In this interview, Christy Mann invited me into the world of her story ‘Death of a Secret’ to meet with her character, Derrick, who has fallen on some very hard times. I sat down with him and asked questions to learn how he got to this time in his life.
It was a nice balmy seventy degrees outside while Derrick sat, almost stiff as a board. His wheelchair was sparkling in the bright sunshine. He was a little nervous, not knowing exactly to expect from this interview. He was going to turn it down, but something told him this was something he needed to do. A lot of lives had been lost and others, like his, turned upside down. If it could help someone think twice, then he had to do it.
Kelly approached the house and saw a man in a wheelchair on the porch. She smiled as she drew near. “Derrick Murphy?” When his eyes locked with hers, she nodded to him. “I’m Kelly. Thank you for meeting with me. Do you mind if I sit down?” She motioned to a nearby chair.
Derrick’s eyes widened. He hadn’t realized how beautiful his interviewer was going to be. Lucky for him, most parts of his anatomy were no longer functional. “I am. Thank you for coming. It’s very nice to meet you. This is my wife. Marla. She was keeping me company until you arrived.”
Marla stood up and welcomed Kelly. “Hi, I’m Marla. Please sit. Can I get you something to drink?”
Kelly sat down and smiled at Marla. “I’m quite fine, thank you.” Once Marla left, Kelly turned her attention to Derrick. “I’m going to ask the most obvious question first just to get it out of the way, but…how did you end up in the wheelchair?”
“Stupidity really. I needed money, and a lot of it. So I decided I would go pay the Senator a visit and shake him down. Bad, bad idea. I came out of it better than everyone else, though.” Derrick thought back to that morning. A tear stung at his eye as he thought about everything that happened. He could live with himself for all that he had done. He deserved it. He should never have thought that blackmailing the senator was a good idea.
What he couldn’t live with was being powerless to stop that horrible man from raping his daughter while he watched. All to keep her quiet. He would never forgive himself for that.He fought the tear and cleared his throat. “Sorry. so, yeah. He choked me nearly to death and when I fell, I broke my C5 and C6.”
“Interesting.” Kelly leaned forward, musing over how that was possible. But then she nodded. “But why did you so desperately need the money that you resorted to such measures?”
Derrick chuckled. “Why does anyone desperately need money? We are up to our ears in debt, I owed a not so nice guy a large sum and he was going to come collecting. My lovely wife was threatening divorce if we couldn’t get a handle on the finances, and I had just gotten fired from a really good job. Stupidity again.”
For a long moment, Kelly stared at him. “So did you simply manage your finances poorly or did you have a habit of gambling or so? While a lot of people need money, it sounds like the depths of your debt were more extreme than normal.”
Derrick felt the judgement in Kelly’s stare. He felt enough shame in himself that hers didn’t affect him much. It still stung a little. “Oh no. I mean, we aren’t perfect at managing money, but we bought this house because she loved it. I knew we couldn’t afford it, but I went along with it because she loved it so much. So the bills started piling up. I don’t gamble. I drank a little too much at a bar one night, after a fight with the missus, and made a bet I was certain I couldn’t lose. It would have fixed all of our financial problems. It was a hustle, and I lost. To the tune of $50,000.”
Nodding, Kelly sat back. “I’m sorry. I can see how things spiral out of control there and drive you to desperate measures.” She shook her head. Now that she had that answer, she decided to shift the topic and smiled at him kindly. “So, Derrick, I understand you have a son, DJ, I think his name is? Tell me a bit about him.”
Derrick’s eyes brightened at the mention of DJ’s name. His pride in him was beyond measure. “I do. His name is Derrick Michael Murphy Jr. He’s a great kid. My pride and joy. Helpful and kind. A successful driver for a good company. He visits his mother and I every weekend or calls ahead of time if he can’t make it. He’s smart as a whip and de…” The words trailed off and tears started to well in his eyes. “I’m sorry. He got caught up in all of this mess and…” He sucked in a breath, an attempt to abate the sobs that built up and settled like a lump in his throat. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, he was a great kid. Got his looks from his mother.”
Kelly’s eyes softened. She hoped he could tell she wasn’t here to judge him but would probably ask hard questions but only to understand him better. “What mess exactly are you talking about?” She had a vague idea from some info she’d received about him before the interview, but she wanted to hear it from him.
Derrick inhaled deeply. He knew this being interviewed was going to be tough. He’s braced himself for it. He was tough. He could do this. He exhaled slowly. “I’m not a real sensitive guy, so forgive me if I seem a bit blunt. This is tough and I need just get it out there. The mess that killed my son, and the Senator’s entire family.”
Derrick paused for a moment. “You need a bit more detail, don’t you?”
Kelly frowned. “Wait….DJ is dead? I’m sorry, I misunderstood because the way you were talking about him made him sound like he was still alive.” But then she shook her head. “But yes, if you can tell me more, I would like to know more. It’s not a small matter for your son and the Senator’s entire family to be killed.” She met his gaze. “I know this may be difficult to talk about, but this is your chance to talk. I’m not here to judge you, and I’m not going to tell anyone else anything you said, and after today, you will never see me again. So just talk. Say what you will.”
