"I'm here for my car."
The lady behind the counter, a short, chubby woman with a friendly face, held up a finger indicating that I should wait while she finished counting the stack of papers in front of her. It was a large stack, and she thumbed through it and mouthed the numbers to herself as she counted. When she finished, she jotted a figure on the notepad beside the stack and then looked at me with a smile. "Tag?" she said.
"Do you know your tag number? Your license plate?"
"Oh," I answered. I tried to think of it, but I couldn't. "I think it starts with a K."
"Name?" she said, pushing aside the stack of papers and pulling her computer keyboard into reach.
"Sayer," I said.
She tapped on the keyboard an inordinate number of times, taking more than a minute. "Simon?" she asked, finally.
"That's right," I said.
"Okay, Mr. Sayer. We'll need to see your license and we'll need $300 in a check or money order."
"Cash?" I asked.
"Check or money order," she smiled bureaucratically.
"I have a checkbook in my car," I said.
"No problem," she said, "I assume your proof of insurance is in there too?"
"Well, why don't you give me the keys and I'll have someone bring it around. We can escort you out to get your checkbook and proof of insurance and, once the check clears, you can take your car."
"Uh, okay." I reached into my pocket for my keys. "I had a computer in there, a laptop, would you have left it there or taken it out?"
"If they saw it they might have taken it out and boxed it," she said, taking the keys from my hand. "Sometimes they don't notice. If it's not in the car, we'll check the boxes."
"Okay." I said.
"Also, Mr. Sayer, we need you to speak with Detective Hall."
"Detective Hall? Why?" I was beginning to feel impatient.
"He has a note on here that he wants to see you when you pick up your car," she replied. "I'll give dispatch a call and they'll let him know you're here." She picked up the phone and dialed.
"I'm in a bit of a hurry," I said, but she wasn't listening. She was talking to someone on the other end of the line. knowing it was pointless to persist, I walked over and dropped heavily onto the uncomfortable wooden bench against the wall. I slouched down on the bench, trying to relax, and leaned my head back against the cold concrete of the wall behind me.
"Such a hassle, these affairs," said a voice. It sounded foreign, possibly African.
I glanced over to the next bench where an old black man sat smiling at me. He was tall, but shorter than me. He looked strong for a man of his age. "Yeah," I answered. I closed my eyes again and leaned back again.
"We live bound by honor and law," he said.
His words rattled around in my head when I heard them, but it took a second for them to sink in. When they finally did, I opened my eyes and sat up. "Law binds from without, honor from within," I responded, looking into the man's eyes.
"Where there is honor, there is no need for law," he said, smiling.
"Law is the crucible." I had completed the code. We sat in silence for a minute.
"Fair weather today," he said, indicating that we should talk, but not here.
"Did you enjoy evening?" I asked him, inquiring if there was urgency.
"It was peaceful," he said. There was no hurry. He would wait for me to finish my business here.
My heart was beating quickly, but I calmed it and settled in to wait. 'Why is he here?' I wondered. 'Who is he?' I had never encountered another Repairman here in town before. I wondered if his business intersected with mine.
"Mr. Sayer," the officer called me.
I stood and walked back to the counter. "Yes?"
"Detective Hall is not in yet," she said. "I've talked to his Sergeant, however, and she says you can just leave your number and address and he'll contact you. There's no need to wait."
"Oh, great," I said. I gave her my mobile number and address.
"Okay," she said. "Well, if you'll have a seat, I'll let you know when they bring your car around."
"Oh," I sighed, "I thought it was here."
"Oh, it may take a few minutes," she said. "We're pretty busy today."
I sighed again and turned to sit back down. The African was gone.