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The interview

by Sohom Das 

Posted: 09 June 2018
Word Count: 5112
Summary: Cynical radio presenter interviews a shallow annoying guest, whom she increasingly despises (with a twist!)


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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


For at least half a minute, Cara actually enjoyed the video.  Her desk had been violated by hundreds of red wine circles, accumulated over the years. A disregarded cigarette wafted ghostly shapes, its purpose seemingly to add atmosphere in the background, rather than deliver nicotine. After half a minute, the realisation finally hit her. This was not a joke. Not a spoof. The video was real. A non-ironic attempt at an actual rap music video. Ironically. It was bursting at the seams with clichés. And yet, there the evidence was. Undeniably. A defiant 35 million views on YouTube.
 
Cara’s phone erupted next to her.  It was Alex.  Of course it was; he had a knack for perfect timing. Or imperfect timing, depending on your perspective.  Either way, it was a knack.
“Boss?”
“Did you check out any of her material?”
Cara liked Alex.  He was a good producer.  He gave her the exact right proportion of autonomy and guidance.  She knew how delicate this balance always had to be. For everybody, of course, but especially for her.  She was too cynical for her own good. According to Alex, several friends, both her sisters, and her ex-husband.  Surely, they couldn’t all be wrong.  Alex was also a good friend. Mediocre to good, at least. Of course there was that one… thing, incident, mistake, occurrence that happened between them. It could have many incarnations, depending on your perspective. But that was over a year ago, was cocaine-fuelled and was presently irrelevant to both of them.
 
Despite her fondness of Alex, or perhaps because of it, she always felt disproportionately irritated when he called to give her a ‘pep talk’ before an assignment.  She could feel him trying to steal her views, prematurely.
“Yes.  I’m watching a video of her right now,” she answered. “She’s quite the provocative artist. It’s ground-breaking.”  She spoke her words even more dryly than usual.
“C’mon,” Alex sighed. “Give her a chance.”
“I’m not sure what impresses me most about Fam-E,” Cara enunciated the rapper’s name in a sarcastic grandiosity.  “Is it her clearly over-sized clothes or the clichés about sex and violence in her lyrics? Or perhaps her bold anti-establishment stance that she subtly conveys by constantly swearing and giving the finger to the camera?”
“Why did I choose you for this interview again?”
“Almost in a cynical attempt to booster her rebellious image to sell more of her shitty music.”
“Cara, please!”
She took a swig of red wine out of a glass and then had the sudden realisation that she couldn’t remember if she’d poured herself one yet this evening or if it was left over from yesterday.  Spit or swallow?  She had a split second to decide. She retched.  It was from yesterday.  She cleared her throat and tried to salvage her taste buds with the rest of the previously snubbed cigarette.
“The reason you asked me to do the interview, Alex, is that you know I ask searching, sometimes profound questions rather than being constantly obsequious, like Mike or Julia, or your other lapdogs.”
“C’mon. What did I tell you about slagging off the rest of the team?”
“I can’t remember, Alex. Was it that I should do it more often?” Cara could sense Alex screwing up his face on the other end of the line.
“Look, Fam-E is a female hip hop artist.  She’s topping the charts.  She’s black, I think.  She’s hot property. We’re not exactly a trendy station okay?”
“I thought she was grime.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Err, one’s harder to remove with your bog-standard detergent.”
“I men, do you think the average listener thinks of us as a hip station?” Alex said, simultaneously ignoring and not understanding Cara’s joke.
“I think you using the term ‘hip’ ironically negates us from the very entity you are trying to describe.”
“Okay, just because you might find her music mediocre…”
“Mediocre?  I think it’s pronounced ‘abysmal’.”
Cara imagined his face screwing up tighter, and that crimson shade, always amusing to her, creeping in.
 
