The Interview by Clare Reddaway

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Hello. You must be…?

Yes, guilty, I’m Mrs McCready. But you can call me Eleanor. Did you find the house easily?

Oh, you saw the gates? Yes, they are rather large. It might look like overkill but I live here alone and I like to feel safe. Come on through! I thought we’d do the interview in the conservatory, the light’s lovely at this time of day. Do sit down, make yourself comfortable. Can I get you some tea? I do have tea, I’m still very English despite living out here, I’ve got Assam and Earl Grey, Twinings of course,  did you see that they’ve created a special tea for the Queen’s 90th birthday? Absolutely delicious!

Just water… Ah, thank goodness, Diego has put out a jug, I hope you like it with cucumber? I find it so refreshing, in this climate. So good for the skin.

Yes, it is a beautiful view. I love the way the infinity pool catches the light as though it’s an extension of the sky – oh, listen to me, quite the poet! I adore that glimpse of the beach, all that white sand. It’s paradise, really. You must go and explore after the interview. So. Shall we begin? You said in your email that you wanted a sort of day-in-the-life? An opportunity for me to describe my charity work?

I’ll start there then. My life here might look luxurious – I mean, for most people back home, the Caribbean is all about rich people on yachts, but what they don’t understand –

Yes, I do actually. It’s just a small one, really one wouldn’t call it a yacht but other people do say…it hardly takes more than five or six on deck… What was I saying? Oh, yes. What people don’t realise is that under the sands of paradise are countries wracked with deprivation. Children, barefoot, in rags.

Well, obviously it’s fine to be barefoot on the beach. Everyone’s barefoot on the beach. Unless they’re in flip-flops of course. Although even then… I meant – barefoot outside their huts. One room, maybe. No school, no lessons –

What do I do? I – well, I – distribute money. Yes. I give them money. No administration, no middle men, I go into their lives and scatter goodwill, they see me as a kind of fairy godmother…

I’m sorry? Where does my money – I thought this was a day-in-the-life piece?

Background? Oh. Well, the money comes from the business I inherited from my late husband, Donald McCready.

Goodness, this is going to be in-depth! It was a…manufacturing business, making…ball bearings. They’re surprisingly lucrative, ball bearings. And when he died, a terrible day for us all, he left me as the majority shareholder in the business. I moved here, to the Dominican Republic, where I now live. The business is run by one of his colleagues, a dear friend, such a nice man and he keeps me absolutely up to date on all aspects of what’s happening. In ball bearings.

No. I’m not involved in health foods at all. Haven’t you done your research? Ball bearings. That’s where the money comes from. I can give you the company details if you want, but I can’t imagine that you’d find them particularly –

As I said, I believe only a few moments ago, I’m not involved in health foods. Yes, I’m absolutely certain. Categorically certain. Ball bearings. So. My charity work –

How you do jump around with your questions! For a woman of my age I am in excellent health and I am extremely fortunate in that I have never suffered from cancer. What an impertinent question. In fact, so impertinent that I think I will call this interview to an end. I don’t understand where this line of questioning is going. Perhaps your are new to your job? Can I offer you a few tips?

No. I have never heard of Ophelia Barrington! Now, perhaps I can show you to the door? Would you like me to call Diego –

Are you threatening me young man? I think you’ll find that that is a very serious mistake. Diego! Diego!

Look at what? I am sitting down! What is that you’re waving at me? Well, it’s a website! ‘Well Being, Being Well’. It looks like – a website for….health food and supplements. Acai berry, there’s a whole article – they’re very keen on the health properties of acai berries in the Dominican Republic. The locals claim that acai heals everything from warts to… cancer. Is that what the website is saying?

No. I have not seen this website before. I don’t recognise this young woman – what did you say her name was?  Ophelia Barrington? I’ve never heard of her, although she looks charming. Very healthy. Very white teeth.

She’s not Ophelia Barrington? What a conundrum! … Who is she then?

Sharon Barnes from Guildford. Really. Well if I were Sharon Barnes from Guildford I’d prefer to be Ophelia Barrington, owner and founder of a health food empire!

I say empire because that’s what it says on the website that you keep waving under my nose. So Sharon Barnes was surprised was she that the website was using her picture? I’d have thought she’d be flattered. It’s a nice picture. It’s fame, of a sort.

I’d really hardly call it theft. It’s a picture. Have you really come all the way from England to accuse me of stealing a picture and putting it on a website? Is there currently no news at all in the UK?

As I say, it is not my website, so any spurious claims made on it are not of my concern.

Please don’t raise your voice. And remove your hand from my arm. What ‘spurious claims’ do you want me to read? All right, all right! I’m reading! ‘My brain tumour vanished. My doctors said it was a miracle. I used Well Being supplements to shrink my tumour. You too could cure your cancer by taking Well Being supplements.’ Well, it sounds like Ophelia got better, lucky her.

