The Spider Killings (4)

Just then, she heard the door of the interrogation room open.


The Spider Killings (4)
by laleh haghighi

A fictional series based on real events that happened in Iran known as the "Spider Killings". [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

-- "Akh ! Ajab heyvoun-haayee hasstan, what animals they are!" Azadeh murmured as she looked at her bloody lower lip in the small mirror hanging on the wall of the interrogation room.

Why did they have to slap her on the mouth like that? For what? That old pervert who had tripped her on purpose so she would fall on her ass? He deserved to be told off, even if he was the bloody chief of police. Oh, how he had ogled her body: Like a hungry dog before a juicy cut of meat! She smiled as she remembered his shocked look when she had asked him if he wanted to take her picture.

-- "Akh, akh!"

The smile had stretched the wound on her lip further open, causing some fresh blood to ooze out. She quickly licked it with her tongue. A warm, metallic taste that was not altogether unpleasant.

Just then, she heard the door of the interrogation room open. Without flinching or turning around, she watched her would-be interrogator through his reflection in the mirror. This wasn't her first arrest after all. She wasn't about to begin crying for mercy like some of those other girls, the ones who had shared the ride to the police station. Spoiled, rich bitches picked up for bad hejab, too much of their bleached hair sticking out of their headscarves, their manteau so tight they looked painted on. Their daddy would bail them out in a matter of a few hours, after greasing the usual palms. No doubt they would be back to flirting with the boys in Banafshe Park in a couple of days. As for Azadeh, quite a different story

The man had walked in balancing a file in one hand and a tea glass in the other. Without looking at Azadeh, he went directly to the table, where he sat down and put down his paperwork and tea glass. Instead of paying attention to his prisoner, he meticulously dipped a lump of sugar in his tea, which he proceeded to place carefully on his tongue. He started slowly flipping through the open file, pausing on each page, taking a sip from his beverage each time he turned a new leaf.

After a few minutes, as he was still completely ignoring Azadeh, the young woman shrugged her shoulders and finally turned around to face him. Better to get this over with. She had had ample time to observe her adversary. He was young, but did not look or act like one of those stupid rookies who had arrested her this morning. A pleasant face, clean-shaven, you could even call it handsome. His shirt was impeccably pressed, his boots freshly shined. His fingernails were short and clean, no dirt accumulated underneath like those animals she was used to dealing with. But far from feeling attracted to him, she felt an instant repulsion for him. Something about him made her recoil. There was nothing she could put her finger on that had her so uncomfortable. It was nothing and it was everything he did, every gesture. The way the lump of sugar had dissolved on his tongue. The fingerprints he left on his tea glass. How his eyes were fixated on the file before him and yet she was certain he had not lost a single movement she had made since he entered the room. She couldn't fathom why, but she wished at that instant that anybody else, even that lusty Brigadier-General, were in the room with her, instead of this character.

As the officer was not taking his eyes off the file, Azadeh finally ventured:

-- "Are you planning to write my memoirs?"

She said it with her usual spunk but her heart was trembling inside. The man finally looked up at her and smiled. He must have meant it to be kind, but Azadeh felt only more fear instead. What is happening to me, she reasoned, why am I letting this joojeh, this little chicken, get the better of me?

-- "I would ask you your name," the officer said, "but I see from your file, you change it as often as the seasons. Manijeh Laleh Samira Do I dare ask what it is today?"

-- "Does it really matter?" replied Azadeh haughtily.

The officer did not answer. He just continued to stare at her. He had a beautiful pair of eyes, light blue, with dark, long eyelashes framing them. Though he was fixing Azadeh intently, there was no lust there. No disgust or condemnation either. She could not read him as she did other men, so easily. She had a feeling that no one could. Suddenly a bit dizzy, she sat down before him and, after a pause, answered his question:

-- "My name is Azadeh."

The officer looked back down at the file and made a notation.

-- "Right. And you are eighteen. At least, you don't lie about your age. Or if it's a lie, you are consistent with it."

Azadeh arched one of her eyebrows and smirked at him. She was trying to be her usual insolent self, but with every attempt she made, she felt weaker instead of triumphant.

The officer continued, unaffected by her grimace.

-- "So you were back at Banafshe Park. How many times will it take before you stop going there and harassing the honest citizens of this town?"