“Cara.  Just please bear in mind that regardless of what you, we, think of her, she is very popular and the interview will draw in big numbers for us.  If it goes well, it will be in the best interests of our station. You know, the one that pays your bills?”
“The one that ears my soul?”
“Do you understand me?”
“You’re asking me to suck up to Fam-E.”
“I wish.  I don’t think you’re capable of sucking up to anybody.  Just don’t give her too muchof a hard time.”
“A hard time?” Cara clicked below the video to reveal Fam-E’s lyrics. “Feel that base in the place.  What do you want, four A.K.’s, or mace to your face?  Don’t judge my race.How would lowly old me capable of giving such an intellect a hard time?”
“So, are you with me?”
“It’s actually very noble of her to give her victims a choice. Four AK’s or mace?  What a conundrum.”
“Cara, are you going to behave?”
“I think she might be up for a Nobel Prize in literature soon.”
“Cara?”
“Watch this space. Fam-E Nobel ace, speaks with such grace.”
“Cara, answer me.” He sounded deflated.
“Sorry Alex, I’ve got another call on the line.” Cara lied and hung up.
Her grin faded into disgust as she swallowed more red wine, forgetting that she had just ascertained that it was from yesterday. She grappled around in her pocket frantically.  Dammit. Out of cigarettes.
 
*
 
The next morning, Cara fingernails tinkered incessantly her desk. She writhed in her large leather chair, in the centre of the radio station. A relentless icy craving for a cigarette throbbed in her chest. She had run out of excuses to blabber into the microphone over a quarter of an hour ago. She was running on fumes.  She began to doubt that Fam-E would actually show up.  Repeatedly reassuring the listeners wasn’t enough. She felt compelled to play several Fam-E tracks to hold the attention of the rapper’s fans. Her songs seemed to grate on Cara exponentially as she played them. The sheer vacuousness of the lyrics vexed her, as if Fam-E was taunting her, despite her absence. But still, 35 million views.Cara suddenly felt older than she ever had before. Which of course, she was.  
 
When she finally did arrive, Fam-E did so with ceremony and attitude and with an entourage of men, each one of them muscular and tanned. Each one of them exuding what Cara deemed an attitude of mild hostility, or an air of un-approachableness, at the very least.  
Fam-E sauntered with an amplified limp and an exaggerated chewing of gum.  This, along with an over-sized baseball cap (with a cartoonised ganja leaf on it, next to her own face) seemed comical to Cara. Like a caricature of her own image. Like a child’s attempt of a costume of a female gangsta rapper.  The irritation, the disdain that Cara had unearthed watching Fam-E’s music videos and interviews the previous night, everything that she had painstakingly quashed with her professionalism, now returned with a vengeance.  Like every aspect of Fam-E was competing to earn Cara’s annoyance; her appearance, her attitude (she had not even acknowledged Cara or any of the radio crew, let alone apologised), her face, the dispirited countenance of her entourage, and her very being. The very cells that she was made of. To top it all off, she had a large cup of fresh Starbucks; contributing at least ten minutes to her tardiness, according to Cara’s calculations.
 
By the time they took the first break for a tune, Cara was exasperated.  The interview had been bland and daunting.Like talking through treacle, she thought to herself.  Drawing any sensible comments from Fam-E had been tortuous.  Even coherent phrases were scarce. Cara had to repress flashbacks from Ali-G interviews she had laughed at as a teenager. She genuinely wondered if her guest might have some kind of learning disability.  She looked down at her watch, horrified that only ten minutes had grinded by.
 
As the tune played, Fam-E’s attention went immediately to her phone.  She let out a steady stream of unintelligible mutterings and guffaws as she scrolled through social media comments.  She stared down for the entirety of the song, occasionally joining in to her own chorus, not once acknowledging the existence of the others in the studio. For the only time ever, Cara willed the Fam-E song to last longer. But it did not.
 