I have no idea if the acai berries cured Ophelia Barrington, or rather Sharon Barnes from Guildford. I am not a doctor. As we have discussed, I am a ball bearing heiress and charity worker. This has nothing to do with me. I have no idea how you expect me know whether people believed it or not. It’s a tiny website on a far flung corner of the internet. It looks as dusty as the shelves of Holland & Barrett.

Five million followers on Twitter and Facebook! An app! My goodness! I don’t even know what an app is! I’m very old fashioned. My office, such as it is, is a Victorian mahogany desk overlooking the mango trees in the garden and I write all my correspondence in fountain pen…

No you cannot see it. Now really, I’ve given you a lot of my time, and although this website is very interesting and the strange mix up between Ophelia and Sharon is… fascinating…. I don’t know what it has to do with me. I think it’s time you left.

Traced, you say? To here. I thought that Facebook were notoriously secretive about disclosing – oh, you got an injunction. Goodness. And you found that I run the website. Well, well, Monsieur Poirot, congratulations. You’ve exposed my little secret! The ball bearings market has been in decline and I thought, well, why not open a little business selling a few supplements to earn some pennies and make people feel better. What’s the harm in that?

I never said that cancer suffers should ignore their doctors! I never said that!

I don’t know where you got that Tweet. And I’m sure that no-one would be so – so – as to believe that they should –

Your aunt? I’m sorry for your loss. But really, I cannot be held responsible –  if she, by her free choice, decided against surgery and chemotherapy and preferred a more natural course of treatment, I cannot – I will not – be held responsible. If she thought that I was saying the cure was infallible then. Well. I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead. She was your aunt, after all.

What do you mean a tribute? Well, perhaps I could put a … memorial? To her on the website? I’m not sure what else I can do. What sort of tribute had you in mind?

You’d like to see me behind bars would you. Well. I invite you into my house, I put myself out for you, provide you with – water – and this is the way I’m repaid. Really, it is time that you left. You’ve tracked me down, you’ve said your piece, and now you can –

The chief of police? Well, I adore Rodriguez so it will be nothing but a pleasure to welcome him in for a cup of tea. He does love my Assam.

Rodriguez has been replaced? By whom? Well, I’m sure that Miguel will be equally charming. I’m sorry to hear that Rodriguez is in prison, I’ll have to pay him a visit. Still. I’m always happy to meet new officials. Just as a matter of interest, why is the chief of police paying me a visit?

Oh, my dear! The British police have a warrant out for my arrest! How quaint! I wonder what the charges are? Making things up on the internet…ooooo! The whole world will be in jail!

Fraud. I see. Well… As we are both friends here, I should point something out, just in case. I wouldn’t want you to look….stupid. There’s no extradition treaty between the Dominican Republic and the UK.  So, I’m so sorry, there’s nothing you can do. Although obviously I’ll be delighted to welcome the new chief of police.

No need for an extradition treaty?

My papers ARE in order! Well, I mean, if you’re going to be pedantic, Eleanor McCready is my married name. Donald McCready, the ball bearing millionaire

He did exist! How do you know? How do you check that kind of thing? The internet! I should have – well, I know I can’t control the internet, but really. It’s an invasion of privacy, I should complain, I will complain!

So, you think that because I’ve got what you claim are false papers, that I’m facing deportation do you.

On the next flight! Really! And where might that flight go to, pray? I hope it is somewhere sunny!

Jamaica. Right.

Yes, of course I know that there’s an extradition treaty between the UK and Jamaica. What do you think I am, a complete fool?

I suppose that’s the chief of police now? I need to call my lawyer.

glasses

Clare Reddaway

Clare Reddaway’s short stories have been published in anthologies, in magazines, in print and on the web – most recently, Barren Magazine, Fictive Dream and Fairlight Books. This year she received first and local prize at the Frome short story competition, having previously won the Wells and the Momaya short story prizes and been short and longlisted for Mslexia, Fish, Yeovil, Exeter, Bath and Magic Oxygen competitions amongst others. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC Bristol, BBC Wiltshire, Frome FM and on hospital radio stations. . She has read her stories at events and festivals throughout the south-west, where she lives, and runs a live literature event in Bath, called Story Fridays. She likes writing site specifically and has created and curated story events such as Story Friday Goes Swimming, a promenade through a derelict Georgian lido in Bath; Foraged Fictions, stories inspired by the landscape of Bath National Trust property Prior Park; and From Flanders Field To Bath, a commemoration of the centenary of the war hospital in Bath – all of which were well-received by Bath audiences. Clare is also an emerging playwright, and her plays have been performed throughout the UK, including a run at the Edinburgh Festival, and productions in London as well as the south-west. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

If you enjoyed ‘The Interview’ leave a comment and let Clare know.

You can read Clare’s previously published words below:

“Swimming Away” – Barren Magazine

“The Clown” – Fictive Dream

“Touching The Sun” – Fairlight Shorts

Story Fridays:
http://www.awordinyourear.org.uk

You can find and follow Clare at:

Photo by Jody Davis

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