“Do you know why you are here, Mr. Holiday?” the inspector, or whoever he was, was leaning forward. He seemed like a man who was tired but tried to seem pleasant because that was his job.
“That is not my name,” I corrected him.
“Right, let’s assume it is,” he smiled, “Could I get an answer, Mr. Holiday?”
“I guess there was a bomb in that package?”
“Yes, exactly,” the inspector nodded enthusiastically, “Now, Mr. Holiday, can you tell me who you are?”
“My name is Howard Scott, I am a professor at the University of T___. I have a wife and two sons. Jacob is a lawyer, Mark runs a bed-and-breakfast.”
“Well then, Mr. Holiday, I just have a few standard questions, if you could answer truthfully, I would very much appreciate that. Please say I strongly agree, I agree, no opinion, I disagree, or I strongly disagree. Number one: I try to avoid conflict at all cost.”
“Number two: I am not known to rely on others.”
“I strongly agree.”
“I get embarrassed easily.”
“I strongly disagree.”
“Excellent, Mr. Holiday,” said the inspector. “Now, what would you have done, had you known there was a bomb in the package?”
“I would have called the police.”
The inspector smiled and rolled his eyes like he was saying “are we really going to go through all this?”
“Listen,” I said, “What is this all about? Why am I being questioned here? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Please, answer truthfully, Mr. Holiday. Had you known there was a bomb in the package, what would you have done?”
“I would have thrown it away, far, far away.”
“Now, we’re getting closer, Mr. Holiday, but I don’t think you are being completely honest with me.”
“Why not? And why do you keep calling me Mr. Holiday, this is ridiculous.”
“Calm down, Mr. Holiday. Please, answer me this, if you had known there was a bomb in that package, would you have left the house and called your wife to open it?”
“This is preposterous, why am I being questioned like this? Do you think I sent the package myself?”
“Now, now,” said the inspector, “I am not saying that. This is just a standard line of questioning.”
“Standard? For what?”
“I have all the time in the world, Mr. Holiday,” he said.
We sat there for a few minutes in silence. Finally, I said, “This is going to keep happening, isn’t it? These little meetings with you or somebody else, until you get it out of me. Don’t you think I don’t know what’s going on. I literally wrote the book on interrogation techniques. Actually, several books on the apparatus of oppression in totalitarian regimes.”
The inspector smiled victoriously.
“Fine,” I said, “I will admit things have not been going well between me and my wife recently. There were certain… episodes… I even thought I would feel a certain relief if she was out of the picture. But I would never…” The inspector had gotten up and was collecting his pens and the various papers he had laid out on the desk. “You’re leaving?” I asked. “Can I ask what this is all about?”
“It is decided now, Mr. Holiday. You are going to hell.”
“What do you mean hell?” I asked.
He smiled and extended his index finger pointing right at my heart and then slowly moved it down, down, down towards the floor. Or, supposedly, towards what was beneath the floor.