The Courier Ch. 03bycaligula97236©
Chapter 3 -- Spokeswoman Lee-Dolkivna
Upon receiving the call from the chief inspector, Spokeswoman Kimberly Lee-Dolkivna wrote down the pertinent information: that a Colombian drug courier had been arrested with a kilo of cocaine in pellets concealed in her stomach, that she had undergone an initial interview, and that a Spanish-speaker needed to go to the airport to translate the suspect's recorded statements and conduct a follow-up interview. The Spokeswoman cringed at the words "undergone an initial interview", because she was well-aware what that actually meant.
Kim called the one person she knew who spoke Spanish, her friend Cecilia Sanchez, who was a US citizen studying at the National University in Danube City. She asked Cecilia to go directly to the airport, where they would meet and see how badly the hapless courier had been treated. Once she hung up, she went the arraignment room to pick up a temporary criminal's collar, which would allow Maria Elena to be transported around Danube City without a police escort. Kim's new client would have to wear the temporary collar until her trial. Upon being sentenced she would be issued a permanent collar by the Ministry of Justice.
Knowing the reputation of the Airport Unit, the Spokeswoman was certain that what awaited her would not be pleasant. Undoubtedly Maria Elena already had undergone physical punishment as part of the interrogation. Hopefully she had not attempted to lie to the Inspector, because Kim knew that he was notorious for nailing suspects with perjury. Furthermore, she figured that if the Colombian did not speak any English, she probably did not have a clue what was going on and would be scared out of her wits. Just getting her calmed down and explaining what was happening was going to take a lot of effort, and then there was the issue of teaching the suspect basic criminal protocol before taking her out on the street. Kim knew that Maria Elena already had been stripped and was sitting naked in a holding cell, but probably she was not yet aware that, as a criminal, she would be prohibited from wearing clothing at any time. No doubt she would face a rough afternoon dealing with her newest client.
The Spokeswoman took an express trolley from the Central Plaza to the airport, where her friend already was waiting for her. Cecilia had been born in New Jersey, but she was fluent in Spanish because she had spoken it in her Dominican household while growing up. Although she was only 24 years old, she held a fairly important position at the National University; as the exchange program coordinator for 60 US college students studying abroad in the Danubian Republic. Cecilia already had spent four years in Danube City and clearly had "gone native". Her black hair was done up in elaborate braids and she always dressed immaculately in fine Danubian linen. Apart from her elaborate hair and fine clothing she wore three pieces of silver jewelry, a necklace, a hairpiece, and a silver ring, engagement gifts from her boyfriend. To her program's exchange students she struck a severe and oddly foreign image, but one that was necessary for them to understand what they faced studying in Danube City.
The two women went into the airport chatting about the previous night's storm and Cecilia's students. Kim exchanged salutes with several airport officials on her way to the interrogation room by touching her right fist to her left shoulder. The two women descended the staircase that led to the interrogation room, knocked, and were let in by the Inspector.
The two officials, even though they did not like each other, exchanged courtesies and salutes before addressing why Kim and Cecilia had been summoned to the airport. The case itself was fairly routine; the only detail that complicated it was the fact that the suspect did not speak a language commonly taught in Danubian schools. Kim introduced Cecilia to the Inspector, before promptly having her sit down to listen to the recording of Maria Elena's confession. The Dominican translated the most important points to Danubian and passed her notes to Kim, who looked them over and handed them to the airport official.
"Inspector, have you formerly arrested the Colombian citizen Maria Elena Rodriguez-Torres?"
"No, Spokeswoman, we haven't. We figured that it would be proper for you to be present during her arrest and the assigning of her criminal number. So we chose to wait for you to come."
Bullshit, thought Kim to herself. You waited so you could play around with her, you fucking pervert.
However, to the Inspector she said nothing. Her duty was not to worry about what already had happened, but instead to take custody of Maria Elena, convince her that she needed to cooperate with the police, and get her out of the airport.
"May I see the suspect, Inspector?"
"Of course, Spokeswoman."
