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Svetlana – 3: Interview

I was fascinated, both with the fluidity and rhythm of the conversation between them and of the almost constant eye contact they achieved. I had expected that Svetlana would show signs of distress, but although she spoke at times through small tears, her self-control was remarkable. Katya’s left hand had met Svetlana’s across the table, and in the latter part of the session, they held hands constantly.

This is the third chapter in my serialized story. You may wish to read the previous chapter 1st: Svetlana – 2: Metamorphosis.
The menu ‘Svetlana’, in the left sidebar contains links to chapters published so far, and a similar menu can be found at the bottom of the post.

This story tells of a man who has adopted a life of helping homeless and vulnerable girls, and of waging a dark and ruthless private war on the human traffickers and criminals who prey on them. His chance encounter with a young Serbian woman, and his experience of her growing unconditional love for him, reveal to him that emotionally, he is as broken and beaten as the girls he is trying to help.

Warning: The story contains adult subject matter, several explicit scenes of an intimate sexual nature, descriptions of human jeopardy, and is not suitable for minors, or those who are easily offended.

« Previous Chapter – 2: Metamorphosis ——–oOo——– Next Chapter – 4: The Memory Girl »



The Carlson Imperative
Book 1: Svetlana Curuvija
© 2010 J.W.Brown

Chapter 3: Interview



I opened the door. She smiled warmly at me and threw her arms around my neck.
“Hi Joe. It’s lovely to see you, and in such beautiful company too.”
She released me and I turned, realising that Svetlana had entered the lounge.

She wore an embroidered blue top and matching flared skirt, with the powder-blue slippers on her feet. She beamed at both of us. I had heard Katya’s sharp intake of breath, a reaction that was now becoming common to anyone seeing Svetlana’s great beauty for the first time.

“Svetlana, this is Katya, a lovely lady from Smederevo, who will help me understand your account of your missing sister and your search for her.”

I expected a little excitement, but was totally unprepared. Svetlana rushed across the room and engulfed Katya in a shower of kisses, followed by a big hug, tears and finally telling Katya how she had been looking forward to meeting.

From now on it was pedal-on-the-gas idiomatic Serbian, and very little made any sense to me. Eventually Svetlana slowed down, and we moved across to sit at the table.
I held up the recorder for Svetlana to see and spoke slowly in my own halting version of their lovely tongue. “Svetlana, this is a tape recorder. It will help Katya draft an English version of your conversation with her, so that I can understand. Are you happy that I switch it on?”
“Yes plis do Joe.”

I switched on the recorder, and while they chatted, finished laying the table. The conversation carried on through tea, and as I cleared away when we had finished. Katya was a trained interviewer, had special experience with trafficking victims and needed no prompting from me as to the information we needed. Although she took copious notes, these were in her own special shorthand, and were made without her taking her eyes off Svetlana.

As both girls talked, I could feel the rapport grow between them, and Svetlana began to show more emotion in her replies. I prepared several different fruit juices and placed these on the table, and both pounced on them to ease the dryness caused by the constant talking.

Being an observer wasn’t a role I usually filled, but although I could contribute almost nothing, I was fascinated, both with the fluidity and rhythm of the conversation between them and of the almost constant eye contact they achieved. I had expected that Svetlana would show signs of distress, but although she spoke at times through small tears, her self-control was remarkable. Katya’s left hand had met Svetlana’s across the table, and in the latter part of the session, they held hands constantly.

I excused myself and went to my room, and looked at my watch – nearly 5:00pm. I rang Zee.
“Hi Joe. Millicent Courtney has just rung, she’s a little late but on her way. Everything OK?”
“So far. Would you like to bring Millicent down when she arrives, and tell her not to apologise as we are over-running also?”
Zee laughed. “Will do – see you in 10 minutes.”

I went back into the lounge and discovered that Katya and Svetlana had gone to her bedroom. I assumed Katya had suggested Svetlana freshen up for the doctor.
I made myself a coffee, and greeted Zee and Millicent Courtney as they stepped out of the lift.
“Mr Carlson – so nice to see you again.”
“Miss Courtney, the pleasure is all mine.”
She smiled at me. “Flatterer. Some things never change.”
“And when they are as fair as thou, what mere mortal would dare to?” I quipped.
She laughed out loud, dropped her bag and we pecked each other on the cheek.
Zee stood grinning and shaking her head at our banter. I was glad about Millicent, as some lady doctors, especially the very good ones, could be unbelievably stuffy or arrogant.

I turned as Svetlana and Katya re-entered the lounge. I nodded at Svetlana and made the introductions. Svetlana was a little shy, but Millicent’s easy manner soon put her at ease.
“Should I stay Joe?” Zee asked.
I asked Svetlana “Would you like Zee here with you as well as Katya?”
Svetlana smiled “Hi Zee. No thank you. Katya help me. Take Joe for drink.”
We all laughed, then Zee and I went upstairs.

