There were three witnesses to the crime and each one had a flaw. One was blind, the other was deaf and the third had a reputation for making up stories. As is the case in such cases, after interviewing all of them, I got three different stories.
The case was of a man who beat his girlfriend at a street corner; the blind man is a beggar and was sitting on one end of the street where the incident took place. The deaf man was on his way to an opera when he saw the crime and the third man, who fortunately had all his senses intact, lived on the third floor of the building in that corner. I had to talk to each one of them to find out what really happened.
The first man I interviewed was the third man. He was a 27 year old man who spoke a way too much and had an opinion about everything. I imagined he was the irritating “know it all” that always annoyed all the kids in class with his unnecessary statements whenever a teacher taught. I would know this because I used to be one of those kids until adulthood reminded me that I don’t know much apart from how to breathe. Even that had to be a skill we are blessed with in the womb, otherwise our lives would have been short lived – literally. Apparently this man’s reminder was long overdue.
He entered the interrogation room confidently. Strutting to the chair across the table like he was going to dinner with a celebrity. I sat on the other side of the table with a notepad in front of me which was eagerly waiting for its next hit of ink and a pen in my right hand because, well, I’m right handed. He pulled the chair back, sank his skinny body onto it and reclined back as he looked around the room.
“You guys really need to add more colour to this place.” He said casually as his eyes surveyed the small room with nothing but the chairs we sat on, the table and the surrounding grey walls. Did I mention that he had being here numerous times? Coincidentally, he had managed to be a witness to five different crimes in the last two years. He always seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time with nothing to do but watch other people live their lives and in those five cases, commit some sort of felony. He testified in court for three of those cases but it was later realised that his accounts of the scene were exaggerated, bordering the line of deception. I personally did not want to interview him but when everyone heard he was witness to this crime, they all abandoned the case, leaving me to handle it.
With a sigh of frustration, I tell him that we will get it painted if we ever interrogate a toddler. He chuckles, mentions how funny that is and then sits up straight. I was just glad he was not gay. He already had an overwhelming personality, being gay would most probably have made him more outspoken.
“I’ve done this a million times so we can skip the formalities.” He starts off, “So here is what happened, I’m sitting by the window overlooking the street and I am minding my own business. This couple is walking on the side walk just below me. I don’t know what they were talking about because they were not within ear shot. However, I did hear the girl laughing, more like chuckling. Like this,”
He pauses and chuckles in a squeaky voice attempting to imitate the girl’s laugh, “So she chuckles a bit then there is brief silence. The man suddenly looked angry, he said something inaudible to her then she pushed him away. Afterwards she swore at him. You know, ‘You son of an itch’ with a B in front. The man raised his right hand and slapped her, she stumbled back. He then punched her in the stomach and she fell to the ground.”
He illustrates the scene as he speaks; his arms moving around wildly like he is trapped in a huge spider web. “So I immediately jumped into action, running out of my place and down the stairs to help the girl. As I get outside, I see the man leaning down as he was about to kick the girl. I ran to him and pushed him to the side, he fell, I kicked him in the stomach so that he could feel the pain as well then I went to help the girl up. She pushed my hands off of her and told me she had everything under control, seemed to me that everything was over her control though.”
He pauses to take a breath and settle into his chair again. This finally gives me a chance to speak, my writing is not as fast as his talking but fortunately I am recording every word that spews out of his mouth as evident from all the fresh spit marks on the table. He opens his mouth again. Chance missed.
“The girl eventually gets up and she shouts at me like I’m the one who punched her. Can you believe it, I help her and I become the enemy. This is why you can never be right with women. Anyway as I’m trying to explain that I’m trying to help, this woman runs from the other side of the street and she hits me with a handbag. Ironically enough, she doesn’t say anything, she just furiously hits me repeatedly. I tried to help but all I got was a shouting from one woman and a beating from the other. Unbelievable.”
“Firstly sir,” I interrupt, “We have not taken down any of your personal details, I understand that you have being here before and so you know the procedure but it does not give you the right to bypass the initial processes. I’m going to need you to tell me why you were on the balcony window.” He raises an eyebrow, then starts again.
“Like I said, I was just looking at the street, see what’s going on outside my place. The couple fought, I helped and now we are here. Anything else officer?”
“Not at the moment, thank you for your cooperation. You can leave.” He gets up irritated, mentions how bland the room is and walks out. I finish writing the report before the next witness comes in. He walks in after half an hour. It’s the blind beggar.
