Ben’s Bit – part five – The Reasonable Dr Grey
The man is calm. His dark-rimmed, circular glasses focus the intensity of his study at me, rather than taking in the light that bounces off my prison uniform, whose monotone colour, resembling a modern warship, bears his name.
“Do you think it’s normal for a person in your position to refuse bail?” Dr Grey asks, reasonably. He knits the fingers of his hands together into an unconscious tight fist, in a movement that reminds me how physically close together two entirely different gestures can be. “It was, after all, a first offence?” he says.
He’s not a reasonable person, though the system, no doubt, judges him to be so. He’s a very person. Very educated, very fair . . . very capable of judgement.
I have no doubt that I am in the presence of evil, very here.
I put my hands on the old metal table that separates us and look back through the glass circles that shield his eyes. Deliberately and slowly, I gather my own hands and pull his attention towards the fingers which interlock gently and lovingly, bringing mind and matter into harmony as I cross the thumbs and breathe the silence of calmness and life into this sterile exchange.
Despite his intent, he realises that I have created a parody of his false tranquility. He separates his own clenched fingers and knits his brows.
“We are not unreasonable people, Ben,” he says, reassuringly; hiding his inner frustration that a renowned Derbyshire psychiatrist could be tripped up so soon in a relationship by a gesture. “I am sure that you . . .” he pauses for effect. “ . . . And your accomplices had your reasons for the crime, but wouldn’t it have been easier to accept the bail conditions once you were caught?” He smiles, and I have to acknowledge that I am in the presence of a very clever man.
I want this to be over, so a degree of cooperation is necessary, though I already know what the outcome will be. I respond with, “The bail figure set by the local judge took advantage of my perceived status as a businessman. It was inflated beyond reasonableness and based on a false value of my so-called wealth.” Then I look him in the eyes and say, pointedly, “Hundreds of thousands is not funny, nor is it justice . . .”
Dr Grey smiles, understandingly, and mulls this over with an opening of his fingers to show that’s debatable for a criminal masquerading as a respectable pillar of the community. For the thousandth time, he clicks the silver ball at the end of his pen, then scribbles some notes in his expensive looking and weather-beaten black leather pad. “So, you weren’t against the idea of bail?” he asks.
“Not at all.” I say. “Do you think I enjoy being in here?”
“I just wondered,” he muses. “If, perhaps you felt like a martyr to your cause?”
“What cause?” I add, pulling my eyes from looking at my crossed thumbs and raising them to look, calmly, into his.
“The cause that took you all out in the late night, dressed and armed for theft, to raid our ancient church?”
I think of Wen’s humble but accurate air rife . . . hardly special forces, even given our impromptu, all-black uniforms. “Don’t you think you’re getting carried away with this?” I ask, reasonably, avoiding any response to his carefully hidden word ‘all’.
“Carried away as in our precious stone . . .” He sneers, proud of his timely quip in the face of the first real response he’s had from me.
“Our precious stone?” I ask. “You’re local then?”
Dr Grey breathes deeply. His body language suggests growing impatience. I’m learning far more about him than he is about me. He has all the power, of course. But I don’t want to show him I know that . . .
“This is an old jail, Ben,” he lets out the held breath. “It is not a pleasant place to be – it has a history of doing strange things to one’s mental state. Wouldn’t you rather cooperate with us and put this behind you?” He drums his fingers on the metal surface; it sounds a lot like the drum roll that might precede a hanging. It’s cleverly done and quite sinister; changing the emotional atmosphere in this room of interrogation. “We can be creatively lenient, too . . .” It’s a chilling statement, given what it really says.
Before I can extract this outrageous mental dagger, he continues, “Conspiring to carry out an act like this – as the stone could not have been stolen by one man, alone – can be considered a serious offence . . . if there are thought to be deeper motives.” Dr Grey smiles, bringing the drum roll to a sudden stop.
“We -when,” I say, shrieking inside that I nearby dropped the ball. “When I moved the stone, I did not steal it, I simply moved it somewhere else – somewhere it had originally been . . .”
“I know,” he says, gleefully, pouncing on the cue he’s been expecting. He pushes another edition of the Bakewell Gazette across the table at me.
The article is an old one. I suspect Dr Grey has been saving it. It is simply an update on the one that Yellow Eyes brought me, but hints that the inhabitants of the nearby village, to which we took the stone, are secretly pleased that their choice piece of sacred history has been restored. Quite how the good and the great of Bakewell are taking it can be read in the determined expression on Dr Grey’s face, as he watches me clutch at this ray of hope.
“Not in a million years . . .” he says, meaning any determined opposition to my incarceration from the villagers, but pointing at the article. “. . . Could you have moved that stone, alone.” It’s a very clever use of English, and even someone studying the videotape of the interview would easily miss it.
“I did move the stone, I used portable machinery. It’s quite possible if you know what you’re doing – and my car is more that capable of carrying that load.” The latter is true.
“Beautiful car, I’m told . . . a BMW?” he adds. “You must miss it?”
I pretend I’m looking back at my featureless cell wall. I miss more than just my bloody car . . .
He leans forward. “Ben,” he says, changing his tone back to Dr Reasonable, “Do you think that the man in the street, in a Bakewell street, say, would describe you as a sane person . . .”
It is, unfortunately and terrifyingly, a very reasonable question . . .
———————————————————–< to be continued-
Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this story, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . . For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.