Robert S. Kelly wrote the lyrics to a Rolling Stones’ song called “Cry to Me”. Verse three begins, “Nothing could be sadder than a glass of wine, alone.” That is a load of crap. There are lots of things sadder than a glass of wine, drunk solo. Countless things. Being stuck in the San Lorenzo Prison, for instance, is much sadder. Just ask Eliot Rosewater.
He sat in a tiny back-breaking wooden chair, trying to look angry and tough as he struggled to out-stare his inscrutable interlocutor, the fish-eyed warden of this most super of SuperMax stockades.
Lt. Colonel Menendez knit his bushy black eyebrows together. It appeared to Eliot that a giant mutant caterpillar had wiggled down to rest on the warden’s military-issue horn-rimmed glasses. Menendez pushed a goose-necked table lamp towards Eliot and twisted its metal shade so that its 300-Watt bulb shone in Eliot’s eyes. He pushed a button on his desk and all other illumination in the dungeon silently snapped off.
Eliot leaned back and craned his neck and back in an effort to see past the light. He couldn’t; so he sat back in the little chair and waited. His shoulders hurt. His knees hurt. He closed his eyes to block out the light.
Menendez was behind him, bent over, whispering in his ear, “No one knows you are here. You can never escape. Tell me where it is.”
Eliot was silent.
Exactly thirty minutes later, the warden repeated those same three sentences. This was all that Eliot ever heard in the Interrogation Room. Colonel Menendez had been saying these things for so long that Eliot was convinced that he was totally helpless, forgotten by the outside world, and completely at the mercy of a power beyond his comprehension.
“Tell me where it is.” That was the refrain, the chorus that held the interrogation together. Eliot would have loved to tell the warden where it was. There was nothing he wanted to do more.
The sad fact was that Eliot had forgotten. There was a time, he knew this for a fact, when he knew the answer to the question and he knew that he could not share the information with the warden. A part of Eliot, that frightened child that wanted nothing more than to go home, wished he could remember the answer to Menendez’ query. Eliot had buried the information so deep inside himself that he couldn’t dredge it out if he wanted to. It was as if it had never existed.
The colonel raged in frustration, hatred, and in fear. He kicked the right-rear leg of the chair Eliot was sitting on and it broke apart, throwing Eliot to the floor. Frantically, blindly, Rosewater scrambled about like a cockroach, hoping against hope that he could find something to cut his manacles off with, hoping he might blunder out of the Interrogation Room and escape.
A pair of grizzled old hands wrapped themselves around Colonel Menendez’ fat neck. Kilgore Trout had come to the rescue. Eliot, lost on the hard, cold, black floor of the warden’s torture chamber, his hands feeling only cracks in the strangely-angled cement, heard the thrashing and cursing. The goose-necked table lamp raised up in the air. Eliot heard a crash and the room was thrown into darkness.
An odd, fluid sound, bub-loop, bub-loop, bub-loop, was approaching Eliot in the pitch blackness. He saw a faintly luminous green hand waving its way towards him. It disappeared when Cthulbanana grabbed hold of a box cutter and began sawing the plastic handcuffs off from Eliot Rosewater’s chafed wrists.
The creature’s efforts were maddeningly slow in Eliot’s opinion. Back and forth. Back and forth. Nick the wrist. Back and forth. Cut the finger. Back and forth. Cthulbanana would have given anything to trade half of his fabulous intellect for a second hand. But, as Tony Soprano often said, “Whatcha gonna do?”. Eliot pushed his arms backwards to assist in his rescue. He heard a sound in his head that was similar to the radar squeal of a bat. That was Cthulbanana’s frightened mind reacting to Eliot’s unexpected movement.
The sawing began again. Somewhere in the darkness, Eliot heard a solid punch smash the warden’s jaw. Two stumbling footsteps preceded the sound of Menendez’ back slamming into the wall. The warden, as sensitive as a sack of dog food, slid down the wall and plopped onto the floor.
Meanwhile, a massive steel door slid open and a sliver of light stung Eliot’s eyes.
The room’s single light switch flicked on and a dozen guards with machine guns charged in and pointed those deadly weapons around and around inside the Interrogation Room. The warden lay unconscious on the floor behind his desk. A trickle of blood seeped through his lips and dripped off his chin onto the floor. His broken desk lamp lay next to him. The chair Eliot had been forced onto was turned upside down and an open box-cutter lay next to it. Eliot Rosewater and his rescuers were nowhere to be seen.