There was no mistake about it. His tone was very tongue-in-cheek. He was trying to draw her in, make her feel as if he was on her side. But why? She was used to being slapped around, insulted, called a whore, a zan kharab, zan khiabooni, a street woman. This was different. Was it just a new torture method? Get her guard down so as to better knock her in the teeth? For once, Azadeh had momentarily lost her treasured sarcastic tongue.

-- "Let me guess," he continued, seemingly amused at her discomfited face, "You are just a tourist taking in the sights of our beautiful Mashad?"

He was trying to be funny, to make her laugh, make her feel at ease. And the more he was trying, the more it was having an opposite effect on Azadeh. Seeing that the young woman was tongue-tied, the officer did not insist. He took a sheet of paper from the file and handed it to her.

-- " Okay, why don't you sign this and we can get you out of here."

It was a tobeh-naameh, a letter of repentance. Azadeh couldn't believe her eyes.

-- "What? Just like that? Just sign and I am free, uh? What about my fine? My prison term? My lashes."

-- "Consider it your lucky day."

Azadeh looked straight in the officer's eyes.

-- "What do you want in return for so much generosity?"

Her attempt to embarrass him failed miserably. He did not even blink.

-- "I don't want anything from you. Sign the letter and you can go."

Azadeh snickered. Despite her young age, she had learned long ago that no one does anything for free. The officer read her expression and added.

-- "Azadeh, all I am asking you is to trust in me."

He took a hold of Azadeh's wrist and turned her hand so that it was resting on the table palm up. Taking a card from his side pocket, he placed it onto her open palm. She tried to snap her hand back but he was holding onto her wrist firmly. Though he was not hurting her, the contact of his skin on hers made her cringe, like she had been touched by a snake. With the most hostility she could gather, she spewed:

-- "Thanks for the offer, but I'd rather take the lashes. I have thick skin now, I can take it"

A bold-faced lie. You never got used to the lashes, each one a flame burning deep into your skin, opening up the old scars, the blood dripping down your back like you were one of the self-flagellators marching at Ashoura. She had gotten forty lashes the first time she got caught soliciting men, at the age of fifteen. That had been the worst. But the times that followed hadn't been much better.

The officer laughed at Azadeh's suggestion.

-- "Don't flatter yourself. It's not what you think."

Then, a sudden flash of anger in his eyes, he continued:

-- "Do you think for a second I would need to negotiate with you, if that's what I had in mind?"

The loss of control was as brief as it was sudden. He was back to smiling, his eyes as impassive as they were impenetrable, his hand still firmly wrapped around her wrist.

-- "The favor I ask of you is to simply take this card," He said, "And to call the number on it, whenever you feel like it. Whenever you are looking for something better than this sordid life you are leading. Trust me, I can help you."

-- "I don't need your help," muttered Azadeh. Her voice sounded to her as if she was back to being five years old again and her father had caught her in the basement of their old house, surreptitiously stuffing her mouth with the fruit preserves her mother used to store there.

-- "Really?" He asked mockingly.

Before she could protest, he suddenly yanked back the sleeve of her chador, revealing her arm. There was hardly any skin left on it. Instead, dozens upon dozens of cuts and scars, knife and razor wounds old and new, so numerous that they looked like a hideous mosaic designed by a sadistic monster.

-- "Let go of me!"

She wanted it to be an angry shout but instead she broke down and cried, something that she had promised herself never to do again since her sixteenth birthday.

The officer let her sob for a few minutes, then handed her his handkerchief. Azadeh took it and as a last act of defiance, blew her nose profusely in it. She had had enough. She didn't care anymore what his true motivation was. She wanted to get out of this hellhole and go back home.

End this misery.

-- "Give me a pen."

The officer smiled. He had won. She signed the letter of repentance and handed it back to him. The card was in her hand, burning her palm as if it was a hot coal. She did not dare discard it.

-- "Can I go now?"

-- "Yes. Just go to the second floor. You can sign out and get your things back there."

Before leaving the room, Azadeh, despite herself, turned around.

-- "If I were to call that number who would I ask for?"

The ice blue eyes pierced her deeply, deeper than the knife wounds on her body.

-- "Just call me Majid." >>> Part 5
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]


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