Submitted Date 09/24/2022

Over the course of the next few hours, Tricia Sullivan was arrested, taken down first to the 48th Precinct Station, where she was processed and placed alone in a holding cell, where she sat for a long time, then she was presented with a meal on a tray by a large, silent man in an orange jumpsuit; she presumed his was an inmate trustee. She ate the food. After another hour or so, a woman in a police uniform approached her cell. "Dr. Sullivan?"


"Uh, may I have a word with you?"

"I would like to contact my lawyer first."

"We'd be happy to arrange that," the woman said. She opened the door and held it open. "Won't you come along with me, please?"

Tricia stepped through the open door and the two of them walked down narrow corridors past wooden door until finally the woman stopped at one of the door and opened it. "Would you wait in here, please?"

Not seeing anything else to do but go into the room, Tricia said "Surely" and stepped into what she recognized immediately as an interrogation room. She sat at one side of a square table pushed up against the far wall across from the door—the table, as well as the door, the walls, floor, and ceiling, were all painted a flat white. She was trying to recall the psychological basis for painting interrogations rooms this way when the door opened and without a word, two men stepped. The first stepped over to the table, pulled out the wooden chair on the other side, and sat down; the other propped himself against the wall and stared passively at her. The now-seated interrogator—she supposed that was what he was, just as she supposed that the other was the observer and that the two of them would play good cop, bad cop with her—placed a thick folder on the desk and spun it around.

"See what it says here?" he asked.

She looked to see her own name at the top of the folder. "So?"

He turned the folder back around and opened it. "This is your FBI file, Dr. Sullivan," the man said. "There's a good bit of interesting stuff in here." The pages were clipped at the top and he flipped through the first few of them; from her position, Tricia could see that on the facing side of the folder, there was an eight-by-ten glossy color portrait photograph of her. It was the one that was taken when she was hired at the Duke University Medical School. She had had a cold that week and didn't much feel like having her photograph taken, but she was a new faculty member and had been given the appointment and didn't want to disappoint on her first week on the job. "Born in London to parents serving in the military, undergrad work at the University of Wisconsin, then medical school at UCLA," the interrogator flipped a page. "General surgery residency in—" He looked up. "Santa Fe, New Mexico?"

She shrugged. "People do get sick in Santa Fe," she said. "I'd like to speak with my lawyer."

"I guess they do," he said, ignoring the second half of her response. He went back to the folder and flipped another page and stared at it for a few awkward moments of silence that turned into a full minute. Sullivan's gaze wandered around the room, first to the cameras in each high corner, then to the interrogator's partner, who stood stock still and returned her gaze. "It says here," the interrogator started again, "that you served a classified tour of duty in Washington, DC. What was that?"

"It was classified."

"Yeah, it says that here. But what was it."

"Well," she snorted. "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you."

The interrogator closed the folder and looked over at his partner. After a moment or two, the partner nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. "Don't you need a witness?" Sullivan asked.

"Doctor," the interrogator started, "we know precisely what you were doing there in the gallery. We have the camera you used and we have the video you took. That's not really why we've called you in here."

"Is that so?" she returned.

"Yeah. We need your help with something."

"I'd like to speak to my lawyer," she said.

The interrogator opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment, an odd-sounding alarm started ringing somewhere in the building. It was loud enough to be heard clearly even through the closed interrogation room door, but it was some distance away. "Oh, crap," the interrogator said as he rose, opened the door, and looked first in one direction down the hallway and then the other. "You stay here!" he said. He slammed the door and Tricia heard his footsteps as he ran down the hallway. Then there were other voices yelling, a good distance away, just as the alarm was, but somewhere in the building. Tricia rose and went to the door; she tried the knob, but it was locked, so she sat back down and turned the folder, which the interrogator had left on the table, around and started looking through it. All the pertinent things where there: college and employment records, both her marriages, and, she was surprised to see, a full description of the classified assignment that the interrogator had asked her about before he dismissed his partner. She was still going through the folder when the door opened and a woman opened the door, stepped through, and closed it again.

"Dr. Sullivan, I'm Margo Fenway," the woman said. She stuck out her hand and Tricia shook it, then Fenway sat in the chair across from her. "I'm sorry for all this."

"What's the trouble?" she asked.

"I can't go into that at the moment," she said. "Please come with me. You should never had been detained, and I'm going to walk you out of here. Right now." Margo rose and opened the door.

"What about this?" Tricia asked, gesturing to the folder that now lay closed on the table.

"Leave it," Margo said. "Those idiots will come back for it. Or, you know, not. Come on."

Tricia stood up and stepped through the open door.


Please login to post comments on this story