Sunday, 18 January 2009

Interview on Arrival

Image - Gate A18 (c) Rhys Jones, April 2006

I am always up for a challenge so when my very talented 'met on Myspace' writer friend based in San Diego, California, Heather Fowler, told me that she was running a daily flash writing challenge last November and wanted one of my images as one of the daily challenges I submitted the above not knowing that she would then ask me to write my story based on the image. This is it "Interview on Arrival" - it needs a lot more refinement - but I thought it would be nice to give it an airing and get a little bit of feedback. Take a look at Heather's Myspace site and add her as a friend! Tell her you know me in the request. She has a lot of her own work on display and a lot of work by some very talented contributors. Her energy for writing and art is very inspiring!

In fact, this is a good opportunity to say a big start of 2009 thank you to all the talented friends who have inspired me last year! I always try and write to people individually by 'old-fashioned' email but sometimes it is nice to say it publicly as well!

Interview on Arrival

Day 1 19.50 Aeroport de Nice, France

The midweek flight from London has disembarked a full passenger load
into the ambre-solaire scented atmosphere of a Cote D'Azur spring
evening. Amongst the holiday makers, business people, the glamorous
chic and the downright ordinary on the passenger list was a
silver-haired man who limped heavily across the tarmac to the waiting
terminal bus. He carried a brown, battered and shabby attache case, the sort to be found in only the best cold-war espionage films of the
1960s. Two hours earlier he had boarded the flight at London's
Heathrow Airport having transferred from a flight from Edinburgh the
night before.

The man had no other luggage and joined the long queue at Passport
Control. Within the next hour he found himself sitting behind a desk
in a suffocatingly small room interrogated by a man and a woman from
the French police service concerning the disappearance of his family,
a fire at his home, and the discovery of his luggage 5,000 miles away
with a vast quantity of money, drugs and evidence of a trail of crime.
The man had no recollection of how he came to be in this interrogation
room, no recollection of his family and home and no recollection of
his accumulation of items in his luggage.

Over the next 48 hours the interrogators will attempt to piece
together what information they can....................

Day 1 21.30

The female police officer switched on the recorder and spoke the legally obliged words in French to certify those present in the room and the time of recording. An interpreter who had been appointed with a lawyer to represent the man, confirmed the same in English to the man who sat silently and sipped a cup of expresso coffee which had been placed on the table in front of him together with a bottle of mineral water and a glass.

She continued in French “My name is Inspector Francine Laporte from the Nice Police Department and this is my colleague Sergeant Yves Lecombe. We need to ask you some questions. Would you please confirm your name, address and the reason for your business in the South of France ?”

The lawyer responded that his client had no recollection of his name or place of abode. The sergeant then read from the passport of the man which stated that the person to whom the passport had been issued was Frederick Thomas Lyle born April 30, 1928 in Dundee, Scotland.

Is this your passport, monsieur ? The man looked at it and said that although he recognized the photograph, he could confirm no other detail in the passport.

The line of enquiry continued for the hour without any significant further progress.

Day 1 22.55

The tape recorder was switched off and the police officers left the interview room and walked along the sidewalk under the dim street lighting of a side road in centre-ville. They talked for a while then Laporte took a call on her mobile phone. They returned to the interview room, 35 minutes later.

Day 1 23.30

The tape recorder resumed and again confirmed those present in the room. The attaché case was placed on the table.

“Will you please open the case, monsieur ” asked the Sergeant.

The man carefully flicked the locks and opened the lid. He removed a panama hat, a pair of grey trousers, a pair of spectacles, a notepad and pencil and a post card of a painting by Picasso ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’. The remaining clothing articles were tipped out in a single turn of the case : socks, pants, swiss army-knife, till receipts, a parking fine receipt and a bag of mint humbugs – the sort that used to be popular with kids back in the 1960s.

Inspector Laporte picked up the notepad and thumbed her way through the contents : notes about works of art, tickets to exhibitions, an entrance pass to a series of lectures on Cubism.

She looked at the occupation written in his passport ; Importer/Exporter. “Do you buy works of art Mr Lyle ?”

“I cannot remember”, he replied…..”I don’t think so”.

Inspector Laporte then turned another page in the notebook and found a key taped onto the page : the sort of key that might open a left-luggage locker. Also on the page was a reminder in a scribbled pencil note “Meet Greenock 7.45pm”

“Who is Greenock, monsieur?.........a friend, work colleague ?”

“I don’t know anyone by that name”, I am afraid. The conversation went on for another hour about each of the objects in the suitcase. The two police officers terminated the interview and told the man that they would be returning the next morning.

They walked outside and talked some more before getting into their cars and driving off into the sultry night.

Day 2 06.30

Francine Laporte’s three young children were sitting having their breakfast cereal, jam, hot chocolate and baguettes before she took them down the street to wait for the school bus. The red-chequered plastic table cloth was scattered with plates, jam, spilt sugar and chocolate powder and smeared with the grease from the butter dish. She picked up the cereal packets, milk cartons and the white packet of sugar and put them back into the kitchen cupboards and the fridge. She huuried the children out of the house and down to the waiting school bus. She kissed each child and then walked back to the house, unlocked the car parked in the street, and drove off to work. She drove along Boulevard des Anglais, switched on the morning news to hear that police in Liverpool were keen to interview a man in connection with the disappearance of a man last seen boarding a flight to London at Edinburgh International Airport. “Meurde, of course, why didn’t I think of that! Surely it is too much of a coincidence!”

Day 2 09.45

Laporte and Lecombe sat in the interview room. She was very animated after an early morning visit to the library. “Of course, it could be a total coincidence, but what name is in his passport ?” Lecombe replied “Lyle” but didn’t understand the connection with Liverpool. “Look at the postcard in his suitcase…the reverse…where is that painting now ?” “Yes, of course…the Tate Gallery, Liverpool….Tate…Lyle…sugar…is that a co-incidence ? But look here is another connection…Greenock….look at this article about renovation of the former sugar warehouses in the James Watt Dock in Greenock, Scotland! We need to speak with the police there.

Day 2 21.55

Laporte, Lecombe are sitting at the table in the interview room opposite Lyle and are showing him a series of press cuttings about a major renovation of the 120 year-old sugar warehouses in Port Greenock near Glasgow. Police have cordoned off a whole area and have employed contractors to excavate beneath the old warehouse floor.

Lyle is obviously not in the correct frame of mind to reveal his motives but one could almost feel that he wanted to lead the police to the scene of the crime but in a most bizarre manner employing almost too obvious connections.

“OK, that’s great for today” shouts the director. “We’ll resume tomorrow at 10am for the final script meeting before full rehearsals begin. We need to work a little more on those sugar connections. Great work, you three…I could almost believe I was in the interview room, myself. Love the French accents!”

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