|Jericho Barrons Interview|
It’s me, KMM, and I’m at Barrons Books & Baubles where I’ll be interviewing Jericho Barrons today.
I choose my seat with care, sitting on the Chesterfield sofa Mac usually occupies. It tickles me to sit where she usually sits. There’s a bottle of pink polish on the table next to me, and two fashion magazines. The gas fireplaces are on. I feel as if Mac might have just left, when the truth is she hasn’t been here for quite a while. Barrons moves a chair close to me and sits so near our knees almost touch. If I move, they will. I battle the urge to move. Before I begin the interview, I glance around my bookstore with pleasure. I see the parts of it that aren’t fully realized, the opaqueness in certain areas that I’ve not committed to the page in comprehensive detail. It occurs to me that perhaps I should finish painting the mural five floors up, maybe add a few chairs. Barrons makes a sound of impatience. I know that sound well. I open my laptop and begin.
KMM: Let’s start things off with the question we all want the answer to: What are you, Jericho Barrons?
JZB: At the moment, hungry.
He gives me a look that makes me want to feed him whatever he wants.
KMM: That’s not what I mean and you know it.
JZB: I’ve been informed I’m a “leftie.” Does that help?
I refuse to look at his crotch to see where his package is. He’s doing to me what he does to Mac all the time: trying to distract and evade with sex. But I know every mistake Mac has made, and I’m not falling for it. I will get answers.
KMM: Are you the Unseelie King? I say coyly.
JZB: Don’t you think I’d be able to touch my own bloody book if I was? He sounds cross.
KMM: You answered my question with a question, not an answer, Barrons. Are you the Unseelie King: yes or no? I push.
His eyes narrow. I refuse to squirm in my chair. I’m the author. I created him. I don’t need to squirm. As if he read my mind, he says,
JZB: You think you created me, don’t you?
KMM: I did create you, I say dryly.
Perhaps there’s a touch of conceit in my voice. If I created him then I can control him and if I can control a man like Barrons, then I must be one hell of a woman.
JZB: Has it occurred to you that perhaps I created you?
I go blank for a moment. I’ve always been more than a little perturbed by Zhuangzi’s conundrum of whether Chuang Chou was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. I suspect reality is a bit less tangible, more frighteningly malleable to fiction writers.
JZB: Or perhaps, he exploits my hesitation instantly, I stroll by your bedroom window at night, whisper my tale to you and let you believe it is fiction. Allow you to suffer the delusion that you’re in charge.
Mockery shimmers in his dark gaze and for a moment I’m transfixed. I don’t think I put small gold flecks in his eyes. Where did they come from?
KMM: I shake off the thrall and say, Get over yourself, Barrons. No doubts. I created you.
JZB: Really. Then why the bloody hell are you asking me what I am? The Sahara could be no dryer than his voice.
I stare. Why am I? The answer comes swiftly. Because—try though I might to convince myself otherwise—I’ve long suspected I don’t have any control over Barrons, and never have had. He has parted with his secrets only if and when he felt like it—and that hasn’t been often. Still, I’m the author. I do too know what he is. I set my laptop aside and stand, bristling with irritation and indignation.
KMM: That’s it, Barrons. You pushed me too far. I’m going to tell them everything, right now. I’m going to spill it all. Tell them every sordid detail about what you are, what you did and what you want.
He stands, too. He towers over me. I did not write him that tall and I know it. And I certainly didn’t write him that attractive. I gave him flaws. Where are they? And where did his tattoos go? The ones on his left arm are gone now, and there’s something new on his neck. Is it moving? He smiles and I know I didn’t write that smile. Death smiles like that.
JZB: Really, he says softly and I shiver because I know—after all, I created him—that soft from Barrons is dangerous. And risk that I created you, and if you become too much of a nuisance I’ll kill you off? Are you ready to die, Ms. Moning? You know what happens to unwanted, irksome characters. He touches my cheek. Electricity sizzles under my skin. He traces a finger down my jaw, stopping at my jugular. You are swift becoming unwanted.
I stare up at him, appalled to realize I want to be wanted by Jericho Barrons. I want to touch him. I want him to touch me. I want him to look at me with lust. I’m baffled by this. Like Fae creations, can a fictional character take on a life of its own? Change without the author’s consent? Do I really know who and what he is? Is it possible he’s been masquerading all along, deceiving even his own creator? The lines of reality blur around me.
KMM: I do, too know what you are, I insist.
JZB: Bored now. Where’s Mac?
KMM: I’m the one asking the questions.
JZB: I said “Where’s Mac?”
Unbelievable! He Voiced me! The bastard actually Voiced me!
KMM: At Chester’s with Ryodan, I grit, where I left her when I came here to interview you.
His hand is suddenly around my throat and I can’t breathe. My toes barely touch the floor.
JZB: If she fucks him you die.
He releases me, and I collapse onto the sofa. With a blur of movement, and the slam of the front door, Jericho Barrons is gone.
Eventually, I collect myself. I’m not sure why I bother, but I stop to turn off both gas fires on the way out, as if it’s all so real that a back draft might burn my fictional bookstore down. As I’m leaving, I glance up, and do a double-take.
The mural is complete!
I stop and turn slowly. Sure enough, right where I wanted them sit two plush, red velvet chairs.
I didn’t put them there.
©2010 Karen Marie Moning, LLC, may not be reprinted or reproduced in any manner, written, electronic or otherwise without express permission of author.