I slowed as I approached the driveway. One officer sat in the car, the radio crackling staccato bursts of a nasally voice that told him to “stand by and await further instructions…” A female officer appeared from beside the house, speaking into a handset.
“House is secured…the kid’s not here…over…”
I hated being called kid. I thought about running but didn’t need the extra attention, and it was too late to dump the book. I just kept walking, pretending not to notice them.
I glanced backward, in case Mum was on her way down the street. The man in the jacket was behind me.
“You're Marshall Kincade?” he asked.
I stopped and slowly turned to him, his question sounding more like he was stating a fact. It was only his rising eyebrows that told me otherwise. His shadow stretched toward me, his head shading my feet. I stood motionless, recalling Nellie's advice about strangers.
I hesitated in answering him as he fumbled inside his jacket. I comforted myself with the fact that if he were going to shoot me, he probably wouldn’t do it in front of two cops. From his jacket he produced a wallet. My shoulders sagged with relief to see it wasn’t a gun. He flipped the wallet open and held it up. An impressive looking police badge stared back at me. He lifted his empty hand, palm facing toward me, as though he meant me no harm, as though he knew I might run. I edged backward, out of his shadow before I answered him.