Taller entered the room. “Well,” said the man dressed in shaggy clothes, with long stringy hair, and a scruffy beard, “the men in black have arrived!”
Taller nodded. “Are you comfortable?” he asked, “would you like anything more to eat or drink?”
The scruffy man, who sat on a metal chair behind an oak wood table, grinned mischievously, “Hell, no! I’ve had my fill of Doritos and Mr. Pibb from your vending machines and of nurses coming in here jabbing my arms to take blood!”
“Just some routine blood tests,” Taller answered.
“And what about being forced to put on some moon suits while we’re still onboard the plane, huh?” Scruffy angrily asked, “and why are you keeping me locked up in this locker room knock off from an old episode of McHale’s Navy?!”
“The contamination suits were just a preliminary caution,” Taller replied.
“Caution against what?!” Scruffy asked.
Taller just smiled, as he opened up the file and read out loud.
“So you are James Ford!” he read, “and LeFleur….and Sawyer…and…,”
“And who the hell are you??!!” Ford angrily interrupted.
Taller smiled, “For now, just call me Mr. Z.”
“Mr. Z, eh?” Ford replied, “well, don’t you sound like an international man of mystery?!”
Mr. Z continued, “you have an interesting record, Mr. Ford. Various arrests for deceptive practices, pick pocketing, forgery, fencing stolen property. Served some time in prison but was released early from your sentence. Why were you released early, Mr. Ford?”
“For perfect attendance,” Ford grumbled.
“I think it was more likely you cooperated with a prison warden who was on the take!” Mr. Z smiled. Ford said nothing.
“Then you show up in Australia, Sydney in particular,” Mr. Z continued, “apparently you then got into some trouble involving the Australian Minister of Agriculture, whereupon you were “asked” to leave the country! Why were you in Australia in the first place?!”
“I’ve always wanted to see a Kangaroo up close!” Ford replied.
Mr. Z smiled again, “Could it have something to do with an errand you were running for a friend of yours?”
“I ain’t got no friends, Hoss!” Ford replied.
“Mr. Hibbs isn’t a friend?” Mr. Z asked.
For just a tenth of a second, a look of surprise crossed Ford’s face! But he said nothing.
“Didn’t you and Mr. Hibbs vacation in Tampa, Florida once?” Mr. Z continued.
“Don’t know who or what you’re talking about, String bean!” Ford answered.
Mr. Z slowly walked to the other side of the room. Ford watched him with cautious eyes.
“Frank Duckett a friend of yours?” Mr. Z asked, not looking up from the file.
Ford looked away.
Mr. Z walked over and dropped the files onto the table.
“You see, Mr. Ford,” Mr. Z continued, “we know a lot about you! But there is still a lot we don’t know and that is why you are here. For instance, the last we heard about you is when you left Sydney. You were booked on Oceanic flight 815, which ended up disappearing about a quarter of its way to its final destination in Los Angles. A lengthy search of the surrounding area, where 815 was last reported, turned up nothing. So it was assumed all on board were lost.
Then awhile later, a deep sea submergence vessel happened upon the wreckage of 815 at the bottom of a trench. Bodies were discovered. So mystery solved! Or was it? Many months later, some survivors claiming to be from that very same flight show up with a fantastic tale of survival. They also claim they were the only survivors, so that implies you are dead!”
“I am dead!” Ford wearily replied.
“Later on,” Mr. Z continued, “those survivors mysteriously disappear on another flight. And so after all this time, on this very night, that flight, Ajira 316, mysteriously reappears and lo and behold, you’re on board! So to start off with, Mr. Ford! Where in the hell have you been?!”
“And once again, who in the hell are you?!” Ford asked.
“Someone who can be your best friend, right now, or your worst enemy,” Mr. Z answered, “and it all depends upon you!”
Ford remained silent.
“Really, Mr. Ford,” Mr. Z said, “we just want some information!”
“What kinda information?” Ford suspiciously asked.
Mr. Z reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a piece of folded paper. Walking over to the table, he unfolded the paper and placed it down on the table in front of Ford. Ford glanced down and saw it was a map.
“Tell me the location where you crashed?” Mr. Z asked.
Ford smiled, “How the hell do I know? I ain’t no navigator!”
“I don’t expect you to know precisely where but give me the general area!” Mr. Z. asked.
“Listen, Columbo, I didn’t know where I was. Even when I left, I….!” Ford caught himself. ‘Damn’ he thought, ‘I’ve been away too long! Gotten rusty! I just about shot the con!’
“You left?!” Mr. Z asked.
“Look,” Ford explained, “we built a raft and left. But due to the current or winds, or some other such crap! I told you, I’m not a navigator! I ended back where I started!”
“WE built a raft?” Mr. Z wondered, “whose this “we”?”
“I ain’t sayin no more,” Ford began to become angry, “am I under arrest?! Because if I am, I want a lawyer! If not, then stop this bull and release me! I’ve got rights!”
Mr. Z smiled. It was not a friendly smile. In fact it was a very cold smile. So cold, it sent a shiver down Ford’s spine! A feeling he didn’t like!
“You have no rights, Mr. Ford,” Mr. Z began, “I am not joking around with you! So, I will come right to the point! I need to know the location of the island you crashed on! Now, if you don’t know, fine! I won’t pursue the point, but if you don’t know, then you’d better start answering questions that I think you do know! Like what did you see on that island? Who did you see on that island? And did you see or experience anything “unusual” while on that island?”
“Again, Sherlock”, Ford answered, “I don’t know what the hell you want! I ain’t answerin any questions I don’t know nothing about!”
Mr. Z shrugged, then took out a notebook from the files and a pen from his pocket and threw them down in front of Ford, “I think you had better think very hard about how you plan to cooperate with us, Mr. Ford. Use the pen and notebook to write everything down I asked you about. If you need more notebooks, let me know! I’ll be back in an hour!”
“You’re wasting your time, I ain’t writin’ nothin’ down, Dobie!” Ford said.
Mr. Z walked towards the door, then turned back before he exited, “I’d reconsider if I were you, Ford. Because I can make you wish you were back on that island in no time!”
“Hey,” Ford said, “even if I knew exactly where that damned island was, it would be a waste of time telling you!”
“How so?” Mr. Z asked.
“Cause,” Ford wearily replied, “when you’d get there, it’d already be gone!”
Mr. Z grinned, “You’re probably right, Mr. Ford!”
Ford started to say something else but Z had already slammed the door shut.
“How did it go?” Smaller asked.
“He was being a jerk, like I expected,” Z answered, “but he’ll come around! Who do we have next?”
Smaller handed Z the next file. Z glanced through it, then smiled. “Katherine Anne Austen! Now this one should really be interesting!” Next: Chap. Five “The Kate Austen Interrogation”