He is an old skinny man, his face painted with wrinkles that have so many years between them and his eyes hidden by those square black shades. Grey thin hairs adorn parts of his bald head. He holds a cane that looks as worn out as him. Escorted by one of the other police man, he cautiously feels for the chair before sitting down. The police man leaves and silence settles into the room as cautiously as the old man settled into the chair. He just sits straight up and looks at me, no movement whatsoever. I clear my throat.
“Hello,” he softly says with a calm, shaky voice that oozes with the wisdom of someone who had experienced too much of life. His dry lips leisurely move with no sign of urgency. I ask if he was well taken care of. He comments on how friendly the receptionist was and the wonderful food he had eaten. He adds on that he took his first proper bath in six months today. Acknowledging how glad I am that he is happy with how we treated him, I ask him to tell me what happened on that street corner. He is silent for a minute or two as he seems to get his thoughts in order. In a slow manner, he recounts all that he remembers.
“Well I was asking for change there as I usually do during the week to get something to eat because it’s not nice not to have the food you need. A few people gave me coins but it was usually five and ten cents and there is not much you can buy with such small amounts. I’m pretty sure this people who give me that little money have never been homeless, how else can you explain what a person expects you to do with ten cent. Anyway, around the late afternoon when it was relatively quiet, I heard a man and woman coming from down the street laughing together. I was hoping they would give me something because no one had come around for over an hour. However a moment later, the woman said something very rude about someone’s mother. That’s when I heard a clap and someone falling down, the man then exclaimed that he was sorry and that he did not mean to hurt her. He kept saying it was a mistake. That’s when I heard another punch.”
He pauses, “or it was a kick, I couldn’t really tell. Then the woman told the man to get off of her because she had it under control. It was sad, they didn’t even give me any change. Then I heard more swearing between the man and the woman as they passed me and left me empty handed. There was a voice of another man but I don’t know why he didn’t stop the fight.”
I thank him for his cooperation and escort him back to the waiting room. The last witness, a deaf woman sitting on a chair at the far corner of the waiting room quietly reads a book, unaware of our presence. I unconsciously call her, forgetting that she cannot hear me.
The secretary smiles, gets up, walks to her and taps her on the shoulder, she looks up and smiles at the secretary. I ask the secretary if she got a translator and her sweet face gives way to a look of bewilderment as she shakes her head, rushes back to her table and picks up the phone. I motion for the deaf woman to follow me. Without hesitation she gets to her feet and walks behind me. We enter the interrogation room and seat down, facing each other as we wait for someone who understands sign language.
The room is quiet and a hint of tension floats around. I unconsciously tap my pen periodically against the notepad. She looks around the room, plays with her fingers, glances at me briefly and then repeats. After ten minutes a young short man enters with a chair in his hands, he looks at me, smiles in acknowledgement as he nods his head and then places the chair next to the deaf lady.
“Hi, I’m told you need me to speak to this lovely lady.” He says while seating down. I nod my head. He raises his hands to her field of view as she turns to look at him. With a pleasant smile on his face, he starts skillfully moving his hands, she joins along when he pauses. A smile soon develops on her face.
“What would you like me to ask her?” The man asks without looking at me. I tell him to ask her what happened, he briefly moves his hands. She nods, raises her own arms and then starts explaining the story through her hands. The man nods in agreement every once in a while as he pays close attention to her. After a while she stops. He shifts his gaze towards me.
“It is a very bad world we live in. She tells me that she was in the shop opposite to where the incident happened. As she was coming out, she saw a man slap a woman, she ran inside to ask for help. But the cashier did not understand sign language and he was not willing to leave his shop unattended. She says she was too scared to go help at first but since men are useless, she figured she could take the abusive guy out.” He pauses and shakes his head.
“When she ran out again, she saw a second man attacking the woman who was now on the floor. She changed her mind about helping physically. That’s when she decided to text the police but the text did not go through and calling them was as useful as a scale in space. She says she even struggles to order pizza unless she does it online. The police should also make reporting crimes online possible.”
“OK then, what happened afterwards?” I ask. Irritated by all this irrelevant information.
“She says that she texted her friend so the friend could call the police. To make sure the men didn’t run away, she ran to them and started hitting one of them, the other guy held her and pulled her away. Then that’s when the police showed up.”
I thank them for their cooperation and escort them out. Going to my office. I go over the story, trying to make sense of it all. Now that all the witnesses have told their side of the story. I had to talk to the man that started all of this. I get up and head to the holding cells hoping that I will at least get a story that makes sense.