Category Archives: Character Interview
Transcribed from recordings by James F., reporter for Ghost Hunter Magazine
JF: Um, testing, one-two-three. Okay. Um, hello? Is anyone here?
John: Hey, dude. What’s shaking? Oh, you are! (laughter)
JF: Um, yeah. You gave me kind of a shock, appearing like that out of nowhere.
John: First interview with a ghost, huh?
JF: Yes. You’re the first actual ghost anyone’s interviewed, I think.
John: So, let’s get started then.
JF: Right. So, it’s just after dark and we’re here in a cemetery in the town of Oakwood, New York…
John: Not just a cemetery, man. My cemetery. This is where I’m buried.
JF: Okay. And we’re speaking with the ghost of John…um, what’s your last name?
John: Let’s just stick with John. Get to the questions, man. You can add the other shit later.
JF: Right. (fumbling with papers) Okay. First question. When did you die?
John: 1978. My parents killed me and buried my body here.
JF: You’re parents killed you? Why?
John: The usual crap. I was into some heavy stuff. Worshipping the devil, sacrificing animals. Nothing a lot of other fifteen-year-old boys don’t do, but it put a bug up my parents’ butt.
JF: I see. Um, what’s the worst thing about being a ghost?
John: Ask some of my buddies, and they’d say not being able to do stuff during the day. Or not being able to sleep. But for me, it’s probably being stuck in the same clothes forever. I mean, look at this shirt. Ted Nugent. Sure, he was cool and all, but it wasn’t like I didn’t listen to any other music. I love Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Led Zep, Cream, Deep Purple…heavy metal man, it rules! But when you can’t change your clothes, it’s like being stuck in a Beavis and Butthead cartoon, wearing the same old thing all the time.
JF: You know about Beavis and Butthead?
John: We know all about pop culture, man. What do you think we do all day, sit around waiting to scare people? We can go all over, and people can’t see us. We sit in living rooms and bedrooms, listening to music and watching TV. Ghosts are like the ultimate coach potatoes.
JF: So being invisible in the daylight is something you enjoy.
John: Hell, yeah! Didn’t you ever wish you could peek into a window or into the girls’ locker room? Well, we don’t have to peek. We can just stand right next to someone, and they’ll never know.
JF: So, you’re like peeping Toms. Or stalkers.
John: Hey, I don’t think I like your tone, man. We’re ghosts. We don’t have to follow your rules.
JF: I’m sorry, I—
John: In fact, I think we’ll break one right now. Hey, boys!
(angry shouts in the background, followed by someone yelling “Hold him down!”)
JF: Help! Stop! I didn’t mean—
(A terrible scream)
John: That’s all, folks. Maybe we’ll see you soon.
Editor’s Note: Reporter James F. went missing during his assignment in Oakwood.
- The town’s original name was Rocky Pointe. Before that, the Native Americans called it the Haunted Woods.
- It was established in 1779 and known to the local Native Americans as the place where the “Bloody Man” ruled.
- During the Revolutionary War, Washington’s troops frequently reported seeing ‘haunts’ in the forests.
- In the 1800s, there was a series of unsolved murders and rumours of werewolves roaming the woods.
- Rumours of practicing witches began in the 1800s and continue up to the present day, although without proof.
- In 1899, there was a tragic ammunitions depot explosion on Beerman’s Island, located in the Hudson River at the north end of the town limits. According to Native American legend, the island was home to goblins.
- In 1906, there was a huge fire and landslide at the town’s brickyard, followed by a string of unsolved murders.
- In the 1960s, more than 100 people disappeared on Halloween night while attending a carnival.
- A few years ago, the local Town Code Officer was arrested for murdering more than a dozen people.
- Rocky Point has the most unsolved murders and missing person cases of any city in New York State.
