Ignorance is bliss….

6/14/10

I promised I would share more and I have been a bit tight lipped about a good many things of late, so let me see what I can pull from this pile and we will have a closer look together.
Do you remember back in the beginning when all this started? I had just finished my other book and it was off at the publishers awaiting final edit approval and cover art approval… I had watched the movie Julie and Julia and thought perhaps I too might write a blog about my experience. A blog about my researching a suspected homicide. J had asked me to write a book about what happened to her father that night back in 1966- even though she, her sibling and her mother had never been able to crack enough shells to make a pecan pie of the thing. To tell you the truth, I had no idea exactly how many shells I would be able to crack… or what path all this would take when and if I could. What I did know was me. And I knew from the git-go that I could write this story- but only if Charley would conscent and promise to be right there beside me. It never dawned on me that I would have to wait so long to begin in earnest. After all, I vomited 7 chapters right up front- then stalled. Those of you who know me, know I never stall. I never balk. So why the hesitation? Why the delay, I wondered and that was when the gravity of what I was about to do took me to heel. Charley wanted more than a story- he wanted the truth. Now, as a writer my genre is historical fiction. And the funny thing is, every time someone asks me how I plan to write this thing, I can still only reply… as a historical fiction. The kicker here is- the truth in this case is the fiction! Do you understand? Everything reported and allegedly proven in this case has been the lie…everything. So everything I might write when putting pen to pad must be the truth. Or, what part do I play as an author in this?
Unlike R, I am another kind of medium- I am the wordsmith-the conduit for truth from the grave to paper. And not just from Charley’s. There are so many who step forward and speak for themselves or on his behalf. We think we are an island and that what we say or do affects only those within our immediate grasp or confidence… and yet look at the reach of boney fingers so far in this case- or any case where the victim is never heard. Valdosta’s slumber must be heavy and besmirched with the souls of those who perished for the want of others silence. It is a wonder one can even breathe in such a place without coughing up the worms of truth.

I think about Charley’s family. J was an individual I had known for years on a much more casual basis- now well voiced in this matter I realize how she had contained a heartache so grievous and so well- that I never suspected her life to be anything but happy-go-lucky. In my unawareness, I have made that mistake about others as well. As time goes on I realize that I too must present to others as even and blessed… and yet what is real and what is image for any of us? How well we come to know ourselves and yet how ignorant are we of others- even those closest to us? I think back to a year ago and the murders here in Athens at another theatre in town and now see the breadth of the wake that horror wrought amongst friends and community. I think about the information that freely danced from salacious gossip to blatant truth and think of those families as I think of Hazel- Charley’s widow. How too in the blink of an eye her world was changed forever.
Of how the morning found her baking a chocolate cake, the afternoon, arguing with her husband and the night someone coming to her door to tell her that her husband was dead. No piece of cake to say I’m sorry, no make-up kiss to navigate the lonely night. No resolution to the argument, or salve for the marriage placed eternally in limbo. No chance to salvage one’s dignity or repent one’s sins. No cup of coffee to break the ice. Nothing for him but loss. Nothing for her but doubt.

Can you image the internal hell suffered on a hourly basis without the luxury of release? This broken woman had two small children to survive for- to comfort, to embrace. Two small children to explain to that daddy never meant to leave them. I go over in my head the first session where Charley disgorged his venom first, then immediately with compassion and remorse redirects R to his loss. How R is overwhelmed by his emotion and emptiness. Even now I find I am hard pressed to find words to convey to you the impact of this man’s grief as it pierced the veil of time and the rim of my heart.

I know you want the name of the shooter. I know you want details and identities. I know you want to know the whys and the wherefores of such a villainous act… and if I told you now, your heart would sink at the depravity of those whose hands were in this. The crime in and of itself is a disgrace; the reason is beyond deplorable and the shame is without margin. What I want you to remember in all this, is that aside from the adrenaline and the intrigue— these people were and are real. Not just to me- but to each other. This is about a man and a wife who were denied the luxury of private emotional combat. Children who became collateral damage and coffee table fodder for those who held their breath, but not their tongues… lives that were traded and ransomed for people’s ego’s and reputations.

Let me quote you from one of my own works… The Knot…

“Jane: The memory of that morning would divide and define the way I saw truth for the rest of my life. Fact! I saw the end of my world in the end of that cigarette in more ways than one and…
Ryan: You took that saw…
Jane: Yes… I did. I took that saw and like the man on the horse, I cut the truth in half. Two halves made a whole and I … and everything innocent I had ever known, along with the memory of Emory’s face… crawled right through it and escaped. Until today.”

Ignorance may be bliss… but Knowledge is power.
signed,
No longer ignorant

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