Tuesday, 5 June 2012

In The Lawyer's Office - Another Snippet

I thought you'd like another snippet from the 1960s based piece I have been working on.  Well it takes my mind off all the Queen's Jubilee celebrations!  The pics are a couple of those marvelous Benson period pieces.  They don't really fit in with this part of the story but I love them anyway.

In The Lawyer's Office

There came a shuffling of brogues on hardwearing office carpet and a brassy rattling and then, behind her, the business-like glass-topped door burst open, readmitting the rotund lawyer.  Shuffling past, blathering a less than sincere “sorry about that”, he retook his seat on the far side of his vast expanse of self-consciously overstated desktop.  He plunged a large sausage-pink finger down on the lever switch of the obsidian bakelite intercom box, leaning towards its sloping cream-fronted plastic speaker grille and seemingly speaking out the side of his mouth:
 “Miss Defaux, a doctor -  a woman - is going to call.  When she does please be a dear and put her directly through to my extension here in my office when the call comes through. 
A disembodied voice came back, scratchy and high-pitched, yet cultured, educated and feminine despite the best efforts of the vacuum-tube valves glowing red like hot glassy fingers visible through the air vent slits at the rear of the intercom.
“Yes sir”.  Brisk, efficient and respectful.
“Thank you, dear.”  His tone, avuncular, bordering on patronising – but only bordering.
Alison realised at once this 'Miss Defaux' had to be the slender early-twenties blonde she had glimpsed behind the extendable patch cords jack plugs and coloured lever-switches of her 'bull’s-eye' switchboard.  The latter she had spotted nestling behind its rosewood partitioning a in a rear corner of the ground floor foyer on her way in.  She remembered the girl had been dialling out, the end of a biro dangling between her manicured fingers being put to use inserted in the finger holes of the rotary dial, her legs crossed showing a little too much dark tan nylon stocking and her skirt so tight that the outline of her girdle's suspenders could be made out through the fabric.  
Straightening up the lawyer once again looked straight past the flustered teenager, continuing on from where he'd left off almost as if he had never left the room:
“You should see these depositions – I really doubt they can be taken at face value.”  He was dismissively flicking through a sheaf of typewritten papers he had plucked from off his desk as he spoke,   occasionally screwing up his nose.   “The boyfriend's testimony is insignificant hearsay for starters – he only reiterates what his mother told him of her conversation with the girl.  And even then, his own mother refutes much of what he has to say in her statement - added to which we have the fact that he is emotionally involved with the complainant, i.e. the girl, here.  All in all we can safely discount anything he has to say!”  A look of disdain on his face he bundled a group of papers together as he was speaking, unceremoniously consigning them to a golden brown wickerwork wastepaper basket beneath his desk.
He leant again to his right, flicking down another of the row of cream bakelite lever switches on the intercom.
“Miss Anders, please.”
There was no more than a momentary pause before the super-efficient Miss Anders sauntered in, her nylons swishing as briskly she breezed up to the lawyers desk, her wasp-waist figure clearly the product of a long-line corselette.  That the latter was one of the older-style boned garments was evidenced by the stiffness with which the legal secretary bent to retrieve the sheaf of papers he indicated from his desk.  She did so from the side and Alison was shocked to see the lawyer quite blatantly reach around and run one of his podgy paws over the woman’s protruding elastane -moulded behind, one finger dropping down to trace the outline of a suspender strap.  Seeing the teenager looking the woman noticeably reddened, biting her lip, but made no effort to move away. 
Withdrawing his hand and opening out another of those ribbon-tied cardboard files the lawyer passed further copies to his secretary with a shrug as she straightened up.  The latter clutched both bundles together to her almost conical, artificially-elevated bust line. 
“Are these all we have on this case, Miss Anders?”
“Yes, Mr Gyrick.”   There was a timidity in the woman’s voice that had been absent out in the outer office.  Out there, that was her domain and she held sway – and probably made herself felt, too, amongst the other, more junior, employees.  In here she was positively mouse-like.  In his office she was the most junior of juniors, despite the maturity of her years.  At least that was how he made her feel – and the avuncular Mr Gyrick was most adept at it, too.
Alison felt her blood chilling in her veins, she was horrified: This was the modern world, the 1960s for heaven’s sake, not the nineteenth centaury.  But this man was treating the woman like his chattel, lording it over his secretary as if he were some feudal baron or something. 
As if reading the disconcerted teenager's mind the Rt Hon Alistair Gyrick made an airy arm-waving gesture of semi-humorous regret towards the red faced woman sanding at his side.
“She’s an absolute treasure, our Miss Anders - been here a long time, too.  Educated at Harvard - across the 'pond' in the good 'ol 'U.S. of A', don't you know.  She had qualified as their equivalent of a solicitor and was well on her way to becoming a barrister when we got our claws into her.  Present company accepted...”  He glanced around meaningfully at the female social workers ringing Alison.  “...we don't go for all that 'modern thinking' in this practice – women lawyers and the like.”  Now tapping his fingers together, clicking his manicured nails, he paused as if considering whether further elucidation was called for – then, seemingly deciding it was he went on:
