Episode Four: Johnny Cash Lyrics or True Confessions? or Quintana Roo’s on First?
Lieutenant Danielle Oarless looked at Juanita and inhaled deeply. She ‘inspired’, as Roget might suggest, both literally and figuratively. Rising up to her full six feet four inches, in heels, she said this:
“Ms. Juanita, I applaud you. I send kudos and sunshine your way, madam, for all that you do. I give respect for the way you ROCK that red paisley neck scarf over top of the pale silkiness of that Winners champagne blouse. I extoll your virtues to Gaia for the all-in way you have come here to stand up for your son, Wade…”
“Two thumbs up!” Roget added, gesturing appropriately with digits heavenly opposed.
“But,” Oarless broke off the accolades, slamming Wade’s briefcase down on the table with the loud slap of worn cowhide. “I’m afraid your ruse has been unsuccessful!”
Roget quickly retracted his thumbs.
“While your breath carries the distinctive scent of vanilla extract, and your slightly dilated pupils indicate you did actually imbibe, I am able to see past this. It is a rather well-conceived but nonetheless false furnishing. The true architecture of your story is revealed as follows,” Oarless prowled the floor like Hasterer, German fiction’s most formidable Prosecuting Attorney.
“ONE!” she said in a forceful voice, at which time Roget needed no further prompt and immediately raised an index finger, in digital support of her pending argument. “The presence of vanilla is simply a prop, I submit, and it profits not the bank account of your credulity.” At this point, Oarless undid a bobby pin and her hair cascaded luxuriantly about her linebacker shoulders.
“In the same way, you have brought along vanilla ice cream to support the idea that you are a ‘bean-head’—a vanilla addict—and that this condition is your MOTIVE for smuggling vanilla into Canada. Correct?”
Without removing her baleful stare from Oarless, Juanita reached into her handbag and withdrew a large slice of angel food cake. She took a cheek-bulging bite and chewed steadily, nodding once in agreement.
“Fine,” Oarless continued, pivoting on a stiletto heel to more squarely face her adversary. “Tell us, Juanita, what flavouring agent is used in French Vanilla ice cream?”
“Pure vanilla bean,” Juanita screamed for ice cream without hesitation.
“WRONG!” Lieutenant Oarless screamed back into the reverberating confines of the observation room. “As any true bean-head would tell you, French Vanilla is a faint replica, made using egg custard. Only a trace amount of vanilla is present!” With that conclusive pronouncement, Oarless whirled, winked twice at Roget and pointed two hooked horns with bedazzled nails at Juanita. “Two!” she hissed.
Her engine revving, Danielle Oarless spoke with her back to Juanita. “Tell us, Juanita, where do the beans orig—in—nate? Madagascar, perhaps?”
Juanita stuck out her cake-coated tongue at Oarless, squinted her eyes and said, “Mex—ee—co!”
“Easy one. But, Juanita, which province in Mexico?” Oarless replied, whirling around, eyes aglitter.
While Juanita squirmed in her chair, Oarless slid her fierce scrutiny over to Little Ben. He too seemed to be sitting on a bed of hot coals and fidgeted in his seat.
“Anything wrong, Senor Ben?” she asked, smirking. “Any idea which ‘province’ is home to the contraband in question, the van-eee-yah? Eh, Little Ben?”
“Stop it! STOP IT, IN THE NAME OF VERACRUZ STATE, the home of Vanilla planifolia!” after which dramatic correction, Ben proceeded to confess his seemingly inculpatory knowledge of vainilla and gave support to the Lieutenant’s theory that Juanita was more likely covering for someone else, rather than offering a true confession.
“But, I was not part of the conspiracy, I just love vanilla, that’s all!” Ben pled. “I’m no more guilty of el trafico del sabor than you, or Kowalski, or Wade Oswald!”
Juanita, meanwhile, had grown bored and was cleaning her purse out. Fresh angel food crumbs covered the floor and spilled out in fragrant abundance into the hallway.
Standing back against the wall where she could observe the prisoners through the glass, Oarless toggled the intercom switch and spoke: “Kowalski, open the door for a minute, would ya, please?”
Kowalski, giving her a perplexed pout through the one-way mirror, stood and swung the door open. Oarless watched the reactions of the three as she flipped the intercom back to the “Record Audio” setting.
In a minute, she could see a clear difference in the men. Wade and Old Man Reimer sat unaffected by the vanilla-scented air while Kowalski was clearly agitated and behaved like a dog that just caught a whiff of barbequed steak. She watched the unmistakable response as he sniffed repeatedly, nostrils flaring on the intake and his eyeballs swimming in near-swoon.
“I think we have our bandido de vainilla!” she said, tenting her fingers and resting a satisfied gaze on the guilty party.
Next: Showdown at the ¿Por qué? Corral