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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 611 Response

Bewildering Stories discusses...

“A Thin Veil of Innocence”

with Lewayne L. White

Christopher J. Ferguson’s “A Thin Veil of Innocence” appears in issue 611.

What is Marcus’ last name? — [LLW] I assumed Marcus was his last name. I didn’t see any other name.

[Don Webb]: Quite so. “Marcus” could be either a first or last name.

What is Stieger’s first name? — [LLW] Alan.

[DW] True. But it’s never used.

What is the principal’s name? — [LLW] Marcus refers to him as Carl Rogers. Presumably that’s his name, but it may be a reference to something I’m unfamiliar with.

[DW] The reference is probably to Carl R. Rogers (1902-1987), a renowned psychologist and psychotherapist. He’s also well known for developing the concept of student-centered learning. In the story, the reference seems to be a casual in-joke, because the principal does not necessarily exemplify the principles of the real Carl Rogers.

Why does Marcus assume that Richie knows he’s being interrogated about the cat? — [LLW] At best, an assumption of guilt. Marcus thinks Richie did it and thus assumes that Richie realizes he’s been caught.

[DW] Marcus skips what seems to be an essential part of the interrogation. However, the omission justifies Marcus’ and everyone else’s surprise when they realize that Richie doesn’t know what has happened to the cat.

Does Detective Stieger need a warrant to search the tree house? — [LLW] One could argue that he doesn’t, because, depending on the judge, it would be considered part of the premises. However, the lock may present an additional problem, because it couldn’t be considered part of a casual search. Then there’s the treasure box, which is secured and is further secured inside a locked “room.”

[DW] Perhaps Stieger figures that any clues he finds may not be admissible in themselves but might lead him to something he can use, which he can say he found independently. Basically, the question comes down to: Is Stieger authorized to examine anything that is not in plain sight?

Why did Arnold not tell anyone but Richie that Ashley had tied him to the tree and tortured him with the Taser? Who took the photographs? — [LLW] Shame, fear or whatever usually prevents a person from reporting abuse, magnified by the additional shame of being a male abused by a female.

As for the camera, I’d guess a timer or similar setting. Even cheap cameras are fairly sophisticated. Otherwise, the photographer is the same person who takes romantic photos of couples in movies when they’re clearly somewhere completely isolated and alone.

[DW] The camera’s delayed exposure seems most likely; otherwise, Ashley’s accomplice is an “unsub,” an unidentified subject. But we really have an implied larger story: Why did Richie not tell his mother what Ashley had done?

How might Ashley have better planned her crime? — [LLW] Leaving the cat head or corpse somewhere that would tie it definitely to the Phillips boys.

[DW] Or pretending to discover the cat herself and lying about where she found it, e.g. in the Phillips’ front yard.

Is Ashley likelier to become a pediatrician or a serial killer? — [LLW] Probably neither. She killed the cat as a means of silencing a witness. She didn’t kill the witness. She may find someone who is into the same sort of kinky things she’s into, and it may satisfy whatever drives her to hurt the neighbor kid. Hell, after the success of 50 Shades of Grey, who knows what worlds might open up for her? Even if she’s completely acquitted of any crime, the word will have gotten out about her despite juvenile-justice gag orders.

[DW] I rather think that Ashley is auditioning for a role on Criminal Minds. Animal abuse is a psychopathology associated with criminal behavior, as is keeping “trophies,” such as the photos.

One thing is sure: she won’t become a pediatrician; the effort would be too much trouble for her. And she’s smart enough to know she would be apprehended very quickly.

Rather, she’ll skulk around on dark & stormy nights, murdering people’s pets. Then, when little Arnie or whoever comes out to look for Fifi or Fido, she’ll nab him and cart him off to a standard movie-prop abandoned warehouse for further depredations. Climactic scene: the FBI bursts in, wearing flak jackets and holding pistols ready to shoot.

Copyright © 2015 by Lewayne L. White
and Bewildering Stories

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