Talk Show: A Brief Fiction

“I don’t normally do these sorts of things.”


“Oh, I know. And our viewers are grateful you’re here. I know you have a very busy schedule,” said the corpulent man wearing a custom made navy suit. “Thank you so much for joining us.”


“You’re welcome,” came the quiet reply.


“So, let’s get started. Tell me about your family.”


“Well, it’s not a big family. I guess we’re like most everyone else. I have a few brothers and sisters. I’m close to a few cousins. You know, sometimes it’s easier to be closer to cousins than it is your own siblings. And I have a crazy uncle. I guess everyone does.”


The journalist laughed at that.


“I guess we all do. My Uncle John usually shows up late, drinks a little too much, and tells the same stories over and over. By the end of a night everyone just wishes he would go to leave or go to sleep. Sorry. This isn’t about me. Can you tell me a bit about your Uncle?”


“Well, I wish I could say he was a little less harmless than that.   But he’s kind of an,” she paused. “How do I say this nicely? Let’s just say he’s a pain in a particular part of your anatomy.” She gave him a grin and a wink.


The interviewer laughed again.  He was surprised to see Alethia had a sense of humor. The woman picked up the bottle of water sitting beside her and took a sip. She cleared her throat.


“So, I have to say, for someone of your stature, you’re not what I expected.”


“I get that. Quiet a lot actually. People expect me to be more talkative, be all flashy and flamboyant. I’m actually kind of quiet. I prefer simple clothes. I try not to stand out too much. I’m far more comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt than all dressed up.”


“Yet today you’re wearing Armani? By the way, you look beautiful”


“Well, I don’t know, it seemed like I should dress for the show. I will dress for the occasion when I go out. Which isn’t a lot. And thank you for the compliment.”


“Some people say you’re a recluse, that you don’t really don’t want to be found. And perhaps you’re a bit agoraphobic when it comes to being in large groups of people.”


“That isn’t true. I just figure I’m as welcome as I am invited. I don’t like to make a show of myself. I’m not much for bright lights and red carpet. I tend to be misunderstood in crowds. Then there’s that thing where people want to distort what I’ve said and use it for their own reasons.”


“So how do you meet people, share your ideas with them?”


She took another sip of water and adjusted herself in her seat, crossing right leg over her left. The woman was attractive, not beautiful in the popular sense, but she had a disarming allure. Her deep green eyes and fair skin made her seem almost exotic.


“Well, I just talk to people. I answer their questions. I don’t really try to meet new people. But enough new people come along every day wanting to talk to me to keep me busy. I have some very good long-term friends. But I make some people uncomfortable, or they get distracted, and they pull away. Setting people free isn’t easy. It takes time. ”


“Let’s go back to your family. I’m told you travel with your brother. Why is that?”


“Well, he’s very brave. He helps me do what I need to do, say what I need to say.   Gosh, have you seen him, he’s not what you’d expect. People always tell him ‘I thought you’d be bigger.’ You know, like that line Patrick Swayze when he played the bouncer. He loves that movie. He’s quiet, like me, but he inspires people. We call him ‘Tol.’”


Again, the woman’s sense of humor surprised the man. He hadn’t expected her to be familiar with Roadhouse. He realized he probably held more than a few misconceptions about her, even though he prided himself in being an objective journalist.


“So about your crazy uncle. Tell me about him.”


“Oye” she face-palmed and used her best Yiddish accent, which wasn’t very good. “Well, he just shows up unexpectedly. A lot. He’s never felt like part of the family. Actually, he doesn’t really want to be part of the family. He’s happier being on the outside. But he’s really good at what he does and people can’t really see how he’s blinding them to themselves.”


“So what do you do when he shows up?”


“Well, the first thing I have to do is get other’s to realize he’s there. If they won’t see him, they can’t see themselves. Nothing I have to say really matters very much until that happens. Tol helps with that too. Like I said, he’s good at helping people be brave.”


“We are running out of time, for the interview I mean. But can I ask you a question or two more?”


“Sure, David. That’s why I’m here.”


“Who are some of the people you’ve most influenced in your work? You know, people who really get the stuff your talking about. A lot of people have claimed they have figured out your work. I’m just wondering who you think really has it right.”


“You know, David, that’s the one thing I really don’t want to talk about. I don’t want to name names. What I can tell you is that you’d be surprised to find out who does and doesn’t make that list. There are lots of people you would never guess who know me really well. They are generally very quiet, very humble people. They’re more like me. They don’t like the spotlight. They just go about their days, doing their work, using their gifts, trying to help other people.”


“Okay, last question. I promise.”


“Oh, if I had a dime for every time someone said that to me.” She laughed.


“No really, it’s about your name. Alethia. That’s Greek right? How did you get that name?”


“Very good David. Yes. It’s Greek. So is Tol. Actually, that’s short for Tolmao. I guess our family has a flair for the dramatic when it comes to names. Tol’s name means courage or boldness in Greek. It’s perfect for him.”


“Okay, so what about yours?”


“Now David that’s another question. You said only one more.”


“I’m sorry. I guess you’re right.”


“Of course I’m teasing you. My name is Greek, like I said. My parents called me Lettie when I was a kid. I guess Alethia was too much of a mouthful. My name means Truth, David.”