It’s still a battle of wits, but our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.
The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because the enemy if it is the enemy, doesn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.
My turn to put him under the spotlight, for a minute, then two.
“There are no optional questions here, Mr. James.”
No, but some needed careful consideration, like throwing the dead pilot under the bus.
“Roy, the pilot, was adding some hours to his fly time, probably looking for a promotion.”
“So it was not a proper sanctioned operation.”
Looking for a scapegoat higher up the food chain.
“You need the commander’s authority to go up, so it was sanctioned.”
“Then this commander could have ordered the pilot to fly into the no-fly zone.”
My thought too, but I wasn’t going to fuel his suspicions.
“For what reason, after all, it’s not called a no-fly zone just so people can write the words on a map.”
He didn’t reply. I had thought he might tell me he was the one asking the questions.
He let me stew for a few more minutes, then, “You don’t seem to know much about anything Mr. James, whereas we know a lot about you.”
The ‘you’ he was referring to wasn’t just me, but our whole operation and what we were doing, which, of course, I wasn’t privy to. Did we have a spy in our midst?
“One more time, Mr. James, can you tell me what the helicopter was doing in the no-fly zone?”
It was accompanied by another of those smiles, all-knowing perhaps, or trying to make me believe he did. But the bottom line was if he did, he was not going to tell me.
Instead, the smile turned to a scowl. “I do not believe you are as uninformed as you say you are so I suggest most strongly that you give up this appearance of innocence. I shall ask once more Mr. James, and if you are not forthcoming, the matter will be out of my hands. I assure you, you will not like the alternative.”
I was sure I wouldn’t like the alternative.
“The answer sadly will still be the same, so if you must, I’m sure I won’t be able to talk you out of it.”
© Charles Heath 2019