~ a short story

A smallish man is seated in a chair. Firmly entrenched within him is a heavy mix of discomfort and confusion. A light shines down upon his face. It is so bright that it garners a helpless squint from its target. In his awakening from a blunt force-induced stupor, he is unnoticing of his precarious situation. His hands and feet are bound, but he can’t tell right from left anyway. There is no operative path he could pursue around him, from the perceptions coming up and down his awareness. On his sides are close walls, at his back is a large steel door, no doubt locked. Facing forward is the only stimuli worth paying heed to. There are three silhouettes. Three individuals seated at their own stretched out table. Before he can begin to gather his position here and respond to it with some kind of motion, they are speaking to him.

Interrogator #1: Do you understand the full nature of your crime?

Man: I… I… haven’t committed any crime…

Interrogator #2: You deny the charges then? Or you simply do not understand?

Interrogator #3: Clearly, he doesn’t understand. He must understand. We’ll make him understand.

Man: I do not know of the charges.

Interrogator #2: He is lying to us, right off the bat. He may not understand what he has done is against the law, but he knows what he has done, what we are here charging him with. Enough with this. Tell us — 

Interrogator #1: Enough with yourself. I am leading the opening questions.

Man: Wha… what is going on here?

Interrogator #1: You are to face judgment for what you have done, but not before answering our questions.

Interrogator #3: If you lie, we will know it. You can be sure of that.

Man: …

Interrogator #1: Well, it is time for us to begin. Truly, we already have. But you have not answered our first question. Do you wish me to repeat it for you?

Man: I remember it. And I have answered it. I have committed no crime…

Interrogator #1: Yes, you believe you have committed no crime. And yet here you are. Surely, you remember what it is that you did though.

Man: I do not…

Interrogator #2: Let us help you out, walk you through the misdeed. What is the last thing you remember before ending up here?

Man: I was just going about it, about my day, about my night. I remember… feeling down for some reason. I remember seeing a cat, that lifted my spirits. Spoke with a few friends about future plans for the week. And I remember wanting to get home.

Interrogator #3: To do the deed you have done, yes. It’s why we brought you in. I wonder what that was like, the premeditation of it. It was, wasn’t it? Premeditated.

Interrogator #2: Can you recall who these persons were you spoke with? How many were there? What did they look like, how old they were, what are their preferred — 

Interrogator #1: Stop with that! You lead us astray. We still have not established anything. The accomplices are but one component of the fact pattern. You are leading him on, drawing your own conclusions. You risk tainting the questioning process, shutting him down from further answering. Let him continue.

Man: I just wanted to go home. And I did. I went home.

Interrogator #1: And then you did it, yes?

Man: … And that was it … erm, I don’t know what it is.

Interrogator #2: Do you own your home? Do any of your friends?

Interrogator #3: And what exactly does ‘home’ mean to you?

Interrogator #1: But how did it feel doing it? Couldn’t have been a good feeling. You may disregard their questions. Just take one at a time. This is a safe space. Tell us how it felt, there at home, in the seat of your coming misdeed. 

Interrogator #2: How dare you disregard our questions.

Interrogator #3: There is nothing safe about this space. There are grave consequences ahead for you young man. The gravest.

Man: I didn’t do anything! Home is … home!! And I don’t own shit!!!

Interrogator #1: Yes, you did. It’s past time you admit to yourself what you have done. We must all pay for the consequences of our actions, or in this case — our inactions.

Interrogator #2: Of course you don’t. None of you do. 

Interrogator #3: ‘Home’ is nothing more than a ruddy, little apartment. I’m ashamed for you.

Interrogator #2: Who are these friends anyway? What do they do?

Man: Why does that matter? Why does any of this? What are these questions? Who are y’all?

Interrogator #2: It’s the most important part of the story, these others, these instigators.

Interrogator #3: We’re no one, boy. You can give that up. The lights on you. The questions are at you, their answers are on you. We are but silhouettes for good reason. 

Interrogator #1: It’s not. The most important aspect is that he understands the nature of his crime. If he cannot understand what he has done, then he cannot faithfully defend himself and we cannot dutifully charge him as the law permits it. I will ask again, do you understand the nature…

Man: I do not. I don’t understand anything that is happening. I don’t understand why I am here or why you are asking these questions or why I have to answer them. This is a madness and I think it’s about time I demand to be set free. Right now! Let me out!

Interrogator #3: Perhaps he is insane… I might lose that bet after all #2.

Interrogator #2: [chuckles obnoxiously]

Interrogator #1: But you cannot leave. Not until you have answered our questions, truthfully and with your wits about you, and then are tried before a jury of your peers. Do you at least understand the parameters of your temporary detainment here? Do you at least understand the concept of this due process we present?

Man: Of course I understand due process! But this isn’t that. I have done nothing wrong! Let me go, let me go… Let me go!

Interrogator #2: Oh you have no span for attention. And no respect … Try to calm yourself. The sooner you commit yourself to the process of answering these questions, and the sooner you reveal the names of those you spoke with last night, the sooner you can go.

Interrogator #3: Do not lie to the man. Even if he gives them all up, he will likely face severe punishment himself. He’s a core part of the whole damn problem. None of them have a lick of repentance in them.

Interrogator #1: Stop that! You threaten to tamper. I demand a return to order within our own ranks. Now, man, you have to face up with what you have done, with the sin on your soul here.

Interrogator #3: Here we go…

Interrogator #1: There is a level of inherent hubris in the decisions you made last night. In the reckless disregard you had for your own soul. ‘Nothingness begets nothingness.’ Can you even comprehend your own insignificance? Can you understand the significance of this hearing? We are giving you a chance. I suggest you take it. 

Interrogator #2: Give it a rest. Man, just tell me who they were, your friends. They are just as culpable and will be brought — 

Interrogator #3: Y’all are so desperate, so petty. Nothing you are saying matters. You are wasting time asking the wrong questions. I have the right question. Only one is needed.

Interrogator #1: Just admit it… it didn’t feel good doing what you did… you must at least admit that. Please look within yourself, you’ll find the answer — our answer — awaiting. Please

Interrogator #2: Give up their names! What do they mean to you! Do you think they wouldn’t give you up in a heartbeat if they were in the same seat! Give me a break, what are you waiting for?!

Interrogator #3: Why the devil did you do it?

Man: …

Interrogators: …

Man: {whispering} Because I wanted to. Because I could. We could. Because time spent enjoyed is not time wasted. 

Interrogator #1/2/3: [all speaking indecipherably, louder and louder, quieter and quieter]

The lights go out. The man gets up, as if to leave. And he does so. ~