An Interview with primary character, Billy-Bob
Hello. I don’t remember you, though not remembering isn’t unusual. People call me Billy-Bob. It’s not a good name, I know. It’s not something I can change, but maybe I can change the meaning of it. That’s one of my hopes. I have a lot of those.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
I… don’t remember much of my life. That’s a strange thing to say, I suppose. Everyone seems to think it strange, so it must not be normal. I’m sorry. That’s not the answer you wanted. I don’t know any different. Many things that seem normal to me are unusual to others. That scares me a little, that there’s something wrong and I don’t know what it is.
Lots of other things scare me. A very haggard man came from the dead forest and wandered through the street yesterday, and again a few days before that. People call him the Forest Monster. I saw him tear a door off a building, easy as pulling a leaf off a tree branch. I think he’s looking for something. I don’t know what. I suppose I might have asked, but I thought it better to hide. That’s not the best way to get your questions answered.
This happens often. Every time I encounter something I don’t understand. So I don’t get many questions answered. It’s something I want to fix. That’s the challenge of fear—it’s built out of misunderstanding.
Another man arrived here a few days ago. At least, I think he’s a man. He has wings. That’s not the sort of thing you see on a person. At first I wanted to hide in the alley. Then the questions started coming. What is he doing here? Why does he have wings? Is he dangerous? These are all questions I couldn’t answer if I hid in the alley.
So here I am. Out of the alley. And here you are. Asking me questions. I haven’t seen you before. Did you just come out of an alley, too? Do I frighten you? I worry that I might, even though I don’t want to.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
My parents. If I knew where they were or why I needed to apologize. I imagine I do, otherwise they would be here. Or I would be somewhere else, somewhere they were. I don’t remember them or saying goodbye, so I should probably apologize for that, too.
I should also apologize to Hobert. He’s on the rooftop where dangerous things like the Forest Monster can’t reach him. He isn’t nice to other people, knocking them down if they try to climb up, and sometimes I think about pushing him off the roof if I could climb up there. Then I feel guilty for having thoughts that do nothing more than repeat his cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I have to be better.
What would we find under your bed?
The floor. Do I keep anything under the bed? No, of course not. That’s why I have pockets.
What makes you happy?
Figuring things out. I like understanding things. When I understand something, it doesn’t frighten me. As much. I’d like to know why the Forest Monster breaks things. I want to know what he’s looking for. Maybe I can help him find it. Maybe if I know what he wants and why he wants it, I wouldn’t be so anxious to leave when he shows up. Figuring things out chips a flake off the heavy stone I feel in my stomach when I’m afraid.
What one word best describes you?
Billy-Bob. That’s what everyone calls me. It means someone who thinks a lot but isn’t very good at it. Or it might mean someone who asks questions that people don’t like or can’t answer. Honestly, I don’t know what it means, I only know what I think I am, and I am what everyone calls me.
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I do dream of a different place from this one, but I wouldn’t know how to get there. There’s more grass and less dirt in the air. The sky is more blue and less yellow. I never see anyone, but I can hear them. They sound happy I’m there, cheering. It sounds like an impossible place. If I knew which direction to go, I would go there.
But it’s just a dream. You can’t visit your dreams. They aren’t real. Can you?
What do you hope to accomplish?
I don’t know. I would like to do something significant. I feel restless, but I don’t know what to do to make the feeling go away. Most of my time I spend trying to figure out what I should do.
I hope I’ve been helpful. I’m more accustomed to asking questions than answering them. I’m glad I could answer your questions. I’m not so good at answering mine.
You've been most helpful! :) Thanks so much for these insights and taking time out to talk with me.
The Least Envied
by Sean DeLauder
Cast back in time to a perilous wasteland, Andrew is tasked with recording the fate of an individual history has chosen to ignore. Threatened by knee-high creatures called Wogs, an enigmatic beast known as the Forest Monster, and the man orchestrating the slow annihilation of the world, Andrew discovers all hope for salvation and survival rests with a boy without a history.
Gordimer’s focus returned and he leaned forward.
“Still want to be a hero? Or afraid?” he asked, teeth gritting. His eyes glinted with wildness, but his voice was biting and controlled. “A little fear is good, yes. It prevents you from becoming arrogant, forgetting your limitations. But to face fear and overcome it.” The old man punched a finger in the air. “Ah ha! Then the curtains of limitation begin to draw aside. Success is limited only by a lack of daring.”
Gordimer grinned and his eyes opened wide.
“And if death scares you, boy, perhaps heroing is something you should reconsider.”
If Gordimer was trying to frighten him, Billy-Bob thought, he’d been successful. At the same time, Gordimer seemed to be trying to encourage him. To face a fear and overcome it was to master that fear forever. And if he mastered one fear, how difficult would it be to master others? The first step in mastering fear must be to confront that fear.
“Where West do I go?”
For an instant Billy-Bob thought Gordimer’s sneer wavered, giving way to a smile of admiration that lit and faded in an instant.
“Doesn't matter, really. Just go West. All the way to Beta. It's where most heroes end up.”
“Beta?” asked Billy-Bob.
“It’s a town,” Gordimer explained.
“Over there,” said Gordimer. He pointed down the street toward the blankness beyond.
“I’ve been over there,” said Billy-Bob. “There’s just rocks and a crack that’s too wide to cross.”
“Past that is nothing.”
“Past the nothing, too.”
“What is past nothing?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
This author has held several positions in recent years, including Content Writer, Grant Writer, Obituary Clerk, and Staff Writer, and is under the false impression that these experiences have added to his character since they have not contributed much to his finances. He was awarded a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism and a BA in Technical Communication by Bowling Green State University because they are giving and eager to make friends. He has a few scattered publications with The Circle magazine, Wild Violet, Toasted Cheese, and Lovable Losers Literary Revue, and resides in the drab, northeastern region of Ohio because it makes everything else seem fascinating, exotic, and beautiful.
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