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In Justin Kaplan and Anne Bernay's notable exploration of human names and naming titled THE BOOK OF NAMES they write, "What's in a name? Is it a conventional marker, a social construction a mere handle? Or does it mean something in and of itself and either stand for some quality within the person by acting as a sort of destiny or matrix?"
Could a name be all of the above at the same time it is none of the above while performing the simple duty of being the equivalent of a trademark.
What if a group of writers got together and created a single entity - an author who doesn't exist, so to speak. And became successful as this one entity.
There is no Boston Teran - at least not in the literal sense.
"Who is Boston Teran? A man? A woman? Does it really matter? This statement was not only part of a review from l'Hebdo of Fnac praising Boston Teran's most recent novel TROIS FEMMES (THREE WOMEN) but a prescient remark as well.
There is a growing body of evidence that the author of the multi award winning novel GOD IS A BULLET might well not be the author of the critically acclaimed TROIS FEMMES and that the author of TROIS FEMMES might well not be the author of the crime classic NEVER COUNT OUT THE DEAD.
All investigations begin with at least one anchored thought, one pointed fact, one locked and loaded feeling, suspicion, idea or overriding curiosity. Here is mine.
We, as individuals or a collective whole, demand authors tell us who they are. We feast on seeing them strip down to their souls, exposing their heritage and families, relationships and sexuality, their mores, solitudes, neuroses, and those ever with us depravities and failings.
And once we've accumulated this massive tautology of facts, half facts, faddy rumor and frivolous innuendo what do we do - we diminish or expand the author, and their work, according to our own spider web of rules, expectations, arbitrary values and those ever with us pet peeves and prejudices.
Authors are not allowed personal anonymity, not by publishers, nor the world at large.
Do we need Franz Kafka's life to validate his work? Does his work not validate itself? If we knew nothing of Kafka, if the works came to us with their author listed only as ANONYMOUS, would their mystery or majesty be diminished? Would their haunting iconoclasm and suffocating strangeness lose their rich enticement? Might their mystery and majesty not be enhanced by that very lack of knowledge, might the essence of their iconoclasm and strangeness be more expansive when stripped of the all too human biographical data?
David Zane Mairowitz and the famous underground artist Robert Crumb did a book entitled INTRODUCING KAFKA for the Literary Study Guide. It was part of a series of INTRODUCING books: INTRODUCING FREUD, INTRODUCING BUDDHA, MARX, SARTRE, etc.
The book is a potluck collage with clips from the author's works and diaries, there's biographical facts and historical background and your basic issue trivia, all of which become a backdrop to Crumb's accentuated visual tabloid of the author and his world. The book tells us it's designed to "peer through the glass wall at the unique creature on display there."
And what a "creature" he is as drawn by Crumb. Expressions amped by the artists imagination. The already wild eyes exaggerated to the point of no return. Kafka, the man, the entity, the tragedy as filtered through a maze of trivia and anecdote in all of Crumbs cartoon infamy. Kafka the man has lived literally long enough to become pimp to Kafka the artist.
I mean in no way to demean the illustrator nor his partner. What they have done is use their considerable skills to illuminate or invade, depending on how you view it, what I see as the transformative silence that exists around the authors work, filling it in, like so many others, with their own brand of the serious and superficial.
For better or worse, these formal or informal literary endeavors tend to change forever the world view of the author's work, stripping it of the transformative silence, so we read into the words, scenes from their daily lives. To me, these become like shadows that fall across the doorway to the author's thoughts. Worse yet, they are like the rings of Saturn around the author planet and those rings of accumulated data become as much a part of the author planet, as the author.
Of course, I'm no different in what I'm doing. I am guilty of selfish self-interest. Except there is a slight plot twist in my case. I am looking to uncover why the author known as Boston Teran has worked so hard to keep an identity hidden. And my premise, based on certain sources and interviews is that Boston Teran is not one author, but a small group of writers working together to create one identity. And ultimately anonymity is essential.