As the music subsided, Cara slapped the desk to divert Fam-E’s attention from her phone. “And we’re back on air,” she said, more for the benefit of her guest than her listeners.
“Safe, Tara. I just wanted…”
“It’s Cara.” For the second time, she almost added.
Fam-E flashed her a gold-glinted smile, oblivious that the joke she believed they shared had not been reciprocated.
“Sweet, Cara.  I’d like to dedicate this interview to them pussy-hole doubters who said I was never gonna make it.”
“Right.  Once again Fam-E, this is a live daytime recording and we’d be very grateful if you don’t swear.  I’d like to apologise to the listeners…”
“I didn’t fucking swear!”
“You did.”
“When?”
“Well, aside from two seconds ago, you said P-U-S-S-Y.”
“P-U-what?”
Cara spelled out the word slowly and deliberately.
“That’s not a swear word. How can it be? It’s a cat, blud.”
“Well I suppose it’s all about context.”
“I meant it as in cat though, innit?”
“You meant to say ‘cat-hole doubters’?”
“Yeah, fam,” she flashed gold again. Another unshared joke.
“Illogical, but okay.  So who are the doubters? I mean, specifically?”
“I dunno, all those who said I wouldn’t make it.”
“Who’s been saying that, Fam-E?”
There was a long pause. “My mum said I should give up all this rapping stuff.”
“But you dedicated your whole album to your mum?”
“Yeah.”
“And you wrote an entire song in her honour; ‘I effing love my mother-effing mother’.”
“Yeah, I aint dissing my mum, fam, you just arksed who doubted, so I gave you an example.”
“I asked…”
“That’s what I said, arksed.”
“And your mother is a doctor, I read on your Wikipedia page,” Cara said tyring, though struggling to force eye contact.
“I don’t define my mother by her job.”
“Fine but she isa doctor.”
“Whatevs.”
“I just that you don’t mention it at all in your song that’s got three verses about her.”
“Yeah, so?”
“I just find it interesting, that’s all.”
“Thanks, fam.”
Fam-E’s cap had slipped forward, covering her pimply, blotchy face.  She adjusted it. It only then occurred to Cara how young she looked. The rapper’s demeanour had somehow managed to camouflage it. 
“And I also heard that your father-“
“And those deadbeat teachers doubted me,” Fam-E leant towards the microphone and gesticulated wildly with her hands. Cara recalled the same gesture from several music videos.  It looked even sillier up close.
“Yeah, for all those teachers who said I wouldn’t amount to anything. My careers adviser, who told me I couldn’t not never find no job.  I’ve got this to say: Suck your mum.”
“Okay, so…”
“’Suck’ aint swearing.”
“Sure, thanks. So, you’re saying all your teachers doubted you. They judged you.”
“Exactly, blud.”
“But you did drop out of school at 14, right? You rap about it in your song ‘Ghetto Princess” Bow down, how about right now, coz I’m your queen.  F school. I left school, at 14 to follow more dreams, and pure schemes.”
“Well, I was really 15. But ‘14’ rhymes better with ‘more dreams’.
“Okay.”
“And my careers adviser had the nerve to say I couldn’t get a decent job just cause my numbers weren’t no good. And my literary.”
“Literacy.”
“Yeah, my reading, fam.”
“But if you dropped out of school at 15 with no qualifications, isn’t that a fair assessment of the situation?”
“Listen mate,” Fam-E scowled.  Her eyes locked with Cara’s. “Screw their literary. I’m one of the best lyricists in the universe of all time.  Check this: I aint gonna cease or desist.  I’m gonna persist.  I insist. If you resist it’s a death wish. Arms will get deployed, you’ll get destroyed quick, cos you’re a bitch.  See?”
Cara felt a sensation in her stomach. She remembered the stale red wine gulp from the previous night (actually, two nights ago).
“And I didn’t swear, blud. Cos I meant ‘bitch’ as in dog, not ‘bitch’ as in ‘bitch’.” Fam-E jerked her Starbucks cup up to her face and spilled coffee down the front of her baggy tracksuit top. Cara had to bow her head to disguise a brief miniature burst of laughter. Fam-E did not notice. “Listen, yeah.  Nobody never expects peeps from my ends to make it. Haters don’t wanna see people get out of the hood.”
“You’re from north London, right?”
“That’s where I rep.”
