Glen Pourciau




"I don't want to sleep, I can't let myself sleep, they come for me when I'm asleep and take me away to be interrogated. They load me up in the back of a truck, my head covered for the trip, and the wheels turn under us down the road. I am not sure that I am always driven to the same place, but wherever it is, we go down steps and take elevators underground where the cover is removed from my head and I am led down long corridors with closed doors on both sides and almost no light. I hear voices behind some of the doors, other interrogations, but I never see the people, only hear them. The rooms I am led to are dimly lit and I am left alone in the room at first, sitting at a table with an empty chair on the other side, and two of them come in wearing suits, busy, moving quickly, giving me a look-over, their eyes on mine, no expression in them, but boring in. Whatever chair I am in they tell me I am in the wrong chair, get up and sit in the other one. I get up, sit in the other one, and the interrogator sits in the chair I had been sitting in and starts asking me questions. What is on my mind, what changes have I made since the last time they talked to me, how can I expect to improve when I refuse to make changes, why do I think first of defending myself. The men appear to be in disguise. Some have wax in their hair and brush it straight back, but it pops up on their heads as if they don't normally brush it that way. Or they wear suits that don't fit and that they don't seem comfortable in, or they wear glasses they cannot see out of and that they change for another pair or take off while they are talking to me. The man who is not the interrogator stands behind me and if I turn to look at him he puts his hand on my head and turns it back around. They ask me why I squirm in my chair, why I squirm when I am not in my chair, why I fail to make progress. If I open my mouth to answer, the interrogator interrupts and tells me that what I say means nothing, it's what is inside me that interests them. I cannot leave until they say I can leave, if I get up and try to walk out they stop me. It is up to them to decide how long a session should last, and I cannot fight them or forget what they have asked me. At the end of a session there is a silence and sometimes a nod. Then they leave me alone in the room until two other men come in to take me back. At times I see one of them on the street, someone who looks familiar or who has the look in his eyes that they have. Often it is a man but sometimes it is a woman, someone sitting on a bench or sitting in a car at a light or walking into a store or hanging around the places I go. I am never free of them, I cannot get away, the questions linger in my mind. At every session they ask me about Jenny and our father and the more lengthy and difficult sessions revolve almost completely around Jenny and our father. Sometimes there are long silences between some of the questions and they stare at me as I consider them. They ask me what she did to deserve to be killed, how I was different from her, why I deserve the life I am leading, and how I can account for what happened. Why not you, why not your brother, they ask, what did your father have against Jenny, did he seem to have anything against her. If I lean forward in my seat and try to answer, though I do not know the answers, the man behind holds me down by the shoulders and the interrogator holds his hand up between us and shakes his head when he sees me open my mouth. Ask my father, I sometimes say to them, despite being restrained. You know he doesn't answer questions about your sister, the interrogator tells me, or words to that effect, and if he did his answers would not be yours. Do you see yourself as more deserving of what happened to Jenny or do you want to believe that she provoked him in some way that could account for what he did to her. Do you see her as innocent and want to take her place. Are you still afraid of your father since you deserved it as much as she did, maybe more, you fear more, you try not to but you do. Why did he do it and why not to you, they ask. I cannot answer them, he won't tell us, they say it themselves. I have asked him and he just looks at me, his face not blank, but unrevealing. I know before I ask him that he will not tell me why it happened, it does not occur to me that he will say a word in response. He is in charge, as he always was, and nothing that I can say will move him. He may be thinking that it could have been me, he may wish it had been me and wonder why it wasn't. It may be that he cannot explain what came over him, what events led him to kill her. But he will not open his mouth to say even that much. We looked up to him, we had to look up to him, he would not let us not look up to him, and then he fell. He fell off the mountain he had built under himself, off all the words and rules that he set when he was angry and disciplined us. I stare at him through the glass and ask myself all the questions that I want to ask him. I want to know what happened to him. I visit him hoping to find him there, but I do not find him, only see him, not blank but hidden, all of it inside him, with no sense of it moving outward, toward me. Jenny is in there with him, hidden, wrapped up in his silence, and we are there with them. I want to find myself there, to move his mouth, to move his face, to pound on the glass between us, but I do not pound on the glass because I would be removed and because he would not answer. In the corridor, on the way to the interrogation room, I sometimes think I sense him nearby, and twice I have heard what I thought was his voice arguing against the louder voice of an interrogator behind one of the closed doors. Both times I bolted for the door as we passed, before I could be grabbed and held back, and both times the door was locked and would not yield to my shoulder. I was quickly pulled away before I could listen well enough to know if it was him, before I could make out any of the questions they might be asking him or any of the answers he might be giving. At first I wondered how it could have been him in the room, how they could have gotten him out and why they wouldn't have gone to him rather than bring him to their place. I struggled with possible answers to these questions and I began to consider how far-reaching and powerful their subterranean network could be, how elaborate and pervasive its tentacles. Though I am aware of their power and influence over me, I can only speculate on the depth of their infrastructure, but I do not rule out the possibility that our father has been to one or more of the places where I am questioned or that underground tunnels could connect him to one or more of them and that he is subject to the same type of interrogations as I am. If he is, I wish that I could be there as a witness, if only to hear what they ask him. I have told them this and asked that they put us in the same room and question us at the same time, but they do not respond to my request. They go about the business of interrogating me, pressing me toward an end that seems to have no end, toward a place I cannot find a way to go to. You say you have not seen them, they have not been here to trouble you or to look for me. You sleep, you rest, you are not awakened and taken underground and interrogated. You visit him, you talk, but you do not question him. You do not see him often and the talk you have with him is unrevealing and a struggle, but it is talk. I too have had some unrevealing talk with him, but that talk soon loses its voice and is replaced by silence and then by the urge for answers. I go away frustrated, wanting to return to him immediately, wanting to never return. The last time they took me underground I shouted out to him in the corridor. I had no idea if he was anywhere he could hear me, but I went on shouting as if I did know and continued to shout as they threw me into an interrogation room and left me. Soon two men came in the room, but I stayed on my feet and did not want to sit and listen to them. They pushed me into a chair and warned me about the shouting, what purpose did it serve, why did I look to my father for answers, where was I headed with it. Did I think I could go on resisting and evading them without paying a price. I showed no sign of changing, the interrogator said, and they saw no reason to continue with the same ineffective approach. A committee of my past interrogators had met, I was told, and it was their opinion that I would never face their questions sufficiently unless I were sentenced to face them for an extended period. The committee had prepared a recommendation to this effect that had been passed deeper underground for approval, which he said would be only a formality. He could tell by looking at me, he said, that I intended to resist them and that inwardly I was already fleeing, chasing myself into some dark inner hole, even though I had just heard that it was my impulse or tendency toward flight that made the committee recommend my sentence. Such futility was typical of me, he said. Since then I have not been to sleep, but I know that eventually I will have to sleep, I cannot keep myself awake. I sense them now everywhere waiting for me, sneaking up on me as my urge to sleep overtakes me. I am as good as there already, if I close my eyes I can hear their questions and see myself in the chair opposite the interrogator. Behind my chair stands a man with his hands clasped just below the waist, older hands that do not move, his head obscured in shadow. I open my mouth to give some explanation, but the interrogator holds up both hands between us, the man behind me clears his throat, and I do not speak."