Suspect

Something changed outside, but she could not say what it was exactly. Perhaps the sum of their collected breathing was producing a low hum that she had learnt to perceive. Maybe there were new shadows on the coarse lawn that she could see through the blinds. Whatever it was, she knew they were definitely here now. They had arrived to greet her.

She had allowed them to speak for her. They said that she could not remember what it had been like before. They said she that she would eventually become this machine, defined by a fame she did not ask for. She had played the role they had written for her, played the machine to perfection. And she would continue to play it for as long as they asked her to, because there was no other way.

She knew that soon she would have to focus, and play the part once again. But for the moment she was inside, away from their glass eyes. She allowed her self to slouch on the chair. She let her eyes flit around the room. The walls were a lime green, pasted with posters and notices in a language she could not understand. The air-conditioning made the room too cold.

They were wrong to say that a machine was all she was. They were wrong to say that she would forget. She could remember exactly what it was like to take that hand in hers, and walk the streets shrouded in anonymity. The memories did not all blur into one, like they said it would. She remembered every single day. The simplicity of motherhood, and the searing pain of separation. She recalled the first time she had been ushered into this clinical room. She even remembered meeting the man now sitting next her, who was now beginning to stand up.

“Time to go, Kate,” he said, in English. He put his hand on her shoulder as she went out to face them.

The clicks flowed towards her, like a wave down on the beach. When she first heard them, the buzz seemed far away, but it would quickly grow louder when they spotted her. In a moment, she knew, she would hear the clicks behind her too, as the swarm enveloped her. It was like this every time, but the certainty of the moment gave her no comfort.

As they came closer, she prepared once again to look each of them in the eye, one-by-one, to show that she was determined, to show that she was still strong. To give each of them the same photograph that they had taken for the past one hundred days.

But something was different. Their gait seemed wrong. Were they closer than normal, or just moving faster? The noise of their shutters sounded different, almost – no, this couldn’t be right, couldn’t be real, but still – the sound was almost aggressive. Only when, finally, she made eye contact with one of them, did she understand. There was no trace of benevolence in his gaze. His look of pity had been replaced by something more startling: A hot, zealous hate.

She lowered her gaze, and quickened her step towards the waiting car.

13 thoughts on “Suspect

  1. If you have evidence, Matt, to support your view, you should share it with the police. If not, then you’re really not in a position to judge, are you? Whatever happened to the basic principle of justice? This country’s going to the dogs, I tell you. Chav justice, I call it.

  2. Why on earth would there be DNA in the BOOT of a car hired a MONTH after the “abduction”. Statistically speaking, in 85% of child disppapearances, there is parental involvement, so it would be absurd for the Police not to consider the possibility, and having done so they are not convinced that the parents account stacks up. There is also no evidence at all of an abduction 5 months after the event. As (ahem) Hercule Poirot would say “After every other possibility has been eliminated, whatever is left, however absurd, must be the truth”
    More seriously I would ask why there is so much incredulity about the possibility that the parents are guilty. I think there is something horribly snobbish about public and media attitudes to this case. Because the Mc Canns are attractive, articulate, affluent, media friendly and middle class they are seen by the UK press and the Islington mafia as victims of conspiracy or incomepence from a provincial foreign police force. They just don’t fit the sterotypical image of neglectful or incomeptent parents (no attack dogs, no tatoos, drink wine rather than lager, tapas rather than kebabs and call their children tastefull names) so they “must” be innocent ??
    All the way through criticism has been levelled at the Police and almost none at a couple who went out on the razz leaving 3 chilkdren alone in a holiday apartment. In the same circumstances waht would be said if the parents had been chavs from Croydon ?
    Self righous, hypocritcical, middle class zombies can call it “chav” justice if they like, but I just don’t buy into the halo effect around the golden couple.
    And why have they now hired a lawyer who specialized in EXTRADITION cases and represented Pinochet ???

  3. I too find it bizarre and unusual that the british media seem to be operating (for once) on the assumption that the parents are innocent, but to do otherwise would actually be rather unethical, not to mention prejudicial to the case. Even “middle class” people are entitled to a fair trial you know…

    It would be more defensible, MM, to have a go at media reports which prejudge and prejudice the cases of non-middle-class people than to complain when the media are finally showing some little constraint and regard for the rule of law.

    By Chav Justice, I mean when members of the public jump to a conclusion based on what they have or haven’t read in the media, without (seemingly) being sufficiently capable of logical thought to a) consider alternative explanations for the “known” facts, b) question anything they read in the newspaper, c) consider the source of what they read in the newspaper and d) to see the dangers of jumping to conclusions when one is not in full possession of the facts.

    What hope is there for democracy, when people amongst the electorate are willing to jump to such rash, prejudiced and ill-informed conclusions like this? People who are incapable of rational thought shouldn’t be allowed to vote, that’s what I say.

  4. But they were fully complicit in the media campaign, and the only knowldge most people have of it is through the media. I agree that in an ideal world no one would make judgements without being in full posession of the facts, but without being personally involved in the case, I, like everyone else, on practically every issue, am forced to rely on the media for the raw material from which opinions are formed.
    If you compare the way the McCann case has been covered with the “dope smoking pill popping vodka drinking benefit claiming chav grandmother” whose granddaughter was mauled to death by a dog after a similar “misjudgement” you might graps what I am trying to say.
    Of course middle class people are entitled to a fair trial, buy why isn’t anyone else ?

  5. compare the way the McCann case has been covered with the “dope smoking pill popping vodka drinking benefit claiming chav grandmother”

    Indeed, and she was accquitted.

