VOICES: The Interviews
Allow me tell you about the little project AJ Brown and I are working on. In the coming months, one character from each story in AJ Brown’s collection VOICES will be interviewed by me! Hmm… Actually, let me tell you what AJ says about our project:
“No, this is not your typical interview session. What I want to do is make each interview like a story, one that continues until we reach the end. Some of these are going to be short. Some of them might be long. I don’t know. Like you, I will find out just how long each interview is based on the questions Lisa provides me. I don’t know the questions ahead of time and neither do the characters.
Since this is an interview, I will go ahead and say up front there are spoilers in each session. If you have not read Voices, I urge you to do so before continuing. If you haven’t read the collection, you have been made aware of possible spoilers.”
So, as the man says, Spoiler Alert!
* Spoiler Alert * Spoiler Alert * Spoiler Alert *
While this project was originally intended to be a promotional piece, it has taken on a life of its own… or maybe the characters have taken over. It’s hard to say. Read Voices, follow the interviews here and at Type AJ Negative… let me know what you think.
Voices: The Interviews
Session 7: Dave
Lisa feels better about the interviews. B’s went well. The young lady had been honest and forthcoming. She had given Lisa hope that all of the interviews wouldn’t be filled with deception or anger or lies. She looks at B and smiles. As she does so, she has a feeling her interview is the only one that will go that well.
On the pad in her hands is the name ‘Dave’ and the words Crisp Sounds. She looks off to her left, a slight smile still on her face. The guy sits not quite apart from the others, but the two people on either side of him have moved their chairs away from him, leaving gaps to his right and left. His hair is shaggy. His face is dirty and a rough beard covers the lower half. His clothes are filthy and there is an odor coming off of him. Beside his chair is a mangy teddy bear, one that looks like it had spent some time in a trash dump somewhere.
“Hello, Ma’am,” he says and smiles. He doesn’t come across as nervous or scared. Both legs are bent. He looks like a man about to tell a story. Maybe he will.
“You’ve been through quite an ordeal, Dave.”
He nods. “I guess you could say that.”
Lisa waits a few seconds before continuing. “Do you care to talk about how you ended up on the streets after losing your job?”
“Do I care to talk about it? Not really, but I will.”
“So, what happened, Dave? How did you end up on the street?”
Dave smiles. It’s not a bad smile. Sure, his teeth are slightly yellow, but many people who are not homeless have yellow teeth. Smoking or coffee or not brushing can cause that.
“I fell down a flight of steps at work one day, and well, they felt their money was better spent on someone with two good legs and no chronic pain.”
“Yeah. I guess so. That is the way it is, though, you know? You are only worth the money if you can perform the job or until someone better and cheaper comes along.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
Dave shrugs. “It is what it is.”
“What happened after that?”
“I couldn’t find a job. Not even fast food joints or grocery stores were willing to take a chance on a hobbled man.”
Lisa is shaking her head as she listens. She feels bad for Dave, for all the people out there like him, who did nothing wrong except get hurt on the job and then get dumped, not just by the job, but by …
“When you can’t get a job, you can’t pay the bills. When you can’t pay the bills, well, your lady doesn’t tend to stick around, and well, mine left me and went home to Mommy and Daddy.”
His face changes from someone just talking, shooting the breeze with another person, to an angry scowl. Lisa wonders if he is reliving the part of his life where his lady left him.
Of course he is, a voice in her ear whispers. What else would he be thinking about?
She doesn’t want to imagine what that feels like, but part of her can’t help it. She feels a touch of sadness sink into her heart. As he continues his story she fights back tears, even as she imagines what it would be like if she had lost her job and her man had left her in pain and alone and without money.
Whatever happened to death do you part? she wonders.
You believe in that crap? the voice asks. She knows who the voice belongs to, but she can’t help but answer it, even though it is only there to break her down.
So did he.
“When Cammie left I had nowhere to go. I got evicted from my apartment and ended up on the street. I wanted to go home, but … but I just didn’t want to face my dad, I didn’t want him knowing I couldn’t make it out there, you know, on my own.”
“You don’t think your dad would have understood? I mean, you got hurt on the job. That’s not like it was your fault.”
Dave shrugs again. “I don’t know. Well, I didn’t know. I left home in a fit after we got into an argument.”
“Arguments can be forgiven,” Lisa says.
“It came to blows and he told me to leave, to get out of his home and don’t come back.”
“Instead of swallowing my pride, I went to the streets and stayed there until, well, until a cold night in the middle of the winter.”
Lisa nods. “I guess I can understand that.”
“It was stupid.”
His response surprises her. It also washes away the sadness in her heart, quieting the voice whispering in her ear.
“Dave, I would like to ask you something a bit more personal … if that’s okay?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I understand that during your ordeal, you heard your dad’s voice in your head … like a conscience or, um, an angel-on-your-shoulder, so to speak. Is that right?”
“Well, he wasn’t the only one, but yes, I heard his voice several times. I always did. Sometimes I still do.”
“At one point you rejected the voice as not being your dad’s.”
“Yeah, I guess I did. That happens a lot, though. I’m sure everyone hears voices and argues with them. Sometimes, you just have to reject it to keep your sanity. You know?”
That statement makes so much sense to her. The voices can be controlling and demanding. “I do,” she says, then adds, “So, if the voice wasn’t your dad’s who was it?”
Dave rubs his chin and shakes his head from side to side. “When I reject the voice, you mean?”
“Well, my grandma always said voices that tell you to do things that could hurt you belong to the devil. So, I guess that’s the voice that gets rejected—it’s the devil.”
“That makes sense, Dave.”
“Can I ask you one last question?”
“Dave, did you finally go back home?”
He smiles. His face turns a slight pink, but not because he is embarrassed. Lisa knows the answer before he says it.
Lisa smiles. She doesn’t need to ask if his dad accepted him back. She knows he did.
To be continued …
If you missed it, read
Voices: The Interviews Session 1, here
Voices: The Interviews Session 2, here
Voices: The Interviews Session 3, here
Voices, The Interviews Session 4 here
Voices: The Interviews Session 5 here
Voices: The Interviews Session 6 here