Derrick attempted a nod and smiled at her. “Ok. I’m not great at this pouring my heart out stuff. Just ask my wife. I’ll try though” He paused for a long moment. Contemplating where he should start. “You see, twenty or so years ago, I had an affair with the Senator’s wife, Olivia. She got pregnant and I called it off. My wife would have ended me. She went back to her husband but I think she became an alcoholic. They only had one child, my daughter, Sarah. He raised her well. I met her for the first time when we worked together at the Senator’s office. She came in and did paper work and stuff for him sometimes. She looked just like her mother, she was sweet and kind, friendly. She had no idea who I was though. So, I left it alone. I guess she found out the day that I showed up to blackmail Jacob.” He took a breath. He looked at Kelly sincerely. “Could you help me out with a sip from that cup sitting there next to you?”
Kelly looked for the cup he mentioned, found it, and then took it and brought it up to his lips. “Here you go.” Once he took a sip, she smiled and put the cup back down, sitting down once more. “I can see the mess of things then.” She nodded. “However, I don’t want to dwell on the mess or the not-so-wise choices you may have made in the past. Instead, what have been some bright moments in your life? Surely not everything has been bleak.”
Derrick cleared his throat. “Thank you for that.” he cleared his throat again. “No. It really wasn’t bleak at all. I worked at the bank for most of it. I made decent money, worked my way up to management, had a great schedule, Banker’s hours.” He winked and chuckled softly. He continued. “We took family vacations every year. I attended every school function DJ ever had, we played catch on the lawn together on the weekends. My wife and I have weekly date nights. The affair almost ruined us, but we pulled it together. It’s been a great life.”
Kelly smiled when she heard all this. “And how did you meet your wife?” She set her chin in her palm as she leaned forward to listen with interest.
“I remember it like it was yesterday.” He laughed. “I was nineteen, she was about to turn eighteen, and she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She walked into the movie theater and the whole world stopped. I was going to see Star Wars. I was at the counter buying my popcorn when I glanced over my shoulder. She walked in. I stood there, the cashier trying to give me back my change, and I was just standing there gawking with my jaw on the floor. I wasn’t shy back then. I walked away without my change and strolled right up to her. I asked her what a beautiful creature like her was doing in a place like this. She rolled her eyes and walked off. I stood there, in that very spot, and waited for her movie to end. When she came out, I gave her the then empty popcorn bucket with ‘Your future husband, Derrick, and my phone number written in the bottom of it. She laughed and strolled out with her friends, but she took it home with her and called me later that night.”
Kelly laughed when she heard this. “Okay, I’ve got to ask, did you ever get to watch Star Wars then?”
“Absolutely. It was what she had gone to see that day. She was still excited about it when she called me that night. She loved it and told me that I had to see it. It was our first date the very next weekend.” He laughed.
Kelly grinned. “Well, I’m glad you were able to watch Star Wars finally…and that you, of course met your wife like that. Fantastic memory.” Then she leaned forward. “Now, you said you had an affair, and your wife almost left you and such…but she’s still here.” Kelly motioned to the house. “What has it been like for both of you to come back together and work through things?”
“I won’t lie. It was rough. She kicked me out for a while and refused to talk to me. It hurt her so deeply and I didn’t think she would ever forgive me. I didn’t think I deserved it. One day, I showed up with a popcorn bucket full of flowers, In the bottom of it I wrote “your pitifully sorry husband, Derrick.’ I didn’t even write my phone number in it. I left and didn’t look back. Two weeks later, she called me up at work. She told me I needed to come by the house that night. So I did. She told me she was pregnant. I moved back in that night.” He paused. “Since then, I was the ideal husband for a while. Always home when I was supposed to be, always there for her and Derrick. Things were nice and smooth for a long time. We had our little fights here and there, but we always worked them out. We had a routine date night that always went well, if you know what I mean. She’s my everything.”
“But then you hit financial problems, which eventually brought you to your present state.” Kelly motioned to him. “And as much as I would love to stick around longer to find out much more about you and your story, unfortunately our time is up. I have another interview to attend soon, but I do have one final question for you.” She met his gaze. “Considering everything you’ve been through, what do you see for the future?”
“Well, another affair isn’t going to be an issue.” He laughed. His predicament was dire, but he knew his wife was going to stick by him and that being their only major issue, it was all in the past now. “In all seriousness though, I think the future is going to be just fine. My wife and I are together, she’s taking good care of me. Financially, we are set for quite a while. Latham was fairly well off and the state ordered that his estate pay my medical and living expenses for the rest of my life. So we will be fine in that way. It’s bittersweet though.”
“I’m glad.” Kelly smiled. “I mean, I’m glad you will be fine. You’ve been through a lot.” With a sigh, Kelly rose to her feet. “Unfortunately though, Derrick, I must be going now. It was really great to talk with you, and I’m sorry I couldn’t stay long. I have so many questions to ask but only so much time. Thank you again for agreeing to meet with me and answer my questions. You’ve been much gracious.”
“Thank you for coming. It was less unpleasant than I thought it would be. Thank you for being sensitive and kind. I appreciate that. I’d stand up and shake your hand, but…” He exhaled, intending to be funny, and feeling like he failed. “It was a real pleasure to meet you. Enjoy your next interview and have a great rest of your day”
“You as well. Have a good day, Derrick.” With that, Kelly bowed her head to him as a farewell, and then went on her way.
Christy Mann’s novel has, unfortunately, been delayed in its release. However, she has published a few short stories, which you can find on at the following links. Be sure to follow her on social media to receive updates on the release of her book!
Short Story 1: myBook.to/ChristyFogoyle
Short Story 2: myBook.to/Fogoyle2
Second Tumblr: https://cmannauthor.tumblr.com/