Detective Richardson 

Shelia sat in the chair at the police station smoking a Kool cigarette. She appeared on the outside to be cool, but inside she was shaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Detective Richardson watched her from outside the room in the two-way mirror. He was tall and thin, black as coal and handsome. Each time Shelia took a puff off her cigarette, he took a hit off his cigar. He raked his ebony eyes from her head to her heels. 

Her brown hair was cut in a short pageboy that framed her oval shaped face, covering her dimples as she held her head down. Her skin was the color of a ripe peach with black flashing eyes that darted around the room like a doe caught in the headlights of a fast-approaching car. It was the only sign that resembled fear. The rest of her one-hundred-and-thirty-pound body was strong as steel. Her beautiful legs were crossed, and her right foot swung back and forth, but not at a fast-moving pace, but a slow deliberate one. She wore a black leather jacket, black mini skirt, red blouse, and black heels. He correctly guessed her age to be between thirty-five and forty.

“Nice piece of ass, huh?” The balding Sergeant Holland said as he walked up beside Richardson.

“Watch your mouth Sergeant. It’s not nice to talk about ladies like that. You got that information I asked for?” Richardson slowly turned towards the sergeant, away from Shelia’s view.

“Sorry Detective, here’s the scoop. She’s been seen out at Cloud Nine, you know, that Black after-hours club on Long and Twenty-First that we can’t seem to keep closed down, with that crook Washington, every month now for about a year. When the rookies went to question her at her home this morning, she tried to deny it and got smart-assed, so they brought her in. On the way into the police station, she started to be nice, saying she just didn’t want her girls to know about him, which was why she denied knowing him, but it was too late for that shit, so here she is.” 

Holland held out a clipboard with a report on it and Richardson took it from him, thanked and dismissed him as he took one more look at Shelia before going into the interrogation room. Shelia put her cigarette butt out in the metal ashtray on the table as Richardson entered the room. She looked up at him out of angrily slanted eyes. She leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms while uncrossing her legs. Richardson sat down in the chair across from her and put his cigar out in the same ashtray.

“Mrs. Brady.”


“Miss Brady, I’m Detective Richardson. I’d like to ask you some questions.”

Shelia looked straight into Richardson’s eyes, noticing that they were a beautiful shade of brown, and that he had a strong chin with a dimple in the center of it.

“What kind of questions?” she asked.

“About your relationship with Booker T. Washington.”

“Booger who?”

“Booker, with a ‘K’ T. Washington, you don’t know him?”


“You don’t know this man?”

Richardson laid a mugshot of Washington on the table and pushed it towards Shelia. She leaned over to look at it, not picking it up or showing any type of emotion. She leaned back in her chair with a slight smile on her lips. 

“You mean Smooth?” 

“Yes, that’s exactly who I mean. You were dating him?”

“We went out.”

“When was the last time you saw him?”

“About a week ago yesterday.”

“What were you doing?” 


“Have you spoken with him since that time?” 

“About what?” 

“Anything. Anything at all.” 

Richardson continued to watch Shelia closely who continued to have a slight smile on her lips as if amused with the questions, or maybe, he thought, she was amused with him. Richardson was used to his people, Black people, treating him with less respect than they did his white peers. Not all of them, some respected him and called him “Sir” and acknowledged his achievement of becoming a police officer in a system that, as far as most Black and even poor white people felt, was set up to keep the jails and prisons full of free Black labor.

But there were the others who called him “Pig” when he arrested them and “Brother man” when they were pleading with him to “let a Brother go free, man, you one of us.” Richardson hadn’t figured out which one Shelia was yet. Given time, he knew he would.

“Why?” Shelia’s sharp tone brought him back to attention to task. 

“Are you going to answer my questions or not?” Richardson snapped back at her.

“Ya’ll keep asking me questions but won’t answer my only question. Why?”

“He was murdered.”

Shelia dropped the smile from her face.  

“What’s that’s got to do with me?” 

“Mrs. Brady”


“Miss Brady, this is a homicide investigation, and it would be in your best interest to just answer my questions, being uncooperative is what got you here in the first place.”

Shelia rolled her eyes upwards, reached for her purse on the table and took out a cigarette. She put it in her mouth and began searching for her lighter, before she could find it

Richardson had leaned over with his lighter and lit it for her. Their eyes locked in a split second before she took a deep puff then blew the smoke out slowly, with her head tilted back, toward the ceiling. Richardson was caught off guard by the vulnerability that he saw in her eyes. It was in stark contrast to her body language that exhibited no fear at all. Richardson admired her smooth throat and strong chin. She took another puff while her head was still tilted back, then slowly let out the smoke as she brought her head down, looking straight into Richardson’s eyes again. This time deliberately and without any sign of weakness.

“Detective Richardson, I didn’t have anything to do with Smooth’s, excuse me, Mr. Washington’s death. The last time I saw him we went out, got it on, and I haven’t seen him since that time. Any more questions?” Shelia asked with her head cocked to the right side.

“Why didn’t you just tell that to the cops that came to your house? You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble and not wasted my time.”

“Your time! What about my time!” 

Richardson tapped his right index finger a few times on Smooth’s picture, leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips to let out a loud sigh. Shelia sensed his frustration with her. 

“Look, I have two teenage daughters who don’t know anything about me and Smooth. I made sure of that. I keep that type of thing away from my girls. Smooth was a release for me, nothing more and nothing less. Why are you questioning me anyway, there are better suspects than me out there, after all you know the kind of business he was in, why knock on my door?” Shelia asked.

“Your name was just one in a long list of names that Washington had in his phone book. We plan on questioning them all if necessary.”

“You going through all that trouble for Smooth? Why? Talk about wasting time!” Since when did he become so important?” 

“In case you didn’t know it, Washington was also the son of Judge J. Washington. The only son.” Richardson said, watching Shelia’s expression closely. 

Shelia let out a throaty laugh, took another puff of her cigarette, and laughed again. 

“He was the son of a what? A judge! And here I thought he was just a son-of-a-bitch!” She laughed again and crushed out her cigarette in the ashtray.

Richardson tried to hide his smile by covering his mouth with his left hand.

“Look I can’t help you with this.” Shelia said. I saw the man once a month, he took care of my needs, helped me keep clothes on my girls back, took me out once a month so I could have some fun. That’s all I know, nothing more about him.”

“Why did you think he was a son-of-a-bitch if he was so alright with you?” 

“It’s been my experience that most men end up acting like one, he just hadn’t started to yet, I guess.” She was no longer laughing. 

“So, you’re just naturally hard on all men?” Richardson asked. 

“That depends on what you mean by hard. Can I go now?” 

“Assuming most men are sons-of-bitches seems kind of hard to me.”

“Well, since I don’t know all men, I said most men. I also said in my experience. Can I go now?” 

“Sure Miss Brady, you can go. If I have any more questions I know where to find you. We just need your phone number. Write it down for me please and here’s my card in case you remember anything that could help our case.” 

He gave Shelia his card and a piece of paper to write her phone number on. She took the card, read it and wrote her phone number down.

“Just try to make it when my daughters aren’t home, I don’t want them involved in this.”

Shelia got up from her seat, grabbed her purse off the table and walked towards the door. Richardson jumped up to open it for her, and to watch her backside, as she marched off and out of the police station. The other males, and a few female officers watched her backside too.