Harper Intensive Studios
James Oliver Stone
Topic: School Violence
No. Questions Refused: 0
Another Interview Warranted: Yes
"Don't mind the cameraman. He's just here to check the lighting, in case we decide to shoot from here. Pretend he's not here."
"Today I'd like you to open up a little. Remember, we're here to help. We're here to help you help others. Tell me about Mr. Applegate."
"He was a teacher; a history nerd."
"By all accounts, he was a great teacher. Almost all of his AP history students earned 6 history college credits on the Advanced Placement test." He consulted his clipboard. "Didn't you earn 6 credits in history?"
"And in English."
"So you would have entered college with a semester's worth of college credits."
"Was Mr. Applegate unfair to you?"
"Did you mean to shoot him?"
"I guess so, or I wouldn't have."
"Do you regret shooting him?"
"I wouldn't be here if I hadn't shot him."
When I showed up again, there was a new guy with Jamie. I saw a tape recorder in the same place as the one Dr. Harper had had. This one wasn't small and shiny but blocky and beat up looking. Well-used.
"So when did you first think about shooting someone who had hurt you?"
"When I was three, Doc." Jamie was answering earnestly--the guy didn't know him well enough to know that was a sign he was being sarcastic. "I didn't like my babysitter putting me to bed, so I thought I might take her out and watch another round of my Care Bears video."
The guy didn't blink. Another guy, one I hadn't noticed, came in close with a video camera. "Ah." I said. "The Doctor Harper Intensive has got you in its clutches now."
The guy asked his question again, relentless patience in his voice, his posture and his aura. "I know that you're angry, but I need you to answer my questions seriously. That's the only way I can help you. When did you first decide that a gun was a good solution."
Jamie didn't want to answer, but there was something about the way the guy stared at him that pulled the words out. Slowly. "I..." He closed his eyes and narrated his answer like a well-worn fairy tale. "That morning. In class. When Mr. Applegate gave me an F for cheating on our pop quiz." He opened his eyes. "It was so unfair. Sam and his buddy said they saw me cheating and he believed them." He leaned forward and focused on a little spider crawling across the table. "I never cheated in my life." The spider turned toward him, and he flicked it off the table with one finger.
Such a little thing to light the fuse. It almost sounded silly when he said it. It had been embarrassing, watching Mr. Applegate's face turn red. I have no idea why he believed Sam. Maybe because Jamie, even being skinnier and better looking, still managed to look guilty when he wasn't. Or maybe because Sam had always been very good at looking like he was telling the truth. Teachers usually caught on after a month or two of school, but we'd only been in class for a few days and Mr. Applegate hadn't had Sam before.
"I see." The interviewer was a big guy, who looked more like he should play football than ask a lot of questions about feelings and motivations. He sat back. "So you felt that you had no choice but to kill them?"
"No." Jamie shook his head. "I wanted Sam to tell the truth. But he just laughed."
"I see. And Mr. Applegate?"
Jamie closed up. His aura shrunk to a black marble, shiny, hard, round. "I'm not arguing that what I did was right. But I'm not talking about it anymore with you."
I guess shrinks must hear that a lot, because the guy just shifted in his chair, coughed, and acted like he hadn't heard a word Jamie said. "Your lawyer tells me you believe that Amy is haunting you."
Jamie looked at me, deliberately, so that the shrink couldn't miss it. "I didn't say haunting, my lawyer said haunting. Don't blame me for stuff I didn't say. Isn't there enough that I did do for you to be mad about?"
I couldn't argue with that.
"Are you talking to her right now?" The guy sat forward, and the wrinkles in his shirt stretched out flat between his shoulder blades. The camera guy swung his lens toward me. I wondered if they'd see even a shimmer, a little sparkly snow that represented the ghost me.
"We're more like hanging out, you know?" Jamie smiled. "Me – until all the official crap gets taken care of, and Amy --just until she figures out how to get to Heaven."
Dude was about as sensitive as a football. "Look. You may think you're clever, but you're not. That's why you're here. How about you talk to me. Look at me. You can talk to her later, in your cell."
"She doesn't come into my cell. Just here, in the visitor's room." Jamie looked at me, as if it had just struck him that that was so. "She's always been like that--following the rules, you know? A Goody Two-Shoes my mom always called her."
"Look, I can see you're not into this. But I got a job to do. Find out how to help you help other people. If I don't, well, Dr. Harper's going to cut you loose." He glanced at his watch. "I think I heard your mother needs this money?"
Jamie stopped kidding around. "What do you want to know?"
"How did Amy break your heart?"
Jamie was shocked speechless for a second. There wasn't just a shower of silver in his soul, it was solid silver, with a moon-like glow. If I could have seen my soul, I bet it would have looked the same. I found the thought intolerably painful and incredibly possible. Now that it was out there, I had to know.
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