"Name changing is as American as a basketball hoop over a garage door, as green money, as sliced bread, as competitive overeating." Ted Morgan, formally Sanche de Gramont, wrote in a personal chronicle ON BECOMING AMERICAN, "It's one of the overlooked freedoms." I excised this from THE BOOK OF NAMES. It is a pointed and wonderful comment, "the overlooked freedom". It means freedom to change, to be different, to be exciting, to be unique. But it also gives one the ability to remain hidden, to keep those shadows that can fall across the doorway of an author at bay. And if a number of people are writing as a single entity, anonymity is essential.
I came to this article through two chance meetings separated by seven years but centering around one award winning novel - GOD IS A BULLET. The first meeting was with the best-selling author William Diehl. I was in the Atlanta airport and my flight out was delayed by two hours. Waiting on the same incoming flight was William Diehl. He was sitting next to me and as will happen during those long delays you strike up conversations to kill time.
Somewhere amidst all the small talk I learned he was an author and then the name registered. I had a close friend back then who was a huge fan of Diehl's...PRIMAL FEAR, SHARKEY'S MACHINE was one of his all time favorites.
There are authors who are reticent to talk about themselves, their lives, who decry the attention paid. Mr. Diehl, on the other hand, moved freely between his life as an author and the life he lived before he birthed the author. He didn't become an author until he was fifty.
Mr. Diehl was a fluid experience. He discussed his time with the USIA as a photographer, his experience with Martin Luther King Jr., and how two men slashed at his throat with a razor for "certain political and or social views."
I listened with pure interest to rich details, there was such earthly sincerity in him. During that long delay, absorbed in the all too human details of Mr. Diehl's life I wondered, would this knowledge enhance or diminish a book of his I might read. Would my familiarity, even though it was just a few hours of conversation, reshape the world he had committed to paper? Would he be his own best friend or worst enemy? Would it matter?
I wanted to ask him about this, but did not. Some version of myself didn't quite feel comfortable. His deep connection to all parts that were himself made me sense he would be far removed from such literary notions. I did tell him a dear friend was a huge fan, and besides his own books might he know of something new, something unusual, something off the beaten track he should keep a look out for.
"I read a galley recently to be published by Knopf," he said. "An agent sent it to me to review." He then went on to describe GOD IS A BULLET in vivid and passionate detail. He also made one comment that caught my attention. "When I read the book," he said, "I had no idea whether it was written by a man or a woman. Even after finishing it I didn't. When I saw the author's name I still had no idea."
The author's name was Boston Teran.
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is a renowned and brilliant film adapted from an even better novel. The author B. Traven is still a riddle. Look him up in the encyclopedia or on the internet. He could be anyone from a nameless nobody to the bastard son of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Traven is one of literature's great undiscovered countries. Does that lack of knowledge about who the author is in any way detract from the brilliance of the work, or might it add to the illusive and elusive quality of it's themes. No author shadows fall across the door to his hunt for gold and the power of human greed to destroy lives. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE lives in it's own space, spared unimportant personal author background and history. B. Traven is like the gold mined in those primitive mountains, only to disappear at the end the tale in a desert wind, leaving the work to be discovered through the prism of some anonymous reader's mind.
In Traven's case so much time has passed it would be near impossible to discover why he chose the path of anonymity. Was he too reserved for public scrutiny or the world view that was elucidated in INTRODUCING KAFKA... we want "to peer through the glass wall at the unique creature on display there." Possibly Traven was reticent because some past life of his might come into play and clash with his present existence. Maybe anonymity held for him some private and higher state of being - I am the work and nothing more.
Whatever the why to his choice of the road less traveled we don't know, but I am sure of the why made by the "authors" known as Boston Teran.
Collecting my written thoughts for this article on name and identity, authors and anonymity, I came across recollections of William Diehl seven years prior at the Atlanta airport and his reference to Boston Teran's GOD IS A BULLET, how he had no idea if the author was a man or a woman...even after seeing the author's name.
I began to research articles and reviews about Teran on the internet, in magazines and newspapers. I discovered there were no photographs of the author, there had never been any personal appearances, the author was a no show at award ceremonies. Boston Teran seemed elusive as Pynchon and Salinger and has been compared that way, except for one detail. They were living entities. This author did not seem to exist at all.
