Fool Me Fool You


Podcast Episode

News broadcast introduction music plays, followed by overlapping news reports.

Reporter 1: Breaking news! 300 ceramic bowls from the Asian Civilisations Museum have just been reported as missing.

Reporter 2: 300 bowls from the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore have been stolen!

Reporter 1: Authorities are currently investigating.

Reporter 2: Could this be related to the recent string of thefts happening around Southeast Asia?

Avery: (muffled) I think they’re onto me.

Reporter 1: 300 ceramic bowls are missing.

Zhao: (muffled) I have it covered.

Reporter 2: 300 ceramic bowls are missing!

The broadcasts cut off abruptly. LEE slams the interview room door shut. His heavy footsteps can be heard before the sound of him slamming his hands on a metal table.

Lee: Avery Teo, 18 years old, Year 6 student from School of the Arts, Singapore-

Avery: (interrupting) -Class Y4, Film student, working part-time at Cathay LiHO. 

Lee: Don’t interrupt me. 

Avery: (still interrupting) Sorry, sorry.

Lee: (clears his throat) My name is Inspector Lee. If you dare give me any nonsense, there are far less pleasant ways that this investigation could go, am I clear?

Avery: Crystal. 

An awkward pause.

Lee: Where is your lawyer Ms… (paper rustles) Zhao? It’s not good form to be late.

Avery: She’s stuck in a traffic jam. 

Lee: Very well, I suppose that it can’t be helped. Moving on, you are under investigation as we have reason to suspect that…

Sheets of paper and a pen hit the ground. Rustling cloth can be heard as LEE bends down.

Lee: (muffled) Shoot… (his head slams against the table) Ouch. 

Avery: (genuinely concerned) You might want to ice that or it’ll bruise. (pause) Anyway, aren’t you supposed to wait for Ms. Zhao to arrive before you begin?

Lee: (sharply) Do not speak to me out of turn! (pause, then normally) We don’t have the luxury of time and I’m sure you want to get this over with as well. Ms. Zhao may join in when she arrives-

Avery: (interrupting) Are you allowed to do that?

Lee: (ignoring her) As I was saying, you are under investigation because… (faltering) because…

Paper flutters to the ground again.

Lee: (muttering) Are you kidding me? (then, normally) You are under investigation because-

Avery: (deadpan) You think I stole 300 bowls. For some strange reason. 

Cloth rustles as LEE picks up his notes.

Lee: Right. Yes. Those.

Avery: I didn’t do it.  

Lee: That’s what suspects all say. You just make yourself sound more suspicious… which you are.

Avery: Am I?

Paper rustles. 

Lee: Monday, 17 January 2022, 1906 hours. The bowls were reported missing from their spot in the storage room which happens to be just after you left the museum. This is further backed up by your TraceTogether records. Care to dispute that?

Avery: Are you… just going to interview everyone who was at the museum on that day?

Lee: No, you’re just suspicious. I mean, you enter the museum at 1321 hours and you leave at 1900 hours, just at their closing time. What would you spend so long at the museum for? 

Avery: I don’t mean to be disrespectful, sir, but I’m not sure what I would do with 300 ceramic bowls, if I had stolen them. 

Lee: Aha! So you have stolen them. 

Avery: I didn’t say that.

Lee: Don’t even try to argue with me, it’s clear that you spent the time removing the bowls from their place in the storage. Now, we can make this quick and painless for both of us if you can tell me what you’ve done with them.

Avery: I’ve done nothing. 

Lee: I wouldn’t be so sure about that. There’s CCTV footage, after all.

Avery: (confused) What CCTV footage? 

Lee: The museum footage. 

Avery: (mimicking LEE) Yes, the museum footage, (then normally) but if you can’t show me proof in the footage of me with the bowls, aren’t I supposed to be innocent until proven otherwise or something? That’s, uh, isn’t that how it works? 

Lee: (sighing) Why can’t you just make this easy for both of us?

Avery: You have looked through the footage before interviewing me right?

LEE doesn’t respond. Instead, his chair scrapes back and his heavy footsteps can be heard.

Avery: (calling after him) Are you sure this is your job? 

LEE slams the heavy metal door closed.


