Transcript from Second Psychological Interview.
Subject: Christian ("Mouse") El-Aref
Mouse: Is... is this the right place?
Interviewer: Yes. Come in, sit down. Tea?
Mouse: Sure. With milk, if you have it.
Interviewer: That's a very British way to drink tea.
Mouse: What do you expect? I was raised in an English boarding school.
Interviewer: I thought went to school in Cairo.
Mouse: Hello former British colony.
Interviewer: The British left in what... 1952? That's ancient history.
Mouse: To you, maybe. You know how the British are. They lay a claim somewhere and Brits settle there... and never leave. Do you remember that newstory? Some scientist established an honest-to-goodness DNA blood tie between a 9,000-year-old skeleton and an English schoolteacher who lived just a
half mile from the cave where the bones were found. These people NEVER leave.
Interviewer: [laughs]. I'm guessing you didn't get along with your British classmates.
Mouse: Mmmmmm, I don't really remember.
Mouse: I can't believe this room has a window. Can I look out?
Interviewer: Sure, why not?
Mouse: Why not? Because I might jump. Make a break for it.
Interviewer: [laughs] Maybe you should take a look. Then you'll realize why I'm not worried.
Mouse: Huh. Well, the guardtower certainly does look lovely in the morning light.
Interviewer: What are you thinking?
Mouse: I'm thinking: "This is what my home looks like." It could use a fresh coat of paint or something. Why do they always makes prisons gray? I mean, it's not like we look at the
outside of the walls. Sure, the psychology of making my cell walls white, I get. That's all about beating me down. Making me hopeless. But why make it such an eye sore for everyone else?
Interviewer: You think the prison should look like Disney World?
Mouse: [laughs]. Why not? I mean, the Tower of London used to be a prison. It's not so ugly as this.
Interviewer: You think prisons intentionally try to make you feel hopeless?
Mouse: No, I think prisons try to make their inmates feel empowered. Nothing is more cheerful than a four by four room, barely big enough for me to turn around in. And, then there's the
joy of shitting in a corner without even the luxury of a flush toliet. Yeah, I'm thinking the powers that be are really trying to make me feel dignified and empowered, don't you?
Interviewer: Oh, you're in one of high security rooms. I didn't know. Sorry.
Mouse: What? They didn't brief you about me? Hey, in that case can I borrow your handheld?
Interviewer: [laughs]. Nice try.
Mouse: Okay, I have to know. What do you people think? That I'm some kind of McGyver? It's not like I can make a submachine gun with the parts from a handheld.
Interviewer: No, but you did make a bomb with a lightbulb.
Mouse: Hey, I thought that was pretty inventive.
Interviewer: It was. That's why you don't get access to my handheld.
Interviewer: Your tea is ready.
Mouse: You're some kind of super-shrink, aren't you?
Interviewer: Why do you say that?
Mouse: Because the last one had me hauled out for disorderly conduct and drugged up for a day and a half. You're serving me tea. Makes me think that I'm in the
presence of a master.
Interviewer: [laughs]. No. It's nothing like that. We just thought you'd be more comfortable here... with me.
Mouse: With you. With a woman, you mean.
Interviewer: Why do you assume that?
Mouse: I do prefer the window. And the plants. You've got a nice office. It's not white. Is that a Degas print?
Interviewer: It bothers you that they figured you out enough to send a woman, doesn't it?
Mouse: Why would it?
Interviewer: You tell me.
Mouse: I'm surprised it's not in my chart: "Doesn't relate well to other men."
Interviewer: As a matter of fact, it is. I'm just curious why.
Mouse: Oh, I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that my father is Mr. X and I spent my formative years in a British boys's school... that could warp anyone. I mean, any one who has
memories involving a "headmaster" has probably had to have extensive therapy.
Interviewer: [laughs]. I suppose so.
Interviewer: So, it's not because you were a halekon?
Mouse: [laughs]. Wow, that just came out of nowhere. Are you honestly asking if I was someone's boy-toy? Do I look pretty enough to you?
Interviewer: Maybe when you were fifteen.
Mouse: So, you don't think I'm pretty enough now? I'm trying to decide if I should feel hurt or...
Interviewer: ...Or relieved?
Mouse: I didn't say that.
Interviewer: So were you?
Interviewer: No, someone's halekon.
Mouse: You say that well. Are you from Afganistan?
Mouse: Do they have those there?
Interviewer:They have them everywhere. You're avoiding the question.
Mouse: Yeah, so I am.
Interviewer: You do realize that makes me assume that you were, don't you?
Mouse: Assume away.
Interviewer: Are you saying that it doesn't matter to you that I'm going to think you slept with a man for money?
Mouse: I don't even know you. What makes you think I give a shit about what you think of me?
Interviewer: The Koran forbids behavior like that.
Mouse: Like what? Coping an attitude?
Mouse: I'm not gay.
Interviewer: But you slept with a man for money.
Mouse: You just think I did. That doesn't make it true. Nor does it make me gay.
Interviewer: Lot of boys did that during the Black Out Years, didn't they?
Mouse: I suppose they did. I mostly tried to keep my head down.
Interviewer: To keep from getting raped?
