Jamie looked to the man sitting on the cold, steel chair opposite him. His suit was crisp and grey, matching the man’s personality. His hair was parted to the side, mimicking his crooked smile. Being forced to talk to this guy, Jamie focused on a means to escape his presence. The man offered no solace nor any sympathy to him. There was a coldness about him that Jamie couldn’t embrace.
Full of contempt and tried patience, the man asked Jamie, “Mr. Mason, would you like to express how you are feeling today?”
Writing on his yellow pad, the man crossed his leg over his knee. “Mr. Mason, could you please tell me what you are thinking at this moment?”
“You’re an idiot.”
He looked up at Jamie. “I see. Mr. Mason, are there any other answers that you would like to give me other than the customary ones? I’ve written down the same answers since we started talking a fortnight ago.”
“I see. Well, Mr. Mason. It would seem that our conversation is concluded for the day. I’ll be back to speak with you tomorrow.” The grey suited man closed his notes and slipped his pen into his suit jacket. He crossed the room and paused in front of the door. “You know, Mr. Mason, I hold the key to your freedom. All you have to do is cooperate with me, and all of this goes away.”
Jamie’s eyes were cold as his anvil voice swept the room, “Leave…me…alone.”
A smile crossed the man’s square face as his eyes danced across the vacant room, “Look around, Mr. Mason. You are alone, and will forever be alone. Why don’t you cooperate with me? I want to make you better.”
“The day I do, is the day I die.”
“That might come sooner than you think. I’ll return tomorrow. I trust I can find you here?” Without another word, the man left the room.
The lights faded as usual until there was barely enough light to see by. A click in the wall unlocked the hidden door leading to his quarters. Leaving the chair behind, Jamie sequestered himself in the tiny room with the bed, sink and toilet combination, and no contact with the outside world. Clearing the doorway, the handleless door slid into place, sealing Jamie in his solitude.
The following day, the customary click of the door slid open to reveal the breakfast table laid out with a glass of water and flavorless cooked oatmeal. This same ritual had gone on longer than Jamie cared to remember.
Spooning the warm mass into his mouth, Jamie couldn’t remember the taste of real food nor the longing for it. His appetite had gone to reside with someone more appreciative than him. Food no longer swayed his decisions. Just enduring the relentless, nagging questions of the interrogator was his only goal for the day.
The two rooms remained in low light for the duration of the day. It wasn’t until the grey suited man came would the room brighten slightly. Despite his presence, it remained dreary and uninviting for visitors. The routine was madness at best, bringing the same questions and the same answers each time.
As he concluded his meal, Jamie downed the faintly cloudy water. Some days the water was crystal clear, other days it held the viscosity of muddy creek water. But no matter the appearance, it always tasted the same. Closing his eyes was the only way he could envision the water being the purest and particle free.
Shuffling to his room, the door slid shut, secluding him from the world.
After staring at the unchanging ceiling for hours, the door clicked and slid open to reveal a single steel chair in the next room. Reluctance held him in place. It would be the same thing again today.
The same questions.
The same answers.
The same man.
The same idiotic person that annoyed him beyond his tolerance.
The minutes passed with Jamie refusing to move. With a sigh, he sauntered out of his seclusion and sat in the chair, anticipating the man to come. The lights brightened to a high level, causing Jamie to squint. The dreaded interrogation would soon commence.
The main door unlocked and slid open on soundless hinges, flooding the room with more intense light. Shielding his eyes, Jamie blinked hard, feeling his eyes screaming to block out the bright light. Peering through the slits of his fingers, Jamie saw a figure standing in the room before him. The face of the figure shrouded in shadow from the light behind him as he remained unmoving.
“Who are you?”
His voice flowed as a gentle brook of water, “We have only met a few times. Sometimes you have listened to me. All the other times, you’ve gone your own way.”
“I don’t remember speaking with you. What makes you different than the other guy that comes here?”
The man’s voice held firm, “For starters, I don’t shut the door behind me.” He side-stepped to reveal the still open doorway, allowing his flawless face and white clothing to come into view. “If I open a door for someone, they have a choice to walk through it, or close it. I cannot make that decision for them, only offer them an opportunity.”
At that moment, the man in the grey suit stood in the doorway. Keeping the man in white in view, he came to kneel beside Jamie, speaking in a hushed voice. “I wouldn’t trust him. You don’t know where he comes from or what his motives are.”
“My motives are simple,” the flawless man said, “I’ve come to offer freedom to Jamie; should he choose to accept it and embrace it.”
Jamie looked to the quivering man next to him, “What gives? You’ve never offered me freedom like that.”
The man smiled as his liquid voice rang out, “Oh, but I have. Only yesterday I offered it to you. Just cooperate with me, and I can offer you so much more than he can.”
The gentle voice of the man standing in the center of the room drifted over to Jamie, “Ask yourself this, has he ever left the door open for you as I have? It is not freedom he offers you, but bondage.”
Jamie’s eyes traveled to the open doorway. A pressure on his forearm brought his attention back to the grey suited man. The man was gripping Jamie’s arm and pleading him with his glistening eyes.
“Don’t go out there! You remember why you came to me in the first place, right? Because I was the only one that could and would understand you. I was the only one there for you when everyone else pointed out your flaws and laughed at you. I was the one that picked you up and put you here, where you are safe. No one will bother you here. No one will make fun of you here. This is a place where you can be alone, free from the worry and concerns of others. All alone. Just you and me.”
The other man walked to the door. “Follow me, and I will lead you to your true freedom.” He walked out of the room and stood a yard away. “This door will not close unless you choose to close it, Jamie. I know who you are and what you are capable of doing, but you can’t do it in there. You have to come out into the world where I am.”
“Don’t go out there! The world is full of hate and ignorance. What does it have that you can’t find in here?”
A smile crossed Jamie’s face, “Me.”
Jamie stood and ran out of the room embracing the man in the light.
Jamie breathed into the man’s ear, “Close that door.”
At his command, the door slid shut with the man in the grey suit clinging to the cold, steel chair.