Chapter 36: Right to Remain Silent
The questioning was over quickly, and Officer Mustafa escorted Edie into the hallway while he went off somewhere else, apparently trusting Professor Lal to keep an eye on her, or them to keep an eye on each other. The two of them waited for a couple of minutes in silence before Corrie and the female cop came out of the room. Corrie caught Edie’s eye and smiled. Edie smiled back.
She expected some discussion, or for Professor Lal to ask them how it had gone, but none of them said anything until the female cop did. She smiled and clapped her hands at them. “All right, I’m going to ask you to come out to the front with me while we wait for Officer Mustafa to return. We have magazines and stuff if you want to read something while we wait, but it probably won’t be long.” She led them back out, gesturing to where the magazines were. Edie took one—it was terrible celebrity gossip, but that was better than nothing at all to read—and so did Professor Lal, but Corrie glanced at them and then looked away, over the desks and the few cops working.
The cop showed them to a row of chairs against a wall, where they sat down. She stood at the end, looking down the hallway they’d come from. Edie tried to read her magazine, but it was really boring, and she couldn’t focus anyway. Corrie kept looking around the room and Edie didn’t know what she was looking for. “Are you okay?” she finally asked quietly.
Corrie nodded, her right leg bouncing slightly where it was crossed over her left. “Yeah, it was a pretty easy questioning… I mean, they didn’t think I was lying or anything, of course. And they didn’t ask any questions I couldn’t answer.” She bit her lip, then continued, “I just don’t know what’s going on.”
“Me neither,” Edie said, trying to smile.
Before they could get much further into the awkward conversation—Edie knew she wanted to talk about the questions and the answers, and Corrie seemed like she wanted to say something as well, but they didn’t want to talk freely with the cop right there—Officer Mustafa returned, walking quickly down the hall. He gave the three people sitting down a curt nod and then held a short, whispered conversation with the other cop. Edie strained to hear what they were saying, but she couldn’t understand it.
“All right,” the female cop said, finally speaking out loud. “We’ll take you down to talk to him now. But only one of you can come in, and you’ll be accompanied by one of us at all times, of course.”
“But—” Edie started to protest. The whole reason Professor Lal had come along was so she could protect Corrie from Paul.
“It’s all right,” the professor interrupted her. “I’m sure the officers will keep Corrie safe. She’ll be the one speaking to him, of course.”
Officer Mustafa nodded. “I hope it helps.”
“What do you mean?” Corrie asked as they started down the hall.
“He hasn’t said a word since we brought him in,” said Officer Mustafa, bringing up the rear as his partner led them down the hall again. “It’s his right, of course, but he hasn’t even asked for a lawyer.”
“He didn’t say much tonight,” Edie said. “I thought that was weird.”
“What’s the last thing you heard him saying?” asked the female cop.
Edie tried to remember, but she shook her head. “He didn’t really say much at all.”
“He said he wanted to help me,” Corrie said. She glanced at Professor Lal, frowning slightly. “No, what he said was that he wanted me to let him do something to help me. Those might not have been his exact words, but it’s the gist. That was right before he attacked Dawn, and he didn’t say anything after that.”
The female cop nodded. “He probably saw your friend as a threat to him somehow. Maybe he thought she was turning you away from him.”
“That’s what we thought,” said Corrie. “But it doesn’t really make sense. I mean, I broke up with him before we came to college, so I hadn’t even met Dawn then.”
“And it doesn’t explain why he attacked Dawn instead of me,” said Edie.
“He probably would have gone for you next, if you girls hadn’t acted so quickly,” said Officer Mustafa. “I can’t say why he would fixate on someone you hadn’t met when you broke up with him, though. We might need to bring a psychologist in on this. But some people are just crazy.”
Corrie opened her mouth, but Professor Lal was frowning at her, so she closed it again and didn’t say anything. Edie realized that they couldn’t explain what they thought was the real reason Paul had attacked Dawn without bringing up magic, which they’d been working to hide, though now that she thought about it, she wasn’t sure why.
They’d reached another door and stopped. “Just a minute,” said the female cop, and went inside.