When I dream, it’s conflict, always conflict.
He seemed genuinely baffled by this, and wrote it off as a case of mistaken identity or a mixed-up file. He pointed out that he’d never been to the country that this kingpin was from, that he doesn’t travel, and that he spends so much present-and-accounted-for time with various school activities that it would be impossible for him to take up a new hobby, let alone mastermind a national distribution network.
The investigators were unconvinced.
Over the course of the day they used bribes, threats, and blackmail. They talked about the indiscriminate brutality of the crime boss, ordering the slaughter of gangsters and innocents alike, murdering his own men if they did not pass bizarre ‘loyalty tests’, and wiping out entire divisions of the organization if they were not meeting expectations. They refused to let him make a phone call. They refused to get him anything to eat. They promised a reduced sentence if he cooperated. They lowered the temperature for an hour, and left him shivering in his t-shirt; then they blasted the heat, sipping on ice-cold water while they interrogated.
The student continued to protest; first with indignation, then with anger, and finally with exhaustion. They had the wrong man, he said, and no amount of threats would change that.
Finally, they put all their cards on the table. They have been watching him for the greater part of a year, they said. They have recordings of calls he made on disposable cell phones. They have surveillance photos of him meeting with dealers and fences in a clubhouse, disguised as a dentist’s office.
They told him that he had a choice to make.
They could charge him with everything, and he would spend the rest of his life in prison — or he could roll over, and help them pin his boss, who they had been trying (and failing) to gain evidence on for years.
After a long silence, he looked up at one of the investigators, and asked “Can you offer me protection?”
The investigator said that he could.
The student said he wanted to be somewhere secure before he talked. The investigator assented, and opened the interrogation room door to lead him out.
He made it half-way across the room before the second investigator slipped the garrotte around his neck.
He had failed the test.