"I couldn't do it."
"I know, Gideon."
"I did it so many times before, but I just couldn't it."
"That's enough for today, we'll talk again tomorrow."
“I couldn’t do it.”
Adila smiled at the man. He continued with his gibberish, biting his thumb until it bled. His raven hair was turning white, the wrinkles surrounding his mouth and eyes aged him ten years.
It was a shame for a man so handsome, Adila thought.
Two police men unholstered their shotguns and escorted her to the door. They were brutish, like trained apes with just enough intelligence to shoot their guns without casualties.
The chief was waiting for her outside. He was a man of fine features, and if only he wasn't so old, Adila would have thought of him in more ways than just his professional colleague.
"Did you get him to talk?" Asked the chief, a cup of coffee in his hand. His shirt was drenched in sweat from the collar to the armpits.
"He told me the same thing." Adila picked a bottle of water from the table and took a drink before answering. "He couldn't it."
The chief cursed under his breath and threw the cup to the floor.
Adila appreciated the scent of coffee refreshing the reek of sweat in the room, but resented the chief’s attitude. He was a child trapped in a man’s body.
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.
“Tell me something.” The chief said as he looked at Gideon through the glass. The man was sobbing with his head hidden between his arms. “Are you capable of doing this or not?”
“Of doing what exactly?”
“Your damn job.”
“I told you from the start this would take time. I can’t put pressure into someone like Gideon; he could have a mental breakdown if we push him too hard.” Adila stood firm, her voice stoic and distant.
“He is a criminal, not one of your pampered patients who confuse a bad day with depression. I don’t care what method you use, but if by tomorrow you don’t get any new information from him, I won’t need your services anymore.”
“And who would interrogate him? One of your domesticated cavemen? They’ll only torture a lie out of him.”
“I can’t say I haven’t considered that option.” The chief said and laughed with bitterness. “It at least would get me results.”
Adila felt a twinge of hatred for the chief. He was no more reasonable or eloquent than Gideon.
She even dared to say he was viler.
“Torture didn’t work in the middle ages and it won’t work now. I can get through Gideon, all I need is patience.” Adila said. “But if you think someone else can do a better job than me, I won’t object. Fire me if you must, but don’t you dare to talk down to me or my patients.”
She waited for answer, but the chief kept staring at Gideon in silence. It was true that the payment she got from the police was thrice the money she made with her usual patients, but no amount of riches was worth such treatment.
She put the water bottle inside her purse and went directly to the exit.
“Wait.” The chief said. His voice had humbled more out of exhaustion than regret. “Forgive me; my attitude was out of place.”
“Out of place is a tremendous understatement, but I agree.” Adila smiled with satisfaction. But her feeling of victory vanished when she turned around and saw the defeated figure of the chief.
He was resting his forehead against the mirror.
He looked frail and weak, like an old man ready to fall into his coffin.
As much as she disliked him, Adila couldn’t pretend it didn’t affect her to see a man so strong becoming a shell of his former being.
Gideon had his gaze lost into the distance. His lips moved as if he was muttering a prayer.
“I read the report of his crime again this morning, to see if I had missed something that could give us a clue.” The chief closed his eyes. “I couldn’t make it past the third page. The things this man did…”
Adila heard his tears trapped inside his throat.
Now it was her turn to keep silent.
“Every day we spend here is another chance the likes of him get to commit the same atrocities over and over again. They never stop, not for one second.” The chief looked at her. “That’s why I won’t be at peace until I have every single of those degenerates rotting inside their cells.”
“I understand, but I don’t agree. Every person can be reformed and reintegrated into society, no matter what their crimes; there’s nothing to be gained by caging them as animals other than overcrowded jails. ” Adila went to his side and watched Gideon playing with his thumbs.
The scorn and disdain she had received because of her opinion was greater than any recognition she got when her patients managed to lead a normal life.
But it mattered not.
