Miranda really couldn’t say if the police station had changed. Last night she’d been too out of it to notice, but the walls were some kind of marble, a lot of marble. Marble columns, marble floors and ceiling, marble carvings of faces in the corners.
A lot, like a roman temple a lot.
There was a quarry just ten miles down the highway near Junction City, but this was a lot of marble.
As far as she could tell, the upstairs was a single room with a cage in the back, like on old westerns. The cage was filled with file cabinets. Miranda supposed they needed the space.
Aught had at least five police, she’d seen them all last night, but Officer Lidbeck sat at one of the only two desks in the room. The police must usually work in shifts. She imagined them standing around waiting for a desk to write up their reports.
Officer Lidbeck obviously recognized Miranda. She jumped up from her seat and came around. “Ms. McGee, is your guardian here?.”
“He ….” She was going to say “He dropped me off” but she was already sick of the amount of lying she’d done in the last few days. “He’s at home. I walked here.”
The officer glanced at the phone, obviously concerned.
Miranda said quickly, “I needed a little time alone.” She wiped her nose. “I’d like to check in with Alice.”
Officer Lidbeck looked at the stairs behind her. Miranda had heard the town’s prison was really just some cages in the police station’s basement. “Your stepmother is to be shipped off to the state prison tomorrow. We’re still processing her.”
She sat down at her desk. “Actually, maybe you can help me.” She motioned Miranda to the seat in front of her desk, which Miranda took grudgingly. Officer Lidbeck pulled a file from on top of the pile in an inbox. “Do you know your stepmother’s maiden name. We … can’t find any record of her.”
Miranda considered for a moment. “I think I have some information, but I want to see Alice.”
Officer Lidbeck looked uncomfortable. “Your stepmother has committed a very serious crime. A violent crime.” Miranda flinched and Officer Lidbeck’s face softened. “We’re not supposed to let anyone see her till she’d been processed.”
“I just want to talk to her for a few minutes. You can be there if you like.”
“I’m certainly not leaving you alone with that woman.” Officer Lidbeck’s face was hard, but Miranda knew she was going to let her in. Officer Lidbeck opened the folder. “Tell me what you know.”
“I found a pile of papers in the garage–“
“You were back in the house?”
“I’m living across the street. I needed to change my clothes.”
She shook her head. “Go on.”
“I found these papers in the garage. Alice’s name might have been Smith before she married Dad.”
“Alice Smith.” Officer Lidbeck made a note. “Are these papers still in the garage?”
“Yes.” But they had totally different stuff on them now. Miranda would have to answer to that later, after she saw Alice and Dad.
The officer looked back at the stair, once, twice. “Okay, but it’s a short visit.” She put the folder back on the pile. “And I’ll end it at any time if I need to.”
Downstairs, Officer Lidbeck made Miranda wait on a bench, a wooden slab resting on two marble squares stuck out of the wall. She was pretty sure that wasn’t here last night.
She came out of the steel door she’d disappeared behind. “Okay, come in. You’re not allowed to touch the prisoner or even come within six feet of her. Clear?”
Past the steal door was a row of cages, two on a side. All were empty except the one on the far left. Alice sat quietly on the bed looking at the wall. She looked perfect, no hair was out of place. Her clothes looked fresh and unwrinkled. She didn’t react to the noise of the door.
There was a wooden bench near the door, and Officer Lidbeck dragged it loudly over to the cage, she pushed it against the cage across from Alice’s. “Mrs. McGee, you have a visitor.”
Alice didn’t look over. “Oh, good.”
Office sat in a plastic chair in the corner. She motioned Miranda to come over.
Miranda sat on the bench, but Alice still didn’t look at her. “Hey, Alice?”
The cell looked dirtier in comparison to Alice. Her dress was clean and arranged perfectly, like she’d been sitting perfectly still for hours. She turned and smiled sweetly at Miranda. “Oh. Hello, dear.” She waved. “You look hungry, have you eaten?”
Miranda looked at Officer Lidbeck, who was looking off at the corner. Miranda looked back to Alice. “I’ll eat after I see you. Are you okay?”
“I think so, dear.”
“Do … you know where you are?”
“Oh yes, I’m in jail.”
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“Officer Lidbeck explained it to me. I’m to be arraigned for aggravated assault. Isn’t that right?”
Office Lidbeck looked sheepish. “That’s right, ma’am.”
Alice smoothed her hair. First the left side, then the right. She looked Miranda in the eye. “How is you’re father dear?”
“He’s … I haven’t seen him yet.”
“Remind him to look at the water heater when he gets home. It’s been acting up again.”
Miranda felt lost. “Alice, I don’t understand, were you angry with Dad?”
Alice kept smoothing her hair. Left side, right side, left side, right side. “No, don’t be silly.”
“Was Dad bad to you? Do you hate him?”
Alice laughed. “No, never.” She waved off the suggestion. “Your father is a wonderful man.”
Miranda looked to Officer Lidbeck for help, but she was rubbing her face.
“I don’t understand, do you love Dad?”
Alice looked confused. “Of course I love your father. I love you both very much.”
“So, you didn’t stab him?”
Alice grinned. “No, dear. Of course I did.”