by Paolo Copparoni, translated into English by Ruth Stephens
Chapter 11 – The Police General
The police general, Reya’s father, is a tall man with a large black moustache.
He doesn’t smile as he enters the office where Marco is waiting to be questioned, but sits behind the large desk and looks carefully at the younger man.
The police chief easily recognises Marco from the photograph he found in Reya’s bedroom.
He’s furious that the young Italian is not only a dangerous rebel, but also his daughter’s lover!
Angrily, he orders the other police officer out of the room. He has no need of a translator, as he speaks English well. Like Marco, he studied in Britain.
Turning to the young Italian he begins to question him aggressively:
“Tell me who you are!
What are you doing here in Tripoli?
Why was there a rebel flag in your apartment?”
Marco protests his innocence. He is a young engineer, not a rebel. The flag and ammunition aren’t his.
Reya’s father takes out a photo of his daughter. He holds it up so that Marco can see it.
“How do you know this girl?” he demands.
Marco is surprised at the photo, and at the question.
“I’ve done nothing” he repeats.
“I’m simply working here in Tripoli for a few months…
I met Reya at a demonstration, and we fell in love.
But I’ve done nothing wrong…. you must believe me!”
By now Marco is in tears.
“Enough lying…..where is she?” insists the police chief.
“I don’t know…. really!
I haven’t heard from her for days. I have no idea where she is.”
The questions are repeated, again and again, but Marco has nothing new to add.
After an hour of questioning, the police general decides to put him Marco into a prison cell, but this time on his own.
He’s sure that, after a few days in the cold, dark prison with no one to talk to, Marco will tell him where Reya is, and perhaps confess to helping the rebels.
So Marco finds himself locked up again, but this time alone, and in the dark.
While he’s glad that the questions have finished, he’s terrified at what the future may hold!
Beyond the walls of the prison, the civil war has started. The situation is very dangerous.
Reya has been busy helping the rebels and has not thought about Marco for several days.
But that evening she decides to go home to collect some clean clothes.
She enters the house late at night, being careful not to switch on any lights so as not to wake anyone.
But opening the door to her room, she finds angry father waiting for her!
“Reya! Where have you been?” he demands.
“I’ve been staying with friends.”
“I know who your friends are – rebels!” her father says.
He takes the photo of Marco from the pocket of his pyjamas.
“I have one of them in prison already, and soon I will arrest the others!
YOU will stay here from now on. It’s too dangerous outside.
And I forbid you to see any of those people again!”
“You can’t tell me what to do!” shouts Reya.
She is shocked at the picture of Marco.
“I’m an adult and I do what I want!”
“Oh yes?” replied the police general.
“Reya, unless you stay here at home, like a good daughter, something very bad is going to happen to your boyfriend…
You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?”
Reya doesn’t want to stay in the house with her angry father, but she is afraid of putting Marco in more danger.
She decides she has no choice but to stay at home for at least one night.
But also, that she must think of a plan to help Marco!