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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Vichinsky

A Beacon Times Interview

Updated: Jun 21, 2023


"This is Gail from The Beacon Times, the newspaper here at Oakwood High School." The girl holds out her hand and practices her reporters smirk. She continues, "Please to meet you Mr. Walker."

The night is heavy and quiet and the brown noises passed, somewhat loudly, in the background. On top of the hills, through the thick trees are many sleeping houses. Small, rubbed down, flaky white, and dusty from the pollen. On top of it all, sits a tree house, Gail's tree house, with a single light shining through the only window over looking the house.

Gail flips sides, pretending to be Maxwell Walker, "Pleased to meet you lil miss." She practices her deep West Virginia drawl, she tips her imaginary hat to herself.

Inside the tree house was warm feeling. It was filled with her own childhood illustrations, news paper columns, Christmas lights she had taken from the trash, and more recently her new writings, she felt secure here.

"Sir, my family has been fans of yours for a long time, my mom used to tell me about Maxwell Walker and his incredible adventures around the world, shooting bad guys, finding treasure -" Gail stops and turns to face her imaginary self, "Is there a question here, miss?" She laughs at herself in embarrassment. She notes, in excitement, stick to the questions.

This is her only opportunity to impress Ms. Dirks her Journalist teacher who had advocated, as lower class man, that she get the editor and chief job.

"So, Mr. Walker, as I was saying, what is it like to see all the wonders in the world and then to come back to Wheeling?"

"Well, the world is big," she stroked her imaginary gray scruff, "but all the things I ever learned, in order to survive, was from here!"

She scooted back to the left side of the tree house and wrote down the response. She put down the pencil and notepad and smiled before sliding back to Mr. Walker's position.

Mr. Walker continued, "coming back used to be like a nightmare to me, I never wanted to be here, I wanted to escape - I did escape. When I come back though, I feel a sense of pride for where I am, maybe because I made it."

Impressed with her own response, Gail nodded and then shook her head out of it.

"You're quite the influencer in this city, Mr. Walker. Known for your "no-good-for-nothin'-drunk-scoundrel-from-no-where" who, may I add - did everything they said he couldn't... what is your own favorite story of yours? What do you make of your legacy?"

She moves back into her character, a deep mimicked laugh to start, "I think it would have to be the time that I drove Motorcycles with Frank Buckles on our 21st birthday."

Frank was a West Virginia icon, entering the army, voluntarily at sixteen years old during World War One. As a paramedic, he drove around on a motorcycle, he self proclaims, picking up "picking up the blown-up bodies that were seemingly never ending."

"Apparently, when ole Frank came back from the war he didn't adapt too well. Either did I." He paused and scratched his beard as if he were living it again. "I saw Franky at a bar, Shelly's, on my 21st and it was the first time I had a drink - you could call it love at first sight. Franky came in and looked like a ghost. Because he was well known people shook his hand and bought him some drinks, and he sat alone. I figured, I was in the war too, I could in-friend Frank and get some of that free liquor with him. So that's what I did. It turned out we had a lot more in common than I thought - not the least of which that the day was our birthday and we had no one to celebrate it with." He paused. "So, eventually I bet Ole Frank ten dollars, or his bill at the next bar, whichever came first, that I could beat him in a motorcycle race, and he goes, 'I thought you knew what I did in the war.' I say, -"

Both voices rose from Gail now, "With all due respect my friend, I really don't give a fuck."

Gail smiled at the memory of hearing that story for the first time. In this pause she grew aware of her surroundings once again. In the background the crickets paused it seemed, the air, humid and oppressive, felt heavier and she felt her breathing shorten, her throat become dry as she heard a car slide to a stop in the dirt driveway. She closed her eyes and swallowed. Her hands shook and she reached for her now warm cup of water.

A car door slammed and a wobbled footsteps followed. Another slammed door.

She took a sip and lightly put the glass back down. She took a deep breath. Report through fear. She pushes her hair back behind her ears. Maxwell Walker smiles back to her and nods.

"Mr. Walker-"

The screen door screeches open and slams shut.

"Mr. Walker, tell me, where did your bone for adventure come from?"

In the distance, a glass shatters and a muffled yell. Gail, turns off the lamp and is now sitting in darkness. She no longer moves over but stares at the wall still seeing Mr. Maxwell there.

"It's okay."

"What is?"

Abigail peaks out the window at the silent, dark, night. She looks down below at the house which seems quiet for a moment.

From the corner of the tree house, Maxwell Walker, "Miss?"

"Yeah?"

"I was just telling you, I was influenced by my Mama."

She whispers "Right, tell me more."

"Well, I think my mom always felt unhappy livin' her life in one place. Don't get me wrong, she loved us and our family but every chance she got, she used to tell me that adventure awaits and so I took the quickest path I could, enlist in the military. Of course, she didn't really like me leavin' I think she was jealous."

Gail smiled. "And how did that make you feel?"

A door slams and dogs bark. There's a muffled scream, "You drunk!"

Gail stayed focused on Maxwell, her tone changed, "Don't you think going away hurt you, too?"

"How do you mean?"

A smashed window, the sound of pots being thrown, and a loud chuckle of a drunk father.

"Don't you think going away from everything you knew made it hard on you? What if you came back worse?"

"People know me for my successes, right?"

A fearful quiet skidded through the backyard. The back slider slid open and yell came from the back door into the house "Where is my little girl?"

"What does that matter if you're not happy for yourself?"

"Well-"

"Actually, that's my next question, what makes you happiest?"

"Probably being around my family!"

Gail had a tear that streamed down her face. She thought about the interview she will never get as she hears her name and a woman whimpering "no" in the background.

"What's wrong?"

"You were supposed to protect us. Be our hero."


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