What does one wear for a date with local law enforcement?
I used to date a cop once, so you think I would know. He called himself Officer Badley. The thing is, though, they weren’t really dates more than role playing exercises. Usually, he would stay in character and play the authority figure, while I would play...oh, you name it. A street thug. A pimp. A southern belle with a strap-on under her gown. Now, now, sweet Scarlett, I suppose that wouldn’t be the best outfit...
Once I had climbed back to my balcony (keeping a careful hold on my equipment, this time), I tell you, I poured through my wardrobe, trying to decide what would make the best impression. My seersucker suit? Heavens, no, not after Labor day. A business suit? Perhaps, but if they locked me up, it would really stand out. Something urban? Perhaps. Maybe even a little militaristic? Most cops are former military, after all. Officer Badley was, and my star turn with him as a jihadist horny for the opposition had been one of my best acting jobs, ever.
Sadly, I wasn’t much into fatigues and camouflage. The closest thing I had in my entire ensemble was a knock-off of the red jacket Michael Jackson had worn during his Thriller video. It had been a gift from a grateful director, after I had taken over the role of the Scarecrow in an all-white version of The Wiz. Don’t ask, it was dreadful.
So I put that on, along with a crisp blue pair of jeans and a white T-shirt. Then, I took my Lexus out of the parking lot and programmed in directions for the police station closest to Beacon Hill.
(P.S.: For those wondering why Kevin drove me to rehearsal in his far inferior cheap foreign import, let me remind you that the parking lot at St. Basilica’s is about the size of a postage stamp and there was the distinct possibility my Lexus might get nicked. Besides, Kevin likes playing chauffer. It allows him to pretend we’re still a couple.)
Beacon Hill’s district station is on New Sudbury Street. It’s a drab brick building located next to a huge parking garage. By the time I arrived, it was already eight at night and the sun had long since set in the sky. I had yet to eat anything, unless you counted Sylvia Mastadore’s quivering minge as supper. Which I certainly didn’t.
I have to admit, as I pulled into that lot to park the car, my stomach was a complete mess. It felt worse than an opening night, frankly. At least the worst than could happen then is that you bomb. If I uttered the wrong line here, I could get locked away. For life!
No, I had to put that out of my head. I had to remember, I was an innocent man, more innocent than Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread at the start of Les Miz. I hadn’t stolen any loaf of bread, all I did was threaten to kill RJ.
Suddenly I remembered, the Chow Down wasn’t the only greasy spoon where I had volunteered to snuff RJ out. I had also threatened to do him bodily harm outside of Scampo, too, that day he accused me of singing flat.
I stopped on my way out of the parking lot, leaning up against a dirty wall desperately in need of a mother’s loving. I was hyperventilating. The two threats I made against RJ’s life weighed heavily on my soul. Even if no one else knew the truth. After all, the only ones outside Scampo were Kevin, RJ, and...
And Danita! Who was demanding my head on a pike! SHIT!
I pushed up against that cold unforgiving motherless brick wall, hoping to make myself stronger. Be like the wall, be cold and concrete. Surely my innocence was evident. I was an actor, I simply had to act innocent. Surely I’ve had more challenging assignments than that.
With all the strength I possessed, I pulled myself away. With heavy heart, I walked over to the police station, to a door with a blue and white sign hanging overhead, announcing for all to see that it was the home of the “BOSTON POLICE.” It shone like a beacon in the night sky, a beacon on Beacon Hill.
I stepped into the light, Carrie Ann. I embraced my fate.
Why, goodness! The room itself resembled nothing more than a reception area for a doctor’s office. Well, except for the bulletproof glass protecting the receptionist. The room was empty, save for a pimply red-haired youth sitting in a corner, playing with an iPhone, and the man at the window, a surly looking oldster. He was the stereotypical Irish cop: white hair, full face, red nose. I hardly thought they existed any more.
I walked right over. “I would like to turn myself in,” I announced boldly. Pimples looked over, interested.
Irish cop was on the phone. Irritated by the interruption, he held up a finger. “Yes...yes...yes. Hold on just a minute, ma’am.” A glance in my direction. “How can I help you, sir?”
Oh! He was talking to me. “My name is Raphael Rotundo. One of Boston’s finest came to visit me earlier today. His name is...” I fished around the pockets of my tight blue jeans for the business card outside my door. “Um, Reginald Dwight.” A realization. “Hey, isn’t that Elton John’s real name?”
