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A Poetic Interview with Nancy Clutter
(This poetic interview is fictional and imaginary, and is based on 47 years of study and repeated readings relative to Truman Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood, published in 1965).
An honor to speak with you, Nancy. Just four questions in this interview, and then, well, you will be released back to the eternal realm. My first question, and pardon me for limiting this discussion to that night, back in 1959, on the 15th of November, when you were murdered in your bed, upstairs in your room. Capote describes in his novel, In Cold Blood, your last moments, begging Perry Smith not to shoot you as he held a shotgun behind your head. Is that accurate, and how did you feel at that moment?
“It is all accurate, and I was terrified out of my mind!
All true, but wait, except for one little secret.
First let me say, no human being could possibly imagine
The complete fear I felt that night, my last one.
At first I thought it was all a big joke;
Wish it had been, instead of what happened to us.
But truth be known, funny how life is,
I actually liked my killer, can you imagine?
That’s my secret. Wish I could have told Susan about that.
In school, ya know, we learned about irony
In all the stories we read for Language Arts.
So I guess it is a bit ironic that, well,
I liked the person who shot me in cold blood.
You know, the smaller guy, the dark looking one;
He kinda reminded me of James Dean or Marlon Brando,
With those black boots, the lisp, and the curl in his hair.
He and I chatted for about 10 to 15 minutes,
As he slowly tied me to my bed;
I think he wanted to talk to me though,
The way a lonely person tends to bend your ear.
We talked about horses and art, and college,
You know, stuff I liked.
He was a nice guy really.
Soft-spoken like a kid way younger than his age.
That’s what I thought at the time,
But those black eyes of his, they were evil!
After he left me alone in my room,
I thought everything would be okay,
That they would leave us alive,
To be found in the morning by friends.
But the Devil visited that night, no doubt,
And that nice guy I had been talking to,
Now began marauding through our house
Like a crazy madman completely out of control,
Shooting my family each in the head with a shotgun;
My father first, then Kenyon, then … well,
It is difficult, I’m sure you must realize…”
Yes, I am sure this is difficult for you, Nancy. Thank you for consenting to this interview. Do you wish to stop now?
“No, let’s continue because it means a lot to you.”
Thanks again. So, let’s move to the next question. Capote tells us in his novel that Richard Hickock took you to your room and talked with you on your bed. What were your feelings and thoughts at that moment?
“Again, I was terrified of that creep.
I knew instantly what he had in mind.
It is true I asked him why he robbed people, and such,
And it is true he talked on about being an orphan as a child.
But my first impression of Richard was not a good one,
Nor did I believe his sad story, but luckily,
It was my ironic fortune at the moment
To be rescued by my eventual murderer,
From being raped by that creep with the weird eye.
My next question, Nancy, is what did you and your family talk about while locked inside the upstairs bathroom together while Perry Smith searched through your rooms?
“Although my father kept saying we’d be okay,
My mother kept crying, absolutely terrified.
We all were; my brother was literally shaking
And not because he was cold either;
So my father had us hold hands,
And we quietly said the Lord’ Prayer.
It was to turn out to be our last moments together,
And I’m glad we spent that final time praying to our Lord.”
One last question, Nancy. And you do not have to answer this. What would you like to say to Bobby and Susan after all these years?
“As Sue would say, ‘Tell!’
An so to my best friend, I say,
I miss you, and Je t'aime.
Sue, it was awful. Just the worst.
Having to hear that shotgun go off twice,
Knowing my father and brother were being killed,
Then waiting, listening as their footsteps came up the stairs,
Pounding like my heartbeat was pounding, dreading
Shaking and praying, then begging my killer, No! Don’t!
Sue, it was awful, but know this, I felt nothing. No pain.
One second I am looking at my bedroom wall, alive,
Then the next I am seeing a wall of light,
Beyond of which I am not permitted to describe.
Oh Sue, to ride horses with you again and be cool as fish,
Well, that would be just too good! Maybe later!
See you soon I hope, sweet Sue! But not too soon!
And to Bobby. I really don’t know what to say to you,
Except maybe, thanks; thank you for offering your friendship to Sue,
During the tough times after my death.
Sorry also that the police picked on you as their main suspect at first.
But I miss you, Bobby. I saw you crying for me at Susan’s,
I wanted you to know that, and to thank you with all my heart,
For being a wonderful boyfriend when we were teenagers.
I will always love you, Bobby. Bye.”
Thank you, Nancy.
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