|When Interviewing Characters
After reading excerpts from
Felipe Alfaus Locos in The
by Roger Aplon
Im usually early. No one ever arrives before noon. Ill have a coffee &
cognac & wait patiently for what I know will be a long & deceitful trial.
Ive done this many times & must keep my mind clear & instincts keen. They
are devious & must be tended with care & suspicion.
Have you ever walked away in mid-sentence? I
No! she says, but dont be fooled. Even the best will take a wrong
turn & leave you for a quick kiss around the back just when youd like them to
speak directly to their father or mother or lover or maybe confess to a murder or an
affair or tell of the time they beat their child or dreamt of sucking their brothers
cock . . . or just tell the simple story of Uncle Thomas & Aunt Thelma who ran away to
Australia & discovered gold & set sail around the world when, just off the coast
of Burma, pirates . . .
Is there any place you will not go?
No! they say, but some are afraid of water or heights or a walk in the
dark & refuse to cross a room without a nurse or their great-aunt Henrietta who left
them the property in Louisiana & wants to move in & bring her thirteen cats &
her house-boy Armando who will play tennis & swims naked in the pool &
will show them how to pick a lock or jump-start a car & will bring his friend Sofia to
clean & cook with saffron & mace & tamarind & ginger . . .
Will you be willing to remove all your clothes?
In Europe, I usually trust, Yes! But in the U S there are so many who
are afraid of their naked bodies . . . No! . . . never trust an American to get naked too
quickly unless its in the dark or with the one theyve picked for the night or
if theyre very drunk or stoned or theres enough money on the table or a fire
in the attic & the dog is trapped & the only chance for escape requires a nimble
feat of tumbling over the roof with the dog & a bible & a camera crew from
The Church of Latter-day Saints standing by to record for posterity this act
of bravery & Mom is not & . . .
consider yourself prejudiced?
& most will try to hide the truth but the whites will sometimes
admit blacks are getting all the work & the blacks will find whites are limiting their
advancement & women will accuse men of banding together to keep them back & men
will insist women are frigid & only interested in money & power & before
Im through there is usually a fight & someone will be hurt badly enough to need
an ambulance & the press will come & TV & there will be police & tear gas
& dogs & someone will call the militia & more will be hurt & there will be
water-canons & mace & when the bullets begin to fly (as they did last year in
Peoria) Im forced to find shelter & leave the rest to their own volition &
swear I will eliminate this question from my litany but then comes the next season & .
Will you have sexual encounters?
Sure! they say & then I wonder what kind but expect the suggestion
of anal sex or oral sex or blood & probes & whips to skew the mix & I know I
must be careful & selective & check for venereal disease & be sure the
lighting is right & get the proper angle & dont use animals & keep the
queers apart & mix race only if both are beautiful & try not to expose too much
hair on the dainty ones or pimples or scars or stretch-marks or his dangling foreskin
Will you always tell the truth?
Ive never known one to say, No! but none can be trusted &
when they do say, Yes! they contrive the best deceptions . . . for instance: I once asked,
who killed your mother? & he said, I have! but qualified that
by saying, at least he thought he had because it had begun with him or his sister or their
father but finally came down to him & an afternoon in May when he returned home early
with his girlfriend Denise & found his mother in bed with her gardener & a bottle
of expensive gin & although they watched from the side door for quite a while &
never said a word he was sure hed started the ball rolling just by knowing &
looking accusingly at her from time to time & even when she divorced & left town
he still imagined he was the cause of the wreck in Oklahoma which took her . . .
Do you have limits?
Yes! The smart ones always admit theirs. Its the weak &
interesting ones who I want to confess but its usually too late . . . by that I mean
theyll enter one door carrying their albums & identity cards & try to switch
with the others & become confused & anonymous & not very reliable but will
tell a story full of guilt & recrimination & intrigue & sort out pictures from
the library which show in graphic detail the mutilations of victims of labored &
sadistic murders & concentration camps & famine & . . .
& I will usually close my interviews with my notebook full &
rush to my house where I will sweat for days & ruminate & question & become
totally confused & when the time comes to finally begin I will toss them all in the
middle of the floor & drive a stake into the pile & lead with the first to emerge
. . . startled & bruised but otherwise unscathed.
Roger Aplon is an American poet, presently living in Barcelona. He has published various
books of poetry, most recently It's Mother's Day (Barracuda Press, 1996). His poems
and articles have appeared in many national and international journals. He is presently at
work on a collection of prose-poems and poems entitled Barcelona Diary. You may
visit his web page at: http://members.tripod.com/~aplon/