SATURDAY WRITERS’ WORLD 

With Bisi Daniels; bisi.daniels@thisdaylive.com
Blog: www.bisidaniels.com, 08050220700

Long before fake news became a scourge, I noted in the novel, The False Truth that “lies repeated often enough can eventually be accepted as truth.” From time to time, I will share excerpts. Here the continuing character, Peter Abel, who is trying to stop a plot to kill his boss in New York, is arrested by the FBI

Agent Ford leaned back in his chair. “How did you obtain access to Songa’s computer for the documents?”
“It was in his hotel room.”
“Would that be the same hotel room where the NYPD found the dead body?”
Abel slumped back in his chair and winced.
“Mr. Abel, you are under arrest.”

Abel under arrest
Abel tried to relax as he surveyed his surroundings. The bars and chicken wire on the windows, as well as the guard patrolling the corridor, made it clear that he had been completely deprived of his liberty. Even so, it could have been worse—much worse. He could be in a jail cell right now.

As the interrogation with Agent Ford continued back at FBI headquarters, Abel noticed that the American operative was starting to question his sanity. He began speaking to him as if he were a small child who didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation, rather than a hardened criminal. In some African countries, I would have beaten to a pulp and hurled into some dingy prison, Abel thought.
He quickly tuned into this and decided to use it to his advantage. The more questions the agent asked, the more disjointed Abel’s answers became. He enhanced this portrayal of mental confusion by inserting some out-of-context pauses and a few responses in his native Mubonde language.

The situation was quite ironic. When he had first contacted Agent Ford on the telephone, Abel had gone to great lengths to ensure he sounded sane and rational. During the interrogation, he had decided to bring that same sanity and rationality into question.
His tactic worked. Rather than order him incarcerated on murder charges in connection with the death of the bodyguard in New York, Agent Ford ordered Abel sent to the Bureau’s detention facility for psychiatric evaluation.
Abel was free to move around the hospital room, as long as he didn’t cause too much of a commotion. He had seen other “patients” lose control of their faculties only to have the staff—four very large men in white outfits—barge into their rooms and forcibly restrain them. Being strapped to a bed would have proven very detrimental to his goal of finding the nearest exit, so he played it as cool as possible.

He had been cooperative with the examination staff when they subjected him to the initial psychiatric review. They asked him various questions about who he was, who he thought he was, where he thought he was, what his intentions were, how he had come to his ideas, and what he expected would happen to and around him in the future. Then they performed a routine physical, checking such things as his heart rhythm, blood pressure, vision and hearing. They required him to provide urine, blood, saliva and hair samples. Abel wasn’t sure if they were to be catalogued as evidence in the death of the bodyguard at the Waldorf or if they were being checked for indication of drug use. Most likely, they would be used for both.
Abel answered all of the questions with simple, often monosyllabic answers. He was trying to hedge his bets, hoping they would declare him sane enough not to be held under suicide watch or 24 – hour psychiatric surveillance, but not balanced enough to be declared competent and sent to the local correctional facility.
“Are you married?” the examining doctor inquired.
“No.”
“Have you ever been married?”
“No.”
“Do you have any children?’

Abel deliberately paused, and then responded, “No.”
The doctor scribbled down an illegible note. “Are you currently taking any medication?”
Abel looked back at him, not offering a response. The doctor waited patiently, watching Abel’s eyes in an effort to determine if he understood the question. When more seconds passed and he still received no answer, he rephrased his inquiry.
“Has a doctor ever given you a prescription for a specific pill, liquid or injection?”
“Yes,” Abel finally stated.
“Do you know what that prescription was for?”
Abel thought for a moment before replying, “Penicillin.”
The physician appeared disappointed, and Abel had to work hard not to give himself away.
“Do you recall why you were given penicillin?”
Abel nodded, but didn’t speak. The doctor rolled his hand, motioning for Abel to elaborate.
“Sore throat.”

The doctor nodded, smiled faintly, and made another note on his clipboard.
Later that evening, Abel found himself in a hospital room with a reclining bed, delivered meals and a private bathroom. He wore a blue scrub suit, the same fashion statement seen on all the patients and inmates currently held in the building.
Abel had yet to speak with an attorney or anyone involved with the investigation of the bodyguard’s death back in New York. He had no knowledge of the way that case was being handled, and he wasn’t looking forward to explaining his involvement. At this point, if he were questioned directly, he might have to play the “crazy card” to the extreme. On the other hand, he was hoping he could find a way to expose Songa before any of that came to pass.

