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The Exquisite Agony of the Interrogator

by Peter Hochstein

About the Author: Peter Hochstein is a former newspaper reporter, advertising copywriter and ghostwriter. These days, he considers himself a jack-of-all-writing-trades. His short crime stories have appeared in the anthology Dark City Lights edited by Lawrence Block, and in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. He lives in New York City.


The black van pulled up in front of the warehouse at quarter to seven in the evening. It was winter and already dark. A man, in his twenties, wearing a fedora and a short leather jacket jumped out of the front passenger seat. He looked around, cautiously. Then he punched a series of numbers into a keypad on the doorframe.

A dim light went on above a small lens mounted in the keypad. There was a clack, then a buzzing sound. Finally, a motor somewhere made a grinding noise, driving some interior pulleys and gears that slowly raised the heavy steel warehouse door.

The man in the fedora jumped back into the van and drove into the cavernous warehouse. After that, the grinding sound resumed and the door lowered. The illumination inside was murky. The van pulled up to a sheet of plastic, large enough to cover half the warehouse floor. On the plastic sheet there was a wooden armchair with a slatted back. There were dried bloodstains on one of the arms of the chair.

Next, both the man in the fedora and the driver, a tall thin man with a drooping mustache, got out of the van and opened one of its back doors. They reached in, and grabbed something. They pulled and heaved until a very large, wheeled steamer trunk fell out of the vehicle with a thump. From inside the trunk there was a muffled groan.

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