Avery: Well… I guess, I’ll just wait.

AVERY’s fingers tap on the table surface. She hums to herself. The sound of cloth rustling as she bends down. 

Avery: Hmm, camera, camera. (pause) Seems like there isn’t any camera or recorder in this room? Oh well, I guess I have everything under control then. 

LEE opens the door and slams it closed. His footsteps can be heard, followed by the sound of him placing a laptop on the table.

Lee: Here you are.

Avery: Oh. I thought you weren’t coming back. 

Lee: Don’t be too disappointed.

Avery: I wasn’t. (pause) Come on, play the footage. 

LEE hits the spacebar, then silence. 

Avery: Could we have some background music? It’s too quiet. 

The sound of crickets chirping. 

Lee: (also uncomfortable) You’re right. I think the footage might have sound. I’ll just turn up the volume-

The sound of a mouse clicking.

Avery: Volume’s at the bottom. Corner. No, your other corner. There. 

Lee: This?

Avery: Yes. (pause) I guess there’s no sound then. 

Lee: Come on, focus. There you are, entering the museum. 

Avery: Mhmm. 

Lee: Alright and you’ve walked out of the frame, into a blindspot. Suspicious, isn’t it?

Avery: Maybe try another camera, the one to the left. The place is crawling with CCTVs, I doubt that there are any blindspots. 

The sound of the mouse clicking.

Lee: (faintly disappointed) Oh, there you are.

Avery: There I am.

Intermittent sounds of the mouse clicking, AVERY hums.

Avery: Uhm, if you’ve already reviewed the footage, shouldn’t you know the point at which I’m acting suspicious? 

Suddenly, the door opens and the sound of heels clicking against the floor can be heard as ZHAO enters.

Zhao: I am so, so sorry for being late-

Avery: Ms. Zhao! Good timing, just when things were getting awkward. 

Lee: Ah, Avery’s lawyer. We were just starting the investigation. Avery and I are looking over CCTV footage together. Take a seat, take a seat.

A chair scrapes against the ground as ZHAO sits down. 

Zhao: (confused) Shouldn’t you have looked over the footage on your own?

Lee: (coughing) Well, yes, that’s usually how it’s done. However, Avery wanted to take a look for herself. 

Zhao: I see… (pause) Have you found anything yet?

Avery: Just me entering the museum. It’s going to take ages at this rate. 

Lee: It would be so much easier for both of us if you just came clean. We won’t fault you too much, you’re only 18. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. 

Avery: How many times have I told you? It. Wasn’t. Me. Do I need to write it on a post-it and stick it on my forehead so you stop forgetting? 

The next four lines are said in quick succession, with LEE and AVERY interrupting each other.

Lee: You’re making this so difficult for me. I’m trying to be nice to you, you know that? 

Avery: I don’t know where your bowls are. Look at your damn CCTV footage, where do you ever see me with bowls or boxes or anything else they could be hidden in? 

Lee: (mocking) I don’t know? (normally) Just cooperate, Avery, just cooperate. 

Avery: Trust me, if I were to walk around with 300 bowls, you sure as hell would notice it.

LEE closes the laptop loudly and his chair scrapes back. Then, his hands slam on the table. 

Avery: (startled) Wha-

Another chair scrapes back.

Zhao: (loudly) Everyone, calm down. 

Chair scrapes against the ground as LEE sits back down.

Zhao: Inspector Lee, please do not yell at my client. Avery, please do your best to cooperate. May I remind you that in this situation, you are- you should not be the one in the position of power? 



Zhao: If that’s clear, we can continue. 

Lee: Let’s continue. 

Zhao: Inspector Lee, I have a question for you: have you interviewed other people present at ACM, like those who work there, or is my client your first suspect?

Avery: Do you take him for a moron-

Zhao: Avery!

Avery: Besides, I’ve already asked him all these questions and he doesn’t answer. 


Zhao: Answer me, Inspector Lee. I don’t know why you’ve been ignoring my client but I believe we deserve to know. 

Lee: I don’t know why ACM employees would steal bowls. 

Avery: (defensive) Why would I steal bowls?

Lee: (irritated) You tell me.