That belief had helped her with patients others had called untreatable. She knew it wasn’t a perfect philosophy, but it worked.
For Adila, that was enough.
“No. Some people are just like tumors, either you get rid of them or they blight the whole body.” The chief said, his tone free from mockery or reproach.
He was no longer the man Adila had met when she started working on the case months ago. It was a shame his mind wasn’t as strong as his body.
Adila pitied him more than she pitied Gideon.
“Our professional perspectives don’t see eye to eye, but you are right. We cannot prolong this any longer.” Adila put a hand on the chief’s shoulder. “I’ll make sure Gideon confesses this week.”
“Why do you insist so much in interrogating him? The hitman sentenced to death still has two months left to live. You can get him to talk perhaps by telling him it is the last chance he has to confess his sins…”
“I’m not a priest.” Adila replied with indignation. “And it would be of no use. When I spoke with Draven last month, he showed no signs of remorse. It all was a matter of business for him; besides, he spent all his money before he was caught. He claimed he had lived a full life and that it was better to die young but happy rather than old and disappointed.”
“Every criminal thinks himself a fucking philosopher.” Scoffed the chief, rolling his eyes and turning his back on Adila. “And what’s Gideon inspiring view of life? To kill or not to kill, that is not even a question because I still kill anyways?”
“His ideals are irrelevant, but that fact that he stopped his crimes by his own volition is proof of his chance to recover. We know what he did, but if we manage to tell us why he stopped, it would not only help us with his case, it could also allow us to understand their behavior better. Perhaps we could finally develop a proper treatment to help them.”
“Their victims are the only ones in need of help.” The chief interrupted. His face was crimson, the veins in his neck pulsating at the rhythm of the clock. “I respect your work Adila, but the pity you feel for these monsters is disturbing. Perhaps it’s time you seek help for yourself.”
“Suggestion noted.” Adila understood there was no point in trying to convince an old fool stuck in his old ways and decided it was best to leave before she lost her temper. “I’ll come back tomorrow, be sure your men don’t disturb Gideon. Good night, Calvin.”
“Think of what I said, Adila.” The chief went back to the front of the mirror. Gideon was hugging his knees, rocking himself in the chair like a mother cradles her babe. “Dealing with these beings every day takes its toll.”
She nodded and left.
Three policemen wished her goodnight as she left the station. Adila answered only with a fainting smile that disappeared as soon as she was on the streets. They were lonely and quiet.
As she walked, she made a quick recapitulation of the events of the day and her talk with Gideon. There were moments, and not scarce, when Adila found it hard to believe he had committed the atrocities that had reduced the chief and many others to haggard washouts.
One of them, a new recruit that had been sent to descript the codes of one of Gideon files, hanged himself a week after he managed to break through the files. He had been the first one to see the evidence.
She and chief Calvin were next.
She stopped at the street’s corner and waited for the green light.
“Why?” she muttered, the images of the video flashing in her mind. “Why couldn’t you do it, Gideon?”
Maybe Calvin was right. There could be a missing piece, a small detail they had overlooked that was hindering their advances.
Maybe she had to go through the evidence and reports again.
Adila felt shivers down her spine and her legs trembled, but she quickly recovered her composure.
If she had no other choice, then she would do it. Even if it meant losing a small part of mind amidst those wicked acts again.
After all, that was her duty.
The cars stopped and she continued southward the city.
When she finally got home, she put her speculations to a halt and dropped the act of the psychologist and assumed the role of the mother.
Gideon, Calvin and the dark crimes of her work had no place among her domestic world.
It belonged to her and her son alone.
For the first time in that day, she felt at peace. Criminals, hitmen, murderers and the police were alien concepts to Adila as soon as she put a foot inside her house.
She didn’t understand her fellow workers who brought the emotional baggage from work to their homes and let it fester inside her minds.
It was annoying, but necessary.
Otherwise, Adila thought as she called her son, she wouldn’t have a job.