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December 17, 2018

Samantha's Chronicles: Illusion of control

“Give me a minute,” Mr N says as he pulls up alongside a gas pump at a petrol station. He turns off the engine and steps out of the pick-up.

He has a word with the attendant who fills the gas tank and checks the engine. I drink some more. I am feeling calmer now. Mr N is standing some distance away, talking on his phone. I guess he’s speaking with Nabil. Finally, we’ll get some answers.

I take another sip. The seconds tick away. It’s now minutes. I wish he had called him from the car and put him on speakerphone. I’m curious to hear what Nabil has to say. I guess Mr N is just trying to protect me from more trauma. I take another sip. This scotch is really good. It tastes like a Belvanie, probably a 21-year-old. I should probably have eaten first, though, that shopkeeper’s son ate most of my fries and I’m starving. I look in the direction of Mr N, who is now speaking animatedly on the phone. Ah-oh. I hope he’s not mentioning he knows anything about my kidnapping. Or that we’re together. Perhaps it would have been better if he had called Nabil from the police station. Won’t it be his word against ours if Nabil incriminates himself over the phone? Hasn’t Mr N watched any crime movies?

I take another long swig of the scotch as I recall the last crime show I watched. ‘Luther’ starring the immeasurable Idris Elba. This quote from a wench in the series (a killer that has a strange love-like relationship with the Elba, a cop) gives him the following insight into a killer’s mind. In 1988, two psychologists published an article arguing that positive self-deception is a normal and advantageous part of most people’s lives. It turns out, people lie to themselves about three things: they view themselves in implausibly positive ways, they think they have far more control over their lives than they actually do, and they believe the future will be better than the evidence of the present can possibly justify.

I glance at Mr N again. He is taking his time. Should I go up to him? I try and open the car door, but the handle feels like a heavy steel bar and won’t budge. Where’s my strength gone? I’m beginning to feel groggy. Strange, I haven’t had that much to drink. I think of ‘Luther’ again. “They think they have far more control over their lives than they actually do…” I try and cap the flask but I’m having difficulty with motor movements. What’s happening to me? The flask slips out of my hands and some of the scotch pours onto my clothes as the flask rolls to the floor. I weakly wave my hand.

“Help me,” I say to the attendant. He doesn’t hear me. My speech sounds strange to my ear. My tongue is heavy and the speech is slurred. I can still see Mr N in the distance, his back towards me; he is still speaking on the phone.

“Help me…”

Mr N is fading away. I have tunnel vision now. Everything around me has disappeared and all I see is the attendant in my field of vision. I’m feeling very hot; my body temperature has shot up from nowhere. Something is wrong, something is very, very wrong. The fries! No, the boy ate them as well. The tea! Yes, it must be the tea. But why would that shopkeeper want to poison me? It doesn’t make sense! She doesn’t even know me and she knew I had no money on me. The words from ‘Luther’ come back again. “They think they have far more control over their lives than they actually do.”

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