She doesn’t look like a murderer. That’s my prevailing thought. I worked the New York Post’s crime beat for 8 years. None of the killers I met dyed their brown roots blonde with precision. They didn’t wear a perfectly hemmed Versace pants suit with a lightly starched white shirt that hinted B cup cleavage.
The hotel room was cold. Allison Keen had a hot morning. I didn’t blame her for wanting to turn the air conditioning low. Her day started in prison, being transferred from a maximum security facility on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. She arrived to a courthouse amidst hundreds of cameras and journalists, with the likelihood she could spend the next 28 years of her life in prison on top of the two she’d served.
Allison Keen doesn’t notice I’ve entered the room. She’s listening to an ipod. She moves her slender figure from side to side, grooving to a song she knows by heart. I’m invading her personal moment. I’m no better than the vulturous reporters at the courthouse. I look down and wait for her to say something.
“Oh, hey. Sorry, I got distracted. I’m getting back into music.”
You know when Allison Keen is smiling. It interrupts your thinking. It’s wide and toothy, like an ivory crescent moon. I place my notebook, camera bag, and cell phone on an aged mahogany desk. The accomodations at Milan International Hotel are much better than the prison Allison was housed and the cheap motel I was in. I volley the conversation.
“What are you listening to?”
Allison grins even wider. I gather she hasn’t been asked such a warm and intimate question as that in a while.
“Blue October. It’s their first album. My sister downloaded it for me last night. Right now, anything is better than Italian radio. You’re Brenda, right, from the New York Post?”
I smirk. Not because she gets my name wrong, but because talking about music shades the fact that she’s a convicted felon, waiting to have her appeal heard. I’m not the least bit nervous. Allison Keen just doesn’t seem like a murderer.
“My name is Breann Lucos. I’ve been talking to your parents, your sister, and your lawyers. They said it would be okay to interview you before the appeals hearing and hopefully, after.”
Allison took the earbuds out, walked to the mirror above the television and looked over her pale countenance. She’s ridiculously pretty. The kind that doesn’t just win prom queen but also ends up on a movie screen.
“Hey Breann. You look tired too. Did you fly in last night?”
She’s so awkward. I’m not insulted because I look like hell. I’m figuring out what Italian prosecutors saw in the stunning American girl from Portland studying abroad for a year. Allison doesn’t talk, she spits words. She doesn’t flow, she indulges. I didn’t have to like Allison, I just had to get a feel of her and put her facts into a story.
“Yeah I’m exhausted. I was chasing some stuff in states the last couple of weeks. “
Allison sits on the edge of the king sized bed and sighs.
“Maybe we should do this interview in bed, then?”
I don’t answer. I end whatever infatuation is there and think about my questions.
“Oh my God! I’m joking. I’m kind of shot out. This whole thing has been unbelievable. I’ll sit at this desk. You sit where ever you want.”
I open my cell phone, hit the record button, and begin scribbling some details about the room and Allison in my notebook.
“Tell me how you’ve handled the last two years in solitary confinement.”
Allison looks out the window. The November sun bounces off her white skin. Her smile disappears.
“Prison approved books, pants with no strings, a hour in the sun, these are a few of my favorite things.”
The awkwardness shifts to me and I close my notebook and turn off the phone recorder. Regardless of the news of her appeal later in the day, Allison Keen, convicted murderer, would live her life with regret.
“Allison, there’s a song called Italian Radio on that downloaded album. The last line is something like ” put out your hand to meet my new lady
she’s rock and roll and she’ll save me”. I don’t know what’s going to happen to you. But, you might want to think about what will save you. I’m going through something similar. ”
Allison Keen looks through me. It’s a hollow, dead stare. For the first time, she looks like she could be a murderer.
******blogger’s note**** -
This is my answer to @IndieInk http://forum.indieink.org/ ’s writing challenge given to me by Stiv, “these are a few of my favorite things”.
Today, Amanda Knox, a Seattle student, was acquitted of murder charges in Florence, Italy. She served 4 years in jail. I believe she was innocent. Yet, some of her actions were very stupid. My piece is fiction. It’s told through the point of view of my Breann Lucos character from Crazy Robot Stories http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/crazy-robot-stories/
Today’s song is the one mentioned in the piece, Blue October’s Italian Radio. The lyrics are very good.