“But there have been quite a few rappers from there. Skepta and Wretch 32 are from Tottenham.” 
“It’s a mad place, blud. It’s where the Tottenham riots was.”
“I’m actually from North London too. Crouch End.”
“Safe,” Cara sensed Fam-E shrink away. She started fiddling with her Starbucks lid. 
“Where abouts in North London are you from?”
“All around, really. Muswell Hill.”
“Muswell Hill!”
“All around.”
“That’s hardly a gritty-“
“Listen cuz,” Fam-E boomed, “all I’m saying is that I try to take a positive attitude to coming from the streets. Peeps can’t stand it.” She had leant forward onto her elbows, unaware that her tracksuit top had ventured into the small pool of coffee on the desk. Cara said nothing.
“Positive attitude?”
“Yes fam.”
“But to quote the chorus from your latest single,” Cara ruffled through her notes, “‘Kill ya till ya dead from it’: My s- is the bomb like atomic, in ya ear like a grommet. You mess with me I’ll burn ya like a comet, kick you til ya vomit, me soft? Far from it.  I’ll kill ya til you’re dead from it.”
Fam-E grinned with a mis-placed self-admiration. She leaned back and stretched her arms out. Cara was momentarily engrossed by the large coffee stain on her top. It looked like a country, but Cara could not figure out which one. She stifled a sarcastic comment about fam-E rhyming ‘from it’ with ‘from it.’ She ignored another crushing wave of nicotine craving. “Isn’t that arguably the oppositeof a positive attitude?”
“See fam, that’s typical. All you middle-class whiteys assume that all rap music, grime music, does is idolise violence.”
“But doesn’t it?”
“Course not.”
“Doesn’t yours?”
“No, fam.”
Cara’s eyebrows raised. “I’ll kill ya til you’re dead from it.”
“It’s ironical, isn’t it?”
“And the front cover of the single. You holding 2 machine guns, with a bunch of young men all dressed in balaclavas. Is that ironic?”
“The violence in my music is like an ironical reflection of my viewpoint of the world, I’m exposed to. I can’t help it if I grew up in a violent place.”
“Muswell Hill?”
“North London. Around. You know, Tottenham.” She whispered the last word, unconvincing to them both. “Anyways, it’s like, you and I are both reporters. I just report on what I see. The madness I get exposed to. People need to know.”
“I’m a presenter, not a reporter.” Cara massaged her temples slowly. Battling the tirade of sarcastic comments inside her head felt exhausting. She felt the harbinger of a headache developing. 
“All you and your type do is judge us. You probably think I just sit around smoking weed all day, don’t you?”
Type? Us? We’re practically neighbours!Cara did not say. “So, what music, aside from hip-hop does Fam-E listen to?” Cara asked, after a long pause, in the most neutral voice she could muster.
“Don’t change the subject, you skank. You think I’m a stoner.”
“Yes I do.”
“Exactly! Because I’m from Musw… North London and I’m black.  You don’t even know me.”
“No, it’s because in all the videos I’ve seen, you’ve gone out of your way to portray that you use cannabis. You’re smoking a spliff, or rolling one up in pretty much every single scene.”
Fam-E grunted.
“Plus, your first mix tape was called ‘Smoke weed on the daily.’
Fam-E repeated her grunt, but with louder, deeper emphasis.
“Plus, you’re currently wearing a baseball cap with a marijuana leaf on it.”
One of Fam-E’s, up until now silent and inanimate entourage grinned. He immediately retracted it.
“Plus, you’ve got a tattoo of a huge spliff on your forearm.”
Fam-E leaned back and pulled down her tracksuit top sleeve slowly under the desk.  
“Look Fam-E, I think we’re starting to rile each other a little bit.”
“I ain’t riled. You’re riled. I’m chilled, blud!” she barked, riled.
“Okay. Let’s change subject. Tell me, what it’s like being a young female in a very male-dominated genre?”
Fam-E’s eyes flicked around the studio, as if noticing it for the first time. Cara could see anger thrashing around. After a while, it subsided. Cara pictured Alex’s face, handsome. Stern. Disappointed. As if on cue (he had uncanny timing), a message appeared on computer her screen; Take it easy on her!She switched off the monitor.
 