About JG Faherty
JG Faherty has had a varied background that includes working as a laboratory manager, accident scene photographer, zoo keeper, research scientist, and resume writer. Growing up in the haunted Hudson Valley region of New York, some of his favorite playgrounds were abandoned houses and Revolutionary War cemeteries. His hobbies include urban exploring, photography, exotic animal rehabilitation, and playing the guitar. Contrary to popular belief, he is not addicted to Facebook or tacos.
Monroe Huff looked at me, an odd smile spreading across his Neanderthal face. “Do you know what I like about caves, Pablo Perez?”
Sucking in an anxious breath, I said, “You’re avoiding the question.”
“One reason. I’m the best spelunker in Missouri. Period.”
Monroe had to be the scariest looking human being on planet Earth. Built like modern man’s prehistoric relative, short and squatty, his thick brow sloped and his massive jaw jutted. His stomach was flat, his hips were narrow, and his muscular shoulders looked like an Olympic weightlifter’s. If Christopher Cloud had meant to intimidate me by introducing me to Monroe…well, he’d succeeded.
“It’s not the silence, although silence is divine,” Monroe began. “Not a word, nor a
whisper, only the melody of dripping water, the ghostly gurgle and splash of a rippling
stream, the quiet roar of a waterfall, and the distant cry of bats in the dark.”
A rush of wind blew over Monroe’s cabin, moaning, and an icy chill arched up my spine.
“Nor is it the darkness that I cherish, for heaven knows I do worship those places totally absent of light,” Monroe continued. “The complete blackness is my blessing. It renews my world. I am in the belly of Mother Cave waiting once again to be reborn, without light and helpless.”
Monroe was one scary dude. Pia and Kiki would freak out when they met him.
“Nor is it the coolness that draws me again and again to the bowels of creation,” Monroe said. “For I am a man who loathes heat. The cool air of the cave is my sanctuary.” Eyes closed, he inhaled a mighty breath through his wide, flat nose. “No, it’s none of these things that bring me back to my caves.” A soft, guttural laugh rolled out of his mouth and his eyes popped open with a frightful suddenness. “It’s the smell.”
“The smell?” I asked, trying to put some muscle in my voice.
“Yes, the smell,” Monroe said, opening his nostrils and sucking in another big breath. “The odour of Mother Cave is magnificent. Wet earth mixed with dry dust. The ammonia smell of bat urine. The stink of guano. The decaying bodies of spiders and beetles and cave rats. Tiny carcasses radiating that wonderful smell of death.”
“So…how long have you known Chris?”
Another odd smile. “Longer than you, Pablo.”
“That doesn’t seem fair,” I protested. “I’m the main character…the protagonist.”
“Chris has carried me around in his head for years,” Monroe said. “It’s only natural that he would breathe life into me first.”
“It’s still not fair.”
“Literature is fickle, Pablo. You’ll learn that as you get older.”
About A Boy Called Duct Tape
Pablo Perez is a 12-year-old poor kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him “Duct Tape” because his tattered discount-store sneakers are held together with…you guessed it, duct tape. He can’t escape the bullying.
Pablo’s luck, however, changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming in a river near his home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the “lost treasure” of Jesse James. Pablo can’t help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin? He is determined to find out, and he, his 9-year-old sister and 13-year-old cousin hire an ill-natured cave guide, and begin a treacherous underground adventure in search of treasure.
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About Christopher Cloud
Christopher Cloud admits he came to literature late in life. “I was in my 60s before I developed a real interest in writing fiction,” he said. A Boy Called Duct Tape is Cloud’s debut middle-grade novel. It is a first-person account of three Latino children searching for the “lost treasure” of Jesse James.
Cloud began writing children’s fiction after a long career in journalism and public relations. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist for newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. His work has appeared in many national publications, including Time Magazine.
He was employed by Sun Oil Company, Philadelphia, as a public relations executive, and later operated his own PR agency. He created the board game Sixth Sense in 2002. The game sold at independent bookstores nationwide.
Cloud said his next project is a young-adult novel. “I have written the first draft of a story I’m calling 16 And In Love,” Cloud said. “This story—like A Boy Called Duct Tape—is multicultural.”