The African-American nurse
A young African-American nurse entered Abel’s room pushing a cart carrying a portable blood pressure machine, as well as various other medical supplies. Unlike most African-American women in the city, she was slim with a delicate wasp waist. She smiled at Abel as he quietly sat up in his bed. Abel liked the dimples in her apple cheeks. “My African sister!” Abel said and chuckled.
“I need to take your blood pressure, sir.” She ignored Abel’s jokes professionally, unravelled the sleeve of the machine and wrapped it around his upper arm.
“Again?” Someone had already taken his blood pressure three times that day.
The nurse laughed. “I know. It was done earlier. Still, it’s been a very stressful day for you, so we want to ensure that everything remains at a healthy level.”

Abel tried to relax as the nurse pumped the air into the machine and carefully watched the meter. His eyelids drooped in exhaustion, but before they could close completely, he caught sight of another object on the medical cart. A case containing syringes wrapped in clear plastic sat on the second shelf. The nurse busied herself with reading the meter and marking down numbers on her chart. Meanwhile, Abel managed to snake his long arm over toward the cart, extend his fingers, and wrap them around two of the syringes. His first instinct was to snatch them up, but he knew the rattle of the cellophane would catch the nurse’s attention. Carefully and methodically, he gripped the syringes and clutched them tightly in his palm.
“Your blood pressure is fine, sir,” the nurse reported. “It was a little high earlier in the day, but I’m sure you were suffering from mental trauma and anguish. We’ll be checking regularly. I know it’s a nuisance, but we have your health in mind.”
“I appreciate that, my African sister,” Abel remarked. He admired this young woman. She seemed very earnest, and considering that most of the people housed in this facility were accused of committing heinous crimes, she continued to treat them as patients rather than prisoners.

When the nurse pulled her cart away from his bed, Abel slid his hand back and claimed possession of the syringes. He reclined his bed and rolled over, turning his back to the door and pulling the blanket up over his shoulder.
Once the nurse had left and the patrolling guard had already passed by his door, Abel examined the syringes carefully. The wrapper was marked ETORPHINE. Abel recognized the drug as a heavy tranquilizer. He assumed that, considering the questionable mental state of the facility’s residents, all staff members had to be trained to administer the drug in case someone got “out of hand.” Abel now had a double dose in his possession. He just had to think quickly about how to use it to his advantage.

Abel escapes
A moment later, he discovered a solution. The patrolling guard passed by his door again, providing Abel with the opportunity he needed.
Abel slid out of his bed and walked toward the bathroom. He unwrapped both syringes and gripped them in his right palm. He then carefully dropped down to one knee. The next time the guard passed by, he called out to him.
“Excuse me, sir!”
The guard stopped walking and stuck his head inside Abel’s room. “Are you okay in there?”

Abel pretended to wretch. “I’m feeling a little sick and I can’t get back to my bed. I need to lie down. Will you please help me?”
The guard entered the room and headed toward the voice. He found Abel kneeling on the bathroom floor. “Do you need to throw up?”
“I already did,” Abel replied. “I just need to get back to my bed.”
“Okay, take it easy.”
The guard leaned down and reached out to grab Abel by the crook of his arm. Abel instantly jammed both of the syringes into the man’s thigh. As he yelped in pain, Abel quickly jumped to his feet and pushed the man to the floor. He held his hand over the guard’s mouth to muffle his cries.
The guard continued to struggle, and for a moment, Abel wondered if the dose was high enough to incapacitate such a large, strong man. But it wasn’t long before the big, hulking man lay fast asleep on the bathroom floor.

Abel tried to keep the noise to a minimum as he tore off his scrubs, disrobed the guard, and slipped into his uniform. The guard’s shirt was quite big across the chest and shoulders, and although the two men were almost the same height, his trousers encircled Abel as if he were standing inside a barrel. He tucked the shirt into the trousers and cinched the belt as tightly as possible. Then he stepped into the man’s shoes. They were also slightly too big, but he could still walk in them. Finally, he stepped out of the bathroom, leaving the sleeping giant alone on the floor.

Abel stuck his head out into the corridor and caught sight of the nurse. She was pushing her cart into a room further down the hall. Once the coast was completely clear, he threw back his shoulders and strutted into the corridor, mimicking the gait of the man whose uniform he was wearing. He knew that soon his face will be plastered on every TV as a wanted man!

–TO BE CONTINUED