“I know it may seem a horrendous waste of such prodigious talent but you have to understand:  This is a traditional law firm, run on traditional lines – and with traditional roles set for our lady employees.”  He smiled condescendingly around at the assemblage, puffing out his cheeks in self-righteous smugness.
 “But as I say: Our Miss Anders, here, is an absolute treasure and we like to keep tabs on her.  We have to keep a careful eye on her, make sure she's not poached by one of our competitors.  And we like to take care to guard against her being snapped-up by some boyfriend or husband, come to that.” 
Pointedly he glanced up at the obviously embarrassed woman as if to clarify his point as he went on:  “We can’t have that happening, now can we?  Although I suppose there's less danger now of the latter - now that so much water has passed under the bridge, so to speak.  But even so, discipline must be maintained, even among the members of the fairer sex, perhaps especially so - isn't that so, my dear?” 
He once again proprietarily patted the woman's behind through her tight dogtooth check skirt.  The blood rose in the mature legal secretary’s cheeks, her face blazing with mortified shame. Nervously the woman’s gaze involuntarily swung across to a small walnut writing-table tucked away in a corner as she answered her employer, her voice small and faltering.
“Yes Mr Gyrick, sir.”
Although the woman's gaze might have shifted for little more than the briefest of unguarded instants, the merest flickering of her eyes, the look of despondency written across her face had been more than enough to draw attention to the otherwise unremarkable furnishing.  But it was the leather-upholstered bench seat set before it that held the eye once drawn, or rather that which lay across its red padded top: a thin plaited leather riding switch.  The inference was both shocking and writ clear in the eyes of the onlookers, Alison's among them.  The only thought running through the teenager’s mind was what the hell sort of hold must this beast have over the woman to be able to treat her in so shocking a manner and for her to not just up and leave.
“I do sometimes wonder sometimes, though, if she might not be finding it a little difficult to keep up with the younger secretaries nowadays… I mean once a woman passes her thirty-filth birthday… present company accepted.”  He laughed.  It was the second time he had used that phrase and it had become no more amusing.  He tapped his fingers against his chin as if considering some important point in court.  “There comes a time when a woman’s place is more becoming to the home…Hmmm  Perhaps something a little more domesticated.  My wife could do with a live-in home-help…”  His voice faded off as if daydreaming.  Then his eyes again sharpened, his attention springing back to the pretty teenager sitting in front of him and the matter in hand.  Leaning across his desk to emphasize his point Gyrick spread his arms indicating the empty files and the few scattered papers that still remained there:
“Well there you have it!  Of course where a child is concerned, any allegation should be investigated…”
“Please… I’m not a child… I’m a grown wo…”  Bristling with indignation Alison - despite all that had so recently happened to her - had finally plucked up the temerity to speak out.  She was swiftly cut off, in mid-sentence and in no uncertain terms.
“In the eyes of the law you are, dear – until such a time as you attain what we call ‘the age of majority’; and that, I’m afraid, is still some time off.”  His eyes seemed to bore into her as he patiently spoke.  Then, his eyes now scanning the others arranged around his office and smiling pointedly he went on:  “True there has been talk of lowering that age from the present twenty-one to eighteen…” he laughed, gently, lowering his voice as if divulging some secret “…but I really don’t think we need concern ourselves at present – I can’t see that happening anytime soon.  My best guess would be the early 1970s – these things tend to take a good ten years to sort out!” 
He had been toying with a cigar and cigar cutter while he had been talking and having chopped the end off the fine Havana he now lit it, somewhat theatrically, as if in celebration of some imagined victory or triumph.  Sitting in front of his desk on a chair that had seemed from the outset to be far too low for her Alison could think of little to celebrate as the cloud of pungent cigar smoke wafted around her ears. 
To the flummoxed blond teenager it smelled like old socks burning and made her want to cough.  She glanced up at the legal secretary now dutifully standing alongside his desk, her arms folded across a wad of documentation, her back straight and her ankles and stilettos smartly pressed together almost as if at attention.  She noticed that the woman’s beautifully made-up face had again coloured.  The woman’s cheeks were suddenly burning scarlet, the colour visible even through the layers of foundation and blusher, as if this ritualistic ‘lighting-up’ was a portent of something she new all too well.    
Drawing heavily on the fat cigar, his jowly cheeks puffing out like pouches, and blowing out the acrid smoke with a look of smug satisfaction on his face, his eyes again fell on Alison.  The latter, far from sensing the reassurance she had first felt when initially told she was going to be taken to consult a lawyer, now felt even more intimidated than when she had been in her aunt’s hands. 