Cloud lives in Joplin, Missouri.
“Yes,” Alex said mildly.
Jaguar, seated next to him on the couch in her living room, narrowed her sea green eyes. “Shaking your web, Spider Magus?”
He smiled. She only called him that when she suspected he was using his precognitive skills. They both had more than their share of psi capacities. “What do you think?”
“I think she’ll ask questions I don’t want to answer.”
He shrugged. “You can always kill her.” His tone was teasing, but I’ll admit I kept my eye on the exit.
“Ha,” I said. “That’s, um, funny. Should we begin?”
Alex gestured, inviting me to go ahead.
“I hear you two are involved in a whole new way,” I said. “Is it true?”
“That’s our business,” Jaguar growled. Her red glass knife peaked out from the sleeve of her silk shirt. She stretched her long legs and crossed them at the ankle, her stiletto-heeled boots looking as dangerous as her knife.
Alex sighed. “The problem is, I’m a supervisor and she’s a teacher. Technically, we can’t . . . .interact that way.”
“No,” Jaguar said. “The problem is the governor’s would use any excuse to fire me.”
Alex turned his dark eyes toward her, spoke softly. “Would I let that happen?”
Jaguar touched his shoulder briefly. It didn’t take an empath to feel the tingle passing between them.
“You look after her safety,” I noted.
“He likes to imagine I need it,” Jaguar cut in. Then she grinned. “Once he was even crazy enough to throw himself at a Telekine who wanted to kill us both.”
“That,” Alex said. “I knew you had my back.”
“So I protected you instead,” she said.
“As it turns out, you did,” he agreed.
“Then I’ll admit you had my back with Dr. Senci.”
Again, that sizzle between them. If this kept up, I’d have to open a window. “Who’s Dr. Senci?” I asked.
“A recent case,” Alex shuddered. “A rough one.”
“How come?” I asked.
“You know what a Greenkeeper is?” Jaguar asked.
I shook my head.
“A maxxed out vampire, who eats anything that gets in his way. We got in the way.”
“Say more,” I requested.
Jaguar mulled. “Tell you what. If you’re free this solstice, meet us at 13 Streams. I’ll tell the story at the sun ceremony.”
13 Streams. A small Native American village in New Mexico, run by Jake and One Bird, Jaguar’s empathic mentors. A place I’d love to visit.
“I’ll be there,” I said. “You’ll tell it all?”
She nodded. “And you’ll see what kind of man Alex really is.”
She looked to him, holding his gaze. The room grew appreciably warmer.
I stood. “Right,” I said. “Send me details. I’ll see you there.”
They said goodbye, sort of. But they never stopped looking at each other. When I closed the door behind me I fanned myself with my hand, and went in search of air.
Barbara Chepaitis is author of eight published novels and two nonfiction books. Her most recent novel is The Green Memory of Fear, fifth book in the ‘fear’ series featuring Jaguar Addams. She is also director of the fiction writing program at Western College of Colorado’s Master’s program in creative writing.
So two hours prior I get off a plane from Arizona where I just spent 28 days, uh, rehabbing and my manager lets me know that “BLOOD: The New Red” is out and available. Given the lies from the previous book, “Corporate Porn”, I assume the worst. Still, my manager wanted to throw a party. Cool, let’s do it! My manager told me A&E and TMZ were fighting over the rights to host the party. I was bummed FX wasn’t showing interest, but then I became distracted once I heard Coldplay may show up. The location was a secret only to be tweeted minutes prior. When I heard the party was in two hours I became anxious: how was I to find the perfect pair of aviators in two hours? My manager calmed me by saying, “Mickey, it’s okay, Ryan Seacrest has declined.” This was calming.
After several hours I arrived at the party.