Kim whispered to Cecilia in English: "She's gonna be in bad shape, so don't be shocked when you see her. Don't make a big deal about it. Just do what I tell you and keep your mouth shut unless you're translating."
The Inspector flipped a light switch next to the cell door to illuminate the tiny room. He drew his gun and opened the door. Immediately Maria Elena crouched in the corner, trying to cover herself. She made a truly pitiful sight. Her hair was disheveled from being grabbed, her bottom was badly bruised, two switch marks crossed her back, and the left side of her face was swollen from having been slapped multiple times. However, those details paled in comparison with the raw terror and absolute despair in her expression.
"You can close the door, Inspector. I would like to speak to my client alone, please."
"As you wish, Spokeswoman."
As soon as the door closed, Kimberly spoke in English, which Cecilia translated:
"Your name is Maria Elena? You are from Colombia?"
Maria Elena nodded.
"Maria Elena, my name is Spokeswoman Kimberly Lee-Dolkivna. Later I will need to explain to you what exactly that means, but for now you can consider me your public defense attorney. It will be my duty to represent you in court. Do you understand me?"
Again Maria Elena nodded, but she remained crouched in the corner. Kim's next words shocked Cecilia, who thought she was being very cold-hearted, given the Colombian's traumatic situation. However she dutifully translated:
"I want you to understand that I will do what I can to ease your situation and protect you from those who wish to harm you. That is my position, my path in life. However, I also want you to understand that I am a public official, and at all times you will treat me with the respect that is due to my status under Danubian law. When I speak to you, I do not consider nodding an appropriate response to my questions. When I am in your presence, I do not consider you crouching in the corner appropriate. Do you understand me?"
"I...sí, señora...entiendo...lo siento..."
"Very well. I expect you to get on your knees in front of me. You are not permitted to speak to me or any other public official unless you are on your knees. You will kneel straight, you will look straight at me, and you will place your hands on your thighs. You will not hunch over or try to cover yourself. Covering yourself is forbidden."
Reluctantly Cecilia translated, adding: "I'm really sorry about this, but you have to do what she says. That's the rule in this country, you gotta kneel when you're talking to anyone from the government, and if you don't do it, they'll whip you."
Tears ran down Maria Elena's cheeks as she knelt in front of her Spokeswoman. As directed, she knelt straight, forcing herself to put her hands on her thighs instead of using them to cover her breasts.
Once her client was properly positioned, Kim commented:
"The path of your life is to behave properly as a criminal, just as the path of my life is to protect your well-being and serve as your mentor."
Cecilia was distressed that instead of comforting her new client, Kim was treating her in such a cold-blooded manner. However, Kim knew what she was doing, because protocol was a vital part of her relationship with all of the criminals in her custody. She was her clients' mentor, not their friend. When they had problems they would come to her for help and advice, and she would consol and comfort them, but never as an equal. Very early in her career Kim learned why protocol was so important for the relationship between a criminal and a Spokesperson, because without protocol she could not have properly done her job.
There was another important reason why Maria Elena needed to know how to display proper protocol before leaving the holding cell, one that Kim did explain to both the translator and the detainee. The Spokeswoman was formally assuming custody over her client, which meant that the Inspector and the other members of the Airport Unit no longer had any right to abuse her. As Kim put it:
"As your Spokeswoman, I now exercise custody over your life and I will determine how other public officials can interact with you. Anyone who has anything to ask from you or say to you must go through me. I must approve anything that happens to you. You are to listen to no one except me. You are not to take orders from anyone except me. When we go into that other room and you kneel in front of me, you are letting them know that they can't hurt you anymore, because I won't let it happen."
Maria Elena's mood changed upon hearing Cecilia's translation. She realized that, as bad as her situation might be, apparently those awful cops no longer could do anything to her. She was frightened of the young Asian woman who claimed to have "custody" over her, but if the Spokeswoman could protect her from that Inspector and his crew of sadists, Maria Elena was willing to do anything to please her.
