The ride to the Police Station was uneventful, save Jedidiah’s glance from Marcel to the three ladies in the carriage. Marcel would be questioned first – there was still no reason to believe that he was the culprit, but he was still guilty of some fishy business, one which the Detective had to get to the bottom of.
He could unknowingly give a clue.
The ladies on the other hand would be questioned individually. The interrogation procedure would be ‘The Prisoner’s Dilemma’, one of his personal favorites. Hopefully, one of them would slip and give him the reason for the late woman’s fatal journey to the bell house.
The Sheriff sat awkwardly in a corner, aware of the tension in the carriage. Despite how spacious it was, the air hung thick and everyone looked at their feet, except the Detective. He couldn’t help but look away every time their eyes met; something about Jedidiah’s eyes was piercing and animal-like, seeming to bore into the very depths of one’s soul and see the secrets which lay there.
Almost everyone was glad when they finally reached.
“Marcel, you first!” the Detective said offhandedly as soon as they entered. He could almost feel the farmer’s shudder, and he smiled. Fear was an important tool in interrogation – subtle fear that was achieved not by waterboarding or whips but by glances and revelation of incriminating clues. The farmer would talk alright; he would say whatever he needed to in order to absolve himself of any suspicions.
“I ain’t done nuthin’!” Marcel blurted as soon as they entered the room.
‘I haven’t said you did. You make it mighty hard to believe you’re innocent if you continue making such statements,” Jedidiah said, smiling inwardly as Marcel squirmed.
The officers at this station were quite knowledgeable n the art of interrogation, and Jedidiah was very appreciative of it. A small room with only one window, two chairs, and a table.
The inquisitor sat with his back to the window, casting a silhouette over his facial features and making him more difficult for the suspect to read. They would have to be very careful about their answers, knowing that they couldn’t see whether he was buying it or not. This would cause them to be extra cautious about their lies, hence leading to stammering and sometimes, self-contradiction.
The room was painted a dark grey, not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye, so there was hardly anywhere else the suspect could look except, of course, the window, and hence the silhouette of the imposing inquisitor.
More fear, more talk, case closed quicker.
‘So, let’s begin with you writing your statement here. That’s what I’ll base my questions on. Write, in detail, what you were doing at the bell house,” he said, producing a pad and a fountain pen.
The man moved uneasily in his seat before deciding to put up some resistance. “I’m sure as hell confused why yer bringin’ tha’ fer. I’ve said I wasn’t there! You’ve got nuthin’ to pin on me and yer know it!”
He smiled. “I’m not going to force you, Marcel. I guess I’ll see you in court then. Murder and attempt to obstruct the path of justice,” he said, getting up. “That’s quite the big ‘un you’ve gotten yourself into.”
He watched the man gulp and swear somewhat inaudibly.”Y-yer can’t do tha’, yer know?!”
“Like I said, in court, we’ll found out the limits of just what I can and can’t…”
“Fine, goddamnit! I can’t write or read, so I’ll tell you what I went there to do!”
“Sure you will,” Jedidiah said, sitting down smugly. “And…” he started, drawing out his pad.
This was yet another interrogation tactic. If he was really trying to prove his innocence, he would be more careful about what he says, knowing that it was being recorded and could be used against him later.
“I was told to be there at that time. 2 o’clock. She wrote me this letter,’ Marcel said, producing a crumpled piece of paper which Jedidiah took and read briefly before putting in his pocket. “Yer keeping that?’ the farmer asked, looking quite reluctant to let it go.
Something Jedidiah had to think about later.
“It’s vital to the case. It just might be the clue to proving your innocence. You can dip your thumb in the ink and thumbprint at the bottom of the statement. You’re free to go,” Jedidiah said, taking out his tobacco pipe and lighting a smoke.
The farmer signed and stood up to leave, but Jedidiah suddenly remembered something.
“Er, Marcel?” he called out, dragging in the smoke and relishing its richness.
“Wha’?” the farmer said, clearly uneasy about getting kept in this cesspool any longer.
“Was any of Lady Cynster’s maidservants particularly well-educated?”
The farmer looked back at him, the surprise written all over his face. The question was quite peculiar. “Yes, that would be Martha.”
Jedidiah smiled. ‘Send her in, will you?”
Martha sat across the silhouette of the detective, not knowing what to expect. She tried her best to maintain her expressionless face. fidgeting with a handkerchief in her hand and looking at the old wooden table.
“Are you alright?’ Jedidiah asked.
She looked flustered for a second but calmed down soon. “Yes, why?”
“Nothing, really. It’s just my duty to make sure you’re calm before you write your statement. I wouldn’t want it to look like you were somehow coerced into saying anything…false” he added, letting the last word roll off his lips.
She kept quiet. Grabbing the pad, she wrote her name, age, and address in the indicated spaces and passed the pad back.
He smiled. “You can start by writing why Lady Cynster and Marcel were at such a place at such an unholy hour.”
She looked at him angrily. “How should I know that?!”
“Well,” he said, producing two pieces of paper, “perhaps because you wrote these two notes asking two people to be at the bell house. The one I just got from Marcel, and the one that was squeezed within the rigid fists of the late Lady Cynster!”
N.B: The Prisoner's Dilemma is
@Ozzyy, @Hanzell. @Leo_kitti, @gertu13.
Do we all still think we know who the culprit is? 👀😈