Malcom Hanish didn’t enjoy fieldwork. He was a big picture guy that had long ago decided that the connections between things were far more important than the details. The specifics of one circumstance, however, required that he put aside higher pursuits and ground himself in the minutia of a practical investigation. He lit a cigarette, sacrificing some part of his health for the fire and theater of the act, and began his questioning.
“I would like to say, upfront, that this needn’t be adversarial. Quite some time ago you took a thing that wasn’t yours, a small red book about as thick as your thumb, and while we understand that it is no longer in your possession, we have some questions”.
Malcom Hanish could tell the young man was unsettled by this line of inquiry. He sought to reassure him.
“ Of course the young woman that you took it from is no longer with us, but no one blames you for that. Accidents happen”.
Malcom Hanish paused to let this generous interpretation of events settle. The young man stared at his hands, as if his gaze could fill them with answers, or release them from the cuffs that bound them to the metal table. Neither could happen, at least for the young man, and his silence was beginning to wear at Malcom Hanish’s patience.
“Still, we have every reason to believe that you were made aware of the contents of the journal. and it would smooth things between us tremendously if you could recollect them to the best of your ability.”
Malcom Hanish counted to one hundred and then offered a small easement.
“Feel free to paraphrase.”
The young man’s memory, or manners, or sense of the moment failed him entirely and he declined to bargain.
“I want a lawyer” said the young man.
Malcom Hanish smiled sympathetically.
“ I can well understand the desire, but a barrister has no place in this thing between us. I am asking for a favor from someone who could be a friend, but you should understand that you have no rights save those I accord, and your survival is a function of my goodwill alone. I hope that gives some clarity.”
The young man had difficulty accepting the way of things.
“ This isn’t…you don’t have anything. You have to let me call my lawyer. I’m not a….fucking terrorist, or whatever. You’re not allowed to do this” said the young man.”
Malcolm Hanish sighed, he had a terrible way with people and found it hard to express things as he meant them. Had he been more precise perhaps he could have spared himself some tedium, and the young man an awful morning. Still, there was nothing to be done but move forward. Malcom Hanish rose from his chair and approached the young man.
“ I am embarrassed that it has come to this, but I need to know the where and why of what you stole.”
The young man’s answers came quickly after that, but were sadly incomplete. Malcom Hanish learned what he could and then exited the building, giving no thought to cleanup or the follies of stubborn young men.
Continued in Part Four