With the prisoner still kneeling and Cecilia nervously translating, Kim asked her about the arrest and the interrogation that followed. The Spokewoman's expression changed slightly when Cecilia translated the description of her effort to convince the Inspector she had just five pellets, only to be proven to be lying. Kim asked for a detailed description of that part of the interrogation. She tightened her lips and sighed upon learning that, like so many others, Maria Elena had committed perjury. That simple act of lying in the wrong place at the wrong time would add 20 years to her formal sentence. The Spokeswoman would have to break the bad news later, when she could talk to her client alone in her office.
Maria Elena realized that something was wrong, but before she had time to react, Kim continued:
"I'm not going to be able to do anything about the length of your sentence, but what I can do is argue for better conditions. Some of that will depend on how much you are willing to cooperate with the Inspector. When you go on trial, he and I will have to work out the details of your sentence with the trial judge. If you cooperate with the Inspector, he will cooperate with me in court."
When Cecilia translated, Maria Elena responded:
"But...I did...talk to them...I..."
"He's going to want to re-interview you and get your full story. He'll ask you all those questions again, this time with a translator. Basically he's going to want to make sure he has everything straight before he does his report. You're going to have to give up whatever you know about your former drug group. Also, the Inspector is gonna want a recording of your voice that doesn't have a bunch of your crying mixed in with your information. Once that interview is done, you'll be coming with me."
Noting the fear in Maria Elena's eyes, Kim commented:
"I'm sure you're still afraid of what your drug group can do to you. Right now that doesn't matter because they can't do anything to you. What you need to worry about is us, not them. Under our laws, the Danubian government now owns you. You are property of the Republic of Danubia."
Kim waited for the translation, fully expecting a shocked reaction and having to elaborate her last point. She had to do that with almost all of her foreign clients.
"According to our laws, you have proven yourself incapable of exercising free will. So, that portion of your life has ended. You now have an owner, the government of the Republic of Danubia. Whatever information that is in your head belongs to the Danubian government as well, so you will discuss, in detail, what you know."
Kim paused, waiting for the translation. Then she finished with:
"As for your former employer, if they're stupid enough to send anyone into this country to come after you, the Danubian Secret Police will catch that person and they will execute him. The drug groups know that, and we're the one country in Europe they won't mess with."
Cecilia finished with Kim's final statement, totally taken aback by her friend's blunt words.
"Your drug group is no longer in charge of what happens to you. Do you understand me?"
"Sí, señora. Entiendo."
"And one more thing I expect from you. When you answer me, you need to answer in Danubian. When you say 'yes', it will be: 'doc-doc, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna'. Repeat, please... doc-doc, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna."
Maria Elena repeated several times; until the Spokeswoman was satisfied her client could be understood by other Danubians.
"That'll work for the time being. When you say 'no', it will be: 'negát, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna'. Repeat, please... negát, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna."
Once again Maria Elena repeated until Kim was satisfied she had it right.
"Congratulations, Maria Elena, you've just learned your first three words in Danubian: doc-doc, negát, and Advodkátna."
Cecila felt very uneasy about seeing her friend's domineering behavior up close. Although she had known Kim for years, she had never seen the Spokeswoman introduce herself to a client. With her clients there was no room for doubt, no question that she was in complete control.
Cecilia noticed a change in the prisoner. Like most of Kim's other foreign clients, Maria Elena's situation would force her to be emotionally dependent on the Spokeswoman, at least during the first several months of her sentence. Trapped alone in a country where she could not even communicate properly, surrounded by hostile individuals, and stripped of her clothing, she knew that the only person she could turn to was Kim. The Spokeswoman already had shown herself as strict and intolerant, and Maria Elena was afraid of her. However, she offered the criminal some hope in her life and the promise of protection. More importantly, she clearly explained what her client needed to do and what was expected of her, which gave Maria Elena a sense of direction and made her desperate to please her. Only a few minutes after meeting Kim, Maria Elena already was adapting to her new life as a Danubian criminal.
