Path….an interview segment

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Another excerpt from the thriller manuscript I am writing

Celia read her notes as she handed the corrections officer her cell phone, purse, sunglasses, and briefcase.  After spreading her arms so that she could be checked for weapons, she nodded to the officer behind the glass and followed Ron through the heavy doors and down the hallway.  Checking the batteries on her recorder, Celia listened absently to Ron’s small talk, commenting during the proper pauses.  The inmates either ignored her, slept, or made half-hearted attempts at catcalls.  She had been there so often by now that no one gave her much notice anymore.

Tasha was brushing her hair when Celia walked into the interview room.  She nodded to Celia but didn’t stop, taking her hair layer by layer because the brush was too soft to go through her thick tresses.  Tasha had complained about it numerous times, but a real brush was “too dangerous,” she always said with a roll of her eyes.  Celia set up the recorder and opened her thick folder, and then she just read her notes, giving Tasha time to finish brushing.  They had an hour.  Sometimes Tasha talked the whole time; sometimes she did other things until she felt like talking, and Celia had learned not to be impatient.

“So,” Tasha said, taking the seat across from Celia. “How’s Bart?”

Cela chuckled.  She wasn’t sure when her social life had become part of their conversations, but Tasha seemed very interested in the men Celia saw and why she saw them. “I hear he’s fine.”

“Oh my, another one by the wayside.  You’re almost as ruthless as I am.”

“Well, I never had the chance to date Chip Rogers,” Celia said good-naturedly as she turned on the recorder.

“Men like him are why it is necessary to be ruthless, trust mer,” Tasha said dryly.

Celia had learned to pretend to laugh at these comments while listening closely.  Often, there was something substantial behind the humor.  “Oh really?  So he nothing like his romantic comedy persona then, I assume.”

“Are they ever?”  Tasha shifted in her seat.  “I know you don’t smoke, but…”

“You do,” Celia finished.  She pulled a pack of Tasha’s favorite brand out of her jacket pocket.  Tasha smiled and took the pack.  She pulled out a cigarette and held it out so that Celia could light it with a match from the small packet she hd in her other pocket.  “You know, I still can’t believe they let you smoke during our little visits.”

“They’ll do anything if you flash tit,” Tasha quipped, and Celia dropped her jaw in surprise.  “I’m kidding, hon.” She leaned forward.  “You have to blow them for that.”  Then Tasha sat back and laughed.

Celia didn’t probe because it was sometimes impossible to tell when Tasha was lying.  Besides, her earlier quip about men was much more interesting.  “So which man made you ruthless first?  Obviously not poor Chip.”

Tasha sighed with annoyance.  “Not that old song again.” She took a long drag, blew smoke to the right, away from Celia’s face, and flicked the cigarette against her chair.  “Everyone always thinks it’s dear old dad.”

“Well, he was your final victim, so you can understand my curiosity.”

“Are you saying all little girls whose daddies play in their panties end up murdering them?  It’d be a lonely world.” Narrowing her eyes at Celia, Tasha licked her lips.

Studying her notes, Celia continued.  “So no hanky panky with dad.  But again, he was your first victim.  Sexual abuse isn’t the only way to be abusive.”

“Daddy loved me, in his way.  He didn’t touch me, he didn’t beat me.  He loved me, loved my face, loved my talent, and especially loved the money and fame.  The more I mattered to everyone else, the more I mattered to him.” Tasha shrugged.  “Proud papa.”

“So then, why -”

“I didn’t specify what he was proud of,” Tasha said, crushing her half-smoked cigarette.  “He disappointed me.  So what happened with Bart?”

“He disappointed me,” Celia said dryly.

Tasha stilled for a moment, the pack of cigarettes in her hand.  Then she threw back her head and laughed.  “And that’s why I chose you,” she said, lighting another cigarette.  “At least you didn’t kill him.”

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