Interview - Stage Seven
The chief inspector was ready for the meeting, though a grey haze had been hanging over him since the incident with the body. "It's fine," he kept telling himself. The haze would shift once this was all dealt with in an appropriate manner.
All these rendezvous points had gotten a little confusing. So many twists and turns, deviations and reversals from expected routes.
"Come alone, and don't be followed."
A little trick from the investigation days, before he'd headed the team. It helped to slip into paranoia.
"To catch a criminal, it is sometimes necessary to think like one..."
He couldn't remember who had said that first, but he held to it. He knew it was a dangerous game to play, but he knew it was never going to be easy. That wasn't why he joined the force...
"An overarching sense of duty... a crusade, you might say..."
He hadn't come here for this.
"Enough. No more games."
"Alright. Sit down."
"I'm not in the mood for..."
Cold concrete. No chair, but thankfully no rope. He couldn't see the convict, and his pulse quickened. Attempting to control his breathing, he waited for the silence to shatter.
"I suppose you're wondering about the body..."
The chief inspector nodded, still unable to see his man.
"Trying to make a fool of me were you?"
"You tried to kill me."
"The body was supposed to be me, wasn't it? Admit it!"
The grey began to tighten.
"You weren't following orders."
"Orders? Do you even know where my orders come from?"
A moment of clarity.
"You answer to me."
Silence. Grey silence.
"My orders come from higher up."
He tried to breathe.
No. Impossible. He tried to regain control.
"That's right. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary."
No. No, it couldn't be true. It had to be another sick joke.
"We have reason to believe you have been liaising inappropriately with criminals and attempting to influence their behaviour with a combination of violence and psychoactive substances."
The grey tightened around his chest. He couldn't speak. The haze was much tighter than before. A pain in his left arm. His breath drew short.
"You have the right to remain silent..."
“And of course, you remember the Ellison case...”
Play them off, that's how it is. I had him tied to the chair, he wasn't leaving the interrogation room until I was finished.
"Now, listen up you son of a whore, I want to know what you did with Ellison."
Blank stare. No getting through to him.
"Insults bore me, chief. You can't even think of anything original."
I left and locked the door. He was still tied when I came back.
"You ready to tell me what you did with Ellison? Is he dead, or you just hiding him somewhere?"
He didn't reply. I finished my coffee and waited. It had gone on like this for days, and he knew it was getting to me. He was waiting for me to crack. A dangerous game. It was day four I think, when it happened.
"Hey, prick. You'll never know about Ellison."
I got up and moved toward him.
"Yeah, what you gonna do chief? Hit me?"
"No. I hit you, you'll recover. That won't hurt you nearly enough. So I want you to listen to a couple of tapes for me."
I put the first tape in and hit play.
I pressed stop.
"Recognise the voice?"
He struggled in the chair.
"You fucking prick, you touch my son..."
I put the second tape in and hit play. I left the room and locked it behind me. I waited ten minutes until the tape had finished before I went back in. The screaming appeared to have worked.
"You ready to tell me what you've done with Ellison, or you need a little more persuasion?"
I showed him the first printout from my report. A photo of a dismembered body. The head of his child lay on its side on the floor, amid a pool of blood.
"Now tell me what you've done with Ellison or we take your daughter and your wife."
He confessed everything. I had to knock him out before I released him to the police with his taped confession. He never found out that his son wasn't really dead.
“I worked with you on the Ellison case. I could have gone down for you. That was the game though, wasn’t it? We’ll go as far as we can to get our man. But you had to go a little too far, didn’t you?”