    More seriously I would ask why there is so much incredulity about the possibility that the parents are guilty. I think there is something horribly snobbish about public and media attitudes to this case. Because the Mc Canns are attractive, articulate, affluent, media friendly and middle class they are seen by the UK press and the Islington mafia as victims of conspiracy or incomepence from a provincial foreign police force

    Here, Matt, I think you’re missing a trick. It may be that some people in the media are incredulous for the reasons you describe, but I see no evidence of a similar attitude within the public at large. Have there been opinion polls on this that I’ve missed? Rather, in all the conversations I have had, I have heard people express doubt in the McGanns precisely because they are very astute in front of the camera. If anything, I would say that people think that the McGann’s polished efficiency works against them. There is a feeling that Kate should be wailing more, breaking down a bit more.

    That is, however, just my own personal reading, based on conversations I have had. The attitudes might be very different elsewhere.

    However, I have to say that your “attractive, articulate, affluent” has a whiff of cliché about it… and a Guardian cliché to boot. It is exactly what the first wave of “meta” commentary said (i.e. reporting on the reporting). The McGann’s class might be a factor in their own ability to drive the media on this story, but to accuse everyone else of class prejudice sounds very politically correct to me.

    The reality is, that this case is so extraordinary, both in the details of the abduction, and the media frenzy that followed (they met the Pope) that it doesn’t fit into any conventional narratve in a way that the gang crimes in London and (most recently) Liverpool would do. This makes it a far more attractive story to opine upon in the newspapers, and discuss down the pub. Psychology, society, xenophobia, paedophiles, the EU, the media, class, the detective story, legal systems, even feminism are all appproached that can be crowbarred into this story. And if the McGann’s did have something to do with the death it would be even more extraordinary, not least because of the sheer size and duration of the charade.

  6. the only knowldge most people have of it is through the media.

    Exactly! So we are not in a position to form a proper opinion. So we shouldn’t go around shouting “guilty”, when we know perfectly well we’re not in a position to judge.

    without being personally involved in the case, I, like everyone else, on practically every issue, am forced to rely on the media for the raw material from which opinions are formed.

    If you acknowledge this fact, MM, then perhaps you ought to be a little more circumspect. If you know your opinion is founded on incomplete or unreliable evidence, then doesn’t that give you pause for thought? When one is, by one’s own admission, not in full possession of the facts, one is not actually in a position to form an opinion on anything other than the reporting itself.

    And that, I believe, is the only sane/rational position to take. Anything else is dangerous hearsay, and that’s no way to run a country, or a legal system.

  7. But in that case Clarice how can we form an opinion on anything of which we have no first hand knowledge – unless you take a very narrow view of what constitutes “the media” ? I don’t want to start a debate on epistemology but the po mo paradox is that the more media we have the less we can really “know” ?

    Robert, I know what meta means, I’m also aware that they visited the pope. Agree that the narrative doesn’t fit a conventional news agenda. It’s most analogous to the disappearance of that guy in the Australian outback (I can’t remember his name a couple of years back) and the suspicion that initially fell on his girlfriend, combined with the some aspects of the holly and jessica case, but I think part of the reason it’s dominated the news agenda is because it doesn’t really fit any established template and therefore can’t easily be pigeon holed and filed away ?

    This particular drama was played out against a backdrop of summer among the acrchetypal meditteranean UK expat/tourist community and what interests me is the way it has caused “brits abroad” to be perceived in Portugal – which would they prefer now, the McCanns and their ilk, or our football fans ?
    I found it particularly bizzare that the Portugese Police were criticised for being insufficiently competent/experienced in this type of crime and for not being media compliant, when in reality this means they are unused to dealing with serious crimes against children, and are unwiling to bend their legal system to comply with the 24 hr “crime porn” reporting style which we sem to have imported from the US, both of which are good things in my view.
    Whether you belive that the media reflects or drives public opinion will influence your view of what the “man on the streets” opinion of the case really is. Whatever you believe and whatever has really happened I think it needs to be remembered that there is a real human tradgedy behind the wall of speculation, and a great deal of human suffering.

    On a lighter note -I’m not sure whether to be flattered or outraged to be accused of political correctness on this blog !

  8. I’m not sure whether to be flattered or outraged to be accused of political correctness on this blog

    I do apologise, I was having an off-day. I should know better than to reduce a set of complex political and social considerations to a bogey-man cliché.

  9. Am reserving judgement as they should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I wonder,but am not surprised that the Portugese Police have come in for criticism. At the very onset we were told that their laws on informing the press are very different from ours, so why are they being accused of being obstructive.

    It is a horrible situation and as yet we cannot know – we can all form opinions about what we think of the couple from how they have presented themselves as they have chosen to be in front of camera – but that is very subjective.

    As for evidence and how can DNA get in the boot – well we do not really know yet what was found and there may be much more to come.

    How many parents have not left their children sleeping and had supper in an hotel complex – indeed, I myself have been guilty of this with our eldest son and have to say I had no fear of him being abducted or wandering off – no – it was waking up and screaming the place down, which was why we checked on him every 10 mins which made a mockery of our “couple time” as by the time we had walked to the room to check and come back there was NO couple time and we did not do that again but were we just lucky that no-one abducted him, or on a lighter note did the crying put them off??
    I do not mean to be flippant as it breaks my heart when I think of that poor little girl whether she is alive or dead and what actually happened to her

  10. I have never discounted the possibility that the parents might have been involved, but it is just as likely that they weren’t. The truth is that no one has any real idea what evidence has been found, where it was found or what it might mean. The fact that the judge who looked at the papers sent the prosecutors back to interview the McCanns again says to me that, at the moment at any rate, they’ve got nothing that will stand up. I wish everyone would just back off and leave it alone until some actual news emerges. Whether the McCanns are guilty or innocent, all this third-hand international speculation on the front page of the national dailies is only going to prejudice any trial that does take place.

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