I came across an interview with Nick Cassavetes, the praised film director of THE NOTEBOOK and ALPHA DOG. He is the son of the late film director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands. In that interview he said his next film would be an adaptation of Boston Teran's GOD IS A BULLET, which he described as "one of the greatest books known." More reviews I came across compared it to such classics as Joan Didion's THE WHITE ALBUM and John Ford's THE SEARCHERS. Why would an author who could exploit such praise for personal and financial gain remain a living ghost. After all, in our modern environment the prevalence for personal aggrandizement knows no bounds.
The answer came to me in a serendipitous moment while I was on a working vacation in Costa Rica . A second chance conversation with a woman who had worked for a high ranking member of the Democratic National Convention would place me squarely in the middle of the mystery.
Quepos is a tourist town in Costa Rica near the sea. A few miles south is an enclave of homes cut out of the hilly jungle for well-to-do's and upscale vacationers. You get quite a profile of Americans there. People starting new lives, escaping old lives, or just taking time off from the life they have for a little out of the way temptations. This is not the kind of place you come to feel guilty after dark.
On the main drag of town is a restaurant called Dos Locos. It's a hangout with plenty of color and large windows that are open to the busy street. From the tables you get a healthy serving of the street scene though the waitresses will warn you to keep your personals back far enough from the window so you won't become victim to some "tico" prowling past and looking for a loose purse.
I took up residence at a window table for a couple of days where I read Teran and unwound the hours watching the faces go past and listening to this scraggily two piece band and with their crystal meth air and faulty voices. It was the perfect backdrop of atmosphere for reading GOD IS A BULLET - the story of a man who must enter the satanic underground with the help of an ex-cult member to find his kidnapped daughter.
It was a literal tale of Orpheus descending into a nightmare across the southwest United States and Mexico that was based on an actual journey. There was something else I discovered in books by the author - or authors - known as Boston Teran. Each was peopled with characters who not only changed their names and identities, but their very beings as well.
One day in Dos Locos a woman passed by my table. I glanced up and noticed the cover of the Teran book I was reading had caught her attention. She had deep, deep sea green eyes. We did not speak that day nor the next . There was a small bar where she sat alone and drank quietly in the light from the open doorway and windows. American, she spoke a handsome Spanish and was one of those women who was beautiful without even trying. There was also a certain ambiance about her in the way she sat, talked, expressed herself, or just drank, that I can only define as the ill-fated butterfly with a flashy past.
Passing my table one time a few days later she said, "How do you like the book?"
My eyes rose to meet hers.
"I talked with the author once for near half a night."
I put the book down.
"I see you reading every day," she said," and taking notes."
"I'm working on a magazine article about names and identity and people who want to get into author's lives. And this author... intrigues me."
"I did work for the author's manager. He's a close friend of the author and a high ranker in the DNC. He's also tight with Al Gore. I met the Vice- President at Mr. Allen's home during the 2000 Presidential election (Mr. Don Allen is the author's business manager). A magazine article, you say?"
"Yes... so you spent time with Teran? Would you mind if I ask you a few questions for my article?"
She looked at her watch, darkness formed about her eyes. "I have to meet someone", she said, "but I could spend a little while. I'll get my drink."
Her name was Shauna Green. She had thick, wild hair which she constantly brushed back from her face. When I asked why she was in Costa Rica she said, "I'm here with someone and you might say we're... baring our scars and crimes to god's unpitying stars." She drank and there was this private sadness about her. "That was a little riff on a James Wright poem. But it's accurate. Mind if I smoke?"
I told her that would be fine and could I have one also.
'I wanted to be a writer once", she said, "but it turns out I was just your typical druggie with a B.A. in English who couldn't jump the gap between a thought and the page. But you don't need to hear about that."
The night Shauna Green met with the author was an orchestration of hard drinking through Los Angeles that took her from underground bars to a faded estate high on Mt. Washington. She only learned of him being an author by accident when he told Shauna she reminded him of a girl named "The Rose" who he'd helped escape from Mexico. "The Rose" it seemed had runaway from a well-to-do but troubled family in Westchester County, New York when she was a teenager and had gotten hooked up with members of a satanic cult. Details Shauna related the author had discussed with her about his journey with "The Rose" paralleled the novel GOD IS A BULLET. And well it should. "He told me", she said, "this 'Rose' had been the model for Case Hardin, the central character in the novel, right down to a particular tattoo of a snake on her shoulder."