The chief shivered. It had been a difficult case, the suspect highly resistant to questioning. The standard threats were having no effect. Of course, more drastic action would never have been officially sanctioned. The son had been taken into custody, though the mother wasn’t informed until later. Kidnapping, covered up with an official letter to the mother. Dangerous ground of course, they couldn’t question the child unsupervised, but then, that’s not what they did. Several photographs of the child had been taken while he had a tour of the police station. He’d known nothing about it, other than he was having a nice time. It was unclear whether the child understood anything about his father’s situation. The officer giving the tour was under the impression the child believed his father was out at work. Interrogation cells were clearly off limits. That would have just confused the child and jeopardised the whole operation. Of course, the suspect could not under any circumstances see that his son was still alive. The threats had continued long into the afternoon, by which time the child had already gone home to his mother, and the manipulation of the photographs began. Officers involved were instructed not to be too obvious. No substitution for scenes from horror films, that would be a give-away. Beheading seemed the most sensible option. The flash of the camera had cause the child to close his eyes in most of the photographs, and he’d looked rather calm. From there on in it was easy. Add some blood, cover any obvious slips in the editing. It had taken a few hours, but the photograph was reasonably convincing in the dim light of the cell where they were questioning the suspect. Convincing enough for a full confession.
“Is that it then? You’ve come for a confession?”
Benny placed his suitcase on the floor and opened it, removing a set of scales which he placed on the table. As the Chief got up to look, Benny glared at him.
“Sit the fuck back down.”
Easy. No need for ropes or tape.
A chuckle, ignored by the Chief.
“Officer Dalton, this is hardly appropriate behaviour.”
“You’re stupid enough to believe I used my real name?”
Benny left the knife in the suitcase. Turning slightly to face the Chief, the interview began.
“Do you know what that is?” he asked, pointing at the scales.
“Yes. The scales of Justice.”
As the knife rose, the fear in the Chief’s eyes told Benny that rope was definitely not required. Placing it on the table, he waited for the Chief to sweat.
“You can’t. They’ll find you. They’ll hear me.”
“This cell is booked for interrogation. Strictly routine.”
A syringe, removed from the suitcase, prepared for use. Finding a vein was easy. As terror swelled in the Chief’s eyes, the needle broke his flesh, and sound drained from his body as the clear liquid seeped through.
“Nobody’s going to hear you. Nobody’s coming to save you. Now, time for a pound of flesh...”
Naturally, there was a reason the Chief was getting his heart cut out. For the record, it weighed under a pound, and further extraction was necessary. After the corruption case and the Ellison case, he’d been chosen for something special. All off record. Strictly unofficial. Upshot being it could be denied if it went wrong. Arrest made, an aberration. We occasionally get them on the force, we’re trying to weed them out, honest. Yeah right. The standard bullshit peddled to journalists. All of it utter bollocks, complete horse shit.
It had started innocently enough. Boring but relatively innocent. He’d not been privy to all of the meetings, and had struggled to stay awake in the ones he’d been invited to. Too much jargon to dazzle anyone who might stumble across any meeting minutes or recordings. All of it was subtext. He found that out much later. Of course, he’d not been privy to any of the reports. He managed to steal them eventually. Off record of course. Lack of evidence. Denials straight from the firing squad. It had almost been too easy. He’d been set up to fail. Given the level of secrecy, it was shockingly easy to see it coming. They’d trained him a little too well. Something had to give. After the whole affair, he was removed from duty. Given recuperation time. Stress, the report said. Time off, grief. Compassionate leave. A steady stream of excuses to keep him out of the way, until the were able to get him into traffic control. It could have been a lot quicker, but they had to avoid questions. Eyebrows would have been raised. Such a high profile officer would never be moved to traffic control so quickly. A rising star demoted as he appeared at his height? Nobody would believe it. The public were rarely interested, but there were a few that got involved. The letter writers. Scouring for a scandal. Something to be outraged over. A justification for their lack of doing anything else useful. If they had any idea what had actually happened, they wouldn’t have enough letters to finish what he’d started.
He sat in the hallway, waiting for the call. The wallpaper there was much newer than in the office. Seemed such a waste, people walking past, not taking any notice. Subliminal, of course. All the decoration was. Barely noticed, just enough to keep you going. A flicker of colour here and there, just to keep you in check. Remember that you’re alive. His heartbeat slowed as he worked on his breathing. Seconds passed with each exhale. Eyes closed, he imagined each breath rolling down the hall like tumbleweed. A half remembered Ennio Morricone tune whistled through his head. This was going to be easy, he told himself. No cowboys here. Do it properly. A flower caught his eye. A rose, the wallpaper new enough that the colour was a deep, blood red. The thorns had been painted out. The smell wasn’t there, so it wasn’t perhaps as fresh as he’d first thought. Whitehall. Whitewash. A poem he’d half remembered from hearing at school. John Cooper Clarke. Not enough time for humour now. Barely enough time to think.
