Head of interrogation

The head of interrogation is now small and round. A small nose shades a thinning moustache. The eyes are behind glasses tinted to create assumptions of poor vision, ill health and slow reactions. He circulates quietly through the cocktail crowd in the wake of his wife. If you are close enough you might hear an occasional “yes dear” or a kindly “how do you do?” from a harmless face.

The crowd here don’t know who he is or cares. For them he’s just another quiet uncle of indeterminate retirement age. Part of daddy’s circle. Officially a civil servant with a bland title from a forgettably named department deep inside the cavernous defence establishment. He prefers it that way.

I know that serene expression of his. The grimace of a man who hates cocktail parties. But what to do – we are here to support the charitable works of our wives and masters. If it wasn’t for people like him we wouldn’t be having cocktail parties. Most of the people here would be dead, imprisoned or at best in exile. Yes, he appreciates the irony. Preferably with a single malt, a dissection of the latest rugby and our only real refuge: talk of the old days.

A time when the army existed for the Independence Day parade. Remembered in gracefully yellowing black and white photographs. Of everyone gathered in the shade of the officer’s mess, grinning recklessly into the camera. Most likely after some practical joke to be immortalised over the evening’s drinks. We were young, fit, clean and had hair to cut. Our uniforms echoed of armies that died gallantly for empire in bleak places. Their tragedies immortalised in rousing regimental songs that made us feel we had arrived too late to taste the glory.

The above are the first paragraphs of something I wrote as some sort of supposedly short writing exercise a few years back. It ballooned into 10 pages (double sided single spaced). Toiled away tinkering with all its sentences till it ground to a halt. Not sure what to do with it. I suppose if I pad it with enough wordy detail it would inflate into a novel. The horror the horror.

Now the voices want to tinker with it again. Like I have the bloody time. Flushing this faeces of words into the blogosphere is the only way out. Pardon the aroma…



  1. David: Thank you 😀 Coming from you that’s a nice bit of encouragement. Have to admit by the 10th paragraph the thing does start to crumble.

    DD: 😀


  2. This was really good Cerno. Do tinker with it again, you tend to make a lot of headway when you leave a work for sometime and then start working on it again. And “Our uniforms echoed of armies that died gallantly for empire in bleak places. Their tragedies immortalised in rousing regimental songs that made us feel we had arrived too late to taste the glory.”, I just loved that line! 🙂


  3. Chavie: Good point. Glad you like that particular sentence 🙂 I did wonder if it was too wordy. VICH thought it wasn’t..

    Anandawardhana: Thank you! 😀

    Kiri: 😆 never thought it that way!


    • Good point 🙂 Its a bit inflated for a short story though but I think it might be easier to chop stuff away and make things tighter. perhaps I’ll serialise it on this blog…


  4. […] Photograph of a personal demon Thu, 5 Apr, 12 We all have artefacts that have weird effects on out inner selves. Pictured in this post is a personal artefact that has become a mental equivalent of a ball and chain. It’s a detail of a heavily hand edited printout of a story. Too long to be “short”, too brief to be called anything else. The time stamp on the photo is 2007 but I have tinkered with it since I think 2003. The first paras are in quoted in an older blog post. […]


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