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 10: Brian
She is tired. Her body sags. Her legs are weak. Lisa wants to take a nap, to go home and be done with these interviews. Yes, she knows it’s not time to be done, but some of these conversations have been intense and that tension has worn on her body, on her mind, and maybe even on her soul.
The cut on Lisa’s arm isn’t too deep. It bleeds, but not like it could have. She sees the blood that spilled down her arm and is dismayed by how bright the red is, or rather, how much of it there is.
“Excuse me, Ma’am,”
She turns her eyes to the young boy standing in front of her, his arm extended, a white kerchief in it. He is a big boy, probably quite big for his age. His eyes hold a distant stare in them, though he looks directly at her.
“Thank you,” Lisa says and takes the handkerchief.
The boy nods, turns and lumbers back to his seat. She is amazed at how soft and gentle his voice is, especially being such a big boy. No, he’s not fat, just big and tall with sweet eyes that seem too innocent for any wrong doing, especially … Lisa shakes her head. She knows who he is, just as she has known most of the characters.
“Hi,” he responds.
“Can we talk? Is that okay?”
“First, let’s talk about your grandparents.”
“You love your grandparents, don’t you?”
“How long have you lived with them?”
Brian looks up at the ceiling. Lisa does, too, and she stares at where Dane’s family once tried to come through.
“Well, I’m ten now, and I’ve been with them since I was four. So that’s …” He holds up his fingers, then counts backwards silently, until six fingers remain. “Six years.”
That’s a long time, Lisa thinks. “Do you like living with them?”
He nods. It’s a quick jerk of the head. “Yeah. Their place is clean.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s no bugs, and they don’t smoke, so the house doesn’t stink.”
An image appears in Lisa’s mind. It’s of a boy lying in bed in the middle of the night. On the bed is a large roach. It crawls along the cover and then onto the exposed skin of the young boy. She shivers, pushes the thought away.
“Do you like going to church with grandparents?”
Simple, quick answers. As Lisa looks at him, she sees there is no need for him to think up an answer. He’s as honest as they come, and the responses he gives her are genuine.
“Do you get along with your brother and sister?”
“My sister is cool, but my little brother is a butthead.”
Lisa smiles at this. So matter of fact. Brian seems to be okay with the conversation and she doesn’t want to turn it toward something he might not like, but what’s the point of interviewing someone if you can’t ask a tough question or two?
“Brian, tell me about your daddy.”
His expression doesn’t change. The look in his eyes doesn’t waver. No gray cloud comes over him. He speaks as he has for all the other questions.
“He’s my dad.”
“Is there anything about him you wish to talk about?”
“No. He’s just my dad.”
“The pastor at your grandparents’ church said the things your daddy did were … evil. Was your daddy a bad man?”
He shrugs. “He was lazy.”
“Did your daddy do other things that were … bad?”
“I guess. The people came and said we had to leave the house and live with Grandmomma and Granddaddy. Aunt Norry said they don’t do that unless there is a problem.”
“Was there a problem?”
“I don’t know. I guess.”
“Sweetie, where’s your momma?”
“She sleeps a lot. She’s always asleep.”
Lisa doesn’t know what that means, but she hopes it doesn’t mean she had passed away.
“Brian … do you think you were doing God’s work when you … when you killed your daddy?”
“I didn’t kill him. He was already dead.”
This strikes her as profound. The boy in front of her doesn’t believe his father was even alive when he took the hammer to him. He was lazy, so he was dead. Or maybe he died when Ben and his siblings were taken from him and his wife.
“Brian, are you anything like your daddy?”
Again, no change in his expression. “No, not really. Do you think I’m like him?”
“No, I don’t think you’re like your daddy at all.”
Brian nods again.
“Thank you, Brian.”
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
Voices: The Interviews Session 7
Voices: The Interviews Session 8
Voices: The Interviews Session 9 here