There’s a killer lurking in all of us. Sometimes you just don’t know it.
Take Phil Mercer, for example, what dark secret from his past changes a decent man, and respected professional into a man with murder on his mind?
Down to earth Northerner, Phil Mercer, begins to question why so-called university friends failed to help him establish a practice at London’s Criminal Bar. Despite that and colleagues’ professional jealousy, he goes on to achieve success as a fearless defender of society’s less fortunate until his career is threatened by events triggered by something completely out of his control.
Figuring his life and career are about to change forever, Mercer strives to find a way to right wrongs by inventing a new parlour game called ‘Comfort Zone.’ At a dinner party surrounded by colleagues, he insists they all play the game.
He introduces it after dinner as a ‘storytelling game.’ He adds – “the easy choice is not an option at all. What terrifies you? What scares you shitless? Be brave. Be reckless. You are among friends. What can possibly go wrong? It’s just a parlour game, right?”
And now an interview with Philip, the protagonist of Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense.
What is your full name? Do you have a nickname?
Philip John Mercer. Most people call me Phil, so I don’t have a nickname.
Where and when were you born?
I was born in Manchester, England in 1970.
To which social class do you belong? How does it make you feel?
I feel like I am solid working-class owing to my North of England roots, but I have practised as a barrister in London for fourteen years so felt like an intruder into this middle-class profession. It doesn’t bother me. I am who I am.
What is your background? What makes you you?
Down to earth Northerner, son of a railway worker and trade unionist. I joined the British Army on leaving school, serving in the Intelligence Corps with a spell in Afghanistan. I left the Army with the rank of Sergeant before graduating in law and subsequently qualified as a barrister specialising in criminal law.
Where do you live?
What kind of distinguishing facial features do you have?
I have a lopsided jaw resulting from a rugby injury or so I was led to believe. I later discovered my jaw had been broken during my deployment to Afghanistan. My experiences in Afghanistan were surreal and changed my life completely.
You’re in a lift with your favourite TV movie star, how do you react?
With nonchalance. They are only people, after all, and I detest the trend of celebrity culture.
You sound like a pretty cold guy. Do you have any emotions?
Yes, many. But with a combination of my military and legal training, I guess I control them … most of the time.
Are you happy now your story has been told? Is there more to come?
I’m delighted. My story is about mental health issues: a subject close to my heart. Some people have said they would like to read more about me in future but I’m unsure how that could be done. But hey! Never say never.
You’ve said that your story is about mental health issues – ‘your’ mental health? Is that the result of fighting in Afghan?
Yes, mine and as a result of my being taken prisoner in Afghanistan.
Do you have a motto/favourite saying you’d like to share?
A phrase I heard in the Army. It’s stupid but tickles my sense of humour. It goes like this: “Don’t worry, lad, they can’t make you pregnant.” The context is an NCO advising a worried soldier (male, of course) who is facing a court-martial.
Ah, you do have a sense of humour!! Lol I was getting worried there! So how honest are you about your thoughts and feelings?
Totally, utterly one-hundred percent honest – to a fault.
What aren’t I surprised? And who is the person you despise the most?
Jeffrey Vincent. He’s from the Insolvency Service and conned me in a bankruptcy interview. Now I’m facing prosecution and my career ruined.
Do you have a spouse or significant other?
I did and she was the world to me. It was Liz, my wife. I met her in the Army Intelligence Corps. She was a Captain and I was a Sergeant. I use past tense because she died. I later found out she was murdered.
Jeez, your brief answers are sort of making sense now. Did she ever get justice for her murder?
Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do/or have done today.
What happened to me after I was captured in Afghanistan. That’s the crux of my story.
You’re fucking scary, man!! So who is the person you respect the most, why?
Good question! I have to go for Anthony Fauci, the American physician. He has been placed in such a terrible position within American politics. Yet as both a doctor and scientist, he has remained serenely dignified during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thank you, Phil. I can’t wait to read your story. I wonder though, will my opinion of you change once I do?