VII

“Are you going to tell me, or will I be forced to pull the truth out your mouth?”

It was a phrase I’d always wanted to use. Unfortunately, today was not going to be the day I would be able to use it. So far, my one interviewee had been more than happy to tell me his Russia-themed life-story.

“So, how do you know the Karkroffs?” I asked Richard, as I analysed him over the desk we were sitting at.

“I’m a family friend, like I said before,” he promptly replied. He seemed very content to put forward the fact that we were repeating things I already knew.

“Okay. And you also said that you were going for a job interview. What do you do, Richard?” I chewed the lid of my pen, whilst I waited for his answer.

“I’m a teacher. I’ve been out of a job for a while, but I do teach, as a career.”

“And, is there any reason why you don’t have a job, when there are so many teaching posts available?”

He knew exactly what I was insinuating.

“I haven’t done anything wrong! I left my previous post because I was unhappy with the way the institution was being run! It’s not my fault that I haven’t found another suitable place inRussia.”

“Oh,institution?”

Richard blushed, though he tried to keep his expression neutral.

“I don’t want to talk about it. Please, it’s another year, and it doesn’t come into this.”

“Alright,” I replied, curiously chewing the pen-lid again. I watched the way his eyes darted everywhere about the table, but would not settle upon my own. Perhaps he was spouting lies, but I’d find the truth out. It was a promise that I silently swore to myself, just because I was unhappy by the way things were going so far.

“How did you know Petre Rusav?” I continued.

“I didn’t, not well.” He shrugged. “I might have done in passing, especially if he’d be at the Hall.”

“So, you were not at all friends with him?”

“Oh, no, no…” he muttered. “Not at all.”

“Well…I guess that’s it. And…what were you doing Wednesday morning?"

"Wednesday morning? Oh, I guess I fell asleep on the couch, 'cause I was watching a movie the previous evening, and then I got a call from Adam saying he had had just found a body... You know the rest. The next thing I did was collect him from the police-station at about seven am, where he’d just given a statement.”

I nodded, and then pushed back my chair with a creak. “If I think of anything more, I’ll call for you, Mr. Thomason; likewise, if you think of anything that could help with my investigation, please mention it to me. Thank you.”

I led my suspect out the room, watching him ever closer. He seemed genuine, seemed to be telling the truth, but there was something that he was keeping from me, hidden deep in his eyes.

“Mr. Thomason,” I muttered, swiftly turning to him as he stood in the doorway. In my motion, I blocked his exit. “Is there anything you can think of telling me at the present moment that would aid my investigation?”

He folded his arms and stared at me menacingly.

“Don’t you go all ‘policeman’ on me, Miss King. The Inspector has already woven his complicated thread of lies suggesting that I’m worse than I make out.”

“Everybody makes out they’re better than they really are,” I pointed out. “It’s human nature. Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Hiding something? You can tell me, it’s okay.”

“Agnetha! I’m not!”

A sudden chill went down my spine. I was reminded of Josh Craig. There was, in Mr. Thomason’s voice, the same teacher's harsh call of my name, the same tightness in his throat as he was tender with me, friendly despite the restriction that law had put upon us. I said nothing more.

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help,” he finally replied. He stumbled back slightly, but never took his eyes off me.

“It’s okay.”

I guided him back to the lounge. As if I were a secretary, I clutched my notepad tightly in my square fingers and called forward Marina.

The End

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