The Boy Who Washed His Hands

Tara sat alone in a dimly lit interrogation room, the only light coming from a small lamp on the desk in front of her. She looked around at the concrete walls, then at the camera in the corner of the room, and stopped at her own reflection in the two-way mirror. She noticed that her brown hair was rather messier than usual, and the bags under her eyes made her face appear swelled. Probably from the tears and lack of sleep since she heard about what happened. She quickly looked away, knowing that someone else was on the other side watching her.

The door opened and a man stepped in. He was dressed in a black suit, with a white button up and red tie, and he carried a brown file folder. She thought that if he was bald, he’d look just like Agent 47 from the Hitman series. She was momentarily amused by this idea, but then he spoke.

“Hello Ms. Ellis, I am Detective Burns. I will be questioning you today.” He pulled out the chair across from her and took a seat. He set down the folder on the table, and glanced at his wristwatch. “If you don’t mind I’ve got an appointment at 3pm, that gives us about a half hour, so please be direct with your answers and we can both be out of here in no time.”

“No problem, Detective,” she replied timidly.

“All right, well, let’s begin,” he said, opening up the brown folder. He pulled out a few loose pages that were held together by a paper clip. “It says here you are a waitress at the Truscello restaurant.”

“That’s correct,” said Tara. He glanced at her, then looked back down at the notes.

“So tell me what you know about the incident.”

“Well, I really only know what I was told, that the dishwasher killed seven people.”

“Are you at all surprised by this?”

“Yes, of course I am, but then again… no.”

The detective gave her a blank stare. “Go in depth on that, please.”

She looked down at the table, and wrung her hands under it. “Well, he was always very quiet, he didn’t talk to anyone unless asking or answering a question. I mean, he was a great worker and all, just a little odd.” She paused, but the detective kept his gaze on her. “He would sometimes seem very happy, and then sometimes he’d seem sad. I think the strangest thing about him was his attitude. It fluctuated so much that it was hard to tell what kind of person he even was.”

“I see,” said the detective. “Did he ever seem angry?”

“Sometimes, but we all get angry back there.”

“Did he ever get violent with his anger?”

“No, not really, just angry, but for no apparent reason. He just did his job and—wait . . . I remember that he got angry once, because the other dishwasher didn’t wash his hands before putting away clean dishes. He got real close to the guy, and said something, then went back to chopping lettuce.”

“Interesting,” said the detective. “Were you close enough to hear what he said?”

“No, I think I was rolling silverware and talking with Justine, one of the waitresses,” said Tara. She thought for a moment, about how she’d never see her again. Tears filled her eyes, and she wiped them away with her shirt.

The detective looked at her. “Hey, I know this is hard. We just need to get through this, and then you can go home and process all of this.”

She sniffled. “Okay.”

“Good. So, what did he say to the other dishwasher?”

She looked back up at him, clearly annoyed. “I told you, I couldn’t hear it, I was rolling silverware.”

He fumbled through the folder and pulled out a picture, slapped it in front of her on the table, and pointed. “Somewhere over here?” he asked.

She jumped at the sight of the blood and bodies, and quickly shoved the picture away. “Yes, there!” yelled Tara. She was crying now; she couldn’t believe that any of this was real. It only hit her when she thought about Justine, and Cody, and Chris. How could she ever return to work there?

Detective Burns picked up the picture and glanced at it. “You should have been close enough to hear.” Tara hid her face with her hands, and continued to sob. “Hey, listen, miss,” said the detective. “You’ve been very cooperative, I only have a few more questions, okay? I’m sorry, please calm down if you can.” He pulled a box of tissues out of a drawer and set them next to her. She blew her nose a few times and quieted down to a gentle sob. The detective sighed.

“Is there anything important you can tell me about the boy?” he said. “He’s in no state to talk, and some scientists became very interested in his behavior, him being so young. Did he say anything strange? Have any nervous tics?”

Tara sniffled. “No tics or anything, but he liked to wash his hands a lot. It was almost weird in a way. And he didn’t say much, but he always spoke very quietly. Some of the waitresses would make fun of him for it,” she said.

“Well, you know what they say,” said the detective, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” He chuckled. Tara stared at him, at first shocked, then angry.

The detective looked away, embarrassed, and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. You know what, we can be done here.”

He packed up the papers and photograph into the folder, then his phone rang. He pulled it out and answered. “Hello? Oh hey, yeah, we’ve just finished up . . . Really? That’s what I call poetic justice.” He chuckled. “All right, yeah, I’ll do the paperwork. See you Monday? All right, thanks Brian.” He hung up and stuffed the phone in his pocket. He began to get up when Tara asked, “What was poetic justice?”

“The boy died in the hospital,” he said.

Tara looked up at him. “But . . . but I thought you arrested him.”

The detective shrugged. “Well, we did, but not before shooting him three times. When the officers arrived at the scene, there was blood and bodies everywhere. They saw him facing the wall fiddling with something, and they thought it might have been a weapon. When they told him to get on the ground he didn’t respond, so they shot him.” He stood up, pushed in his chair, and walked to the door.

“Oh,” said Tara, sadly.

“Yeah. What’s funny, though, is that he was just washing his hands.” The detective laughed heartily, then opened the door, and left the room.