The Wringer


edgar_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title The Wringer
Synopsis It's a less than ideal interrogation, problematic when the prisoner knows nothing his captor wants.
Date October 14, 2010

Battery Park City - Department of Homeland Security Facility

This government facility was opened by the Department of Homeland Security in the fall of 2009. As a thirty-story building it rises high over the landscape of Battery Park City, a monochromatic monolith of gray and black set admist manicured trees and a concrete plaza where several flagpoles rise and a granite slab sign displays the building number 663 in serif font face.

Inside, this facility houses department executive offices, holding facilities, interrogation rooms and an armory to supply a standing security force with the necessary firepower to defend the building against terrorist threats on home soil. The lobby of the building features a large seal of the Department of Homeland Security at the center of the ground floor in plain view of balcony tiers of the second and third floor, accessible by stairs flanking the glass facade entrance and security checkpoint.

The transfer of Edgar Smythe from one government holding facility to another was a very cloak and dagger sort of operation - happening after the rest of the populace was already safe behind their respective closed doors on pain of curfew enforcement. So when Edgar falls into a potentially induced sleep on the evening of October 13, it's to awake again in a new but not wholly dissimilar cell the following morning. In this one, there is a plate of scrambled eggs and toast, set with a glass of orange juice waiting for him on the shelf that's bolted to the wall. No knife and fork - whomever has prepared this prisoner's breakfast has already buttered and jammed the slices of bread - but a standard correctional facility issue spoon rests on the tray with the meal.

On the other side of a pane of mirrored glass that spans the wall of the room opposite the door, Secretary Parkman stands with a Styrofoam cup of coffee, watching the man on the other side. Edgar's already received his dose of negation medication today, via an injection given while he was still knocked out. As he sips his coffee, Parkman lets out a sigh, then looks to the analog recording set-up housed in the small observation room, the microphones leading into the cell Edgar occupies.

Even though the suppressant has been forced into him already, Edgar whips into a seated position the moment he awakens. The little differences in the cells has been noted, he is not in the same place that he was when he fell asleep. Before his world was demolished, the carnie might have been able to sleep through anything, since his initial capture at the Carnival, he's been too skittish. The after effects of the sleeping toxin has worn off with little residual, still.

The scent of the food sets the speedster's stomach growling, but he makes no move toward it, preferring to stay firmly seated on his bed. Wherever he is, whoever has him, they haven't seen fit to be honest about it. Dishonesty, it can't be trusted and so the food is untouched.

Dark blue eyes stare at the glass, the neutral expression on Edgar's face doesn't reveal if he believes there's someone there or not. Inside his mind is a tumult of thoughts, Where'm I? 'As she go' me? Why ain' I dead ye'…

A few minutes pass between Edgar waking and the door to the cell opening - long enough for the barrel-chested man who enters to determine that he doesn't need time to chow down. "Don't like them scrambled, huh?" he asks as he shuts the door behind him, his tone just this side of civil. "Too bad. We don't have a short order cook."

Parkman folds his arms across his chest and sizes Edgar up, squinting slightly. "I can come back later, if you want to eat. Make yourself comfortable." Leaving the man wanted for the attempted murder of a government official to stew in his little box is no skin of Parkman's nose, now that he's in DHS custody.

Parkman's squint is met with one of Edgar's own, being quite unfamiliar with the Secretary he's unaware of how obtrusive the other man can be. "'M'already as comf'torble s'I'm goin' teh ge'." The muted reply is uttered in a low tone, purposely low in volume in order to draw the other man closer. Inside the carnie's mind, a jumble of almost incoherent thoughts all center around one thing: Escape.

Tightening his grip on the thin cot, Edgar's thick arms flex once and hold until the strain causes them to shake a little. That's when he releases it. He glances toward the food and shakes his head once, "I ain' 'ungry." The complaining stomach would beg to differ, but it's quelled with a tight clench.

A smirk winds it's way onto Parkman's mouth as he watches the other man try to assert himself with what little ground he has. "So, you know how this goes," he says searching Edgar's face before he locks his gaze with his own, his head tilting slightly as he leans away from the wall. "I'm going to ask you some questions. And you're going to tell me the truth. And that's the quickest way over this hump and on down the road. Do you understand?"

The command that is folded into Parkman's words is subtle yet strong - Parkman has every reason to believe his will is far stronger than Edgar's. The man hasn't lawyered up, or even tried to, which is a point in the Parkman column of that argument.

"I ain' lied ye'…" Edgar snaps at the man, though the honest answer leans toward the command taking hold. His grip tightens on the cot again, his knuckles turning white as he stares at the Secretary. Down the road… where's down the road… they sendin' me teh Moab… Posturing like a cornered rat, the carnie simply stares back at Matt.

