Then he started to speak, a Liverpool accent that was just a bit too studied. An actor's scouse learnt from B movies of sixty years ago. He was trying just that bit too hard. I never would have noticed were it not for those shoes. Those pristine shoes, those shiny, shiny shoes. On the surface he's chatty, friendly, your best mate, salt of the whole dam earth. Underneath so obviously hard, ex-army, maybe, maybe not, something similar, worse, manipulative, determined, on a mission, and what a mission. I know his mission.
I try to ease away, keep chatting, friendly like, slowly ease away without revealing anything. Above all, remember, don't turn your back, never run and never, ever, turn your back. Just ease away, pleasant like, into the shadows, facing, always facing, him. He kept on talking; would keep talking. Following me. Talking, quietly talking. Can't get rid.
“Where are the rest?” said – let's call him – The Interrogator. Never knew his name, never wanted to. Never asked, he never said.
'The rest' that's what they always want to know, 'who your with', 'your mates'. I don't answer, just back away, slowly, so slowly. Then I'm in the shadows, deep in the darkness, but with him, with The Interrogator, with him close beside me. That's not what I wanted, that's dangerous, stupid, reckless. There's a dark slimy wall to one side and rubble underfoot. The terrain here is rougher, it's difficult to run, to bolt, to escape. And he's close, so very close, you can smell the soap. We never use soap, don't have access, another giveaway. Then fortunately, Weigel from our group arrived. Was I glad to see him. Normally I do not get on with him. Weigel can be a pain, a right misery. Not today. I stride out, greet. He was surprised, we don't often talk; me and Weigel.
The Interrogator's still next to me. Close, so close. Again he's following me. I look at him, I could not look at him directly before, he knew he'd missed an opportunity. I look closer: the disappointment. His face washed, scrubbed then dirtied again. Not the kind of dirt that comes from a life on the streets, out in the open, hiding from them, not from nights sheltering from the bitter cold. Not that ingrained yellow dirt; but fresh, clean, brown dirt, applied like makeup, warpaint.
Were out in the open, we sit down, try to keep it civil and talk. We let The Interrogator do most of the talking. He keeps asking questions, not whole questions, just digging. He wants to join our group. What group? Were not a group. He says he's been dispossessed like us. But he's not like us; he could walk away if he wanted to. Wants to join The Dispossessed. Wants to meet our leader, our leader! Dead giveaway that.
They have this view of us, they want to know who's the leader, take me to your leader, destroy the leader. Somehow they think if they kill the leader then we'll all go away; their problem, us, will just vanish. We just don't have a leader. Just because they're all organised into ranks, take orders, jump to their superiors. Doesn't mean we do. That's their biggest weakness, they got all the guns, the prisons, the torture chambers, the helicopter gunships, but they just don't get how we think, it's totally out of their mindset. So the The Interrogator comes here and wants to know something that's unknowable. Wants the answer to a nonsense question. Dead giveaway, we know who he is.
We just don't have a leader. That's our biggest strength, and occasionally a weakness.
* * *
Well, I nodded at Weigel and Weigel nodded at me. And we both knew. Both knew what we had to do. And there wasn't much time. More of The Dispossessed might be back soon and we could not take the risk. Could not have them meet The Interrogator, no way, we'd be held responsible, we'd have to pay. It's like that, just like that, the law of The Dispossessed. Did not like to do it but there was no other way. Don't like doing it, unlike them, The Interrogator's kind, they just love it, take a real pleasure in it. No, don't like doing it, been putting it off. Me, Weigel, he feels the same, we all do.
Weigel kept The Interrogator talking, he was good at that kind of thing, well, he was better at it then I. And I hesitated, did not want to do it. I could tell Weigel wanted to get it over and done with; Weigel was getting impatient, giving more away to keep The Interrogator interested, distracted.
So I just did it; saw The Interrogator slump, saw the blood dripping from his head, felt sick. He shuddered, twisted, and it was all over. I must have done it; I don't remember doing it. We looked at him; I puked, they don't puke. We dragged the body away; hid it, as best we could, and piled rubble on top. It'll be found, they're always found. So we, our group, our The Dispossessed, cannot stay here, we have to move on. But we would have had to move on as soon as we discovered The Interrogator. Meeting him meant we had already been here too long. There was nothing else we could do, we had to do it, no choice, it was him, them, or us. What could we do?
We just have to watch out for the next one. And there will be a next one, just like there was a last one, last dozen, more. They only have to get one through, just once, and our clump of The Dispossessed are finished. But there are more like us, so many more, they can't get rid of us all. Cause it's they who keep creating The Dispossessed.