Irish cop scowled. The homophobe. “What?”
“Reginald Dwight. Isn’t that Elton John’s real name?”
A shrug. “I aint no good with the trivia.” He looked down at his phone, than back up, abruptly. “Is that a Michael Jackson jacket?”
I could feel the eyes of Pimples upon me once again. “Thriller, dude...”
I squirmed in my jacket. Perhaps it had not been the wisest of selections after all. “Yes, actually it is. I guess I’m just a big old pop icon fan! Anyway, is Sir Elton—um, Officer Dwight around?”
“Just a minute.” The man punched a button on the phone“Reggie? There’s a guy in a Michael Jackson jacket out here to see you. Says you paid him a visit. Also wants to know if you have Elton John’s original name.”
The whole thing sounded too ridiculous for words. I struggled to regain my credibility. “Now, I didn’t mean that—“
“What’s your name again?”
“Raphael. Raphael Rotundo.”
He put the phone down. “He’ll be right out. And yeah, he does have Elton John’s real name.” Then, bored with me, he went back to his original call.
Two minutes later, a tall African American gentleman built like a brick shithouse entered from the police station interior. Of course, he recognized me right away, since the red leather jacket was a dead giveaway. “Mr. Rotundo?”
I nodded my head, eager to be of assistance. “My name is...that is, I guess you know what my name is,” he continued. “But don’t expect me to be singing ‘Your Song’ any second now!”
I struggled to appreciate his witticism. “Ah ha. Ah ha ha.” He smiled.
His teeth were insanely white. “Anyway, I just wanted a few minutes of your time. Can you follow me, please?”
Oh, egad. We’d have to go into the police station proper? As if I were some sort of common criminal or something? Book ‘em, Elton, murder one? I would have much preferred a quiet conversation at the local donut shop. “Of course, Officer.”
Dutifully, I followed him into the inner bowels of the Boston Police Station. Like a large intestine, the station was crawling with movement and activity. Police officers talking on phones, filing reports, walking around and looking important. Officer Dwight led me to a small conference room not too far from the entrance. It was drably furnished and needed a woman’s touch, but at least it has a glass wall so you could look outside.
“I guess you’re not going to torture me, eh?” I said lamely, attempting a feeble joke.
Officer Dwight turned the light on in the conference room. A curious look crossed his face. “Now why on earth would I want to torture you?”
Oh Christ, this entire experience was altogether too nerve wracking. “It was just a joke. The glass wall, and um...”
“Please have a seat.”
I sat. I heard the door to the conference room close. Dwight moved across from me, big bulky arms on the table, hands folded. “You know why I wanted to speak with you, right?”
Hmmm. Should I feign innocence? What was the best way to play this scene? Oh! I had just the thing. “I suppose it has something to do with the unfortunate demise of RJ Weatherlayne. Most shocking, I tell you! Why, I was simply aghast when—“
“Mr. Rotundo, can I ask you something?”
I stopped, mid-monologue. “Why, yes. Yes, of course.”
“Why are you speaking with a British accent?”
I stopped. I smiled, sheepishly. “I, um, guess it’s a bad habit, Officer. You seem I’m a bit nervous, and being an actor—“
“That was Mousetrap, wasn’t it?” Officer Dwight stared at me with shrewd eyes. I was shocked. He enjoyed that.
“Actually, it was. How did you know?”
He smiled. “I’ve done theater myself. In high school.”
Hmmm. Perhaps there was more to this detective than met the eye. I completely looked at Officer Dwight in a different light. A fellow theater buff. I had this down!
Officer Dwight sensed the sea change. “Listen, Mr. Rotundo. There’s nothing to worry about. I just need to ask you a few questions. As you know, Mr. Weatherlayne was found pushed down a flight of stairs, and—“
“Yes, pushed down a flight of stairs,” I said, leaning back in my chair.
“Exactly. And I wanted to—“ I yawned.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you about that,” I said, as if we were old friends. “How do you know he was pushed? Isn’t it possible he just tripped and fell, Dwight?”
“Excuse me. That’s Officer Dwight.” His pleasant smile dropped. I sensed I had become a bit too familiar. He became silent, stared intently at me. I could hear the clock on the wall ticking away.
After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, he resumed. “That’s a fair question, but why don’t you let me ask you a few questions? I understand you and Mr. Weatherlayne had an altercation the night before. You are both part of the same theater group?”