Over the little time that he'd been with Lydia, shared a comraderie with Smedley, and lived with Melissa; Edgar's little ticks had faded down, almost gone. The rapid twitching of his left eye gives him the look of something half crazed, some could argue that he is. The thoughts Parkman can hear clearly are ones that lean toward doing anything to stay away from Moab.

"Let's start from the beginning, then," Parkman says with that same professional, barely polite tone of voice. "How did you get in with Messiah? Who did you talk to, where'd you meet - give me all the gory little details, Mister Smythe."

The facial tick twitches at a furious pace, as Edgar tries to fight the compulsion to actually tell the whole story. Melissa… I can't… Melissa… Gritting his teeth, his lips curl into a grimace before he blurts the name out as though even saying it causes pain. "Melissa… I me' 'er at'er 'ouse… I though'.. I thought she was askin' me teh some picnic… " Squeezing his eyes shut, he lowers his head and tightens his grip on the cot even further.

"She tol' me if I joined… I'd stop i' from 'appenin' to another fam'ly. Tha' no other fam'ly would ever be broken like mine… Then I me' this poof named Peter. 'E gave me a red scarf, tol' me teh stay away from a man named Rupert… 'cause 'e wanted me fer sum'then… I dunno wha'… Tol' me teh find a man named Ash an' go see Richard Cardinal… Tha's all I done 'til they sent me ou' af'er the gov'ment prig." The speedster's breathing turns ragged and heavy, a sheen of perspiration forms across his forehead as he tries to break free of the compulsion. But there's no grace that route as the command takes on a form of its own in Edgar's mind. Redemption.

"Melissa who?" Parkman can't, in good faith, supply a last name - it could come back to bite him in the ass. "If you don't know her last name, how do you know her? What does she look like?" He'll get to 'Peter' momentarily, and he makes a mental note to talk to Cardinal.

He moves away from the wall to the shelf across from the cot and picks up the paper cup of orange juice. Wordlessly, he holds it out to the detainee. It's not water, but it's fluid, and it's better than nothing.

Speaking comes a little easier to Edgar now that he's not fighting himself anymore. There's a calm to him and the hands that once held so firmly to the cot relax. "I dunno…" he says quietly, shaking his head. "She's jus' Melissa… I me' 'er when I answered an advert in the paper fer a job. I's goin'teh juggle knives. She looks like.. she's tiny, delica', y'know? Like if you sneeze the wrong way she'll break apar' into a million pieces. Changes 'er 'air color too much teh really say… las' time I saw i', i' was streaky black… like my pants." The ones he used to wear, polyester with pinstripes.

"Pierce?" Parkman offers at last. "Melissa Pierce? Works at the club Tartarus? Manipulates pain? That Melissa? What family was she talking about?" Parkman's read enough of Edgar's file to make the connection to the Sullivan Brothers' Carnival, but he doesn't make the tie out loud. "You were going to work at Tartarus?"

Edgar simply shrugs and shakes his head, "I dunno… She works a' tha' club, yeah. I's goin'teh entertain fer some party, she wanted me teh juggle fire. I don' like fire so much… " Something he wouldn't admit to if his immortal soul wasn't on the line, fear of fire and potato chips. Furrowing his brow, Edgar closes his eyes as Parkman asks about the family he lost. "My — " his voice cracks a little with emotion but he swallows and quickly clears the frog stuck in his throat with a loud harrumph. "Dee Aych Ess… they came an' tore up my fam'ly. Killed Jennie.. s'what started i' all." The pang of grief he still feels over that night as the images and sounds tear through his mind only mounts in the face of his redemption. "I couldn' le' anythin' like tha' 'appen again… I'd do anythin' teh stop i'."

"But by family - this time - does that mean evos?" It's a logical progression, even if it hardly matters in the course of the investigation. "And Peter," Parkman continues without missing a beat following Edgar's answer. "You know his last name? Or why he'd want you to stay away from Rupert, or go find Ash and Cardinal?" Parkman frowns down at Edgar, then wiggles the hand holding the orange juice. " Take it and drink."

The carnie lifts the cup from the Secretary's hand without a thought and brings it to his lips, draining it completely before putting it back where he got it. Parkman's hand. "I' don' 'ave to. It jus' means a fam'ly, y'don' 'ave teh be evolved teh belong sum'ere. Bu' they don' 'unt normal folk… don' treat 'em like animals… Unless they come from Mexico, then they ge' carted off like dogs back across the border."