I went with her into her kitchen and we sat with Tomas at the table.
Zee looked at me. “Are you OK?”
I smiled. “Zee, I’ve never felt better in a long, long time.”
She looked significantly at Tomas, but I said it first.
“I promise I will start clearing the room out tomorrow.”
Tomas burst out laughing and Zee asked “Have I missed something here?”
“No Zee, you haven’t.” I paused then added more seriously “You miss nothing, and that’s why you are so good at what you do.”
They both waited.
“I need my life back, as you said. To do that I need to face what’s left in that room, and we need the space. It’s a no-brainer.”
She looked hopefully at me “Svetlana?”
“I can’t deny what I feel – I feel wonderful.”
She leant over and kissed me on the forehead.
Tomas grinned, and got out a bottle of Blandys and a small Bolo de Mel. “You will have a piece?”
I laughed “Try to stop me.”
There was silence as we all savoured the beautiful cake and washed it down with the lovely fortified wine.

As I smacked my lips, and Tomas offered another glass of Madeira, I said “I’ve been thinking about space – or our lack of it.”
They both turned to me.
“I don’t want to move.” I added.
Tomas spoke “Neither do Zee and I. We knew this was coming, we’ve talked about it and we both love this house.”
Zee added quietly “Pash and Thak feel the same.”
I laughed. “OK. We won’t move. That means an annexe.”
“But how?” Zee asked. “Nothing for sale is remotely close to us, and could we afford it if there were?”
“Let me worry about the money. What about next door?”
Tomas grunted. “The guest house?”
“The very same.” I replied.
“They aren’t selling.”
I laughed. “They will if I offer them enough. I met old Soames in the Mews last week and he was moaning that he was getting too old, that the stairs hurt his knees, and the guests were all bloody dirty foreigners!”
They had caught my enthusiasm. Zee said “It would be ideal, we could simply knock a few holes through the wall.”
We all laughed. I said “Seriously, if everyone is ready to take up the challenge, putting up with the short-term chaos and the long-term added-responsibility, I would like to make it happen.”
“You’re serious aren’t you?” Zee said.
I nodded. “Couldn’t be more.”
“I’m excited.” she said, grinning widely.

My phone rang. It was Katya. Millicent Courtney had just left. I headed back downstairs. Svetlana and Katya were sipping orange juice and laughing together at the table where I joined them.
“Well? How did the doctor’s visit go?”
Katya spoke “Doctor Courtney was appalled at the bruises on Svetlana’s back, and she wrote a prescription. She’s taken urine and blood samples and will have the urine specifically checked for blood protein. She said that apart from the obvious bruising and under-nourishment, Svetlana was in remarkable ‘rude’ good health, as she put it, with no signs of drug or alcohol abuse. Also, there is no evidence of rape. Physically she’s fine Joe – stop worrying.”
I thanked her.
She took a deep breath.

“Her story was very harrowing, but her recollections are remarkable. Sometimes psychological trauma tends to blot out detail, but she still remembers everything in extremely sharp focus.”

“She is highly intelligent, tracking down the route her sister was taken on, but foolishly tried to tackle the criminals here in London that have her sister prisoner. They imprisoned her and beat her, but eventually she managed to escape. Unfortunately they stole her passport and what little money she had, so for a couple of days she has been wandering around homeless, ’til she met you.”

“I will translate our conversation and email the transcriptions to you tomorrow as soon as possible. I will include my annotations at various points in the transcriptions, from the shorthand notes I made.
There is one more thing. Take a look at these drawings she had in her knapsack.”

She handed me a small notebook. As well as a lot of Cyrillic script, the pages had five drawings of mens faces. The drawings had been done in pencil and were outstandingly lifelike.
Katya was watching me. “She has an Art degree, and specialises in life drawing.”
She paused “These men, she assures me, are the 5 criminals responsible for her imprisonment, and who, she believes, also hold her sister.” She paused again.

“Taking the remarkable clarity of her account, alongside these drawings she made after she escaped, leads me to believe she has a pronounced Eidetic Memory ability. You would need to confirm this, but I’m almost certain I’m right. If so, she could probably draw for you almost everything she’s seen and been through, in the most intimate and painful detail, which would make any investigation by you a walk in the park. However..”

At this point she paused and smiled reassuringly at Svetlana who was sat watching us. “I urge extreme caution Joe. Talking in the way that she has about her experience is one thing, but asking her to call up actual visual images is something else entirely. I urge that you seek a doctor’s advice before putting her through what could be a very traumatic and dangerous experience.”

I shook my head. “Katya, you have done me proud. How can I thank you? Your help is invaluable, and I shall be forever in your debt.”
She blushed and then smiled at me. “It is I who will forever be in yours Joe. It is always a pleasure to help you.”

“How are you getting home?”
She hesitated. “The Tube.”
“I can have you driven, if you like.”
She thanked me but declined. She kissed then embraced Svetlana, and we all walked to the door.
She smiled at Svetlana and said Goodbye, then added in Serbian “Call me any time you wish. It’s been lovely to meet you, and don’t worry, Joe will find your sister for you.”
With that she turned and left.

« Previous Chapter – 2: Metamorphosis ——–oOo——– Next Chapter – 4: The Memory Girl »


Svetlana – Index of Chapters.

Book 1 of The Carlson Imperative is now available as a PDF download here: The Carlson Imperative – Book 1

The Carlson Imperative is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between characters in the story, and real persons, either living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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