Commentary from the boondocks. If it makes any sense, it is just by chance. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
This is the first in what I hope is a series of interviews of ordinary people. Don’t expect to see me interview anyone famous since I can’t think of anyone famous that I know well enough to interview. Okay, I don’t know anyone famous other than Mr. Possum and I couldn’t very well interview him since I don’t plan on using the real names of the people I interview since none of them is interested in gaining any kind of “fame”.
Anyway, this first installment is with a man I will call Billy.
Hope you enjoy it. Cletus
Billy is 55 years old. He is divorced and has one child and two grandchildren. Billy is a semi-recovered alcoholic. He is recovered as long as he doesn’t take a drink. One drink and he is drunk for two or three weeks. So here goes.
So, what do you do for a living?
“I work for my nephew. I guess you could say I am an all-around handyman. I do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes, I drive trucks for a few months, but I usually get fired after getting drunk and not showing up for work. I haven’t driven a truck for several months because Alabama has started collecting back child support and they take anything I get. My daughter is grown with kids of her own and my ex-wife doesn’t want the money, but they take it anyway.”
What was it like when you were a kid?
“My daddy was an alcoholic and beat my Mama and me pretty bad when he was drunk. I left home as soon as I was able and was married when I was eighteen. I can’t remember much about being a kid. I guess it went by too fast. I remember working when I was about ten to help Mama feed my younger brother and sister. I have to say that both of them try to help me now when I start drinking and I know I always have a place to go when things get really bad. I guess I really never was a kid.”
Has there been anything really significant in your life that sets you apart from other people you know?
“Oh yeah, I did five years up in Ohio for killing a man.
I find that hard to believe. You seem to be one of the kindest people I know. Were you drunk or something when you killed him?
“Nope, I hadn’t been married long when my father-in-law asked me to go up North to pick up a load of drugs for him. He offered to pay me two hundred dollars for just going there and back and he was sending another guy to do all the buying. I needed the money and figured I could get some of the drugs for myself so I went. We picked up the drugs and were driving back through Ohio when the other guy got all hopped up. I was driving along this two-lane road when he started beating on me with a wrench he had under the seat. I stopped the car to fight him off and the next thing I knew, he was dead. I don’t know if it was from me hitting him or if the drugs he had taken killed him. Anyway, there I was in Ohio with a dead body and a car full of drugs. I didn’t figure the police would understand so I dragged him out in the field and left him there. I told the folks back in Alabama that he had decided to stay up North. Since I had brought the drugs back, no one really cared about him. A few days later, the man who owned the field found the body and the wrench and they traced the fingerprints to me. That’s what I get for being arrested before. They charged me with manslaughter since the guy was hopped up on drugs and I got five years. I tell you, jail is not a nice place to be. My wife divorced me while I was in jail and married another man, but we are friends today. I guess if she hadn’t of divorced me because I was in jail, it would have been because I was a drunk or a druggy.”
Do you have any problems today because of killing the man?
“If you mean do I lose sleep over it, no. I don’t think about it much, but it does cause me trouble ever now and then. A few years back, I lost a good trucking job because of a criminal background check. I don’t go around telling people about my crime and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I do yell at any kid I see on drugs. You got to be an idiot to take drugs. I took a lot when I was young and I know I was an idiot.”
You are an older baby-boomer. Did you take part in the sexual revolution in the 1960’s?
“ I don’t really remember. I spent most of the 60’s and 70’s either high or drunk and don’t remember much about either.”
What bothers you today?
“ I guess this is the place where I am supposed to say I am concerned about world peace or something like that, but I’m not really. As I see it, about the only thing anyone could do to affect us way out here in the country is to release some kind of germ or virus that spreads around the world and I figure that would do more damage to the more backward countries than it would to us here in America so I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about things overseas. I do worry about the younger people I know. Some of them are on meth and I know what that does to you. There’s a guy just up the road who is cooking meth and the law won’t do anything about him. That bothers me. “
Are you a religious person?
“I believe in God and I consider myself to be a Christian, but I guess I really don’t know what that means. Mama was a Christian and I guess that is where I get mine from, but I can’t remember when I was in a Church except for a funeral. I try to treat people right.”
You are white. Did the civil rights movement have any impact on you?
“Mama always said we had to treat everyone right and I have always tried to do that. I don’t know many black people, but I don’t think the civil rights movement or any program to help blacks has hurt me. I have never had a hard time getting a job, but then I can do a lot of things with my hands and most of the time, there is work for me to do. I do worry some about the education that poor blacks and us lower class whites, that’s what we are, are getting, but I guess we are partially responsible since we don’t make our kids study. I made about $8000.00 last year. That puts me at the bottom of the economic scale. If I didn’t live with my sister and her husband, I couldn’t make it but that’s my fault not someone else’s. Some of the fellers around here are members of the KKK, but I think it is mostly a drinking club and a chance for idiots to get together. I asked one of them what blacks had ever done to him and he didn’t have any answer. He talked on and on about how the civil war was really about the North attacking the South and how slavery wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be, but he didn’t mention any personal reason to hate blacks. I just don’t understand people like him at all. Most of the people I know are not like him. If you try to hurt me, I’ll fight back, but if you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone. I think the law should treat everyone the same, but it doesn’t. I think poor whites and blacks are pretty much in the same boat. Most of us just don’t know it”
What do you think about gay marriage?
Do you follow politics?
“Nah, I don’t want much from government and I haven’t seen any President who made much difference. I should probably be worried about Social Security, but then chances are that my drinking and drugging days are going to catch up with me before I can draw it. I would like to have medical insurance, but I could have it if I would keep a truck-driving job. My nephew can’t afford medical insurance since this shop barely breaks even. I guess I just have to live long enough to get on Medicare.
Do you have a favorite author?
“No, I don’t read much.
Do you watch television?
“Not much. My sister has it on a lot, but about all I ever watch is shows about cars mostly because my sister’s husband likes to watch them.”
Alabama or Auburn?
“I don’t care about sports and I never went to college so I guess I don’t care about either.”
What do you think about this interview?
“I liked you better when you were a logger.”