and I knew I even cooked a few pigeons roosting on a window ledge. I felt bad for those poor birds.

“Funny thing about that, see I was sleeping in that alley and must have got caught up in some nasty broken boards, which must have been when I tore myself up.” I told him in a bold-faced lie. I could feel the tension in every muscle in my face, fighting with tears of anger at what had actually happened.

I didn’t want Roberts to see any weakness in me, I really hated when people picked on me just because I’m such a tiny girl. Getting beat up all the time wasn’t fun. Roberts was looking at me disbelievingly as I told him and his jaw twitched as he looked my face over again with his deep penetrating blue eyes.

“Mouse…Don’t spin that shit on me, what really happened!” he asked as he flipped another photo in front of me.

I eyed the images of the burnt blob that had been one of the men who had stood back and suggested to his buddies to get a piece of ass off me after they found my stash and I leveled my eyes at Roberts not controlling my emotions very well. I thought about the answers and came up with one that was sarcastic and crass.

“Someone overcooked a roast?” I asked with a certain hatefulness in my voice that I knew he had picked up on.

“Mouse do I have to bring in a forensic tech to take evidence from you” he asked with a knowing look in his eyes. He wasn’t backing off.

“Not without a warrant you’re not!” I told him flatly and felt fear that he might actually do just that. I knew they would find trace on me and my cloth from the four dead guys but then that would only prove that we fought. Fuckers had it coming to them but how would they explain that they simply ignited into fire balls because I wanted them to. Cops don’t like mysteries and Roberts was even worse for leaving anything unsolved.

Bad things happen to people who live on the streets. I was no exception and I never wanted those things to happen to me again. I looked down into the opening of my can of pop wishing I could crawl inside it and hide from my own memories, the ironically few I actually had.

I came to in a park with no clue to who I was six months ago, and street folks had been calling me Mouse ever since. Instinct told me to stay clear of anything resembling the Law and I tried my best to listen.

Sitting across from the detective I felt very exposed and I wanted to curl in on myself. I wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction.

“What happened, don’t give me a bullshit story about broken boards or bottles either!” he demanded with a very strict sounding voice. I must have used the bottle excuse one too many times for him to bring it up I thought.

I swallowed hard at a flash in my mind of what happened earlier and my hands shook and I wanted to kill those men all over again. Tears began to break from my eyes and the more I fought to control them, the more they poured over my cheeks. If I wasn’t a Pyro, I’d be a victim of more than just an assault and battery right now and this interview would be done in a hospital instead of the interrogation room…but somehow I was the bad girl it this story!

“Mouse…would you prefer a female officer talked to you?” he asked me his voice shifted to soft and kind. Great I was guilty and a victim now I thought.

“I prefer to leave; I didn’t see anything other than a fireball go off and went about my own damn business.” I told him unable to look at him when I said it as I used my shoulder to wipe the tears off my cheeks. With steely resolve I looked up at him suddenly; I stared at him for a few long drawn-out moments and tried to assess what his next move would be.

“Do you want a female officer to talk to about this?” he reworded the same question, his eyes reading my body language to well. I could tell he knew they had done something to me, he just wasn’t sure what.

“I want a lawyer!” I screamed, and that ended the conversation. I panicked, I could handle hard ass Roberts, but I just couldn’t deal with a caring fatherly Roberts.

May 2018
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