Mouse: You're a little obsessed about this gay thing. Has anyone told you that you may have some kind of queer complex?
Interviewer: [laughs]. Okay, okay. I'll drop it.
Interviewer: Christian is kind of a funny first name for a Muslim.
Mouse: Yeah, and after I take hajj I can be Mohammed Christian, won't that be a hoot?
Interviewer: You grew up in Cairo and you never made it to Mecca?
Mouse: It's not like the school took feild trips there. No one went during the Black Out Years. After that, well, I
forgot. And now it's too late.
Interviewer: I'm sorry.
Interviewer: You're an odd one, Mouse. You insist on keeping hallal. You don't grow a beard, but you almsgive regularly.
Mouse: I'm just contradiction boy.
Interviewer: You seem almost as uncomfortable talking about this as you did when I asked if you'd ever been a whore.
Mouse: "Whore?" Wow, you're little Ms. Sensitivity Training, aren't you?
Interviewer: Are you shocked by my language?
Mouse: No, but... fuck me, if I was going to admit to anything it wouldn't be to being a "whore."
Interviewer: What would you admit to being?
Mouse: Trick question! I'm on to you.
Interviewer: Does the word "whore" make you uncomfortable generally?
Mouse: Look, I don't think that just because someone... does that... one time he should be labeled a "whore." That's all I'm saying.
Interviewer: That's all you're saying?
Mouse: Yes, that's all I'm saying.
Mouse: Not that I'm talking about myself.
Interviewer: Of course not.
Mouse: The Black Out Years made a lot of people do things they're ashamed of.
Interviewer: But you just did it once.
Mouse: I just did what needed to be done to get the next meal.
Interviewer: You did it for food?
Mouse: What, that makes me cheap? Look, the way I figure it is that everyone is allowed a lapse in judgement on occassion, especially when you don't have
a place to live or food in your belly for several days in a row, okay? Sometimes it's about the lesser of two evils. The streets were full of crazy fucking
people during the Black Out Years. There were worse things than that. The Dead Boys would give you a nice little castration if they thought the Nile God needed a new sacrifice, you
know? Sometimes it seemed worth it to have a door with a lock, dig? And anyway, a guy like that was an easy mark.
Interviewer: An easy mark?
Mouse: Yeah, you know. Some of those guys had money.
Interviewer: You robbed your johns?
Mouse: My... no. I robbed people who were preditors, okay? This was not like a business for me. This was survival.
Interviewer: How old were you the first time?
Mouse: The first time what?
Interviewer: A man picked you up.
Mouse: "Picked me up?" I'm so not talking about this. You seem to have a warped sense of what happened. You make it sound like I was out "tricking." Actively cruising for some
all guy action. Like any of it was premeditated. Like I woke up one day and said to myself, "Christian, my boy, why don't you go find some ugly man to violate you in unspeakable ways. That'd be
some fun, wouldn't it? Hey, and maybe we can get paid!"
Interviewer: So what was it like?
Mouse: Honestly, I don't remember. These aren't exactly Kodak moments for me.
Interviewer: I'm sorry this is so painful for you.
Mouse: The fuck you are. You're the one who kept bringing it up.
Interviewer: Let's talk about something else.
Mouse: Bloody fucking time.
Interviewer: So, what would you like to talk about?
Mouse: How about my mother?
Interviewer: [laughs]. Okay, so tell me about your mother.
Mouse: She had black hair that turned brown in the sun. I remember she kept it short, so that it wouldn't get messy under the hajab... Although she rarely wore the veil. She
was a journalist. Very liberated. Smart, too. I'm pretty sure that's what killed her.
Interviewer: She didn't die in the Black Out?
Mouse: Nah, she died two years before that. Got shot while covering a story.
Interviewer: You told the other doctor that you were orphaned because of the black water.
Mouse: Yeah, well, I didn't like him very much. And, anyway, after she died, I still had family. Great-aunt Fatima had taken me in. I wasn't on my own. Not until hell broke loose, anyway. A whole slue of El-Arefs got wiped out when the dam broke. That's when I was
Interviewer: Did you ever wish your father would come back and claim you?
Interviewer: You can't tell me you never thought about your father during the entire time you were on your own in Cairo.
Mouse: Sure I can.
Interviewer: Did you ever fantasize about who he might have been?
Mouse: I knew who he was. He was the loser who left my mother.
Interviewer: Come on, Mouse. Even when you were little? Didn't you ever pretend he was some hero, like a British soldier or something?
Mouse: Sounds like your fantasy, not mine.
Interviewer: All right then, tell me this. When you were a kid what did you think you'd grow up to be?
Mouse: The career counselor pretty much had me pegged as a nerd.
Interviewer: Are you telling me that when people asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up you said, "nerd"?
Mouse: You asked me what I thought I'd be, not what I wished I would be.
Interviewer: Okay, what did you wish you would be?
Mouse: When I was a kid? I wanted to be president.
Interviewer: Uh... isn't that why you ended up here?
Mouse: Listen, sister, even after they uncovered that the LINK-angels were frauds, thirty-three percent of the population still voted for my persona. I nearly was your president.