“Well yeah,” her voice faltered, “it’s good to have women around cos the boys may have paved the way but we’re here now. So maybe females like me can pave the way for other genders in the future, you know what I’m saying?”
Cara didn’t.  She mustered as genuine a smile as she could. “Do you see yourself as a feminist?”
“Course.”
“But you do insult a lot of females in your songs. You use the words ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’. You have a tune called ‘Trample that tramp’.  How do you reconcile this aggression towards your female peers with your supposed feminism? Is this also ironical?” She correctly suspected Fam-E would not pick up on her mocking mispronunciation of the word. 
“I don’t recompile nothing!  I don’t have to. I’m Fam-E! That is a diss-track for that stupid bitch Miss Dynabooty.  She’s a slag and I hate her.”
“Do you not see any similarities between yourselves?”
Fam-E glowered across the desk “What’choo mean?”
“Well, you’re both from North London. Both grew up around violence. Apparently. Both young females, both roughly the same age, both mixed race, both grime artists, both gritty. You’re both nominated for a Brit Award this year” God only knows why! Cara screamed it in her head to prevent herself from saying out loud. 
“Nah, we’re totally different blud,” Fam-E snapped, as she banged her fist on the table.  “We’re in different gangs.” She adjusted her cap. “Plus, she’s a snitch. She talks to the po-po.”
“The po-po?”
“Police.”
“And you don’t?”
“Never!”
“Okay.” Cara couldn’t stop herself. A picture of Alex flashed through her mind again. “What if you had information about a suspected paedophile? Would you relay that to the police?”
Fam-E opened her mouth then closed it.  Cara though of the goldfish she had as a child.
“Nah cuz.  I’d get me and my boys to sort it out ourselves,” Fam-E eventually replied. 
“As in vigilante?”
“Ha-ha. Yes mate.”
“But what if it is only a suspicion. Shouldn’t all the evidence be weighed-up. Wouldn’t he deserve a fair trial?”
“Not if he’s a peado.”
“But what if he’s only suspectedof these crimes?”
Cara couldn’t even tell where her guest’s confusion started and her naturally gawping facial expression ended. “What I’m asking is, what if you didn’t know? Then what would you do?” 
“Well, if the cap fits…” Fam-E replied smugly, as if this cleared up the matter.
 
