“Please state your name for the record.”
I looked at the three police officers standing at the other side of the table. “Seriously? When did you guys learn manners? We’re saying ‘please’ now?” The three officers remained motionless, staring blankly at me, waiting for my response. I tilted my head backwards. “Fine. Adam.”
“And your last name?” the officer on the right said.
“Come on, guys. I’ve been here how many times? Eight? Nine?”
“Fifteen,” the officer on the left said.
“Okay, fifteen times. Do you guys still not understand I don’t have a last name?”
“Everyone has a last name,” the same officer said.
“I’m like Cher, or Adele, or Madonna. They all basically have one name.”
“So you’re like a woman with one name?” he sarcastically asked.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “Would you have preferred Bono, or Sting, or Prince? How about Slash? Look, for the fifteenth time, I moved around a lot as a child. I don’t know who my actual parents are. I was adopted and then given up. I was in and out of multiple foster homes until I was old enough to get my own place. You want a last name? How about Daniels? That was the last name of my foster parents when I was eleven. What about Anderson? It was the last name of my foster parents when I was fourteen. And by far the worst name I had was when I was nine—Krochtangle. Try getting through school with that kind of butchered last name. Adam Krochtangle. The kids were really nice to me if you could imagine.”
The officer on the right slammed his hands on the table and stared at me. “You’ve been here fifteen times in just over four months. I don’t care about your life story. I care about the safety of the people in Mapleton.” Little droplets of spit expelled from his mouth as he yelled at me.
I wiped my face on my sleeve. “Say it, don’t spray it.”
His face turned a darker shade of red. He leaned in closer, and his voice grew louder. “You are involved in a local fight club. It’s an illegal activity. We could throw you in jail for a long time—”
I leaned forward and interrupted his power trip. “No, you can’t. First of all, your intimidation tactics don’t intimidate me. You remember this is my fifteenth visit here, as your fellow officer over there so nicely pointed out earlier. And second, I’m not a part of any fight club. I actually have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I was telling the truth. This time, at least. I wasn’t a part of any fight club. I just fought for money. It wasn’t a club, though. Clubs involve badges, members, people sitting around campfires telling stories or singing songs. This was more like a hobby or an activity I took part in. Word had got around that I was indestructible. I’m not exactly sure what it was or how it happened. Something about something weird with my DNA. I can’t explain the science crap behind it. Honestly, I don’t even understand it. Nor do I care at this point. All I can say is I’m indestructible. I heal incredibly quickly. Almost instantly. So I’m kind of hard to beat in a fight. I never lose. I always get back up after a hit.
Yes, I bleed.
And yes, I still feel pain. But the healing takes the pain away as quickly as it heals me physically.
I first realized I had this ability when I was around five or six. I was riding my bike and my foster parents at the time, the Parkers, were watching me ride up and down their driveway. Then, as most kids do, I fell.
I remember the pain, then looking down at my hand and seeing my fingers bent backwards, obviously broken. But to the Parkers’ surprise as they helped me up, my fingers began bending back to normal.
I remember the look on their faces. Imagine you’re on a plane and the pilot comes on the speaker and tells you the plane is going down. What’s your reaction to hearing that news? Fear? Disbelief? You probably get that oh my God expression where your mouth drops and your eyes open wide.
After taking me inside and cleaning the blood off my scraped hands and arms, they each made that face. I looked at them, wondering what the hell was going on. The bones in my fingers had healed and were good as new. They were supposed to bend back to normal immediately after an injury, right? My scrapes were completely healed too, showing no signs of any wounds.
Needless to say, I didn’t last long at that household. I scared them off. Something about being a “monster” or ”the Devil.” That was the end of the Parkers.
There’s a local bar I frequent, The Stout House. People started placing bets on these fights. It started when someone picked a fight with me because he thought I was cheating in pool. I was, but that’s not the point. Anyway, I won that fight easily. The following day, he came back with a friend. I took them both down. People started placing bets on when I would lose. I was like the Goldberg of fight cl—I mean fight activity. “Who’s next?”
I started making around $40 per fight off these bets. It soon jumped to $50. Then $100. Word spread and people from other bars started making their way over to The Stout House either to place bets and watch the fights or to participate in the fights themselves. The pot had now jumped up to close to $500 per fight. Because of its popularity, it has unfortunately caused some police attention. They typically show up after the fight has ended and after I’ve collected my money. They really have nothing on me, because no one ever presses charges. It’s become such a popular event at the bar that if I end up getting arrested and can’t take part anymore, the person who sold me out will have a lot of angry people after them.
Tonight’s pot was worth $613. I won, obviously. I put the cash in my pocket and minutes later, the police showed up. Everyone booed as they placed handcuffs on me and put me in the back of their police cruiser.
I sat in their interrogation room while Lunatic Larry tried his best to intimidate me. I called him that because he flares up and acts like a crazed psycho when I get under his skin, which is quite easy to do.