There, living in her aunt’s home, at least she had come to know what to expect. She had been some poor sick twisted woman’s plaything and the game had been the cane and the strap across her bare behind, and the concoction of the excuses to do so. She understood now, it was some illness that had driven the woman and those around her - and possibly infected by her - on.  The latter was the reason she was so baffled by the vague manner all those references to mental illness were being banded around – clearly that part of it was clear cut?  But there was some other type of game afoot here, something, she sensed, that was infinitely more serious and far-reaching than a simple spanking, strapping or caning - or even the threat of the sexual exploitation she had nearly fallen victim to.  This was something far more considered, something calculated, not simply some crazy woman’s compulsion.
“…Ah, yes!  The early 1970s…I dare say we’ll have you safely out of harm’s way by the time you reach the age they’ll likely change the legal attainment of adulthood to then, let alone the current age of majority now.”  The words came out with another puff of dense smoke and he glanced down at one of the few documents still in front of him, before again locking eyes with Alison.  “I see it’s still a month or two till your eighteenth; I think we can safely say we’ll have you - err, your case - out of the way by then.” The stumble seemed contrived and he laughed, his eyes glancing up and over Alison’s shoulder at one of the women behind her back, one of the social workers, as if sharing some private joke.  From behind her back Alison thought she just caught a jingling little feminine laugh echoing his.  “Now stop worrying your pretty little head - just sit quietly and sip your tea, and we’ll sort it all out.”  Disregarding the now speechless girl, who despite herself now found herself obediently sipping the sickly-sweet brew, Alistair Gyrick again scanned the room, continuing on from where the stunned teenager had forced him to break off:
“In law she’s still a minor. And as such has to be under the control and custody of some legally responsible adult or authority if not ensconced in the institution of matrimony – for which she would need the permission of a legally accountable, legally assigned guardian.  Now in this case – if it should ever become a case, and I would seriously advise against it, given the sparsity of reliable evidence and the dubious witness statements – it is the figure against whom the accusations are levied that is the legally accountable adult. 
Now, where there is a possibility of delinquency, or perhaps evidence of malicious or mischievous intent attached to a complaint – as perhaps evidenced by some of the more outlandish, largely unsupported, allegations she has made - or of sliding morals – witness the indecently short skirt the child is currently sporting… Well, under such circumstances I would recommend one of the charity-run parochial children’s homes as an interim measure.”  He lent back in his chair cradling the back of his head in his hands as if pleased with him as he added, as if an afterthought:  “…The discipline would do her good.”
Alison felt her blood suddenly boil in her veins, despite the drowsy heavy-limbed lethargy that was gradually beginning to overwhelm her.  She almost shouted now, her voice coming out loud enough yet sounding rather odd to her own ears, her speech strangely mumbling.  She seemed to be suddenly stumbling over words and syllables, as if her tongue were too large for her mouth or her lips had turned numb.   
“Wwwwhat d,d,d you mmmean, ch,ch,children’s hhhome?  I’mmm near, near, nearly eigh eeenn… I mmmean eigh, eigh eight – een… EIGHTEEN!”  She finally managed to blurt out with a burst of effort that left her suddenly bone- achingly weary.  She took another deep swig of the warm, soothing tea to try and lubricate her increasingly dry mouth: “I c,c, can’t poss, poss, possi…possibli… I can’t go in a chil, chil, children’s h,h,hhome; I’mmm not a ch, ch,child!”  She protested, frustrated at her own incoherence.  “And my, m,m,my sshskirt…”  A spastic spray of spit had accompanied the sibilance at the beginning of ‘skirt’ and now trickled down her chin; she tried to wipe it away but her arm swiped at it aimlessly, entirely devoid of coordination.  She took another sip of tea to try to steady herself:  “My, skirt is nnot m,m,my fffault… is, is m,m,my school oo oo, my school un ee, uneee f,f,for uniform. It, it’s th,th rrrullesss rules, auntie’s rules… school uniform m’must be worn at all times.”  
The last part had been so well drilled into her, was so well-practiced that it almost came out on its own accord, the most coherent of all despite her faltering speech and failing coordination.  It was so unfair.  What she had just said had been the God’s-honest truth.  She had been given a medical examination gown to wear and a basic plain cotton nightdress to sleep in.  But when the time had come to attend this meeting the social worker woman could find nothing to fit her other than the clothes that had been brought in with her from her aunt’s house – and that meant her aunt’s take on what constituted a school uniform for a girl her age. 