The silence grew awkwardly. Fam-E’s face abruptly darkened. “Go on then. Ask us a question, you bambaclot!” she growled. This swift change, idiotic to aggressive, flummoxed Cara. Like a pet she had been stroking had unexpectedly attacked her. She forced a smile, mumbled something placid into the microphone and played another Fam-E tune. As the baseline blared, Fam-E’s face was already absorbed by the enchantment of her phone. Cara tried and failed to gauge the mood. Her guest’s face was neutral, illuminated by the screen, and still utterly gormless.
 
After the tune faded out, Cara once again introduced her guest. “We’re here with Brit Award nominated London grime artist, Fam-E. She’s already sold out her UK tour, and is possibly going to add some more dates. Fam-E, it’s great to have you hear on the show.”
“Pleasure,” Fam-E grumbled with scantily disguised irritation, barely lifting her eyes from her phone.
“I thought we could maybe talk about race. I’m sure our listeners would be interested.”
“I don’t see colour.”
“Right.”
“I only see black and white.”
“What?”
“No, I meant everyone’s the same to me.” 
“You do use the N-word quite liberally in your lyrics and you did mention your background earlier.”
“Listen, yeah?” Fam-E adjusted her cap again and threw her phone onto the desk. “People…” she was momentarily distracted by a text message, which made her smile. “People don’t like seeing a black girl like me make it big in the biz.”
“So, you’re black?”
“Course.”
“I thought you were mixed race?”
“That’s right. My dad’s Irish and my mum’s from St. Lucia but my identity, who I think of as myself,” (Fam-E explained unnecessarily), “is as an African-American.”
“But you’re neither.”
“Neither what?”
“Neither African nor American.”
“Listen, yeah?” Fam-E screwed up her face. “You’re confusing me. Tring to trip me up with tricky questions. Anyways, you’re white. You can’t be chatting to me about race.”
“Actually, I’m half Turkish.”
“Is it? Safe,” Fam-E nodded an approval. Of what, Cara had no idea. “Anyway, race doesn’t exist.”
“I think it does, Fam-E.”
“Okay. Define race.”
“Well, it’s a way of categorising humans, based mainly on origin and colour of skin but also with cultural and symbolic connotations.”
“Exactly!” said Fam-E, confusing them both.
Fam-E sat back and tapped her chin with her finger for a while. “I identify as fully black.”
“So you’re saying that you can choose your race.”
“Course you can.”
“Even though race doesn’t apparently exist.”
“No. You said that.”
“Respectfully, Fam-E. I’m pretty sure you dais that.”
“OK. Well, respeckfully, what about that politician Rachel Dilidad?”
“You mean Rachel Dolezal? She wasn’t a politician.”
“But she stood up for what she believes in and I respeck that.”
Cara put her head in her hands and longed for the end of the day. Dead air cascaded over the radio waves, for a small eternity. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
“I’m just bigging up Rachel Dahlek-zoo”
“No, I mean everything. What on Earthdoes any of it mean? You are a complete imbecile!” Cara looked across the room. Her two other colleagues, Mike and Julia were frozen in consternation. She had forgotten they were even in the studio. Fam-E glared at her. Vexated, yet stillutterly gormless. Her entourage sat behind her. Muscular. Tanned. Still exuding mild hostility. Yet somehow unperturbed by the situation.
 
Cara sensed, then saw a frantic movement from the corner of her eye. She swivelled her chair around to see Alex flapping his hands around on the other side of the large studio window. She turned her chair back round, just as Fam-E bolted out of her seat. She hadn’t realised her guest was so very short. She found herself wondering how she had camouflaged her height in all her videos.
“Listen, yeah? I’m a gold selling artist, yeah? I didn’t come on your stinking show to be insulted. You’d better show some respeck.”
“It’srespect. It has a T on the end! And it’s asked, not arksed!” Cara’s words burst out from a visceral place. “Everything you say is utter crap. Its all bullshit!”
 
Mike leaned in, and with shaky hands, clicked at buttons under his microphone. In an upbeat, calm voice that betrayed the panic in his face, he said “Well thank you both for such a …. passionate interview. Once again, Beast Radio would like to apologise if anybody….” Cara switched off his microphone. She too stood up and leant forward, looming over Fam-E. “You are a complete bloody cretin!” She clicked on a few buttons on the keyboard.A Miss Dynabooty tune boomed.
 
Fam-E disconnected her microphone, spun around, and headed towards the door. Cara ripped her own headphones off and hurled them towards the back of Fam-E’s head.
 
Time stalled. Cara marvelled at the headphones as they appeared to pulsate through the air, like in a slowed-down stop-start animation. Her mind jumped into the future. A reprimand from Alex. Obviously. A dressing down from the station’s owner. Pressure for a public apology for swearing (which she could tolerate), but also for offending Fam-E. Assaulting her with headphones. Is that thee type of violence you get in Muswell Hill?!The rapper’s faux image would hopefully preclude a lawsuit but a Twitter spat was inevitable. And then what? Years of random abuse from misguided pimpled youths on the street? Would any other radio station accept an over-the-hill, cantankerous, borderline alcoholic who had attacked one of her most famous guests? Was her career over? The thought offered her a sliver of comfort.
 
Centimetres before contact with its victim, the headphones crashed downwards. They were still connected to Cara’s computer. Unaware, Fam-E slammed the door behind her. Her entourage were watching, though seemed unmoved, as ever.
 
Cara exhaled, only then realising that she had been holding her breath. Her career wasn’t quite over yet. Her fantasies evaporated.
 