We are at a bar in TriBeCa and sitting across from me is David S. Grant, the author of “BLOOD: The New Red”, the book that is about me PLUS a lot of lies; although, I haven’t read it so I’m not sure what is real and what is not. Also, I take a lot of medications so it’s possible I don’t know my own reality. I look away, of course, he is staring at me. I am wearing dark (VERY DARK) aviators so he has no idea I see him. I turn and walk the other way.
TMZ won the bidding war and have set up several cameras. My manager positions them to get my good sides and then asks me to take off my glasses for a moment. There is a gasp when people see my eyes. “Your eyes, they are so…Blue?” I get this a lot. Given my prescriptions a lot of people just assume my natural eye color is red, blood red. My manager pulls me over into a corner. I put my aviators back on and then my manager gives me a B12 shot in my thigh and then hands me a shot of Patron Silver.
The author reads the first chapter and stumbles through the good parts and then says something about me doing coke with John Stamos and I’m pretty sure I’ve never met this person before. My manager whispers “Uncle Jessie” and I nod. Yes, that did happen. I pull my manager back over to the corner and ask if he has any morphine. He looks horrified and pushes me over to the bar where I have another shot of Patron Silver.
I feel in my pockets for a Vicodin. I REALLY need one now. Hairs on my back stand up as I listen to the reading. There is this notion of the Seventh Avenue world of designs, drugs, and magazines passing itself off as the definition of cool. NO, they are just a conduit to what people want. I look around and realize everyone is staring at me. I hear the author discuss my leather pants. Yes, Mickey is back.
The band Coldplay shows up and are very drunk, but Bono and The Edge are also there and play a short acoustic set that ends with me standing on a bar singing “Where The Streets Have No Names.” Everyone cheers, buys me shots of Patron Silver, and tell me I’m amazing. I shrug and then Rikki Rocket shows up wearing a black leather cowboy hat and says he has a Town Car gassed and ready to go so we leave, take off our shirts, and drive though Times Square where we pick up two girls at the Blue Fin W bar. Both girls are named Stoli so we take them to a club named FIX and then maybe we end up at a male strip club named Bananas, although this is where the night starts to become fuzzy. I may or may not have been on stage and that is the last scene I remember before my manager pulls me out of the Town Car that is parked at LaGuardia and drags me into the airport. As my manager pushes me through the security line he tells me I was on stage, was completely nude, and was yelling “Mickey Is Back!” I ask my manager if I looked good and he nods.
Apparently there is a rehab facility in New Mexico expecting my arrival.
Rock and Roll,
For more information on “BLOOD: The New Red” please go to http://www.silverthought.com/blood/ Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant
Will: So Pudding, ever since you first appeared in the strip Casey and Kyle last year, you’ve been one of the most popular characters. It seems like you’re always playing army soldier though… Don’t you ever get tired of playing army all the time?
Pudding: No. I drill constantly to keep myself in a state of permanent readiness. That’s why I’ve dug foxholes out in our yard so that I can keep watch over the street and make sure there aren’t any shady characters around.
Will: Doesn’t your mom get mad when you dig giant holes in the yard all the time?
Pudding: Not as mad as she gets when she falls into them in the dark.
Will: I notice you always seem to wear camo. Is there a reason for that?
Pudding: It makes it hard for my mom to find me for dinner.
Will: You don’t like dinner?
Pudding: It’s alright I guess… My mom always makes stuff like rib eye steaks, and roasted chickens and grilled salmon and stuff… she doesn’t know how to make real army food like MREs and C-Rations…
Will: Well, you seem to be having fun in Casey and Kyle. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Pudding: Well one day, I hope to be in the Army. I don’t know if it’s going to work out though…
Will: Why not?
Pudding: My parents won’t let me play with guns. In fact, I can’t pretend with anything dangerous weapons. If I’m playing Rock, paper, scissors, I can only use paper!!!
Will: That’s terrible! Do you have any other ideas for what you could be when you grow up?
Pudding: I like animals. Maybe I could work with animals.
Will: What kind of animals do you like?
Pudding: The seals are my favourite. They remind me of the Navy SEALS.