She wasn’t some delinquent tart with loose morals – the hem of the skirt she was wearing was not as brief as it was to titillate onlookers, rather it was designed to help extinguish the pride of the wearer.  That was why the knickers that had originally gone with it had been designed the way they were; close-fitting school knickers which outlined every contour in any case, they had incorporated a transparent polythene panel in place of the kite-shaped double-gusset which would ordinarily have been there.  There pair she had on at present were of a more conventional design but just as snug fitting.  Presumably tennis knickers which somebody had produced from somewhere, they were full in the body but of extraordinarily thin white cotton – no more substantial than a handkerchief – and were embellished by rows of babyish frills across the bottom and around the elasticated leg openings. 
Below the hem of the little wide-flare pleated skirt her long, slim legs were bare until the little white anklets with the blue ribbon bows at the sides and the matching blue tee-bar ankle strap shoes her aunt had favoured.  She needed little additional encouragement to keep both her knees and ankles pressed together and her hands smartly folded in her lap, the latter to help keep smoothed-down the front of the skirt.   Quite the opposite of her being some exhibitionist schoolgirl vamp, the uniform her ‘aunt’ had come up with had taught her shame and modesty and had augmented her natural shyness to the point of virtually denying her the ability to make eye contact with others.  In short it instilled obedience and had turned her into a shrinking violet. 
She had quickly learned that dressed as a child it became incredibly difficult to relate to others in any manner other than as a docile child.  And in turn others tended to naturally relate to her and treat her as if she were a minor.  The latter of course only went to reinforce the former – and so it went on.  It came as little surprise, then, that she was having such difficulty in standing up for herself now.  If she had been in leather jacket and jeans or cargo pants it might have been different – she might have been able to regain a little self-confidence. 
As it was, the social worker women had dressed her in the school uniform her aunt had made her wear – right down to having her knotting her school tie around her neck and putting her hair back in the plaits her aunt had always insisted on.  They had even come up with a couple of additions of their own.  A sky blue Alice band had been procured from somewhere and put to work to hold her two ribbon-tied pigtails back behind her ears, a sailor hat with a band of ribbon in school colours around its crown had been pushed on her head, secured by a ribbon tied in a bow beneath her chin, and a tight-fitting sky-blue bum-freezer’ type blazer had been produced from a cupboard and added to the ensemble. 
She was doubtless immaculate in their eyes, in her blue serge blazer, bib-fronted pinafore skirt, and felt sailor hat – but that was certainly not how she felt.  If not for her biologically mature silhouette any onlooker, at first glance, could have been forgiven for taking her as a particularly gangly twelve or thirteen year old.  It was little wonder the man in front of her was treating her in the way he was – and now he was talking about putting her in some sort of children’s home.  But he knew her chronological age; he could read it for himself on the documentation in front of him. 
Ignoring Alison’s outburst other than to give her the space to vent her spleen, the lawyer carried on where he had left off:
“…Of course if the matter of mental competency is brought into the equation…” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and took another draw on his cigar. “…then perhaps something along the lines of a residential rest home would be more appropriate – but that would be for a doctor to decide.  And they are not short on discipline in some of those places either!  In either case I know of the perfect establishment – and in a manner of speaking both institutions are linked.  It might be that she would benefit from starting in the one and progressing to somewhat - longer-term - care in the other.  But we'll talk more about that in a moment… and see what the doctor says when she calls and we give her the chance to give the girl the ‘once-over’.”
“Miss Anders, you may go now.  Please deal with the case files as I explained earlier... Oh... And don't forget to ensure the lift is kept available.”  Laughingly smiling, he dismissed the mortified Miss Anders with her armfuls of disregarded evidential statements, landing a resounding slap on her wobbling bottom as she teetered away from his desk, her hips swaying in her near skin-tight knee-length pencil skirt. 
His eyes followed his secretary out, hungrily devouring the girdle-moulded coke-bottle figure and the bewitching 9-denier fully fashioned seamed nylons sheaving her shapely calves.  His mind seemed to jump back to something he’d said earlier:  “…Hmmm…  At least she wouldn’t have to spend all that time in the beauty parlour… and all that money on clothes… a simple black dress… No… blue, a light blue – like the young girl’s school uniform here… with white collar and cuffs… and perhaps a matching apron…”  He laughed again, his eyes twinkling mischievously as the harassed woman hurried from the room.
With the door having clattered shut behind the departing expertly humiliated legal secretary, he turned again to the furrow-browed worried teenager, the latter fidgeting uncomfortably in her seat under his penetrating gaze.   Fidgeting uncertainly under his gaze, her composure having now all but disintegrated, Alison nervously took down the last of her mug of tea, not knowing what else to do.  Her hand shaking uncontrollably she watched as if stupefied as the empty mug bounced on the carpet, the handle having been fumbled awkwardly in fingers that seemed all of a sudden to have become like sausages.  As if from far away she heard herself giggle stupidly, a strange ringing filling her eyes and her lips rubbery and dribbling. 