*
 
Walking down the stairwell, Cara’s ears were ringing intensely. An intense sensation of déjà vu. It took her a while to place the feeling. Like simultaneously being awake and in a dream. She remembered the huge booming explosion. The floating feelingin the aftermath, rather than the actual sound of the bomb. She was merely a few hundred feet away, down the high street. She was very aware of how things could have turned out differently if she hadn’t been running a few minutes late, if she had actually caught the bus two minutes earlier on the morning of the London terror attacks in 2005. It was hard to process and even harder to describe. Although she had tried to; that night to her then future husband (now ex). What were the words she had used? Eerie, surreal derealisation.Now reliving the sensation, she felt that it was more like an awareness of surviving, but being too dazed to appreciate it.
 
Alex’s chastisement had felt nowhere as acerbic, as she had imagined. He even made a joke about it, about Fam-E, at the end. Whilst he squeezed Cara’s shoulder, reminding her briefly of another time they both had wanted to forget. She couldn’t remember the content of the joke, but could still sense its tone. Light, with a hint of reassurance.
 
At the exact moment she stepped out of the building, Cara remembered that her cigarettes were upstairs in her jacket. Up all those stairs and beyond all that security. She cursed. Then an overpowering urge to giggle came over her. She had to physically grip the railings of the steps outside to resist it. Cara didn’t know where it had come from. A release of nervous energy perhaps? The emergence of insanity? Both? 
 
Norman, a news broadcaster of nodding acquaintance, scurried past her, seeming to avoid eye contact.
“Give me a cig, Norman.”
“I don’t have any,” he lied.
“I just saw you with a pack,” she said, calling his bluff.
“I’m sorry Cara.” He walked past but stopped momentarily without turning around. “I can’t be associated with you.” 
Cara opened her mouth, unsure of how to respond. She sensed a mild dread from behind her. She turned around slowly. Down the alley, Fam-E and her entourage were leaning against a wall, all smoking. Her nemesis’ gaze was fixed and burning. She spoke rapidly out of the side of her mouth at her minions, who remained stoically disinterested, as ever. Her arms gesticulated wildly as if they had a life of their own. 
 
After a few moments, Fam-E marched towards Cara. Cara froze. She battled briefly considered turning around and running. That would be ridiculous though, wouldn’t it? She had a flashback to a dark, rainy night a couple of years ago. She had been mugged, walking home from town that night. She tried to recall any details from the incident that might help her now. None were forthcoming. She briefly contemplated jumping into some kind of karate stance. But that would be even more ridiculous. So by default, Cara did nothing. 
 
Fam-E approached and when she was barely a step away, she dug into her pocket. Cara breathed in sharply. Surely, she would not have brought a knife with her to a radio interview.
 
Fam-E pulled out a box of cigarettes. “Want one?” 
Cara pulled one out, and bent down to light it from Fam-E’s lighter, all the while, keeping her suspicious eyes locked on her. Cara noted that Fam-E smoked Davidoff Lights, her own favourite brand.
 
Both women looked at each other with intrigue for a while, taking long slow drags of their cigarettes. As if ingesting and releasing thoughts with smoke. Fam-E’s body posture seemed relaxed, far more comfortable than she had been in the studio. 
 
“It was a good interview, Cara.”
Cara suddenly spluttered. Smoke shot out of her nostrils and mouth as she squawked. Fam-E patted her on the back. Too gently to be effective but more as a gesture.
“Its good to have conflict,” Fam-E mused. “Marcus, my manager, says that in days of divided attention, a tiny bit of controversy is necessary to give you an edge. To give the masses something to natter about.” She seemed to have grown so much older, in such a short space of time. In her stance. In her words. Somehow, in her face.
Cara was lost for words. After a few puffs, she asked “Are you saying this is all an act?”
“Hyperbole much?”
“Sorry?”
“All I’m saying is that if life imitates art and art imitates life then grey areas are inevitable.” 
Cara stared blankly. That eerie surreal derealisation had returned. An awareness of surviving something. 
“It’s a quote, Cara.”
“Who from?”
“You mean ‘from whom’? It’s Ghandi.”
“Really?”
“No, you complete bloody cretin!” Fam-E said the words in an overly-posh, mocking voice. She stubbed out her cigarette on the wall, winked and walked away.
 
A few moments later, her entourage followed her. They remained muscular and tanned. Each one of them continued to exuding an attitude of mild hostility. They completely ignored Cara, as they walked past. 
 
