Doreen squatted on the floor and reached for Jamal’s ankles. She patted up the right leg, clutching and squeezing his calve muscles as she worked her way up to his knee. She moved past the knee, rubbing and kneading his firm, slim thighs through his saggy denim jeans. Doreen finished the right leg and then repeated the process with the left. She stood up when she reached his crotch.
“Before I search your pockets, is there anything you want to tell me?”
“Yeah, I’ve got something to tell you. You’re a fucking cunt. But you probably knew that already, didn’t you?”
“Keep talking asshole. You’re only making things worse for yourself.”
Doreen reached into his back pockets and found nothing. Due to the sag of his pants, his belt line bisected his butt cheeks. She patted his cheeks through the boxers, and then reached around to the front. She pulled a roll of breath mints from the left pocket, and then slipped her fingers into the right pocket.
“What do we have here?” she asked with a note of triumph in her voice.
Doreen threw a plastic card with costume earrings on the table.
“That’s not mine!” Jamal shouted.
“Oh, I know it’s not yours. But you were attempting to steal it.”
“Why would I steal that piece of junk?”
“Because you’re a criminal. That’s what you do.”
“Fuck you. I didn’t steal it. You planted it on me.”
“So, you’re going with that story? It was planted?”
“You know I didn’t take it. You put in my pocket. I know you did.”
“That’s the best you can do? It was planted? I set you up?”
“Check it for prints. I never touched it.”
“I don’t need to check it. I have surveillance video.”
“You don’t have shit and you know it. You planted that crap on me.”
“Jamal, we caught you. Since you’ve never been apprehended in this store before today, we have some leeway. According to store policy, I have two options for you. One is that you sign a confession and stipulate that you will never visit the premises again. Don’t make that face until you’ve heard what I have to say. I won’t call the police, you won’t be arrested, and your family doesn’t have to know that you got caught. But if you ever enter the property–and that includes the parking lot–we will call the police and you will be arrested for trespassing. Your confession and the stipulation will be admitted into evidence.
“The alternative is you continue professing your innocence and we call the police. You will be escorted out of here in handcuffs, taken to the police station, processed, and most likely you’ll spend at least one night in jail–maybe all weekend. Your parents will have to pick you up in the morning. In six months you’ll go to trial, and you will be convicted. This is an open and shut matter.
“The choice is up to you.”
“I’m not signing anything. Give me my phone so I can make my phone call.”
“I’m sorry, you seem to be under the impression that I have to follow police booking procedures. I’m not a cop. This isn’t a police station. I’m not bound by police regulations. I don’t have to give you Miranda rights, I don’t have to give you a phone call, I don’t have to provide you with counsel. You don’t get those rights until you’re in police custody. Is that what you want? Do you want me to call the police up here? They’re right outside the store. They can be here in five minutes. Shall I call them?”
“Jamal, I want to help you.”
“It’s true. Do you think I want to do all the paperwork that goes with an arrest? I have an entire store to protect, and I’m sure there are dozens more shoplifters on the floor right now.”
“I’m not signing a confession.”
“Work with me, Jamal.”
“Fuck you and fuck this fucking shit hole of a store.”
“Jamal, I have another option.”
“You gonna call the FBI?”
“Hear me out. I think you’ll find this option works better for both of us.”
“I doubt it.”
“Just listen to me for a second.”