Anonymous said...

Alrighty, then. This is interesting. I want to read this. Not as much as I want to read the next installment of Alice, which I hope will appear first, but I definitely want to read it.

The Non Victorian Chick

charles said...

This was really,really good. So many interesting plots and sub-plots
Look forward to reading the finished version

Orage said...

A lawyer now? That's a new and interesting development!

Anonymous said...

Yes, a lawyer, forsooth!

But really, there's always been a lawyer. Reading Orage's comment while finishing my coffee, it ocurred to me that Dr Ecclestone must get legal advice on how to bury her guinea pigs alive in the Institution.

"Anne, as your attorney, I advise you to arange a hearing for patient 261B, and have her sign this consent form. we need to have that on file ASAP."

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...


Proper legal representation is very important for a girl in such a troubling situation. As part of the institutionalization process the all of the young woman's legal rights must be totally swept off the deck, and she must be entombed in a legal limbo where any further litigation is not merely meaningless but absurd.

Credit cards must be destroyed, bank accounts emptied, and asset titles transferred. A declaration of delinquency or, alternatively, a certification of incompetence must be prepared, notarized, sealed, signed by the judge, and placed on file. Phone numbers, national insurance numbers, or social security numbers can be eliminated and reassigned.

An exhaustive list of the young woman's contacts can be compiled from her phone, computer, and address book, so that in the unlikely event she does escape her friends can be notified of the stiff criminal penalties for helping her and the enormous financial rewards due them if they aid their friend by returning her to the safety of the institution before any harm befalls her.

