Chapter no 9

Anxious People

The younger officer walks back into the interview room and puts the glass of water down on the table. The real estate agent looks at him, and thinks he looks like a person who’s had his sense of humor amputated. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Thanks,” she says hesitantly toward the glass of water she hadn’t asked for. “I need to ask you a few more questions,” the young officer says

apologetically, and pulls out a crumpled sheet of paper. It looks like a child’s drawing.

The real estate agent nods, but doesn’t have time to open her mouth before the door opens quietly and the older police officer slips into the room. The real estate agent notes that his arms are slightly too long for his body, if he ever spilled his coPee he’d only burn himself below his knees.

“Hello! I just thought I’d see if there was anything I could do to help in here…,” the older officer says.

The younger officer looks up at the ceiling.

“No! Thanks! Like I just told you, I’ve got everything under control.” “Right. Okay. I just wanted to oPer my help,” the older man tries.

“No, no, for God’s… No! This is incvedibly unprofessional! You can’t just march in in the middle of an interview!” the younger man snaps.

“Okay, sorry, I just wanted to see how far you’d got,” the older man whispers, embarrassed now, unable to hide his concern.

“I was just about to ask about the drawing!” the younger man snarls, as if he’d been caught smelling of cigarette smoke and insisted that he was only holding it for a friend.

“Ask who?” the older officer wonders.

“The real estate agent!” the younger man exclaims, pointing at her.

Sadly this prompts the Realtor to bounce up from her chair at once and thrust her hand out.

“I’m the real estate agent! From the HOUSE TRICKS Real Estate Agency!” The Realtor pauses and grins, unbelievably pleased with herself.

“Oh, dear God, not again,” the younger police officer mutters as the Realtor takes a deep breath.


The older officer looks questioningly at the younger officer.

“She’s been carrying on like this the whole time,” the younger man says, pressing his thumbs against his eyebrows.

The older police officer squints at the real estate agent. He’s gotten into the habit of doing that when he encounters incomprehensible individuals, and a lifetime of almost constant squinting has given the skin under his eyes something of the quality of soft ice cream. The Realtor, who is evidently of the opinion that no one heard her the 1rst time, oPers an unwanted explanation: “Get it? HOUSE TRICKS Real Estate Agency. HOW’S TRICKS? Get it? Because everyone wants a real estate agent who knows the best…”

The older officer gets it, he even gives her an appreciative smile, but the younger one aims his fore1nger at the Realtor and moves it up and down between her and the chair.

“Sit!” he says, in that tone you only use with children, dogs, and real estate agents.

The Realtor stops grinning. She sits down clumsily, and looks 1rst at one of the officers, then the other.

“Sorry. This is the 1rst time I’ve been interviewed by the police. You’re not… you know… you’re not going to do that good cop, bad cop thing they do in 1lms, are you? One of you isn’t going to go out to get more coPee while the other one assaults me with a phone book and screams ‘WHERE HAVE YOU HIDDEN THE BODY?’”

The Realtor lets out a nervous laugh. The older police officer smiles but the younger one most de1nitely doesn’t, so the Realtor goes on, even more

nervously: “I mean, I was joking. They don’t print phone books anymore, do they, so what would you do? Assault me with an iPhone?”

She starts waving her arms about to illustrate assault by phone, and yelling in what the two officers can only assume is the real estate agent’s imitation of their accents: “Oh, hell, no, I’ve ended up liking my ex on Instagram as well! Delete! Delete!”

The younger police officer doesn’t look at all amused, which makes the real estate agent look less amused. In the meantime the older officer leans toward the younger officer’s notes and asks, as if the Realtor weren’t actually in the room: “So what did she say about the drawing?”

“I didn’t get that far before you came in and interrupted!” the younger man snaps.

“What drawing?” the real estate agent asks.

“Well, as I was about to say before I was interrupted: we found this drawing in the stairwell, and we think the perpetrator may have dropped it. We’d like you to—,” the younger officer says, but the older officer interrupts him.

“Have you talked to her about the pistol, then?” “Stop interfering!” the younger man hisses.

This makes the older officer throw his arms up and mutter: “Okay, okay, sorry I’m here.”

“It wasn’t real! The pistol! It was a toy!” the real estate agent says quickly.

The older officer looks at her in surprise, then at the younger officer, before whispering in a way that only men of a certain age think is a whisper: “You… you haven’t told her?”

“Told me what?” the real estate agent wonders.

The younger police officer sighs and folds the drawing, as carefully as if he were actually folding his older colleague’s face. Then he looks up at the Realtor.

“Well, I was coming to that… You see, after the perpetrator released you and the other hostages, and we’d brought you here to the station…”

The older officer interrupts helpfully: “The perpetrator, the bank robber—he shot himself!”

The younger officer clasps his hands tightly together to stop himself from strangling the older man. He says something the real estate agent doesn’t hear:

her ears are already full of a monotonous buzzing sound that grows to a roar as shock takes hold of her nervous system. Long afterward she will swear that rain was pattering against the window of the room, even though the interview room had no windows. She stares at the policemen with her jaw hanging open.

“So… the pistol… it was…?” she manages to say. “It was a real pistol,” the older officer con1rms.

“I…,” the Realtor begins, but her mouth is too dry to speak.

“Here! Have some water!” the older officer oPers, as if he’d just fetched it for her.

“Thanks… I… but, if the pistol was real, then we could all… we could all have died,” she whispers, then gulps at the water in a state of retroactive shock. The older officer nods authoritatively, takes the younger man’s notes from him, and starts to make his own additions with a pen.

“Perhaps we should start this interview again?” he says helpfully, which prompts the younger officer to take a short break so he can go out into the corridor and bang his head against the wall.


When the door slams shut the older man jumps. This business with words is tricky when you’re older and all you want to say to someone younger is: “I can see you’re in pain, and that causes me pain.” The younger officer’s shoes have left reddish brown marks of dried blood on the Aoor under his chair. The older man looks at them disconsolately. This was precisely why he didn’t want his son to become a policeman.

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