Larry had a buzz cut with a neatly trimmed beard to match the short hair on his head. He was the guy on the right of the table who slammed his hands down. He had a short fuse. His full name was Larry Jenkinson.
The guy on the left, I called him Obvious O’Brian. His red hair was short with a messy look. He stood a little shorter than Larry. Just under six feet, maybe?
O’Brian liked to state the obvious. For example, a few weeks ago, he arrested me after one of my bar fights. During the interrogation, he pointed out the dried blood on my knuckles and asked if it came from the fight. No—I was painting a mural of the devil and you caught me red-handed. I think he may be a rookie. His name was James O’Brian, but he annoyed me. I hate stupid people.
Finally, the quiet guy in the middle; his name was Shane Cranston, the lieutenant of these two knuckleheads and nine other men on the force. He seemed only a little older than me. His hair was short and pushed off to one side. I’ve seen him wear glasses before, but he didn’t currently have them on. He may be a contacts kind of guy.
I liked him, so I didn’t have an obnoxious name for him. He’s the one who has looked out for me and has always gotten me out of trouble. Unfortunately, he’s also usually the one who arrests me. He’s always telling me he’s “looking out for my best interests” but we agree to disagree about that.
“I oughta come around this table and beat you myself,” Lunatic Larry screamed from across the table. “Maybe that’ll give you something to think about. Perhaps a loss to end that undefeated streak will surely put a damper on your day, wouldn’t it?”
“So you’ll want to claim a victory over a guy who’s handcuffed to a table, unable to defend himself?” I responded, shrugging my shoulders. “Seems like that would be cheating, wouldn’t you think? But, if that’s how you want to win.” I was just toying with him at this point. I knew I was annoying him.
“I’m going to kill this kid!” he screamed as he tried to leap across the table and grab me. Shane grabbed him and pulled him back.
“Get lost,” Shane told Lunatic Larry, and pointed to the door. “Now!”
Larry turned to glare at Shane. I thought he was about to throw a punch at him. Finally, after the short stare down between the two men, Lunatic Larry stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
“O’Brian, go calm your partner down. And knock some freakin’ sense into him,” Shane said.
“Yes, sir,” Obvious O’Brian replied, before following Lunatic Larry out of the room.
The door slammed shut again, and I turned to Shane. “I think he’s really starting to like me. Do you think I have a shot?”
“What are you doing?” Shane asked me, shaking his head in frustration.
“What do you mean? I thought we had a connection.”
“Drop the wise-ass remarks. You know what I mean. Why do you start with him?”
“Because he’s an idiot. He thinks he’s some tough guy who can boss everyone around. I just like to let him know he can’t.”
“Well, one of these days, you’re going to regret it.”
“Thanks for the heads up.” I lifted my hands from the table by a few inches, which was all the slack that the cuffs would give me. “Think we can get a move on? I’m pretty sure this is the longest you guys have kept me here. You’ve got nothing on me, so you have to let me go.” I knew they would. I was just trying to make this process go quicker. I also really had to pee.
“Come on.” Shane reached across the table and unlocked my handcuffs. I stood up and rubbed my wrists. Those things aren’t comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Shane opened the door to the hallway. Lunatic Larry was sitting on the bench with Obvious O’Brian.
“You’re letting him go? Again!” Larry leaped up from his seat, furious.
Shane moved quickly to stand between us. “Jenkinson, sit back down, calm down, and shut up.” The two officers shared another glare, and then Lunatic Larry sat back down.
Shane continued to escort me out of the police station. “Go home Adam. Please stop getting yourself into trouble.”
“I’m only in trouble because you guys keep arresting me.”
“Look, one of these days I may not be around to help you,” Shane said. “You’re making it harder and harder for me to continue bailing you out. I’m trying to help you. If you don’t get your act together, you’ll find yourself in jail for a long time—or worse, dead.”
“Thanks for the pep talk, Dad. I appreciate your concern and all of your help, but this is my life. Everyone who said they wanted to help has abandoned me. I’m sure you can understand if I don’t believe you either.”
“I understand,” he said, nodding. He opened the front door to the police station and held it open for me. “You’re free to go. I suggest you go home and get some sleep.”
“Why? Are you guys planning a party for my sweet sixteenth?”
“If you don’t leave, I’ll have Officer Jenkinson come out here and release some of that anger in your direction.”
“The lunatic doesn’t have a shot. I can take him.”
Shane turned back around and yelled inside. “Officer Jenkinson?”
“Okay, okay. I get your point. I’m leaving.” I hurried through the front door and down the steps. I could easily fight and beat Lunatic Larry, but I wasn’t in the mood to have the entire police force breathing down my neck for beating up one of their own. Plus, they’d have something to arrest me for: assaulting a police officer. I didn’t want to deal with that kind of charge. I’d never get preferential treatment from Shane ever again. It was time to go home and call it a night.