Will: Any others?
Pudding: Army ants.
Will: Well, we’re almost out of time… I’ve got one last question: Who is your hero?
Pudding: G.I. Joe. He’s a real American hero!
The door opened, and I stepped briskly into the room as the door was closed behind me. The lights were dim, and I looked around as my eyes adjusted. The room was bare but for a single wooden desk chair placed in the center. What little light the room possessed came filtered through slits in small, high windows along the wall before me. The chair faced into the blackness to my right. As I looked into the darkness in front of the chair, something moved. Something huge shifted and turned, and I backed towards the door as two monstrous tiger eyes glowed in the half-light and stared at me through the darkness. I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck, and I clutched my clipboard to my chest.
“Grrrrreetings,” growled an impossibly deep voice in the corner. The R’s came out like a ferocious purr.
“Hell-hello,” I stammered, “Mister Pencha?”
“Just Pencha will be fine,” boomed the voice. “Please be seated.”
I didn’t much feel like sitting, in fact I was scrambling to remember why I had volunteered to conduct this interview. I was torn between a desire to throw down my clipboard and get out of the room as quickly as I could, and an inexplicable desire to sit in the chair both for the sake of curiosity and for a desire not to upset the owner of that voice. Drawing in a deep breath, I strode towards the chair and sat down rigidly, my clipboard on my lap. After a few long seconds, I exhaled.
“So, Mister Pen.. Pencha I mean. First, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It’s my first one, so I hope you’ll bear with me. Second, is there anything I can get you to drink, or …”
“I’ve alrrrrready eated, and I’m not thirrrrsty.”
Already eated? I thought, and a shiver ran down my spine.
“Oh,” I said nervously, “okay, then.”
What came next was a strange sort of deep growl, which, after a few unnerving seconds, I realized was a laugh – not an evil laugh, but deep and startling. Somehow that laughter set me at ease, a bit.
“Um,” I said, while straining to see my papers in the dim light, “so, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to ask you a few questions about yourself. Like, for one, your name, does it mean something? The name Pencha, I mean. I’ve never heard it before.”
“My rrrrrrrreal name is not Pencha. Your thrrrrroat could not prrrrrronounce my rrrrreal name,” he said as he got up from the corner and moved towards me. “A verrrrry old frrrrriend gave me the name Pencha, long, long ago. I do not know what it means. Knowing my frrrriend though, I know it must mean something.”
“Ah, I see. Well, now, “ I said, abandoning my list of questions for the moment, “you said, long, long ago a friend gave you the name. What do you mean by that, how long ago?”
“Time is hard to say. Yourrrrrr planet and mine orrrrbit at differrrent rrrrates. In yourrrrrr yearrrrrs it would be … mill … mill,” he said, clearly trying to sort something out, or remember the right word. “Thousands of thousands of yearrrrrrs. But wait now, no, I wasn’t always Pencha. She gave me otherrrrr names beforrrre. Pencha has been my name forrrrr just a few thousand of yourrrr yearrrs.”
As he talked he moved directly in front of me, and, though my eyes could not see so well as they would in full light, I could see him clearly now. He was huge, perhaps the size of that monstrous grizzly on display in the Anchorage airport. His fur was black, and his body was an unearthly combination of primate and feline. His upper body was disproportionately larger than his lower; his limbs all ended in massive claws with two opposable thumbs on each hand, and his tail had a tuft like that of a male lion. The shape of his skull was almost human, with a large cranium and a long face with slits for nostrils and a mouth that displayed both upper and lower fangs with sharp teeth between them that flashed white whenever he spoke. His ears were at the sides of his head, like a man’s, but were black and pointed at the top. One look in his huge, feline eyes let me know he was no beast, for reflected there was an intelligence and a sadness that reminded me of the eyes of an aged general my ex-military father introduced me to when I was a child.
“You say, your world orbits at a different rate than Earth does? What else can you tell me of your home?”
