“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” – the monster to Victor in Frankenstein
Interview with Michael, newest member of Arthur’s Round Table in
“Running Through A Dark Place.”
I am not what you would call an experienced journalist, but occasionally I pin my press ID card to my lapel and head in into the trenches to conduct an interview of a fictional character who intrigued me in some way or another. The character I interviewed yesterday, Michael (refused to give his last name) of Running Through a Dark Place, indeed, had a significant impact on me as I read book 2 in Michael Bowler’s Children of the Knight series.
What sort of an impression did he leave on my mind…on my heart? I will allow you to draw your own conclusions as you read our interaction, but I will say that Michael is what I would refer to as something of a shock jock. The vast majority of the words that spout forth from his mouth are deliberately designed to offend. To throw other characters off-balance. To hide the fragile soul that I feel certain lurks within his brawny body. To stave off any remote possibility of forming an emotional bond with anyone.
With his goal of provoking negative attention, Michael is a resounding success. He succeeds in alienating his co-characters in Running Through a Dark Place. And in our brief interview, he was somehow able to hone in on my areas of deepest sensitivity, and offend me.
Do I like Michael? Read these exchanges from Mia Kerick’s interview with Michael, conducted in the back yard of the author’s home in Los Angeles, and draw your own conclusions as to whether or not it is even possible to like him, let alone give him the benefit of the doubt.
Mia: Hi, Michael.
Mia: I’m glad you came. I’m actually very curious about that. The kids who told me you were… well, I won’t say exactly what they said… that you were ‘interesting,’ let’s just say, told me you’d never show. So why did you?
Michael: Needed to see your face.
Michael: And nothing. Just wanted to know who to fuck up if this interview makes me look bad or brings me attention I don’t want.
Mia: (shivers, even though it’s warm outside) Um. Okay. I, uh, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your childhood and family.
Michael: (glowers menacingly) No can do. I don’t talk about my childhood, and my family are assholes. All you need to know, lady.
Mia: Are you the only child in your family?
Michael: You got that one right.
Mia: And I was told you are seventeen years old?
Michael: (smirks) What’s it to you? Looking for some action from a young stud? Hubby not satisfying you these days?
Mia: (fidgets uncomfortably) I’ll put you down as seventeen.
Michael: Whatever. I’m old enough.
Mia: Tell me about your parents.
Michael: (smirks again) You think I’m hot, don’t you, lady?
Mia: I think you’re a very handsome boy.
Michael: (laughs) In other words, you’re hot for me, like everyone else.
Mia: (tries not to let the tremble in her hand be visible) Um, back to your parents. Give me three words to describe them.
Michael: Scared to death.
Mia: Why? Are you scared of them?
Michael: (snorts derisively) Other way around, lady. They know if they cross me I’ll cut their throats while they sleep. Ha! That’s why they never let me into the main house unless their live-in bodyguard is present. (laughs) Like I couldn’t fuck the shit out of him if I wanted to. Long as I have my bank account and my car, I stay away from them and they stay away from me. Oh, and if I see you put in your story what I said about cutting their throats, I’ll be paying you a little visit in the dead of night. (grins)
Mia: (shifts again, tries to maintain eye contact, but finds it’s difficult with his penetrating glare) I think they might, uh, also, you know, be scared of you for a different reason. Want to know what I think that reason is?
Michael: (squints) Lady, you’re treading on some very dangerous ground here.
Mia: (takes a breath and pushes on) I think they know that you know they haven’t done a good job as parents.
Michael: (sneers) Who are you, Dr. Fucking Phil?
Mia: (laughs) That’s funny.
Michael: Man, lady, if you don’t say something smart soon, I’m gone.
Mia: Okay. How’s this? Do you believe in God?
Michael: (looks surprised at the question) Why should I? He doesn’t believe in me.
Mia: Do you believe what goes around comes around?
Michael: Now that you have right. It’s the way the world works. The only way. That’s justice. Forgiveness is for pussies.
Mia: (squirms at the intensity of his answer, the near anger in his voice) Okay, let’s switch topics here. What are you most proud of?
Michael: (almost visibly relaxes. Slightly) That I’m the smartest kid in this city.
Mia: Really? How do you know that?
Michael: I just do. Put anyone in this city against me in any subject and I’ll wipe the floor with them. College kids too. Shit, I had to teach my calculus class half the time because the dumbass teacher couldn’t even figure out how to solve differential equations. Shit, a fucking first grader could learn that if he was smart like me.
Mia: (jots down his response to compose herself) How about this – do you believe in love at first sight?
