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Old 03-05-2018, 10:28 AM   #230
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default In a Long Black Veil

Special Agent Gerald Richardson watches Taylor carefully for a reaction to his question.

Taylor: “Ain’t nobody responsible for what I done but me. I gone an’ made my decision to do as I did. Guilt an’ judgment is for me, not nobody else.”
Richardson: “That is not a no.”
Taylor: “If’n you wanna speculate ‘bout Sherilyn maybe wantin’ them dead, I guess I cain’t stop y’all. All I got to say ‘bout that is that wantin’ ain’t doin’. I was by my lonesome when I done killed them an’ she didn’t have no chance to affect what happened, one way or the other.”
Richardson: “Did Ms. Bell express a desire to see Deputy Warden Bradley Tyrrell or Dr. Bruce Cotton dead?”
Taylor: “Like I said, anythin’ the lady chose to share with me in private about her time here ain’t somethin’ I reckon y’all are entitled to hear ‘less’n she want you to.”
Richardson: “I believe I made it starkly clear to you that while we may not see the inside of a courtroom, we're still dealing with a capital crime. I suggest that you keep in mind that you are, in a sense, on trial for your life.”
Taylor: “Respectfully, sir, Sherilyn Bell ain’t the one you wanna blame here. There’s been no conspiracy an’ her havin’ a reason to want these men dead don’t mean she bears any responsibility when I done kilt them. If’n you feel there’s somethin’ you need to do, for justice, for safety, for expediency, I reckon you gonna do it. Talkin’ about it ain’t gonna make me betray a lady’s confidence or speak of things it ain’t my place to speak of.”
Richardson: “By which you mean ‘yes, she did say that, but she isn't guilty of conspiracy’. You can relax, as it happens. I don’t think anyone is interested in punishing Ms. Bell for wanting the people responsible for her treatment here dead.”

Agent Wong looks faintly shocked that Agent Richardson should give out such information to the prisoner. Prompted by Richardson, Taylor continues his debriefing. As he describes his ‘conversation’ with the rat collective, Wong finds it difficult to conceal her incredulity, but Richardson seems keenly interested in the idea that the rats can not only reason with great facility, but seemed capable of negotiation.

Richardson: “Are you conveying the gist of what you understood the rats to mean or is this your best recollection of what they actually said?”
Taylor: “I reckon it’s a verbatim transcript, sir. I went an’ wrote it up first thing I could, knowing it might could turn out to be important for y’all to know exactly what happened with them rats.”
Richardson: “You were quite right. Do you think anyone else heard them speak?”
Taylor: “I cain’t rightly say, sir. As far as I can figure, my hearing extend to a higher range than most people, but not so far that I would venture to say there’s nobody who could have heard them rats.”
Richardson: “Do you believe that we could capture the sounds on recording devices?”
Taylor: “That oughta work well enough, sir.”
Richardson: “So you don’t think that there was an element of telepathy to their communication?”
Taylor: “Frankly, sir, I don’t believe it done occur to me. I figure there’s lots we don’t rightly know about them drugs they was testing, but nobody told me ‘bout no science-fiction powers. Hearing good an’ smelling out things like a prized coon hound is one thing, but rats using telepathy like space wizards, that’s quite another thing.”
Richardson: “In light of what Dr. Cotton was able to do and how far outside the normal range the behaviour of the rats was otherwise, can you rule it out?”
Taylor: “Guess I cain’t rule nothin’ out, no sir.”

With a contemplative look on his face, Agent Richardson makes some notes. Agent Wong looks at him and Taylor in growing incredulity.