There's a deep sigh when Matt asks for another last name and Edgar shakes his head, "I dunno, I never ask for las' names. 'E's Peter the Poof 'cause 'e wears tight leather pants inteh my bedroom in the middle of the night. Y'jus' don' do tha' to a man tha's been on the wrong side've the prison bars… It ain' righ'." Blinking slowly, he stares straight ahead at the one way mirror and studies himself for a while before answering. "Richard Cardinal said 'e's been comprimised, tol' me no' teh listen to Rupert… Peter wanted a meetin' wi' 'im.. I s'pose teh talk abou' bein' compromised. An' tha' Ash fellow… I dunno, I don' think Peter can give good directions… I ne'er found 'im."

"He didn't say how? What he meant by compromised?" Parkman has a feeling he knows what it means - a pretty good feeling. But so much of this is for the benefit of the tape recorder that is turning tape from one spool to the other in the observation room. "Did Peter ever get that meeting with Cardinal? Do you know?"

From the words on the tape recorder, it would seem as though Edgar is a man easily led. After something clicks in his brain and starts making sense, he follows that course until its conclusion. "No, 'e didn'." It's a simple answer to a question that could have used a better one, but Parkman asked for honesty. Shrugging his shoulders, he just gives Parkman a blank look, "I dunno."

Parkman furrows his brows at the weak-willed man, but he doesn't fall into the old standby of digging into the man's head for the answer he wants. Not yet, anyway. This is for the recorder - for their official investigation, and for Edgar's file. "So you said Peter wanted you for something special," he says taking the cup back to the tray and leaning against the wall next to the shelf, folding his arms across his chest once again.

"What did they tell you about your assignment?"

"Nuthin', I din't need teh know… They sorta jus' point me a' the bad men an' i's my job teh make 'em go away. I think tha's wha' most've ev'ryun's place is there. Like a carnival, the fire breathers don' need teh know 'ow teh throw knives, they jus' come after i'." Whether Edgar was aware of the whole need to know basis of Messiah or not, it's the way he's always lived his life. If he didn't need to know, he didn't ask. Hence the ignorance of last names.

"You know where you met with them," Parkman says with raised eyebrows. "And you're going to tell me where that is, or I'm going to dig inside your head until I find it." A smile slithers onto his face for a moment. "I've been told it's not exactly comfortable." He unfolds his arms and slips his hands into his pockets, dipping his chin as he looks down at the man sitting on the cot. "And why give you a scarf?"

Again, Parkman has his suspicions - but the need to verify them outweighs the need to get to the heart of the matter. On the same token, it's looking more and more like Peter, even if he warned Edgar about Carmichael's influence and was therefore wary of the other man's ability himself, picked a perfect patsy.

Like a DVD, Edgar's mind fast forwards, rewinds, pauses, and plays a wild collection of images and sounds. "I tol'you, I me' Melissa at'er bar… Pe'er came teh my bedroom a' nigh'. I couldn' find Ash… I didn' meet any'un else until the day they lef' me teh you people." There's a bitter sniff from the carnie and he looks down at the floor before adding. "Price of failure, I s'pose, eh? Don' kill the ba' guy an' the people 'oo claim teh be your fam'ly abandon you."

It's happened before, it happened again. It's Edgar's unfortunate lot to be tied to an ideal until it's too late. "As fer the scarf, teh show I's a part've them… No phone though, I's told never teh use a phone."

That bit of information arches Parkman's brow. No phones? Wasn't Rebel on their side, or were they trying to avoid the few technopaths that are part of the government's forces? "You talked about Melissa's house," he recaps, glancing to the floor for a moment, "but I'm going to assume you mean someplace that isn't her apartment on Roosevelt?" Which is where she should be living, given the terms of her probation. But if Petrelli was using Melissa to recruit, then any location could be a possible nest of hornets needing to be exterminated. "Where is the house?"

"'Er 'ouse… I dunno 'bou' no apar'ment. 'S'on Sta'en." No address is supplied, perhaps because the carnie either didn't need to know it, or can't remember it. "It's green? Go' a nice back yard?" Shrugging his shoulders in a rather nonchalant manner, the speedster closes his mouth for the time being. Edgar has nothing else to day. Either Messiah runs a perfect terrorist organization where infomation is so compartmentalized and separated, or the prisoner is the perfect fall guy.

Both would seem so.

Parkman lifts a hand to rub at his jaw, then turns toward the door. "Thank you for your cooperation, Mister Smythe," he says blandly. "Someone will bring around a written confession for you to sign." And you will sign it. He lifts a hand to knock on the heavy door, and a moment later it creaks open, allowing the Secretary to grip the edge and pull it open a bit further.

"Eat your breakfast," he adds with a nod and a frown directed toward the eggs on the shelf before he looks back at Edgar, disappointment plain across his features. With that, he slips through the door and lets it clang shut behind him.

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