“My home? My home is called … I cannot rrrememberrr the name in English. Otherrr languages have always been harrrd for me. In my language, the name is beautiful and sounds like our worrrd for forrrest. Eterrrnal forrrest might be a simple trrranslation, though therrre is so much morrre to it. And now the forrrests arrre gone, the ones I rrrememberrr. Only a tiny stand rrremains, though it is still bigger than any forrrest on Earrrrth. Therrre are mountains and rrriverrrs and strrreams and lakes, but therrre is nothing like the oceans you have herrre.”
“Interesting. And, on your world, I’m assuming, your people are the dominant species, like humans are on Earth?”
His eyes looked away from me for the first time since I’d entered the room, and he looked at the floor as he answered.
“Sometimes I think therrre arrrre no dominant species, as you say. Sometimes, I think that the birrrds and the trrrees know morrre than us. I know you would say therrre arrre two dominant species, my people and otherrrs who usually look like you do.”
“Humans? Are you saying there humans on your world?”
“They arrrre not human, but they look like you. They have been on my worrrld forrr as long as I can rrrememberrr, though therrre arrre morrre and morrre of them. I do not know if they came frrrom somewherrre else. I only know of the warrrs,” he said as his eyes once again turned towards me.
“So, you are at war with the humans … I mean the human-like race?”
“No. Not now. Now, they fight themselves, and we leave them alone. Therrre arrre too few of us left.”
“So, about the humans on your world. Is it like Earth? I mean, what level of technology exists on your world? Are there, ah, computers? Rocket ships? Cities?”
“Not that I know of. They arrrre not like most humans. They do not invent like you do. They have castles, and they have books. They study the starrrs, but they do not carrre to crrreate new things like humans do. Neither do we.”
“Really? I wonder why not. But nevermind, I am running out of time here, but before I go, I am reminded of a couple of questions I wanted to ask before. You said your name was not always Pencha, and that someone else gave you the name. Who is this friend, one of your people, I’m assuming? Someone you have known for thousands of thousands of years? Why would this person give you your name? What is this person’s name?”
Pencha growled as I finished asking this string of questions. It was not the laughing growl.
“I have many names in many places, and you have many questions!” He paused. His feline eyes narrowed to slits, and he stared deeply into my eyes as he continued. “I do not speak of my frrriends to otherrrs. I do not have many frrriends. But I will tell you that this frrriend has even morrre names than I do. I do not know them all. My frrriend is not one of my people, today…”
Just then there was a knock at the door. The time I had been allotted for my interview had come to an end.
“Ah, so many more questions. I’m sorry, but I have to go now. Thank you for letting me have this interview. Can I talk to you again sometime?”
“You arrrre quite welcome. The pleasurrrre has been mine. Of courrrse you may speak to me again. Perrrrhaps we will meet soonerrrr than you think,” he said, and one of his huge eyes blinked before he turned away and paced back towards the corner of the room.
James R. Bottino’s life-long interests mix esoteric and disparate fields of study. By day, his foremost influences have been the study of literature and the art of writing. Following these pursuits led him to read anything he could in these areas and to complete every under-graduate and graduate course available to him in the field of creative writing. Following this line, he taught high school English throughout the 1990’s, focusing on the teaching of writing.
By night, when no one was looking, he studied computer systems / networks, computer languages, and operating systems, learning anything he could in these areas, first as a hobby, and, finally, as a career. This mixture of literature and technology served as the inspiration for the The Canker Death’s protagonist, Petor.
James currently lives in a suburb of Chicago, with his wife, daughter, two Australian cattle dogs and far, far too many books and abstruse computers.
You can visit his website at TheCankerDeath.com
Hello, my name is Adrienne and I am a server at Au Lapin Agile in Montmartre, France. Oui, oui, I know…we are technically part of Paris now in the late nineteenth century…but we still think of ourselves as our own little village.