Agent Wong: “You say that you went into the tunnels unarmed, except for the grenade in your pocket, which you didn’t notice you hadn’t left behind until you encountered the rats. Why would you give up all your weapons? And why even go into the tunnels?”
Taylor: “I reckon that when it came down to it, you might could say I was unwillin’ to leave all them people to be eaten by rats.”
Wong: “Even if we accept that unlikely altruistic impulse, why go unarmed?”
Taylor: “Firearm ain’t much use against hundreds of rats, I guess. An’ I jes’ had a powerful disinclination to shoot anybody else. Carrying a weapon ain’t no good if you don’t reckon you’re willin’ to use it.”
Wong: “You certainly didn’t seem hesitant to use it on Dr. Bruce Cotton.”
Taylor: “If you don’t mind me asking, ma’am, have you ever had occasion to fire your service weapon in th’ course o’ your duties?”
Wong: “We’ll ask the questions, Prisoner Taylor.”
Taylor: “It ain’t ever an easy thing. I don’t reckon it oughta be easy, neither. It oughta go against every instinct a man has, pulling that trigger to end a man’s existence, erasing everything he is, everything he ever gonna be. Only, I done found it ain’t any easier when you find yourself wantin’ to do it. You still feel sick to your stomach, only now it ain’t jes’ at what you done, it’s at what you felt. Pullin’ a trigger don’t release hate from your heart an’ all that hate’s gonna go somewhere. It poisons you, hate does, if’n you don’t learn to let it go.”
Richardson: “Leaving your weapons behind helped you let go of that hate?”
Taylor: “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, sir.”
Richardson: “Would you ever use a weapon again? Again a person?”
Taylor: “I figure it don’t much matter how I feel about it, if’n I’ve gotta choice between letting somebody be hurt an’ doin’ violence to stop it, cain’t really see refusing to act. I wish to God I never face that choice again, but I’ve got me brothers in harm’s way down in Mexico an’ I reckon they’ve got a better chance comin’ out alive if’n I’m there to talk to them.”
Wong: “You really think anyone is going to trust you again? Just hand you a gun and send you to Mexico? Aside from your status as a convict, you killed an unarmed man while your superior was ordering you to stand down!”
Taylor: “I don’t reckon Mr. Townsend is in my chain of command, if’n we were to get technical. I ain’t never disobeyed a lawful order from my legitimate superior. An’ I reckon y’all could trust me well enough, long as you ain’t gonna ask me to suffer evil to be done.”
Richardson: “We asked you to provide us with assistance in convincing certain people to work with us. Nothing more.”
Taylor: “I done what you ordered. An’ I plan to keep doin’ what I’m told, as long as you don’t tell me to do nothin’ that’s plain wrong. As I tole Director Gujarat, I don’t make it no secret that I agreed to help her so I could help my fellow soldiers an’ Ms. Bell. Aside from that, though, I done swore an oath when I enlisted an’ jes’ because I ain’t allowed to wear no uniform no more, I still reckon I’mma bound to defend my country an’ my people. As long as that’s what y’all want too, I reckon we’re on the same side.”
Richardson: “You’ll protect your country, as long as it doesn’t ask anything of it you do not want to give? Is that your definition of patriotism?”
Taylor: “I reckon there’s certain things no country worth protecting ought to ask of a man.”
Richardson: “You’re wrong about that. You have had the luxury of being wrong about that for a while now, but you might not be so lucky much longer.”
Taylor: “I pray I never have to choose between my country and my honour, sir.”

While Taylor and Agent Richardson spoke, Adeline Wong is reviewing something on the screen of a laptop. She turns to Taylor with a stony face.

Agent Wong: “You can dress up your murders in all the piety you want, Prisoner Taylor, but what have you got to say about your other crimes?”
Taylor: “I wish you could jes’ call me Taylor. An’ I’mma real sorry if I done something to offend you, but I don’t recall any other crimes.”
Wong: “What’s your relationship with Sherilyn Bell?”
Taylor: “We’re friends. For my part.”
Wong: “What do you mean by that?”
Taylor: “I mean that we were close friends at Camp Mackall in 1999. I was real surprised when she was involved in Vargas’ escape an’ devastated when she was taken to an asylum where nobody could see her or contact her. I was tole she was catatonic an’ after tryin’ for years to see her, I guess I accepted that the girl I knew was gone. When I found out that wasn’t so an’ that I left her in here all these years… well, I’d do anythin’ to make up for that.”
Wong: “Was your relationship ever sexual?”
Taylor: “No. Before you ask, yeah, I was in love with her. I reckon maybe I still am, but I guess it just ain’t meant to be.”
Wong: “Because she rejected you?”
Taylor: “I never tole her, back when. She knew, of course, an’ I guess, well, I figured she jes’ wasn’t interested in me that way. Or, if she was, by the time I realised, I’d gone and messed things up an’ was with another girl. An’ she musta been seeing Vargas by then.”
Wong: “But when you met her again, last night, you did attempt to make the relationship physical?”

Taylor looks very uncomfortable and guilty.

Taylor: “I know I never shoulda kissed her. In light o’ the situation an’ all she been through, it was wrong, I know.”
Wong: “So you kissed her? She didn’t kiss you?”
Taylor: “I reckon you gonna have to ask her that. It don’t matter anyhow, I oughta know better than to be thinkin’ of… well, you know, when she’s been through all she been through.”
Wong: “So what happened was something she was uncomfortable with?”
Taylor: “It was somethin’ we both agreed shouldna have happened. Fortunately, we done come to our senses before anything more happened.”
Wong: “More?”
Taylor: “It don’t feel right to talk about this, maybe you oughta talk to her about it.”
Wong: “We did.”
Taylor: “Well, then you know what she feels comfortable with y’all knowing an’ I ain’t gonna tell you any more.”
Wong: “You’re going to have to. She says you sexually assaulted her.”
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-06-2018 at 02:48 AM.
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