“Okay, so let’s take this from the top, Miss Ledbetter. According to your friend, Miss Stanton, the two of you were hanging out at the mall–”
“In the back, behind the mall,” Celia Ledbetter corrected.
“You two were hanging out behind the mall when you discovered that the back door to Victoria’s Secret had accidentally been left unlocked. Then what happened?” Officer Kelsey Smith rubbed a hand on the back of her neck and wondered for the thousandth time that day, why she always got stuck with the petty crimes.
“Well, we opened the door cause we just wanted to check it out…see if anyone was still there working. We were, uh, worried that maybe someone working inside might have been tied up and robbed. And like, the burglar had maybe escaped by the back door.”
“Okay, so you went inside, then what?”
“It was dark so we looked for a light switch to turn on so we could look for bound and gagged employees.”
Officer Smith raised a sardonic brow as she looked up from her notes at Celia.
“But we couldn’t find the main switch. Fortunately, the store had a few display lights still burning, enough light to look around. But we didn’t see anyone.”
“So after you assessed that there were not, in fact, any victims on site, what did you do next?” Officer Smith’s head dropped down as she jotted a few notes.
“Well…uh…we figured since we were already there, we’d..uh…maybe try on a few things.” She paused then chewed on the inside of her mouth. “We weren’t going to steal anything. Just try on.”
“Uh huh.” Officer Smith scratched down more notes.
“But first we needed to find the key to the dressing room and the light switch for the rooms. We prowled around until we located the key under the front counter and the light switch near the back entrance.”
Officer Smith looked up. “Did you try to open the cash register?”
“Oh, no ma’am! That would be stealing!” Celia blinked her wide eyes a few times.
“Uh huh,” Officer Smith said as she once again jotted down a few notes. “And did you try on the lingerie?”
“Yes, we both did. Daisy, er Miss Stanton, tried on the Ibex bras. She’d seen the commercials and wanted to try them but wasn’t sure of her size. So she grabbed several sizes in all sorts of different colors. I tried on some of the nightgowns.” Celia stopped then smiled at Officer Smith.
“What did you do with the merchandise after you finished…trying it on?” Officer Smith braced for another round of ridiculous lies.
“We hung it up on the returns rack, of course.” The smirk on Celia’s face spelled out a very clear D-U-H. “And then we packed up our reflections and left. The end.”
Officer Smith added a few more notes then halted her pen and looked up at Celia, her lips pursed. “Please back up to after you returned the merchandise but before you left the store and give me more details. What do you mean when you say you ‘packed up your reflections and left’?” Officer Smith tapped her pen on her pad and waited expectantly for what she already knew would be the climax of the story.
Celia pressed her lips into a thin line then flashed a sheepish smile, her nose wrinkled. “We-ell…” She leaned forward on her forearms and looked into the officer’s eyes. “Have you ever shopped at Victoria’s Secret?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Have you ever tried on anything in one of their dressing rooms?” Celia’s voice had dropped down into a hushed tone.
“Yes.” Tap, tap went her pen.
“And how did you look?”
“What do you mean, how did I look?”
“Let me ask you another way. Did you buy what you tried on?”
“Yes, I did.” Officer Smith leaned back in her chair, her head cocked to the side.
“And how did it look after you put the lingerie on at home…better or worse than it did at Victoria’s Secret?” Celia’s eyes bored into Officer Smith’s.
“It didn’t look as good. Everyone knows that Victoria’s Secret dressing rooms have the most ideal lighting and…” A new circuit formed in her brain. “…mirrors.”
Celia leaned back in her chair and drummed her long acrylic nails on the table. “Exactly.” Then she nodded, one eyebrow raised.
Officer Smith clicked her pen and closed her notepad. “Where is the mirror, Celia?” She clasped her hands together in a praying gesture on top of the table that separated them.
Celia crossed her arms but remained mute.
“It’ll go a lot easier if you cooperate. We can get the charges reduced and possibly even dropped if you’ll just tell me where the mirror is.”
Eight hours later, Kelsey Smith posed and primped in front of her new mirror. Her latest purchases, a leopard print balconette bra and matching thong presented her “assets” in the finest light possible.
She clicked her pen and wrote on her pad, “Mirror surrendered by suspects but destroyed in transit. Recommend reduction of charges to time already served and a fine of fifty dollars.”