Avery: You really don’t know what you’re doing, do you? What kind of police officer are you anyway, yelling at me and starting the investigation without my lawyer present? What are you doing?

Zhao: (warning) Avery-

Lee: Fine! Do you want me to hear me say it? I don’t know what I’m doing! (pause) I… don’t know what I’m doing. There you have it, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t… (pause) I don’t know what I’m doing. 

LEE exhales loudly as his head gently thumps against the metal table. Then, his irregular, shuddering breaths can be heard.

AVERY taps her fingers against the table. ZHAO coughs awkwardly.

Avery: Are you… okay?

Zhao: Lee… 

The sound of heavy breathing stops. Silence. 

Avery: Alright, I’ll give you a while then. (pause) I’m… sorry, by the way. 

Lee: Why would anybody steal bowls… 

Avery: (tentatively) Most logically? Just sell them for a quick buck. Sell them to a collector who understands their worth and questions will be raised but to your grandma who just wants enough bowls to feed her family? Nobody would suspect a thing.

Lee: That’s… oddly specific…

Zhao: (warning) Avery…

Avery: Before you say it, I don’t have them. I really… would have no use for them, believe me.

Lee: Keep going… 

Avery: (speaking more quickly, excited) I do wonder why someone would steal them. Maybe to use? I mean, bowls are bowls, right? It seems like such a waste to just leave them lying around, collecting dust in some storage room. It’s probably for the best that someone’s made off with them, if that means they’ll finally see the sun. 

Lee: (suspiciously, interrupting) You seem to-

A thump is heard as ZHAO kicks AVERY.

Avery: Ow! Wha-

Zhao: (feigning exasperation) You always gesture too much when you get excited and end up hurting yourself. (pointedly) Really, Avery, you need to be more careful. 

Avery: (nervously) Ah, you know me, always so careless. H- Hey, Inspector Lee, I’m kind of thirsty. Do you mind if you get some water for me? You should probably drink some too… Ms. Zhao, do you want any?

Zhao: No, I’m good.

Lee: I… (pause) Fine. 

LEE’s footsteps can be heard, followed by the sound of him opening and closing the door. AVERY taps her fingers against the metal table.

Zhao: (irritated) What was that, Avery? Are you trying to get us caught?

Avery: … sorry.

Zhao: Just… be careful, okay?  

The sound of the mouse clicking.

Zhao: And stop messing with the laptop. Come on, undo whatever you did. 

Suddenly, the door opens and closes and the clicking cuts off abruptly. LEE’s footsteps, accompanied by the sloshing of water. Then, he sets the glass of water down on the table and sits down. 

Lee: Here.

Avery: Thanks.

The sound of AVERY drinking water and the sound of the mouse clicking, then the sound of a glass being put down. 

Avery: I hope you drank water too before you came back. You know what they say, hydration is… (forgets the saying, awkward pause) good for you or something. Come on, let me take a look-

AVERY knocks the glass over. The sound of the laptop hissing and then, static. Water drips onto the ground. 

AVERY and LEE curse at the same time and AVERY’s chair clatters to the ground. 

Avery: (with some panic) I’m so sorry. That was an accident, I swear! I didn’t mean to knock it over, I’m so sorry, I… 

Lee: (sighing) It’s… fine. It was an accident, I can see that. 

Avery: I’m so sorry. Do I- Do I have to pay for the damage? 

Lee: (sighing) No… I can tell when something is an accident, Avery. I’m sure the cost of my work laptop will be covered anyway… 

Avery: I wish you’d stop sighing, you sound like my father. (pause) Once again, I am so sorry. 

Lee: It’s… fine. Give me a minute, I’ll take the laptop outside to salvage later and bring you some paper towels. 

Avery: Ah… thank you. 


Avery: I’m sorry about it. 

LEE’s chair scrapes back, followed by the sound of his heavy footsteps.

Lee: (muttering to himself) Do I really look old enough to be someone’s father?

The sound of the door opening and closing.

Zhao: What… was that?

AVERY curses repeatedly.

Avery: (still panicking) It wasn’t on purpose… I didn’t mean- He’s going to think we’re more suspicious now. 

Zhao: … It’s fine. I’m sorry.

Avery: For what?

Zhao: I assumed you did it to ruin the footage, thought it was on purpose. 

