Friday, October 16, 2009

Character Interview -- Gerrit

For some reason I thought that Gerrit would have chosen an out of the way spot, perhaps a dingy hole in the wall with bad lighting and people looking around furtively. Instead he chooses a quick-eats place, with lots of light and lots of people; I guess he's taking advantage of group cover. We get our trays and food and sit at a table against the wall.

I pull out my recorder, but he stops me.

"It's less conspicuous if you just use a mic attachment." From a jacket pocket, Gerrit pulls out a small black cylinder attached to a long wire. "I'd have used wireless, but somehow I don't think you are quite there yet."

He's mocking me, but the mockery isn't malicious, at least I don't think it is.

"Okay, it looks like you should be set. Start the interview, except you can skip the name and place of origin questions, if you don't mind."

Obediently, I click on the recorder. The break in the ritual discomfits me; maybe that's why he did it. "How many scams were you running?" I figure to get right to the heart of the questions, and hopefully get a point back in my favor.

Gerrit looks up and then back to me. "Good start. Let's see..." His voice trails off as he thinks. "Zero. I wasn't running any scams."

"Well, you certainly weren't on official business for all of the jobs." I allow myself a direct stare and a raised eyebrow.

He holds up a finger. "True. I had 3 jobs running, besides the 9 to 5. Jobs, mind you, not scams." The finger wags at me for emphasis and then he takes a bite of his salad. He fills his mouth yet manages to chew without looking like a 2 year old. While he eats, his gaze meanders around the room and comes back to me.

"Can you tell me what the ... jobs were?"

Gerrit shrugs. "Why not? They're over and done with aren't they?" He eats another forkful of greens and reds. "I was running papers from the Tenir embassy, I was trying to catch Donovan with his pants down, and I was committing planetary treason. It's a great game out there; you should try it."

"And at the same time you were working as an intelligence agent for the interplanetary government?"

"I know!" The glee takes his voice up a couple notes.

"What would have happened if you had gotten caught?"

"But there's the rub;" He leans towards me. "I didn't."

"But you got caught in the end, though, didn't you." I force myself to keep the accusation inside. No sense in opening that particular can of worms. "Okay, granted you didn't get caught. However, in the event you did, let's just speculate, what would have happened?"

Another long look around the quick-eats. "Peons." He gives me his full attention. "If the first, then nothing more than a slight reprimand. For the second, perhaps a short suspension." A pause. "But if I had gotten caught with Reynor, it would have depended on the spin. I think I could have gotten away with it." A shrug, tossing the thought out as if it didn't matter. "And if I couldn't work the crowd, they would have killed me."

"Isn't that a bit harsh of a punishment?"

"_I_ think so. _They_ consider it a necessary example making, a refining of the workforce, if you will." He waves his hands in large slow arcs. "It's all about control."

"And you don't like being controlled?"

"They can't control me." His hands are still. "I've given them opportunities, but they don't even see them! It's no wonder that they couldn't," He stops short, and I'm glad to see there are some things he takes seriously.

"Back to something you mentioned before, this being a 'great game.' Is it all just a game?"

"Not just a game. The only game worth playing."

He gives me the first smile that I've seen on his face so far. It drifts over his face, and is so open that I find myself blushing.

"Then why did you call Thytira?"

The smile is gone. "I wanted to turn the game and needed help to do it. Thytira's a straight shooter, a good one to have as back-up."

"You felt you needed back-up?" This was getting interesting all of a sudden.

"Normally no, but in this case, yes. I'm not straight enough to turn a game like this on my own." He shrugs, acknowledging the truth. "It's one of my flaws."

There is a soft beeping from the inside of Gerrit's jacket. He pulls out a slim rectangle. "I have to go. But thanks for taking the time to talk to me." He stops me when I reach to unhook the mic attachment. "Keep it, it may come in handy another time."

A very different sort of man. I'm almost sorry he's dead.

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