“Cheerio chaps,” Cara found herself saying, unsure why. She had rarely, if ever, used either word previously. 
 
 






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Comments by other Members



michwo at 12:12 on 09 June 2018  Report this post
Sohom,
The ending took me by surprise I have to say.  Fam-E may have dubious talent as a singer, but she sure is a good actress!  If I'm honest, I found it a bit long, but some of the 'short' stories I translate would be better described as LONG short stories, i.e. 5,000 words +  How old are you?  You certainly speak and write the language of now.  That's something I could never lay claim to unfortunately, but I am 68 going on 69, so I doubt I could get away with it even if I tried.  Are you from North London yourself?

Sohom Das at 07:18 on 10 June 2018  Report this post
Hi MIchwo,

Thanks for your feedback. I'm almost 40 and live in Enfield, in North London. 
I take your point about it being too long. Any specifc advice on the material?

Thanks

Catkin at 09:29 on 10 June 2018  Report this post
Hello! Sorry I wasn't here to welcome you to CC. I've been a rubbish host lately.

I'll try my best to look at this this week.

michwo at 11:19 on 10 June 2018  Report this post
Sohom,
I think if you should take notice of anyone on this website, it's the person who's just contacted you at 9 29 am this morning - Catkin.  I'm anything but a literary critic unfortunately and "The Interview" is too in my face with throw-away comments like It's good to have conflict and Suck your mum, etc. for me to react to it in a calm, rational, considered way.  But I am prejudiced in favour of description and thoughtfulness rather than human interaction and your story has plenty of the latter.
I can't say:  Tone it down, because it may well be that what I perceive as scoring points off people and argument for the sake of argument really does exist in this post-punk era.  Perhaps it reminds me of Bill Grundy's controversial interview with the Sex Pistols - that wasn't for the faint-hearted either.  Just one little thing about spelling.  At one point you have Cara say in her best interviewer voice:  Respectfully, Fam-E.  I'm pretty sure you dais that.  I think what you mean to say is:  I'm pretty sure you did say that.  Sorry I can't be more helpful, Sohom.  My world isn't yours admittedly and I'm more of a translator than a genuine creative writer anyway.

Sohom Das at 14:09 on 10 June 2018  Report this post
Thanks, Michwo. I'll have a think about every thing you said.

I look forward to hearing from you, Catkin.

Chestersmummy at 13:08 on 12 June 2018  Report this post
Hi

I thoroughly enjoyed this.  It was a bit long, I suppose, but because it was entertaining this didn't grate too much and it is difficult to say how it could be made shorter as I enjoyed the interaction between the presenter and rap star so  much.  There was one instance that did confuse me - on first reading I wasn't sure if the bomb had gone off just after the bollocking from Alex and she'd escaped because of that but on second reading I saw that wasn't the case.  Perhaps that paragraph could be re-worked to make that point clearer to the imbecilic.  I also wasn't sure of the relevance of the meeting with Norman so perhaps that could be cut. 

Like Michwo, I am from a different generation so a lot of the slang was unfamiiar.  'Blud' for instance, never heard of that.  Because of my ignorance, sometimes I wasn't sure whether they were unforced errors or slang terms.  For instance, like Michwo, 'dais' threw me although I'm pretty sure this is correct but others I'm not sure about, for instance 'The one that ears my soul', also ' She looked down at her watch horrified to see that only ten minutes had 'grinded' by'.  Is this meant to be 'ground' or is it a play on words related to grind music?

I suppose as you flagged it up that it had a twist ending, the fact that the cretinous rap singer turned out to be someone from MENSA did not surprise but you can certainly right and your dialogue was spot on,.

Best wishes,

Chestersmummy at 13:10 on 12 June 2018  Report this post
'Woops' - write not 'right' - well what do you expect from an imbecile!

Sohom Das at 15:24 on 12 June 2018  Report this post
Many thanks, Chestersmummy. Very helpful.

salli13 at 09:49 on 17 June 2018  Report this post
This is a bit long so i won't get to read until later in the week.
Salli


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