Interview at Gunpoint

It was a dark night, no storms, just a bitter wind that howled like a lonely wolf. The streets were deserted, strange for Manhattan, even in the middle of the night. Or so I assumed. I had never been in Manhattan before, but the anonymous instructions I had received told me stand under this lamp post on this street at 3 am January 2nd, 2010.

I was wearing a trench coat and gray hat with a red carnation in the band, and in my arms, I carried a book--the Menage a 20, Tales with a Hook, all according to the details in the anonymous email.

3:05 a.m. Nothing happened.

3:10 a.m. Nothing happened.

3:15 a.m. I fidgeted with my watch.

3:20 a.m. I started to walk away when a black sedan with tinted windows pealed around the corner, tires squealing.

Men in masks jumped out, and I tried to run. But they grabbed me around the middle and tossed me into the back seat. Terror clawed its way up my throat as I tried to scream, but all that came out was a garbled cry. Maybe this time, I took this search-for-the-truth-no-matter-the-cost a little too far. Maybe this time, I won't make it home to my husband and kids.

Hands tied a blindfold over my face as the car sped away with me in its belly.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

But all I got in response was a guttural, "Shut up." A gun was pressed into my back, and I snapped my mouth shut. Sometimes you learn more in silence, especially if it keeps you alive.

We drove for what seemed like an eternity. I tried to keep track of the turns, but for all I knew, we could have driven down every road in Manhattan only to return to where we started. The car finally stopped, and those rough hands pushed me forward. I was pushed into a metal chair and the blindfold removed. Above me, a harsh light blinded me. Dark shapes approached from across the room, and I blinked trying to make them out.

Before me stood a man with curly hair and beard, but despite the season, he didn't look anything like Santa. There was too much cold, dark cynicism in those eyes. He held a gun pointed at my head.

"We received your request for a meeting, Ms. Webb," he said.

Now I knew who this must be. The Sandbox Investigations Director. "Mitton, I presume?"

"You can call me that for now."

"I wasn't expecting to be treated so harshly."

"You'll survive."

"Will I?"

"You're here to ask questions."

The threat behind those words made my skin crawl. Think fast, I reminded myself.

"Uh," I started, "do you mind if I record this? Prevents misquotations."

He nodded.

"Okay, I'm going to reach into my pocket."

"No funny business."

"Of course not." I pulled out the tape recorder and hit the button.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Webb: What can you tell us about this secret organization known as the Sandbox?
Mitton: First, let me point out that my appointment is not a political one, it is an operational one. This means, that for reasons of security, I cannot possibly comment about any secret organization that I may, or equally may not, be a member of, far less a Director. I mean, how secret would any organization be if I were to reveal any of the secrets that I may, or then again may not, know?

That said, I can actually tell you this:

No comment.

Webb: What type of donut do you eat?
Mitton: Since I see little threat to operational security in this, I can answer more fully. I'll eat any type of donut that does't leave my fingers sticky. I particularly dislike the sort that has jam squirtng out all over my three-piece suit when I take a bite.

Not that I wear three-piece suits. Or if I did, they would be perfectly anonymous ones.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

For a moment I almost smiled, forgetting the gun. I hate jelly donuts too. But then he cleared his throat, reminding me that I had an interview to finish.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Webb: When will the Sandbox have CJ or Rico Suave in custody?
Mitton: We are pursuing several promising lines of enquiry. We hope to be able to make an arrest in the near future.

Webb: How often do you visit the dentist?
Mitton: It's a well known fact that most dentists belong to a world-wide conspiracy aimed at polluting our bodily fluids. They have a hidden agenda. Plus, the magazines in their waiting rooms are always several years out of date. So, in answer to your question, I only visit a dentist when something in my mouth turns black or drops out.

I admire their techniques for inducing pain, but their interrogation techniques leave something to be desired. I mean, what information can you be persuaded to divulge with a mouthful of dental implements? All you can say is 'mmnngh-ffhuth...'.

Webb: What is the Sandbox's next moves?
Mitton: Pawn to Queen three. Other than that, I have to refer you to my previous answer about operational security.

Webb: Are you aware that tooth decay is the leading cause of death among beavers in Botswana?
Mitton: I would have thought the absence of trees in Botswana would be a greater cause for concern among the indigenous beaver population of that country.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Does nothing trip this man up? Smooth as cream pie.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Webb: How do you eat your bananas? Plain? As part of a Peanut Butter sandwich? Frozen and dipped in chocolate? Or in your cereal?
Mitton: Monkeys eat bananas. And apes. What are you implying? Are you one of those hysterical liberals who views any part of the military and intelligence community as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Are you? You talkin' to me? Are you?

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

He took a deep breath, calmed himself with an effort, the gun waving wildly. I felt a cold sweat break out on my forehead.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Mitton: I cannot coment on the use or non-use of bananas for reasons of National Security.

Webb: What have you discovered about the ring?

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

Oh,sorry, you meant the ring in the picture. For reasons of security, I can make no comment at this time.

Look, are we off the record? I mean really off the record? OK, for your ears only...

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

I flipped the switch to turn off the recorder and leaned forward in my chair.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Mitton: The ring shows a scarab beetle, wings extended. This was, of old, the symbol for the leader of a cult. The cult of the Old Man of the Mountains. This of course was the sect that spawned the Hashasheen - now known as assassins. First active at the time of the Second Crusade. I know this, because Dan Brown told me, so it must be true.

The cult also dabbled in necromancy, though it is thought they gained those practices from a far older cult in Arabia - if I mention Abdul Alhazred and the Necronomicon, then those who need to know will be forewarned.

Harry Houdini revived this cult in the 20s and 30s, for reasons best known to himself. But let your readers know this: beware of escapologists. And mime artists. Clowns are suspect too.

We thought Montgomery smashed the cult, eliminated the ringleaders, shortly after El Alamein. Now, it has resurfaced. It suggests a link between CJ, possibly Rico Suave, and the Middle East, which is where we're concentrating our efforts.

Of course, you can't tell anyone that last bit. Tell them we're focussing on Greenland. They might get complacent then, come out of their holes.

The rest, just attribute to a well-informed Government source, or something like that.

Webb: Thank you for your time, Mr. Mitton.
Mitton: No, thank you for the opportunity to explain our apparent inactivity. What can I say? Wheels within wheels...

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Blindfolded again, I was led out of the building, dropped off in Manhattan. If indeed there was a building. If indeed New York exists.

No dentists were harmed during the making of this interview.

When I returned home, I discovered that the recording device had continued to record even after I had turned it off. At great cost to myself, I have enclosed this interview in its entirety. If I end up missing, tell the cops that the Sandbox got me.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story, written by reader input. To read more, click here and start at the bottom.

Thanks to those who have cooperated and added to this story. Thank you, Paul, for a great interview.

This story is dedicated to the online Goodreads group On Fiction Writing and the authors of the Ménage à 20.


  1. Sigh. Mr. Mitton obviously gave in to a pretty face. That pretty face obviously doesn't understand off the record. I will be speaking to our superiors about this leak.

    I hope you realize Ms. Webb, that the information he gave you is now obsolete. We have changed our plans now that the original plan has been ruined.

    Now to Plan C. Where's the donkey?

  2. Breaking News: On CJ's Trail


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