The Posture of Innocence, day 19.5

in writing •  3 months ago  (edited)

In this portion of The Posture of Innocence, Officer Joe Cadbury, the true murderer of John Soames, thinks he is going to be all right -- he thinks he is going to come out just fine in his confrontation with a certain slave-owning gentleman's whelp named Henry Fitzhugh Lee in the interrogation room. Officer Cadbury is sure he can outwit the younger officer and get away clean...

Spoiler alert: He won't.

To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, and day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, and day 19!

the posture of innocence, little version.png

Time passed while Officer Cadbury waited for his interrogation. His brother Atty. Cadbury did some research in the meantime on Captain Lee, and his heart sank into his toes. Truth be told, Officer Cadbury felt much the same way, but he was trying to recover himself, his pride demanding that he stand up for himself. He was a murderer in a society that provided murderers of certain people the good life that he had enjoyed.

Who was this little silver-spoon-in-mouth Lee anyway, to snatch from him what he had built in blood? Everybody hadn't had big plantations and tons of slaves in their background to put them in a position – Officer Cadbury had done what he needed to do to get to the American dream in just one generation. No way some little gentleman's whelp was going just take that from him. No way.

Yet, all of Officer Cadbury's attempt to hype himself up went out the window when he saw Captain Lee and Lieutenant Anderson again in person. The lieutenant was a formidable character by himself, immense and with a devastatingly gorgeous golf swing, young and vigorous like Officer Cadbury used to be, but full of hatred for everything Officer Cadbury had come to represent. He was composed, but his contempt was still present, snapping in his blue eyes, and present in the way he handed over file after file upon the silent demand of his superior.

Lieutenant Anderson's superior was even more composed, the composed nature of irresistible power. He probably didn't know the first thing about golf, but that kind of man had done with golf what he did with everything: made it a vehicle for his will. He was perfectly terrifying, he was so calm, and so quiet, and so cold, as his lieutenant laid out the folders before him. He opened one, took a full minute reading it in a silence that was choking the Cadburys, and then added another minute of choking silence, making notes. He then looked up, and his dark eyes said nothing but command as he said in his quiet, cold voice, “Tell me how you murdered Mr. John Soames, before I tell you.”

Officer Cadbury opened his mouth, and said exactly what he was told to say. He would do that 25 times, as Captain Lee opened folder after folder and asked what he wanted to know. Captain Lee never raised his voice, never said anything unprofessional, never tested the edge of proper interrogation protocol. He knew that Officer Cadbury felt inferior to him, and that all people wish to be validated in their opinions. Since it was Officer Cadbury's opinion that he was inferior to a Lee, Captain Lee simply showed up in a matter that validated his opinion, and Officer Cadbury responded in the manner for which his nursing a lifetime of insecurities had prepared him.

Atty. Cadbury just watched, helplessly, as his brother's mind and will were literally wrung out by the far stronger mind and will of his interrogator – he knew that Captain Lee had found the key to Officer Cadbury's psychology, and had simply broken him open. Captain Lee was Colonel Lee of Special Forces – a green beret, the long tab, award after award, commendation after commendation – and then had moved over to JAG – award after award, commendation after commendation. He was only 45, with only 23 years of service to have packed all that into. Officer Cadbury was no match for so disciplined and studied a man. Neither were the other people Captain Lee now had such full information about.

In his head, Atty. Cadbury began planning his brother's funeral, and, as one often does to dying men, he was gentle in his comments to his brother.

“Well, you confessed,” he said, “but this case is above my scope as an attorney. I'll get you a lawyer who will do his best to get you a good deal.”

Captain Lee and Lieutenant Anderson returned to the captain's office, the lieutenant in amazement.

“You just broke two old liars in two hours – how in the world?”

“Why do people lie, Lieutenant?”

“To cover up what really happened; to stay out of trouble.”

“That is correct,” said Captain Lee. “Any child knows and does that. That is a basic level of depravity; to disregard and hide the truth for one's own personal interests. Yet, what that also means is that the liar wishes to have their version of events seen as true.”

“Right.”

“Think, Lieutenant, still further: why do people keep on lying? Why do they repeat a lie, again and again?”

“You mean like tall tales and things?”

“After a manner of speaking.”

“Pride, Captain. It changes people's opinion of who they are, how important they are.”

“That is what I wanted you to see, Lieutenant. Mrs. DeVille was proud of the lie she had told, and Officer Cadbury of the lie he had lived. Yet that lie had given them a status they in their hearts felt they did not deserve. Some feeling of inferiority was there, something not properly addressed. When people cover the things they are not addressing with a lie instead of addressing them, they lay the groundwork to remain weak and petty – and people of strong character have their way with people of weak character all day long, Lieutenant. It is a question of finding exactly where and how they are weak, and questioning them in a way that touches that point – they will always yield.”

“Oh, I get it.”

“You are a young man, Lieutenant, and you have your weaknesses just as I do, but you have strong character. You would not lie to me, and I would not lie to you, and we know we need not lie to each other – so, there is no point in which we would ever need or even be able to manipulate each other. Even though I know specialized techniques for getting information from you, I would never use them, because I don't have to. It only becomes a question of brute force when there is absolutely no other way.”

Lieutenant Anderson thought of this, and smiled.

“I sensed upon meeting you that you are a very powerful man, sir, but I don't understand why people are afraid of you.”

“Right. You don't understand because you have nothing to be afraid of. The name Lee means only as much to anyone not named Lee as the baggage the person attaches to the name in their mind is worth. You have none. There is nothing, therefore, for you to be afraid of.”

“Oh, I see – the names are worth only what we think they are. That's not why we get along so well, Captain. It's the character thing.”

“Now then: can we agree that Mrs. DeVille and Officer Cadbury were not of strong character?”

“Yes. Just two old liars.”

“Do you see that as soon as I figured out what their lies covered up in them, I was able to figure out how to get them to tell me the truth by pressing their weak points?”

“Yes.”

“Now, you know how to do it. I will see to it that you get plenty of practice. We will also talk about the principles again Monday, for the whole division. With the number of cold cases we have, and the number surely to be added now that people like Tom Jones and Jetson Black are speaking up, we will meet a great number of old liars that we must deal with.”

“Yes, sir.”

Lieutenant Anderson then sighed, and smiled.

“Would it be too much a breach of protocol for me to say how much I love working with you?”

“Yes, but we will excuse it on the grounds that it needed not be said because I already know, Lieutenant, and the sentiment is warmly returned.”

Lieutenant Anderson closed his eyes and grinned from ear to ear in sheer boyish delight, and Captain Lee made a perfect military turn back toward his desk, unable to bear more than a few moments of the sight. His own son would have been that same 27 years old, though darker in hue, and to know that another young man was so blooming and blossoming under his tutelage touched the captain's heart in ways that would really cause a breach of protocol. Captains are not to break down on duty and weep in front of their lieutenants, ever; the burden of command is to remain in command of one's self, first of all.

Lieutenant Anderson too, was dutiful, though younger and more free of his emotions than his commander; he did not press the limits of protocol over much, and was at attention by the time his commander resumed his seat.

“Thank you, sir, very much. Will there be anything else that is required this evening?”

“No, Lieutenant. Put in for an hour of overtime as it is. That will be all. Dismissed, and enjoy your evening.”

“Likewise, sir.”

Day 20 is up!

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