One of the other servers I work with is Sophie. How she got a job here I don’t know! She is so little she can barely carry a tray of drinks, and the raucous, raunchy clientele we serve are not afraid to flirt shamelessly with us! She is not from here, but from the Pigalle area of Paris. Not a very nice place, if you ask me, but there are respectable pockets and she lives with her Aunt in one of them.
Anyway, she has stars in her eyes over the worst of the womanizers that frequent Au Lapin Agile: the stunningly handsome artist Gastien Beauchamp. Ha! He is known to bed dozens of women, but they must be rich-and they must be married. What is Sophie thinking? Here she comes now. I am going to try to talk some sense into her.
“Sophie! Sit down a minute, while it is quiet. You need to take a break. By the way, are you still mooning over that womanizer Gastien?” I try to stare her down.
Sophie blushes as she sits, but refuses to break eye contact. “Adrienne, will you quit calling him that? I know what Gastien does. But, oui, I am crazy about him. I have been crazy about him since that night he forced an apology out of that man who touched me. I just can’t help it! He is so handsome, so kind-“
“KIND? He came to your rescue simply to show off! Trust me, Gastien is only interested in women for one thing, and it would NOT involve your heart!”
“That is not true! We have been friends now the whole summer and into autumn. He talks to me about things he talks to no one else about. Gastien trusts me and I am certain that he loves me. He is just too scared to admit it.”
I shake my head. This woman is truly delusional! “Sophie, he only makes love to rich, married women. He does not want commitment; he is married to his art. The man does not even date single women. In the past he has gone out with a few…until he could get them into his bed! Now he does not even look at them. If you want more than conversation, I suggest you find someone in your league. You should be looking for a husband; someone who can take care of you! You are cute. You could find a nice man to settle down with and have a nice home!”
“Adrienne, I want Gastien. I have told myself over and over that Gastien is not good for me. I know he does not want commitment. I know that. But I don’t care. Look, I am a grown up. I want him. It does not seem to matter what my brain says, my heart says it is Gastien.”
“Well, if he wanted you, he would have acted by now. Obviously he does not see you as a potential lover. How much plainer can he make it?”
“Oh, he wants me all right. He is just afraid of how bad he wants me. For some reason, he is afraid that he will hurt me and he is not willing to take the next step.”
“Gastien, afraid of a woman? Hardly! How much longer can you go on playing this game? It is not good for you. Time is passing. Break it off and find someone that can provide for you! My God, girl, leave it and move on!”
“I cannot and I will not! In fact, since he is afraid to take the next step, I have decided that it is up to me. I am determined to end up in Gastien’s bed tonight. He does not know it yet, but he is going to make me his before this night is over. I will no longer be a virgin. I will be Gastien’s woman.”
I sigh. “Oh, Sophie. If you do that, you will be an even bigger fool than I thought. No man will want you after being used by a bohemian! Don’t do that to yourself! Even if you do manage to seduce him, he will just use you and walk away!”
“No, he won’t. I know he loves me. He is just as much mine as I am his. He just won’t admit it yet. Once I kiss him, he won’t turn back.”
“Then God help you, Sophie. He has broken many hearts in the past and yours will be just another in the dusty pile.”
“Time will tell, Adrienne. I know what my heart tells me.”
“I wonder what you will tell that heart when it is shattered into a million pieces, Sophie. I really do.” I get up. There is no talking sense into her. “Time to get back to work. With any luck, he won’t show up tonight. For your sake, I hope he doesn’t.”
With that, I walk away. You just can’t talk sense into some people.
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He couldn’t sit still and I couldn’t help but feel that he was struggling with the compulsion to be somewhere else. He’d been seated and fixating on a notebook atop a lone table when I called to him.
“Mr Ryan?” I said.
Simon flinched and turned to me; his face was stark white against the grey walls of the basement.
“Who are you?” he cried.
“I’m sorry to just come down here, but you didn’t answer the door – I’m here for our interview.”
Simon stared at me for a moment, completely lost. “What interview?”
