An Interview with Oliver

As Oliver’s Twist undergoes its planning stages, I “sat down” with Oliver himself for an interview where I tried to get a better idea of what this character is like. Turns out he’s not an easy “pistachio” to crack:

The little bell above the coffee shop door rings, and I look up to see a tall young man in his late twenties walking toward me. He wears a brown fedora that covers most of his short black curls, and two cautious brown eyes meet mine. He wears a plain black v-neck shirt and torn jeans, his black boots scuffed with several years wear. A Gibson guitar case is clinched in his left hand. He sets his instrument on the floor and settles down in a chair across from mine wearing a bright white smile that brought contrast to his tan skin. His nervousness was evident, but his warmth was genuine as he offered me his hand in greeting.

Elli: Oliver I presume?
[Oliver shakes my hand.] That’d be me, Miss.

Elli: What a pleasure! Ana from Muse Magazine has had only positive things to say about you.
[His smile grows wider] Yeah, she does a lot of that these days. A lovely lass, that girl. A lot’s changed in both of us since we first met.

Elli: I heard you were the one story she could never get.
It’s true. But not because she didn’t try.

Elli: So tell me about the first time you two met.
It was a couple months ago. [He looks up at the ceiling as if picturing that first meeting.] I remember the first time I met her she was wearing gray dress pants, a blue blouse, and those black rimmed glasses that makes every girl look like a librarian. And not the sort that guys fantasize about. I mean the other kind of librarian.

Elli: What exactly is the ‘other’ type of librarian?
You know, the kind that gives you the evil eye because you checked one book out six months ago and never brought it back?

Elli: Sounds like you’ve had bad experiences with librarians.
Only one, and only because the book I checked out is still holding up one leg of my coffee table. I haven’t been back to the library since she started glaring at me, and that was, ooohh let’s see… five years ago? I think I’ve probably accrued enough late fees by now to put a down payment on a Honda. [Oliver stares at the floor in contemplation] Well, probably a used Honda. But still, that’s a lot of money to pay for a book. Even if it was a 1940’s classic copy of Homer’s The Iliad.

Elli: [Clears throat] Yes, well, as much as everyone loves The Iliad, I think the real topic here was how you met Ana?
Right! Ana. She reminded me of that librarian. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. In reality, she was a different form of literary mistress. When we first met she had just started this gig with Muse Magazine. She was a hard hitting journalist hunting down a cover story that would put her in the editor’s good graces. That’s when we crossed paths. I guess she saw something in my music when she walked into the coffee shop that afternoon. We talked a bit, and she mentioned something about me being a great story for next month’s rag. I told her no, but that girl’s a fighter. [Oliver chuckles] For eight hours straight we talked, and through it all I kept telling her no. She still wouldn’t give up.

Elli: That’s a long time. Do you think she was looking for more than just a good story?
[Oliver chuckles again, softer this time as he shakes his head.] No way. Getting Ana to flirt was like trying to get a soldier in the Queen’s Guard to crack a smile. She wanted nothing to do with relationships back then. I think I just whet her journalistic appetite. I was the pistachio she couldn’t crack, and it bugged her.

Elli: Did she say why she wanted to write about you specifically?
[Oliver shrugs.] I’m a street musician. I play for quarters near Cocoa Beach. It’s a humble lifestyle that brings more profit to my soul than to my pocket. But that’s just the way I like it. Not many musicians can say that and mean it these days. Most are looking to hit it big. Me, I wanted the opposite. I was content in going nowhere.

Elli: ‘Content in going nowhere’? The way you say ‘going nowhere’ makes me think you aren’t really content.
Ah, but that’s just it! You hear the word ‘nowhere’ and you think of it as a negative thing, and it’s not. I like this village. It’s full of character, full of life and people doing what they love to do. Look at the shops around you. How many places can you find an old theater, artisan shops, an Irish pup and a Native American art gallery all a few blocks from each other? There’s culture here, Miss. I like being a part of that. I like playing music for the sake of feeling music. When it becomes about money, you take the magic out of it. And music without magic is soulless. [Oliver tosses a hand up in the air, his face crinkled in frustration.] It’s not worth it. I’m a simple guy. I don’t need the money. My songs are worth more to me than any check a rich man could write.

Elli: That’s an admirable thing. I can see why Ana wanted to do a story on you. But not every big musician is a sellout. I’m sure you know that.
Sure, there are exceptions. But I was never offered that.

Elli: Have you been given an offer before?
[Oliver’s frustration seems to be mounting. He rubs his chin for a moment, then leans back in his chair, clearly uncomfortable.] Let’s get back to Ana. You were asking about her, remember?

Elli: Actually, this interview is about you. And I feel like we’re starting to get to the heart of that.
We already did. The heart is it, miss. Everybody’s got something. A hobby or a passion that opens up a window into something inside themselves that exposes pieces of emotion, pieces of life, that are too deep for words. Mine came in the form of a guitar, and the notes that sprang to life when my fingers pluck the strings. When I start to play, I lose myself in it. Music exists in the moment, and people need it. They hunger for it because music is one of the rawest form of expression. For me music comes as naturally as breathing.

Elli: So why wouldn’t you want to do that for a living?
[Oliver looses an exasperated sigh] This is getting rather circular, don’t you think?

Elli: Only because you aren’t answering my question, Mr. Fitzpatrick.
Some questions aren’t worth answering.

Elli: Oliver, this book is about you. The title has your name in it.
Right. So why do you insist on talking about a record deal that never actually happened?

Elli: Because it’s part of your story.
Not this one. [Oliver stands and grabs his guitar case]

Elli: Wait, are you leaving?
You’re digging for the same gold Ana did. What makes you think you’re going to find it?

Elli: Because this is your book, Oliver. Your life story.
Well then I’ll show you how it played it out between me and her. [He tips his fedora and heads for the door] Have a good day, Miss.

[The bell rings, and the door slams shut leaving me sitting alone with my coffee, and only a tease of who this man really was.]

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