Pretty Vacant

They take my mugshot. I posed as well as I could, and I hope – if I’m allowed a fleeting moment of reflection – that I looked like a proper villain, in my black jacket, spiked hair and somewhat disgusted look at the camera. I quite like having my photo taken, but I also like the freedom of getting to look as silly as possible…I don’t think I quite do serious as well as is necessary for a really good mugshot. In any case, somewhere in their files is a token of my natural beauty for the New York Police to keep for ever, and maybe occasionally gaze at in fond memories of our following interview together.

The interview’s done in a cold, painted-brick room with one desk, two seats and three policemen. The interviewer looks like one of those really tough sergeants from a film. A desk guards my somewhat hunched and nervous form from him.

“Are you sure you don’t remember anything in connection with her death?” the sergeant is asking me.

Now of course we don’t have the death penalty in England, but they do here, and my thoughts are racing. I can’t control them, and I’m on a heroin low. I didn’t dare take any speed or anything just in case they – I don’t know – skip the interview and stick me straight in jail – I don’t know how things are done here. I don’t want to be in jail. I don’t want to be anywhere near prison at all, not in America.

“I dunno,” I say. “I mean, we fought that night.”


“Um…” I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. What do I say? “I think I stabbed her, but I didn’t mean to. No, wait a sec – I think I cut her – you see, we were playing with the knife.”

“Playing with the knife?”

“Yeah.” Hell knows. He’s got the knife itself on the desk, covered in blood still. The sight of the thing makes me sick.

“Where did you get this knife?”

“I bought it.”

“From where?”

“From a shop in – on the streets. I don’t remember where. I mean, 42nd Street. It’s a collector’s knife. A friend had one like it and I wanted one too.”

“And did Nancy object?”

“Nah, she liked it.” I draw a hand through my hair. “Look, sergeant,” I say, though I’ve no idea if he actually is one or not, “I stabbed her, but I didn’t mean to kill her. I loved her.”

“So you did stab her. You are responsible.”

“I mean I don’t remember.”

“But you just said –”

“I dunno, do I? I don’t remember anything. I can’t remember anything from last night.”

“Well if you don’t remember…”

“She fell on the knife.”

“She fell on the knife,” repeats the sergeant disapprovingly.

“Yeah. It was on the floor and she tripped and fell on it.”

“On the floor.”

“No, on the bed, I mean.”

“Now it’s on the bed.”

“It was! I don’t know what happened next. All I know is there was blood on the bed when I woke up, so it must have been on there. We were probably sitting on there or something.”

The thing is, my memory has gone completely blank. I don’t remember a thing that happened. I don’t know if the stories I’m rattling out to the policeman are true or not. He certainly doesn’t look convinced.

“It was an accident, I swear.”

“Is that all you can remember?”

“Yeah.” I don’t trust myself to speak any more.

“In that case,” says the sergeant, getting up, “You’ll be taken to jail.”

I kind of hoped I’d be avoiding that, but apparently not. I stand up too, and the other two policemen make a rush to seize me. They take me to the overnight cells, where I sit and put my face in my hands until the early hours of morning. When I finally do sleep, my dreams are full of angry judges and even angrier policemen, holding up bloodied knives, and chairs with straps for your arms and legs, waiting while a shock of electricity goes through your head…

What the hell have I done?…

The End

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