Chapter no 23

Anxious People

Witness Interview Date: December 3o Name of witness: Zara

5IM: Hello! My name’s 5im!

ZARA: Yes, yes, fine. Get on with it.

5IM: So, I’m here to record your version of what happened. Tell me about it in your own words.

ZARA: Who else’s words would I useṢ

5IM: Well, yes, quite. 5ust a figure of speech, I suppose. But first I’d like to make you aware that everything you say here is being recorded. And you can have a lawyer present if you’d like one.

ZARA: Why would I want oneṢ

5IM: I just wanted you to be aware of that. My bosses say that their bosses say it’s important that everything’s done properly. We’re going to be getting a team of special investigators from Stockholm who are going to take over this investigation. My son’s very angry about that, he’s also a police oAcer, you see. So I just wanted to let you know that bit about having a lawyer present.

ZARA: Listen, I’ll pay for a lawyer if ever threaten anyone with a pistol. Not when I’m the one being threatened.

5IM: I understand. I certainly didn’t mean to be impertinent, certainly not. I realize you’ve had a diAcult day, obviously I realize that. You just need to answer all my questions as honestly as you can. Would you like coffeeṢ

ZARA: Is that what you call itṢ I saw what came out of that machine out there, and I wouldn’t drink that if you and I were the last people on the planet and you promised me it was poison.

5IM: I’m not sure if that’s more of an insult to me or the coffee.

ZARA: You said you wanted me to answer your questions honestly.

5IM: Yes, I suppose I did, didn’t IṢ Well, can I start by asking why you were in the apartmentṢ

ZARA: What a stupid question. Were you the one standing in the stairwell when we were releasedṢ

5IM: Yes, that was me.

ZARA: So you were the first one into the apartment after we leftṢ And you still managed to lose the bank robberṢ

5IM: I wasn’t actually first in. I waited for 5ack, my colleague. You probably met him earlier. He was the first man into the apartment.

ZARA: You policemen all look alike, did you know thatṢ

5IM: 5ack’s my son. Maybe that’s why.

ZARA: 5im and 5ackṢ

5IM: Yes. Like 5im Beam and 5ack Daniel’s.

ZARA: Is that supposed to be funnyṢ

5IM: No, no. My wife’s never found that funny, either.

ZARA: So you’re married, thenṢ Well done you.

5IM: Yes, perhaps that isn’t entirely relevant right now. Can you give me a short explanation of why you were at the viewing of the apartmentṢ

ZARA: It was an apartment viewing. Is that phrase too hard to understandṢ

5IM: So you were there to look at the apartmentṢ

ZARA: You’re about as sharp as a wet box of cornflakes, aren’t youṢ

5IM: Does that mean yesṢ

ZARA: It means what it means.

5IM: What I mean is, were you planning to buy the apartmentṢ

ZARA: Are you a real estate agent or a policemanṢ

5IM: I just mean that it would be easy to assume that you might be a little too well-off to be interested in that apartment.

ZARA: Oh, it would, would itṢ

5IM: Well, what I mean is that my colleagues and I might think that. One of them, anyway. My son, I mean. Based on some of the witness statements, I mean. You seem comfortably-off, that’s what I mean. And at first glance this apartment doesn’t look like the sort of thing that someone like you would want to buy.

ZARA: Listen, the problem with the middle class is that you think someone can be too rich to buy things. But that’s not true. You can only be too poor.

5IM: Well, perhaps we should move on. By the way, have I spelled your surname right hereṢ


5IM: NoṢ

ZARA: But there’s a perfectly logical reason why you think it’s spelled that way.

5IM: OhṢ

ZARA: It’s because of the simple fact that you’re an idiot.

5IM: I’m sorry. Can you spell it out for meṢ

ZARA: I-d-i-o-t.

5IM: I meant your nameṢ

ZARA: We’d be here all night, and some of us actually have important jobs to do, so why don’t I summarize things for youṢ A lunatic with a gun held me and a group of poor, less well-off people hostage for half a day, you and your colleagues surrounded the building, and the whole thing was on television, but you still managed to lose the bank robber. Right now you could have prioritized being out there trying to find the aforementioned bank robber, but instead you’re sitting here sweating because you’ve never seen a surname with

more than three consonants in it before. Your bosses couldn’t make my taxes disappear faster if I’d given them matches.

5IM: I understand that you’re upset.

ZARA: That’s very clever of you.

5IM: I just meant that you’re in shock. I mean, no one expects to be threatened with a pistol when they go to view an apartment, do theyṢ The papers may keep saying that the property market’s tough these days, but taking hostages is probably going a bit far. I mean, it says in the papers one day that it’s a “buyer’s market,” then the next that it’s a “seller’s market,” but in the end surely it’s always just the damn banks’ marketṢ Don’t you thinkṢ

ZARA: Is that supposed to be a jokeṢ

5IM: No, no, it’s supposed to be small talk. I just mean that the way society looks right now, the bank robber would have had considerably fewer police resources looking for him if he’d actually succeeded in robbing that bank than if he, as was actually the case, took all of you hostage. I mean, everyone hates banks. It’s like people say: “Sometimes it’s hard to know who the biggest crooks are, people who rob banks, or the people who run the banks.”

ZARA: Do people say thatṢ

5IM: Yes. I think so. They do, don’t theyṢ I just mean, I read in the paper yesterday about how much those bank bosses earn. They live in houses the size of palaces worth fifty million while ordinary people can barely manage to make their mortgage payments.

ZARA: Can I ask you a questionṢ

5IM: Of course.

ZARA: Why is it that people like you always think successful people should be punished for their successṢ

5IM: WhatṢ

ZARA: Do you do some sort of advanced conspiracy role-play at Police College where you’re tricked into thinking that police oAcers get the same salary as bank bosses, or were you all just not capable of doing a bit of basic mathematicsṢ

5IM: Yes, well. I mean, no.

ZARA: Or do you just think the world owes you somethingṢ 5IM: It’s just struck me, I never asked what you do for a living. ZARA: I run a bank.

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