A barrister skilled in such matters, and capable of winning the young woman's complete trust, can be a great asset in such matters, and can make the girl's transition from a free and independent young woman to a helpless, hapless, inmate as smooth and effortless as falling off the log. The attorney must convince [the poor thing] that he or she has their client's best interests at heart - as indeed they do, for in the long run it's easier [to engineer] the girl's disappearance from the world [if it] is both [smoothly accomplished without undue argument] and absolute. And, of course, the legal representative can urge the girl to cooperate fully during her incarceration, as it will be the best hope of someday earning a reprieve at the parole hearing that will never come.


Toyntanen said...

Yes indeedy, ‘imreadonly2’ – thanks for the input!

The part regarding girl's disappearance from the world being absolute is key. And it often really was absolute when a young thing fell into the clutches of one of those Church-run ‘industrial schools’. Imagine if you will a convent, built “more like a prison than an ecclesiastical complex”, a grim stone edifice – twelve foot high walls topped with iron spikes and broken glass, bars on the windows, the lot – located on a small island off the south-west cost of Ireland. Here were housed - and tamed – “the recalcitrant little runaway tarts that the other institutions couldn’t deal with.” It is a place where discipline was “as ferocious as the Atlantic weather” and where even if an inmate was to somehow abscond there was nowhere to abscond to. Now, there are allegations that some of these places survived well into the 1970s. So in the early 1960s…

You have to imagine the lilting Irish brogue:

“Sure, and it is being out there on the island that saved it, sir. Right out there off the south-west tip and exposed to all kinds of weather it is sir, the convent, right out there in the Atlantic.”
“Is it true there’s still no phone service, Sister?”
“True enough, sir. It would cost too much to install, you see…the Eire Post Office won’t run to it. The mail comes by boat, but that’s once a month on average. There is one passenger ferry per week – once per month in winter – but there is electricity nowadays. There is a diesel generator that supplies power for the sewing machines and what have you – and to light the asylum.”
“Ah, yes, the asylum.”
“The convent offers the hand of charity to those sick of mind - and some facilities for those that might study such ailments in return for charitable donations.”
“And the schooling?”
“She can expect to be educated in subjects suitable for a young girl of, shall we say, modest capabilities - nothing too academically taxing. Hand sewing, machining, simple embroidery, that sort of thing…”

I do have to take issue with the part about extracting her friends’ and other contact’s details from her phone and computer, however. You have to remember that this tale is set in the early 1960s; which makes me think that I need to do more to develop the right atmosphere and imagery than merely mention passing trolley buses – as I do earlier in the story. I do mention electronic valves (vacuum tubes – for you USA types)glowing in the rear of the lawyer’s intercom, a manual switchboard, dial telephones and bakelite telephone handsets. In a subsequent scene an ambulance arrives having a ringing bell in addition to its flashing blue lights rather than a siren or two-tone claxon, but I do now think I need to do more to establish the period.

A similar anachronistic problem arises with the ease of erasing national insurance or social security numbers. Although computers were around in large companies, government and banks and so on, it was largely a paper-based society. In addition there were no networks conveniently linking the different computers that one might have hacked into, even if one had access to a computer to accomplish the feat (unlikely). The ARPAnet network wasn’t operational until 1969, although I think a few small experimental networks were running as early as 1965.

Yes there were credit cards, such as American Express and MasterCard, but a girl in her late teens would be unlikely to posses one unless in the upper echelons of society (and I try - in part - to avoid the cliché of the heiress to vast fortunes – too publicly visible to simply disappear without question, which makes the tale less plausible.) Bank cash points came on the scene in 1967 (the first was in Enfield Town, North London – there’s a plaque to commemorate it.).

I know it’s a detail but for the plausibility of the tale it is important that it be set at around that period.

Anonymous said...

Toyntanen is right that it's different in a paper based society before the advent of computers, and you need to get the details right to have suspension of disbelief. T sweats the details, whish is something I know we all appreciate. If you do things well, it's probably because you are doing small things well.

About the cell phone thing - remember in a modern era story that cell phones these days mostly come with a GPS chip, so if you don't want to be findable by GPS you have to take the battery out. Cell phones can be activated remotely and used as listening devices, so if you're doing something you shouldn't, be sure to pull that battery out first.

The Non Victorian Chick

Orage said...

Thank you, NVC, next time I kill someone I'll remember that!
Are you a fan of CSI too? You learn quite a lot of useful things in that series, don't you?

