by P. Orin Zack
"Listen," Corwin Farragut blurted, ignoring the carefully worded question, "could you bring me a book on your next visit?"
Bernard Katzmarek, still aching from the train ride to nowhere, looked up wearily from his notes and considered the jumpsuited prisoner. "A book?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Lovecraft. "'Through the Gates of the Silver Key' was in an anthology I used to own. I'd like to read it again."
Katzmarek glanced around the Spartan glass-walled interview room, and nodded towards the two uniformed guards in the hallway. "Have you lost your mind?" he said tightly. "You have no privacy here. What do you think your chances of reversing that terror conviction will be once the corporation that owns this place tells the press that the man responsible for terrorizing the political debate they underwrote amuses himself reading horror stories?"
"Come on. It's just a story. I've got to do something to pass the time."
"It may be 'just a story' to you, but once the right-wing echo-chamber gets hold of it, the airwaves will be full of fantasies about how you're conjuring demons out here. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to help you to poison your chances of finally getting a fair hearing. What's so important about that story anyway?"
"Call it a craving. Have you ever read it?"
"You're kidding, right? The only thing I've had time to read since the ACLU pried those CIA documents out of Dick Cheney's chamber of secrets are case files." He jabbed the thick folder with his finger. "Like yours. So, if you really want to challenge that verdict, I suggest we get back on point. Are you going to answer my question, or not?"
"Okay, okay. Like I've said before, I did not release a hallucinogen into the civic center's air system."
"Was it something else, then?"
Farragut closed his eyes and sighed. "Nothing. Hell, I'm not so sure there even was a hallucinogen. I certainly didn't have a trip that day, and I was supposed to have been the person that released the stuff."
"Consider yourself lucky, Mr. Farragut. I've spoken to some of the people who did. The shrink who coined the phrase 'meltdown mob' at your hearing knew what he was talking about. Regardless of what really went down that day, two-dozen people have still not been released from treatment."
"Maybe so, but I'd still like to know what kind of trip those people had. Nobody ever talked about that at what passed for a trial. It was always hidden behind a steel wall of doctor-patient confidentiality. All they ever did was toss around vague generalizations about demons, and--- oh, I see your point."