The next task was collaring the detainee. Like every other criminal in Danubia, Maria Elena would be required to wear a metal collar and would be prohibited from wearing anything else, with the exception of orange boots during the winter. There were no jails in Danubia, no such thing as incarceration. There were a few holding cells, like the one Maria Elena was sitting in now, but a holding cell was just that, a very temporary place where a criminal was kept until she could be collared.
"When I mentioned that you will be serving a sentence, you will understand you won't be serving any of that time in jail. We don't have jails in this country. Instead you will spend your sentence serving the people around you, and you will live your life in humility. And the mark of a criminal's humility is the collar..."
She held up the temporary collar...
"...which you'll have to put on before we leave this room. The collar shows you to the world for what you are, a criminal. However, it gives you some legal status, which is something you didn't have when you were being interrogated. Once I put this on you, the Inspector and his subordinates cannot touch you. That's why they waited. They didn't want you collared because that would have given you rights under our laws. Before you talk to the Inspector again, you'll need to put this on...unless...you want to risk being treated like you were the first time. Do you understand me?"
Maria Elena looked at the collar in Kim's hand with a very worried expression as she listened to Cecilia's translation. The thought of having that thing around her neck terrified her, because she suspected, quite rightly, that once she put on the collar it would not be coming off anytime soon. However, the thought of being tormented by the interrogation team a second time horrified her. Her only choice was to trust the Spokeswoman and hope she was telling the truth. She took a deep breath and replied:
"Doc-doc, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna."
Kim directed Cecilia to hold up the detainee's hair while she positioned the collar around her neck. She locked the collar with a key, which she then put in her pocket. Finally she pulled out a small receiver and tested it against the collar's transmitter to make sure it worked. Maria Elena's collar not only marked her as a criminal, but also allowed the Ministry of Justice to know where she was at all times.
"Alright, Maria Elena, let's go back and talk to the Inspector, and then I can get you out of the airport. Remember, how quickly our conversation ends depends on how thoroughly you answer his questions. If you try to hide anything, he'll keep at you until you answer, and it will affect what happens at your trial."
"Doc-doc, Advodkátna Lee-Dolkivna."
Kim banged on the cell door to let the guard know she, her translator, and her client were ready to come out. The three women crossed the hallway and entered the interrogation room. Upon entering the Spokeswoman ordered Maria Elena to kneel and Cecilia to stand at attention. Then she crisply saluted the Inspector and the other cops in the room by touching her right fist to her left shoulder. The Inspector and the cops saluted back.
In spite of the strict protocol and professional courtesies, Kim and the Inspector intensely disliked each other. Kim felt that the Inspector was a sadist and sexual pervert, while he resented the fact she was foreign-born but still held a position in the Danubian government. However, their mutual dislike did not prevent the two officials from cooperating and working together. Their understanding was that, in exchange for convincing her clients that they needed to share whatever information they had, Kim could expect him to ask for lenient sentence terms during trial. The Inspector was always true to his word in court. As long as Kim's client cooperated with providing information, he tried to convince the trial judge to impose the minimum number of judicial switchings during sentencing.
Maria Elena trembled as she knelt upright. She was terrified of the Inspector and very worried about displeasing her Spokeswoman. Her nakedness left her feeling very vulnerable, while the pain in her bottom, her burning intestines, and her sore stomach reminded her of the consequences of lying.
However, more than anything else, it was the sinister feeling of cold metal around Maria Elena's neck that convinced her that her old life was completely gone. She had lost her free will, and now was nothing more than property of a foreign government. The unforgiving feel of the hard object around her neck drove home that point more than anything else that had happened to her that morning. Over and over her Spokeswoman's words repeated themselves in her mind: "the Danubian government now owns you".
Maria Elena's new understanding of her path in life had an immediate effect on her behavior. As soon as she started talking, it was obvious that she would cooperate completely. She found it surprisingly easy to speak honestly about her life as a drug courier. Not that she had all that much useful to tell the interrogation team, but it was clear that she would tell them whatever she knew about her group.