SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT
Before reading today’s post, I want to tell you about our little project. In the coming months one character from each story in my collection, Voices, will be interviewed by Lisa Lee with Bibliophilia Templum.
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 (you can pick up a copy here: If you haven’t read the collection, you have been made aware of possible spoilers.
One more thing before the first session: if you have read Voices and would like to ask a question of today’s character, leave a comment at the end, and I will see about getting an answer from the character for you. Don’t be shy, ask your questions. You may get an interesting response.
“That be a good child,” said the old black man sitting almost directly across from Lisa. He’s hunched forward, elbows on his knees. In his hands is an old cap, folded almost in half. His fingernails are yellow and his hands look like those of a man who had done hard labor his entire life. In truth, he had, and sometimes still does, even though he is well into his seventies.
“Hello, Lewis,” Lisa says.
“Hello, Ma’am.” He nods appropriately. His voice is deep and holds a rasp in it.
“How are you today?”
“I’m fine, Ma’am. You?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know when we’re done here. How’s that?”
Lewis nods. “That be fine, Ma’am.”
“Lewis, I would like to be candid for a moment, if that is okay?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I ain’t got nothin’ to hide, so you go on ahead and be … what’s that word you said?”
“Yes, Ma’am. You go on ahead and be candid.”
“You seem like a really good man. A hard worker. A caring person. So … Why …? What made you think it was acceptable to steal another person’s car?”
“Umm … I ain’t never said it was accep’ble. It ain’t. I just, well, I wanted my Michelle to be happy. You know, not regret marryin’ a man of my color. You know her pappy wasn’t all too keen on us gettin’ together.” Lewis takes a breath, lets it out in a long, sad sigh. “I reckon I was scared she would leave me, so I stole the car for some money. I didn’t do it out of malice or spite. I reckon I went and took it out of love.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He shakes his head. His hands twist the cap a little. “Love makes you do some bad things. Stupid things.”
Lisa nods. “Yes, I suppose it does.” She pauses, then says, “It must have been degrading to be called ‘boy’ and, um, other things by the policemen.”
“I reckon so, Ma’am, but back then that’s just the way things were. Boy was the least insultin’ thing I was called by any white man back then.”
“You endured a lot in prison, Lewis.”
He shrugs. “Yes, Ma’am.”
“How did you keep your composure when they killed Marvin Jackson?”
Lewis shakes his head and twist the cap some more. “It ain’t all that hard when you want to stay alive. I was ‘fraid they was goin’ to kill me, too, so I just did what I hads to do to stay on this side of the ground.”
“That’s a smart way of looking at things.”
“It’s the only way in prison, Ma’am.”
“And you went to prison because of your wife, right?”
“Oh no, Ma’am. I went to prison ‘cause I was stupid and wanted to impress my Michelle. If I had just been me …” he shrugs again. “things might’ve been diff’rent.”
“You obviously loved your wife very much.”
“I still do. Though she’s dead and all, I still love her.”
“Is it fair to say you loved her so much you have no remorse for killing her second husband?”
“That wasn’t no husband, Ma’am. He was a monster. I just saved her from the monster. That’s all.”
“What about when you killed the other man?”
“Well, I reckon that was self-defense, Ma’am.”
“After everything you have been through, can you tell me why you decided to turn yourself in to the police?”
Lewis sits silent for a few seconds. Then a few more. He looks up with tears in his eyes. “When you ain’t got nothin’ you need somethin’ to hold onto. Somethin’ like structure. And prison has structure. Besides, I ain’t long for this world, Ma’am. Ain’t nothin’ worse than dyin’ alone.”
TO BE CONTINUED …
(The wonderful artwork for The Sad Woes of the Trash Man was provided by the amazing Troy Rider.)