I found myself in a familiar situation, sitting between my minions in the back seat of a cop car. The detective sat in the passenger seat with her head cocked to the left so she could keep an eye on me. One of the uniformed police officers that had kicked the door in drove the squad car with his head forward, but his eyes glued on me through the rearview mirror.
They were silent for the first few minutes of the drive from the vacant house to the main highway. I didn’t say a word, nor did I have an urge to utter anything that would complicate the situation.
I couldn’t say the same for my minions. Jealousy and Hatred argued with each other about what needed to happen next. Hatred felt I needed to use my brute strength to get out of the situation, harming the detective and the uniformed officer in the process. Jealousy felt I needed to wait for the proper moment to make a clean break.
I didn’t stop them, and I didn’t offer an interjection telepathically. Instead, I just sat there, facing forward with a scowl to illustrate my distaste for the lying betrayal from the detective. I thought we were having a moment. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the exchanges we had as well as the game.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” the uniformed officer asked the detective.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she answered.
“Did he try anything?” he asked, looking at me through the mirror.
“No, we just sat there until you all showed up,” she replied.
“That’s good because I didn’t want to have to get physical or teach him a valuable lesson.”
“How chivalrous,” Jealousy said, breaking his argument with Hatred.
“What a dork,” Hatred added.
I snorted, smirking slightly. I couldn’t help myself. It was comical that this mortal thought he invoked fear in me, but it was even funnier to listen to my minions poke fun at his comment.
“Is something funny?” the cop snapped, glaring through the mirror.
“Yes, there definitely is,” I said, nodding.
“Care to share it with the rest of the class?” he asked.
“I think you know,” I replied.
“I want to hear you say it,” he demanded.
“That’s enough!” the detective shouted. “This isn’t going to solve anything. You need to just pay attention to driving the car and getting us to the precinct. And you,” she said, turning around to face me. “You need to keep your mouth shut and stop trying to wind him up.”
“I think it’s funny that someone like you can bark loudly without a substantial bite to follow,” I said, staring into the mirror at the driver.
“Someone like me? And what would that be?”
“Weak,” I answered.
“Keep talking, pal,” he warned.
“All right, if you insist,” I said. “You are the type of person who got bullied and beat up a lot as a child. And I’m sure that carried its way throughout your adolescence and maybe even into adulthood. You hide behind that uniform because you think it keeps you safe, but it doesn’t. Not from me.”
“Dinlas, enough,” the detective growled.
“You have me all figured out, don’t you?” the cop replied with a chuckle. “What happens when I stop this car, yank you out, and beat you—”
“Then you will have bitten off more than you can chew, and the lesson would be a very violent and painful one,” I interrupted.
“This is the Din I love,” Jealousy said with a grin.
“I agree,” Hatred added. “It’s what you are.”
The power rose inside me as the man’s anger and hate boiled over. I needed that as a reminder of who and what I was. That feeling I’d felt back at the house was something I didn’t understand and had never before experienced. It was strong and filled me with a calming peace. Because I couldn’t continue that interaction with the detective without interruption, I felt it best to replace those emotions with the two that gave me purpose.
“Just ignore him and keep driving,” the detective said, squeezing his shoulder gently.
He complied and turned the rearview mirror up to avoid further eye contact with me. That was when I felt the anger and hate dwindle considerably. I smiled and tilted my head back against the seat.
We rode for another few minutes in silence before the detective cleared her throat to gain my attention. When I looked at her, she had an expression on her face that differed from all the others I had seen up to this point. There was something about the way her hazel eyes pierced mine and seemed to glow in the faint street lights that flashed past us as we moved toward our destination.
Her lips were clamped together, and it appeared as though she nibbled on them with her front teeth while she stared at me. The chewing ceased, and a soft smile spread across her face, forcing her cheekbones to push forward. Her eyes welled up like she’d gotten punched in the nose, but her smile grew to show her teeth.
“What game is she playing?” Hatred barked.
“She’s messing with your head, Din,” Jealousy said. “This is the same type of thing she did when you were in that house. She’s playing you to get what she needs.”
“We need to find out what that is,” Hatred added.
“Is this genuine, or are you being deceitful?” I asked.
“You can’t tell the difference?” she asked.
“We can finish this commute in silence, if you don’t mind,” I said. “It’s bad enough you lied to me back there.”
“I lied to you?” she interjected.
“Yes, you lied about the wager and what I would get from winning my three hands against you,” I said, leaning forward in my seat.
“Can you blame me?” she replied. “I needed to buy some time for backup to get there.”
“How did you—” I paused before attempting to finish my question. She must have called when I was upstairs dealing with my minions. I allowed too much time to pass, giving her enough time to execute the call and obtain her safe extraction. Impressive. “Nevermind,” I continued. “You played me.”
“You understand why I had to, right?”
“You are a strange man who talks to himself,” she said, nodding her head to reassure me she knew what flowed through my mind. “Yeah, I heard you talking to yourself upstairs, arguing with someone that isn’t there. It made me think about all the pausing and the glares you give to thin air, but your eyes zero in on your target. You’re focusing on something, like you’re daring it to do something or not do something. I hate to break it to you, Dinlas, but you’re not as sneaky as you think, and your eyes give you away every time.”
She had me there. I couldn’t help that. I had to get the attention of Jealousy and Hatred when their arguments got too bad or when I needed them to listen to my orders. Apparently, the detective had been playing poker with me the entire time. I just didn’t know it. That was something I would fix, and I would do it right.
“I’m done talking to you,” I said, turning my head away to look out the passenger side window to my right.
“He’s playing hardball,” she said, looking at the driver. They shared a chuckle together. “Fine, don’t talk to me now. That’s fine. I hate to break it to you, but you will have to talk to me when we get to the precinct, and you will answer all of my questions. No more lies.”
“I never lied,” I interjected.
“Hiding things from me is still lying, Dinlas,” she replied. “Well, no more. If you want this situation to go smoothly, you will answer everything, and you won’t hide anything from me. Got it? And just know I will know when you are because I’ve seen enough of you to know your ticks. You may be good at cards, but I’m good at life.”
“Break the cuffs and let’s go,” Hatred snarled.
I shook my head in disagreement. I could, and I intended to, but it needed to be at the right moment. Moving over sixty miles per hour in a moving car was not the right time to execute that vulgar display of power. The truth was, I wanted to get to the precinct because I knew that’s where my car would be.
“Whatever you say, detective,” I replied, leaning my head back as I closed my eyes.