“The one your agent organised,” I said, checking my notes. “Miss Christina Yates. She arranged for me to talk to you about the biography you’ve been working on?”
Simon nodded in slow realisation. “Yes … Christina.”
“Is this a bad time, Mr Ryan – I can come back.”
“What? No, no – it’s fine,” Simon said. “Please, come and sit down.”
The basement walls loomed over me. “Perhaps we could … go upstairs?”
Simon scanned the room, as if seeing it for the first time. “Uh …” He turned and ran his fingers across the notebook. “I’m not sure …”
“Is that the biography – could I take a look?”
Simon whirled on me; his face contorted in a simmering ferocity. He rose from his chair, a pen clasped in his fist, like a knife.
“No!” he said. “Get out! Can’t you see I’m fucking busy! This is his house – you can’t just walk in here!”
I backed away; the darkness of the room had infected Simon’s eyes. “I’m sorry Mr Ryan – I didn’t mean to impose –“
“Don’t let him catch you in here!” Simon said. “Run – before he finds you!”
My legs complied and I was bounding up the stairs, away from Simon and his decrepit tomb. He was sick or insane – or both. The man was obsessed with something; the way he touched that notebook. It was something personal – a journal, perhaps? Whatever it was and whatever was wrong with Simon Ryan, I wasn’t about to stick around and find out.
A: I really want to be a comic book artist. I think I’m pretty good at it, and I love making up stories. I’ve actually done a few already. Maybe one day I’ll show them to you. Abby says they’re dumb, but I think they are cool.
Q: Speaking of your sister, do you two ever get along?
A: Sometimes she’s okay… I guess. Most of the time I just try to stay out of her way. She’s always in some kind of a mood – Mom says it’s just a phase, but so far this phase has been lasting as long as I can remember. Older sisters can definitely be a pain sometimes.
Q: Getting back to your comics – where do you like to draw?
A: Anywhere really – just as long as I have a pencil and a piece of paper. Sometimes I get in trouble because I’m supposed to be doing something else, but I just can’t help myself. Once I get started; I just get lost in what I’m doing.
Q: Do you get in trouble a lot?
A: Not a lot, but I have to be careful in school. There is this one girl named Lisa Crane, and she is so annoying. Her mom and my mom are best friends. One day I got in trouble for drawing in school when we were supposed to be taking a spelling test. Do you know what Lisa did? She went right home and told her mom, who of course called my mom. I mean – who does that?
Q: But there are some cool kids in your class right?
A: Oh yeah – my friend Sam is in my class, and so is my best friend Tommy. Tommy and I have been in the same class since Kindergarten, and he lives in my neighborhood. Tommy’s house is where I go whenever I need to escape my own house … and get a good meal.
Q: What do you mean? You don’t eat good meals at your own house?
A: Apparently you’ve never had my mom’s cooking! She tries and all, but no matter what she makes, there’s always something not quite right about it. Last night we had hotdogs. Easy right? Wrong! I had to chew each piece at least 100 times just to swallow it. Dad must be used to it or something because he never complains about mom’s cooking.
Q: So your Dad is pretty easy going?
A: Dad? Yeah mostly. He works a lot, but don’t ask me what he does – it has something to do with numbers and data. I used to try to ask him about it, but no matter what you ask Dad, he always ends up telling some story from his childhood that you’ve heard a million times already.
Q: Sounds like everyday is an adventure for you.
A: I guess it is. Being ten is kind of cool actually.
Nate – thanks so much for letting me interview you. You really do rock the world!
About Karen Pokras Toz
Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife, and mom. Karen grew up in the small town of Orange, Connecticut and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Finance. She also attended the University of Richmond, where she studied law and business, receiving both a JD and an MBA. Karen has spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, writing in numbers. She recently discovered a passion for writing with words. Nate Rocks the World is her first book.
Karen is a member of the Association of Independent Authors, Independent Author Network, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is the 2011 Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run Honoree for the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three children.
For more information, please visit www.karentoz.com.