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Journey into Disaster
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3.09. Parents under interrogation
Ma’am Papillio looks around: “And Thomas Heger, that’s the man’s full name — isn’t it? Your Tommy, as you call him, does he have a girlfriend here too?”
“Or a boyfriend?” Ma’am Tolisan extends Ma’am Papillio’s question unmoved.
The parents look at each other questioningly.
Vicente replies: “He said, he had a girlfriend in Cebu. But that was over. As far as I know, he has nothing here in the village and no boyfriend.”
“But Mr. Heger would be a good match! Foreigner, rich, good-looking, educated!” asks Ma’am Tolisan, again in an emphatically casual manner.
“We’re all well married, ma’am, and we don’t really know Tommy’s private life,” Lang replies, wiping sweat from her forehead with a hanky. She and everyone from the village are clearly uncomfortable with the subject.
“I note,” says Ma’am Tolisan, looking at the yellow paper, “the parents do not know Mr. Heger’s private circumstances, but let their children travel with the foreigner.”
Rica gets nervous. She stutters: “Tommy has got a girlfriend — a partner — in Germany.”
Ma’am Papillio shakes her head seriously and asks pointedly: “Do you know his partner? Has he ever accompanied Mr. Heger to the village? Has your friend Mr. Heger ever shown you photos?”
The parents timidly shake their heads.
Ma’am Papillio looks up with satisfaction, then she looks around seriously with pressed lips and narrowed eyes: “All children have cell phones with them, and it comes from Heger. What is it about? Maybe gifts for you? Gifts, to get the children?”
Ma’am Tolisan adds in the usual way: “To build trust?”
Ma’am Papillio rubs her forehead and temples with her fingers. Her eyes are closed. She seems focused and thoughtful. Before the parents can answer, she asks sharply: “Did Tommy give you money to allow the children to travel with him?”
“Or other things like cell phones?” adds Ma’am Tolisan sternly.
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