Michael: (another derisive snort) Love is a fallacy. There’s only hedonistic lust and animal attraction. Chemical reactions of the physical body. Nothing more, nothing less.
Mia: Does a kiss fall under the category of hedonistic lust?
Michael: (grins) You want to kiss me, don’t you? I can see your eyes checking out my pecs and arms. You want me.
Mia: (uncomfortable) You do have… quite an admirable physique. For a boy.
(Michael’s face clouds over at the use of the word “boy, “ but he doesn’t say anything.)
Mia: Why do you work out so much?
Michael: So no one will fuck with me.
Mia: (nods) How about this – if you’re driving in the middle of the night and there’s no traffic, do you stop at red lights?
Michael: (laughs) Lady, I barely stop at red lights during the day, and then only if there’s a cop or red light camera around.
Mia: You’re a risk taker then?
Michael: (shrugs) Life is risk. No one is safe. Especially kids.
Mia: (eyes him thoughtfully, searching his face for the meaning behind those words, but Michael says nothing and just stares) Do you have any regrets in life so far?
Michael: None. Regrets are for pussies, just like forgiveness. You do what you have to do and move on. Never look back. That’s my motto.
Mia: Interesting philosophy. So if you were to die tomorrow, how would you like to be remembered?
Michael: As a kid who wouldn’t take shit from anyone. As a kid who had control of everyone and everything around him. As a kid who took care of business.
Mia: And if you were to die tomorrow and you could hold on to one memory from your life for all eternity, what would it be?
Michael: (deflates slightly, suddenly appearing more like a boy than ever during the interview; his face takes on a faraway expression; he sighs ever so slightly) Lance.
Mia: (reacts with surprise at the change in tone, and because of the answer) I, uh, I interviewed Lance shortly after the crusade kicked into gear. You know, before… well, everything happened. Is Lance why you joined Arthur’s Round Table?
Michael: (the cold, tough veneer is back in an instant; he sits up straight and glares at her) I didn’t join shit! I merely offered my intellect to help them write their proposition. Hell if anyone else could’ve done it. They need me, lady. I don’t need them.
Mia: (shifts again, looks eager to leave) Well, uh, Michael, I think that’s probably all I need. Before we go our separate ways, is there anything I didn’t ask that you wanted me to?
Michael: Yeah, about my favorite book.
Mia: (caught off guard again) Oh. So what is your favorite book?
Mia: (eyebrows shoot up in surprise) Like from the movies?
Michael: (looks angry) The movies are shit. The book is fucking genius. Mary Shelley was way ahead of her time. She had us pegged perfectly. Human nature, I mean. Read it some day. Then you won’t need to ask about my life because you’ll find all the answers right there in that book.
Mia: (nods, watching him settle himself back into his standard sullen demeanor) Do you, uh, have any questions for me?
Michael: No. Just a warning.
Michael: I’ve seen you playing with that phone the whole time. I better not see any pictures of me anywhere other than that one ‘model’ shot I said you could use. (smiles in a threatening way) See, I don’t like people taking my picture without permission. People who do that have been known to get badly fucked up. Are we clear?
Mia: (swallows nervously, and nods again) Crystal.
Michael: (smiles for real this time, the smile of someone who knows he’s in command) Later, lady. I have a party to grace, and every party without me is a loser.
(He stands and heads for the back gate leading to the driveway.)
Mia: Let’s chat again sometime, Michael.
Michael: (without turning back, just throws a hand up) When hell freezes over.
(Then he’s out the gate and out of Mia’s life)
Mia: (sinks down into her chair, her heart pounding, sweat on her forehead, relief flooding in on her) Well, that’s an unspeakably angry child. He needs a hug. (shivers) But not from me.
(Mia collects her things and returns to the house to bid the author goodbye.)
So, we return to my original question: Do I like Michael? I will admit that I tried. He is beautiful, but very damaged, brilliant, yet his mind is profoundly warped, full of youthful passion, yet bitterly wise beyond his years. Am I entertained by his provocations? Impressed by his banter? Fascinated by his off-color charm?
An honest answer to my final question, directed at Mia Kerick, myself:
Do I like Michael?
I honestly don’t know.
Will you like Michael or will you hate him?
You will need to read Running Through a Dark Place to find out.
Buy it on Amazon:
King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.
Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.
Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.
However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.
The Knight Cycle Continues…
If you haven’t yet experienced The Knight Cycle, start here where it all began. This is an epic five-part series filled with triumph, tragedy, exhilarating emotion, despair, joy, laughter, tears, high action, and adventure, populated with a colorful cast of diverse characters you’ll not meet anywhere else. Watch Arthur’s youthful Knights come of age, and transform America along the way.
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