I could feel my cheeks growing red. “Oh, hardly an altercation. He just threw a glass of beer in my face, but beyond that...”
“You didn’t threaten to kill him?”
Aha. I had rehearsed this one in the car. “That was only a figure of speech. Like God bless you, or something! I’ve always been a firm believer in non-violence. I’m a follower of Ghandi, actually, and I—“
“And where were you when the incident took place this morning?”
“Well, it was a work day. I woke up, got out of bed, sang ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning.’ I went to work, of course.“
“Went to work right away, Mr. Rotundo?”
Hmm. Should I tell the copper the truth about my hangover? But then, what if he interviews Louise and she spills the beans? “I am...normally a morning person, but I must confess, I did sleep later than usual. Owing to last night’s excitement.”
Officer Dwight’s manner was distressingly serious. I could feel myself squirming in the chair. “What time did you get in to work?”
“Um, around ten in the morning.”
“Ten in the morning?”
“I’d have to check with my administrator to be sure.”
“You see, I did check.” Officer Dwight extracted a notebook from his coat pocket, thumbed through it. “Her name is Louise Reinhart. She says you came in close to noon. She says she tried calling you several times that morning about an important meeting you missed. You didn’t pick up.”
What? This accursed theater hack had the NERVE to call up Louise and question her? Even worse, now Louise knew I was a suspect in a murder investigation? How humiliating! Talk about police brutality! “I don’t know why you felt the need to clutter Louise’s empty little head with this. I have never caused harm to a soul in my life, as anyone will attest. Including Louise!”
The cad continued reading from his notebook. “She said you were quite rude to her and appeared agitated about something.” He looked up from his notebook. “Why would you be agitated? Hey, weren’t you and Mr. Weatherlayne rivals? Weren’t you angry he had been cast in a role you’d kill to have?”
I sat there staring at him. Aghast!
Despite my obvious discomfort, Officer Dwight seemed as pleasant as could be, thumbing merrily through his notebook. “What was that role? Oh yes, Sweeny Todd. Say, that is a good part.”
“But a role one would kill to have is just a figure of speech, my good man.”
“Like God bless you, or something?” He turned a page in his the notebook. “In fact, during your audition for the part, didn’t you terrify the director by taking out a dangerous looking knife and waving it in his face? That sounds like someone who wanted the role an awful lot.”
“That was a prop, I tell you! A prop!”
“A prop?” Officer Dwight seemed amused by that. “Was it a rubber knife?”
My eyes spewed REAL daggers. “Why are you investigating this, anyway? RJ Weatherlayne lives at least 20 miles from Boston. Shouldn’t you be questioning his friends and family, closer to the crime scene? And why would the Boston police be involved at all?”
Officer Dwight shut his notebook to address me directly. “We were asked to help out with this one, Mr. Rotundo. It seems Mr. Weatherlayne has ties to Boston that warrant looking into.” He stared at me, meaningfully.
Christ, his stare was giving me the creeps. “Are...are you referring to me?” I could feel my armpits growing moist. The room I was contained in suddenly felt unendurable. Like a cell. Like a confining cell, and Officer Dwight was going to lock me up and throw away the key!
I threw away my own pleasant demeanor. It was time for Officer Dwight to face the truth. “I don’t know what that bitch Danita said about me, but they are lies, I tell you. Lies!”
For some reason, Officer Dwight found my outburst extremely interesting. He opened up his accursed notebook and started scribbling. “Mr. Rotundo, why do you think Danita Weatherlayne has something against you? Let’s talk about that for a moment.”
Talk be damned! I could stand no more of this. It was time for me to play the A card. “My good man, if you have anything more to ask, it will have to be with my attorney present. Now, do I have to call him, or am I free to leave?”
Let me tell you, the Elton John of the Boston police set didn’t like hearing my rendition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. However, it was high time he learned just how low the Rotundo family balls are actually hung.
“You are free to leave,” he said softly, and then added: “This isn’t over.”
“I’m certain it is not,” I replied firmly, reverting back to my British clip. “However, when this investigation is complete, I am equally certain you shall be apologizing to me in person—nay, on bended knee! For this scandalous accusation. Good say, sir!”
With that, I rose from my chair. With a swivel of my Michael Jackson jacket, I moonwalked my way out of the room, leaving Officer Dwight with a thing or two to consider.