Avery: I… am trying to clear my name but I’m not that low. It was a mistake, really.

Zhao: That’s why I’m sorry. We’ll figure out how to throw the suspicion off you together, alright? Let’s not be hasty in everything that we do. I have a feeling he’s going to let you off anyway.

Avery: I hope so too…

Zhao: (trying to sound reassuring) Hey, it’s going to be okay. Really. 

Avery: I guess… (pause, then declaring) Besides, I am young and cannot afford to waste time rotting away in jail when so much art is locked up in museums to be freed. 

They both laugh, AVERY more hesitantly than ZHAO. 

The sound of the door opening and closing. LEE’s heavy footsteps can be heard.

Lee: (sounding confused) Ah… where were we?

Zhao: CCTV footage, I believe. 

Lee: Right, yes. We were reviewing the CCTV footage recorded while Avery was in the museum. 

Avery: For “proof”, as you said. 

Lee: Yes, it would provide solid proof (interrupted by AVERY’s cough) or lack thereof of her guilt. However, the laptop we were using to view the footage is currently out of commission. 

Zhao: How unfortunate. 

Avery: (with suppressed laughter) How unfortunate. 

Lee: (coughing awkwardly) How unfortunate indeed. Now, Avery, the offer still stands for you to confess to me. 

Avery: I’m just… 

Zhao: Avery, let me handle this. (to LEE) I’m not quite sure how you think Avery could still be the culprit when you lack any proof of her guilt. 

Lee: (awkwardly) Ah, well, you know…

Avery: Look, it’s just not possible for me to have done it. We’ve looked over the footage, we’ve discussed motivations. (sarcastically) So of course there’s a reason to keep investigating me and wasting everybody’s time when the real culprit is probably getting further and further from you by the second. 

Lee: (resigned) Let’s just… Alright, we’ll leave this as it is. 

Avery: (surprised) Really?

Lee: This isn’t a court trial. You’re just a suspect with no evidence to your name. 

Zhao: (slightly suspicious) This doesn’t seem very…

Lee: Look, just take it. I’m very sorry for the way I treated you and that I let my temper get ahead of myself. I will call you back if more evidence arises but until then, this investigation is not getting anywhere.

Avery: I… Thank you. (surprised, genuine) Thank you.

Zhao: … Thank you. 

Lee: I’ll leave the room first and give you a moment to collect yourself. I hope that despite this interaction, you can still leave me a 5 star rating. 

The sound of footsteps as LEE leaves the room. The door opens. 

Avery: (calling out) Wait, where do I leave a rating?

The door closes.

Avery: (audibly exhaling) Well.

Zhao: Well.

Avery: It… worked?

Zhao: You were so careless, Avery. 

Avery: It all worked out in the end… and it didn’t feel right tricking him. He didn’t deserve that. 

Zhao: He enforces the law. We work against the law.

Avery: Yes but it’s just his job, it’s not like he has it out for me. He was trying to be nice to me too and he changed his mind so quickly at the end, I think he really felt bad about it. 

Zhao: Such carelessness could cost you in the future, Avery. We don’t have the funds for a lengthy court trail or to bail you out of jail.

Avery: (dismissively) I’ll be more careful, I’ll be more careful. 

Zhao: Don’t forget that we still have the matter of the bowls to deal with as well. 

Avery: Oh, don’t worry. That I managed to take care of without a hitch. Come on, Let’s go now. 

The sound of a chair scraping back, followed by two pairs of footsteps—AVERY in sneakers and ZHAO in heels. The door opens, the sound of lights being switched off, followed by the sound of the door closing.


The door opens and closes again. LEE’s heavy footsteps can be heard, as well as some rustling.

Lee: Lesson one: don’t just assume there isn’t a recorder, be sure there isn’t one. Lesson two: acting less competent than you are will always get you places. Check and mate, Avery Teo. I suppose I’ll be calling you back for further investigation soon. 

LEE’s footsteps can be heard. The door opens and closes for the final time.


Netanya Faith Tham (Class of 2024) is a sleep-deprived student and someone who is perpetually spaced out on the surface but, most importantly, she is a writer, constantly looking to carve out a place in the world and find her voice.