Anonymous said...

I'm a sucker for a good police procedural, CSI especially! Rizzoli ans Isles is good too.

Actually, the cops have complained about some of the things people have learned from watching CSI. Fortunately all of us here are law abiding citizens. Much as I admire Dr Ecclestone, I would never do what she does!

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

I should actually have pointed out that hat last comment contained a quote from Orage. Apologies for may carelessness.

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

Hi Garth

I really loved this! What's the book going to be called?

Just what hold does Gyrick have over miss Anders?

Where's Alison’s aunt gone, why was school uniform the rule?

What are the social workers doing there and why do they insist on full school
uniform, including blazer, tie and hat?

What's going to happen to Alison?

So many questions! Very much looking forward to reading the answers.



Anonymous said...

You make an excellent point with the computers and cell phones. Perhaps if the story takes place in the 60's, a more personal approach to securing contact information might be advised.

"I don't understand," Kate said, obviously upset by the uniform visitor. "Why does a correctional officer need to talk to me?"

"Do not be distressed, child," the officer replied, attempting to set Kate at ease with an easy smile and a lilting Irish brogue. "As you may know, you're friend Holly was recently sentenced to the Island for an indefinite term of correction. As per our customary procedure, we are merely compiling a list of her contacts and associates whom she might attempt to contact if she should one day [attempt to abscond]."

"Why was Holly put away?" Kate demanded. "She's done nothing wrong."

"What she did is not your concern, child. Your concern is compiling an exhaustive and detailed list of her family, friends, teachers, co-workers, lovers, boyfriends…anyone whom you know that might be inclined to give her assistance, how she knows them, and her contact information."

"I will do no such thing!" Kate replied.

"I am sorry to hear that child," the officer said, shaking her head sadly. "It will reflect poorly in your file."

"What file?"

"The file we have started on you. Being the best friend of certified delinquent is an enormous stain on your record, and calls your character very much into question. Your refusal to cooperate compounds the offence, and would, I'm afraid, be viewed dimly by the Magistrate reviewing your file, if I choose to present it to him. Tell me, would you like to talk to you friend again?"

"Yes, very much so," Kate said. "As soon as possible."

"That can be arranged," the woman said, her voice turning icy cold. "Unfortunately the island does not have visitors, only inmates, and young women who stand by their criminal friends often stand by them forever. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, ma'am" Kate replied, "Crystal clear, ma'am"

"Excellent. I will expect the list of names – at least 100 of them, with contact information – by Monday AM. It will be crosschecked against other lists we are compiling with other acquaintances, so I advise you to be thorough, and leave no one out. You do not want to see me again."

"Remember, the innocent have nothing to fear from us, child," she added with a smile and a lilt, playfully patting the young woman's cheek.

"Yes, ma'am", Kate replied, trembling at the woman's ice cold touch. "Of course they don't."


Toyntanen said...

Hi imreadonly2!

An interesting progression, this. The idea of an interrogation session is always intriguing and makes for an interesting addition to any admission procedures one might conjure up.

One issue I have is with the description of one of the characters as possessing a “ lilting Irish brogue”. Despite having used the description myself I am now not at all sure that one can actually have a ‘lilting’ Irish brogue and now think that perhaps the one term - ‘lilting’ - may contradict the other – brogue.

Anonymous said...

Lilting Irish brogue...that makes me think of something.

There's a actress named Natacha McElhone. I saw her in a movie called Ronin. One of the characters, played by Sean Bean, describes her as having a "charming Irish brogue", and while her irish brogue may or may not lilt, it is in fact charming. She's got these really intense eyes, and where a lot of actresses are slender like a reed, she's slender like a rapier.

I remember thinking she had this really intense dominant look. The thought of meeting her in the Instituion wearing a white coat, or maybe getting interrogated by her would be terrifying. And maybe hot.

So...charming Irish brogue instead of lilting.

The Non Victorian Chick

Toyntanen said...

Hi again, 'Non Victorian Chick'!

"slender like a reed, slender like a rapier".

What greet descriptive terms - brilliant!

As for Natacha McElhone and that really intense dominant look. It all depends on the shot. I just had a quick Google through her publicity photos.