He’d been given a rough script to work with. Naturally, it was memorised. More or less discarded, but remembered just in case.
“Brandt, Home Secretary. My father, William, was German. No relation of course...”
A little joke to put him at ease. They’d said that was the best way. A softener, they called it.
“Yes. You prefer formality, I see.”
Yes, it was all just a formality. All the steps set into stone, waiting for their chance to sink.
“I’m told you’re here to discuss the reforms...”
Peering over eyeglasses, he focused on his papers rather than the officer. Rude, but Brandt had expected that. Morning briefing had informed him that a politician’s workload and other sundry pressures of the job made them particularly surly, and ignorant to the fact. The irony was almost too much, but he held his concentration.
“Current negotiations have been somewhat... unsuccessful.”
The papers were set down, the eyeglasses adjusted. Their eyes met for the first time.
“These proposals cut the powers of the Inspectorate...”
“Well, we can’t go giving the police too much power now, can we?”
“Whose side are you on?”
“What on Earth did you expect, Officer? The police are not elected. You chose this job. We did not choose you. The public may remove us, but they are stuck with you. Will your politics change at the next election officer? I think not. Politics is not your business.”
Officer Brandt picked up the papers.
“Shame we’re not more like the Americans, isn’t it?”
The politician raised an eyebrow.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
“I’m impressed by your memory, Officer.”
Not too far from the script. Placing the papers in the bin and setting them alight was improvised. Standing over them, he watched them burn, ignoring the politician.
“Don’t be so childish. We have more copies.”
That was true.
“You also have more politicians, but orders are orders...”
“This is tyranny!”
“No. This is justice. You have been found to be corrupt. Part of an investigation by HM Inspectorate. The reforms come as part of a plan to cover up the behaviour of certain officers representing a significant, and illegal, financial interest to certain people.”
The gloves came in handy when searching the office. After dictating a suicide note, he’d placed a gun in the dead man’s hand. Leaving the office, once the worries about the ballistics team left him, witticisms flooded his mind. “Elect this!” he thought. Fuck. Always too late. Anyway, interesting story for the grandchildren. If they’d ever believe him. Probably end up sworn to secrecy anyway. Official files were likely already being shredded and burned. A lack of evidence was sometimes a good thing. Problem being, it can make it difficult to know where you stand. Initially, the Chief had been hesitant to give any detail. People are often reluctant to just give away anything, let alone useful information. A little pressure often helps, or some other sort of incentive. Pain generally works best.
First the knife was dragged across his shirt, enough to score it at first. Brandt remembered him seeming a little calm, considering what was to come. His eyes had bulged a little as the knife traced the same path, with a little more pressure. As the shirt slipped away from the knife, the first bead of sweat fell. A little too much pressure, and a few beads of blood began to seep from his flesh.
“Feel like talking yet?”
The chief shook his head. Trained well. Right. Time for a gear change. He shoved the knife with the base of his hand, and it plunged a little further into the Chief’s chest. Not deep enough to kill, of course. Brandt’s training had been better than that. A little more... in depth, you might say. As blood began to spill, so did words.
“They’re planning on framing you. Whether you succeed or not, they’re planning on framing you as a terrorist.”
“I guess I’d better work a little harder then eh?”
He’d heard of previous cases where the rooms weren’t secured. The tapes had too much crossover. The interviews had to be repeated. Too much time wasted, suspects forgot things, witnesses were less reliable. The Inspectorate had acted then, and had many of the interrogation rooms brought up to date. Privacy was ensured, ideal for investigations. Prevents contamination of interview tapes.
The knife went even deeper. As he twisted to cut around the heart, he smiled. The joys of a well soundproofed room.