63 • Say Nothing
Will tapped the red End Call button and pocketed his phone with a sigh. Not the tired sigh he’d been letting out all day, but a sigh of relief. He straightened his shoulders and felt it for a moment before walking back to Nina and Joe.
“Help is on the way, Nina. Chris Sharp is the best there is. She’ll get Robbie out of there tonight. And then we can figure out what to do next.”
Will and Joe were still sitting on the granite bench behind Chief Martell when the double doors of the station swung open and Christina Sharp emerged smiling with an arm over a shaken Robbie Miller’s shoulder. Nina followed close behind, wiping her reddened eyes with Joe’s borrowed hanky.
They hopped up from the bench and hurried over to the others. Will tousled Robbie’s sandy hair. “Hey, big man. Nobody can hold you, right?” He dug in his pocket and pulled out a pair of dollar bills. He handed them to Nina and motioned to a soda machine at the end of the sidewalk.
Nina took the money and turned to Robbie. “Come on.”
Will watched them walk away, then looked back to Christina. “Well?”
Christina slid purple framed glasses to the top of her head, pulling back straight dark hair. “They aren’t charging him. Not now, anyway.”
“What’d they have him for?”
She adjusted the strap on her briefcase on her shoulder. “He was bragging at recess about starting a fire. Thanks to this see-something-say-something business they are drilling into kids’ heads, some girl went to the teacher, who went to the principal, and you know how it went from there.”
“Did he start a fire?” Will asked. “I mean, did he start that fire?” He wasn’t sure if he meant the hardware store or Nina’s house. They had taken him in for the hardware store fire, but maybe they wanted him for both. Robbie looked like a kid who spent most of his time switching between an Xbox controller in his hand and a book. But he knew his was also the kind of kid who could surprise you.
“I don’t know. He’s pretty shook up, ” Christina said. “Hard to say if he was playing around and something went wrong or if he was just bragging and had nothing to do with anything.”
“Are they going to charge him later?” Will asked.
“Doubt it. Pretty obvious they had nothing to work with and they were hoping he’d give them something.”
Joe got a peculiar look on his face. “Do you know what he did give them?”
Christina smiled. “I’m pretty sure he gave them nothing. I mean nothing.” She gestured with her hands in front of her. “Considering how frustrated they were, if he said anything at all, it wasn’t helpful. And he told me he didn’t say a word the whole time.”
“Not a word?” Will frowned. “A 12-year-old kid says nothing at all? Didn’t spill the beans about pulling his sister’s hair or taking the heads off all her Barbie dolls?”
Joe looked at Will.
“It could happen.”
“Not a thing. Or so he says.” Christina shook her head. “Said his stepdad — Justin? — told him if the cops ever talk to him not to say a single word. So he didn’t.”
“Justin has a history with the police?” Will asked.
“If it’s who I’m thinking of. I’ve seen him around the courthouse some.”
“You’d think if he was going to coach him he’d tell the kid to ask for a lawyer.”
“Yeah, well, if he’s who I think he is, he’s also not the brightest light in the chandelier.”
Nina and Robbie rejoined them, Robbie guzzling a green bottle of lemon lime soda as he walked.
“So we can go home now?” Nina asked. “Or, I guess I mean to the hotel? The little kids are there with a friend.”
“Yes, ” Christina said, rummaging in her bag. “Here’s my card. I think they’re done with him. But if they reach out to you again, you call me.” She snapped her bag shut and put a hand on Robbie’s shoulder. “And you, young man. You do just what you did this time. Don’t say anything — Well, say one thing. Say you want to talk to your lawyer.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Nina, ” Will said. “Go get Robbie something to eat.”
Nina shook Christina’s hand and thanked her another three or four times before she and Robbie turned and walked down the sidewalk toward the Colony Suites a few blocks away.
Christina crossed her arms over her chest. “So, Will Phillips. What have you been up to?”
“Oh, you know.”
“Just the usual things. Climbing roofs. Counting beans. Comforting single mothers.”
“How’d you get in the middle of this mess?” She cocked her head. “You’re still soft, aren’t you?”
Joe snickered and put his hands in his pockets, pretending to whistle and look at the sky.
“Listen — ” Will started, and then looked at the ground.
“Say, ” Christina said, “since we’re evened up now on favors, maybe you should buy me a cup of coffee. Bring me up to date. And maybe your dad can tell me a few stories.”
“Joe is not — ” He stopped again. “Yeah, sure. Where do you want to go?”
“Meet me at Woodburn’s downtown. You’ll like it.”
(to be continued)