About Shauna Green. There was a knife edge to every fact she enumerated. Scenes described were alive with detailed fire. The woman's face was a window of expressions and it was then I realized she was more connected with the setting she talked about than the one she was in. Shauna Green was more at home in those dark quarters of the soul. She even admitted as much with such sincerity and pain it frightened me. You see, I am not that kind of person. Just the thought of what is on the dark side of the pillow as I lay down to sleep can overwhelm me. Maybe that's another reason why people want to get into the lives of writers, so they can experience what was beyond the doorway of their own ability to experience. Maybe we explore their identities to exist somewhere there within.
"What did he look like?"
"He was in his early thirties. That was in 2000. He's light haired, blue eyed. Lean. Clean shaven. There's even a picture of him in the great room of Don Allen's house. Above the jumbo television. The photo was taken in the Far East. Bangkok, I think. Or Hong Kong. There are some other men in the photo. Allen has a number of friends who were in Army intelligence and the CIA. One of the men, I believe, was integral in bringing that double agent.. what was his name... out of Russia."
How she described the author was in direct conflict with the information I had already come across. Back in 1999 when GOD IS A BULLET was first published Greg Burke, a reporter for the L.A. WEEKLY, managed to get an interview with the "alleged" author at a bar/restaurant near the edge of the high desert called the Saugus Café. In Mr. Burke's review of the novel he included snippets of his interview with Teran that even included a physical description of the author... "older, graying hair and moustache."
We can assume Greg Burke, a reporter in good standing and reputation is giving the reader an accurate description. So why the difference? One might quickly assume Shauna Green could be lying, or at least somewhat deceptive for personal reasons. My next, and final, meeting with her would answer that.
Teran's first three books have one thing in common, which I noted earlier. At least one main character not only changes their name, but their complete identities as well. IN GOD IS A BULLET Bob Hightower, a straight down the line Christian must enter the satanic underground with the help of an ex-cult member to get back his kidnapped daughter. He becomes this tattooed, moustached, outcast known as Bob Whatever. When the novel ends his life has so altered he can never be Bob Hightower again. In NEVER COUNT OUT THE DEAD a policeman is shot down in the desert by a woman and her twelve year old daughter. He is then buried in a shallow grave. But this young man, this Victor Sully does not die. He crawls out of a grave only to find his life ruined, his career destroyed. He moves away, takes on his mother's maiden name. He becomes Vic Trey with shoulder length hair, a goatee and a body rebuilt for physical warfare. A decade later he is hunted down by a crime reporter for the L.A. Weekly, one William Worth, who is known only by his column name - Landshark. The reporter believes he knows the why behind the attempted murder. Both men will play out their lives through these 'other" identities. In THE PRINCE OF DEADLY WEAPONS one Dane Rudd comes to a California town for the memorial service of a young man who either committed suicide or was murdered. Dane Rudd claims to be the recipient of an eye transplant - the dead young man being the donor. But Dane Rudd is not who he claims to be. This is not a tale of mystery but a tragedy about a man who is not who he is but is willing to risk his life to be who he isn't. And by trying to do the right thing in living out this 'other ' life is destroyed for it.
None of these were just names changes, these were wholesale alterations - and all for a purpose. Might these not tell us something about the author - or authors - of the works. Could these books be an extension of their collective minds?
When Shauna left Dos Locos I still had questions. I asked could we meet again. A short time after she walked out so did I. Just down the street, along a crowded row of shops and foot traffic was an ungodly storefront with a sign in bold red letters painted on whiteboard that read: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. Standing out front by the curb in the burning flat light of afternoon was Shauna Green. All to herself, pensive, a lonely figure she seemed to be waiting.
And waiting she was. People began to file out of the shoddy storefront. There was every version of local possible from the ragged to the neatly dressed. All on that same voyage to sobriety. Then a man exited the doorway. He was taller than everyone else. Rail thin, goateed, bone white hair. A Dashiell Hammett of the later years but with a distinctive pallor. He and Shauna walked off together arm in arm in the flat light of that burning afternoon, hardly a word spoken, slow and near stately, they seemed indifferent to the world around them.
There is a hotel in Quepos - the Majestic. The name and the place have little in common. A cinder block building amidst a row of tacky shops, the windows along the hotel's second floor are barred. In Quepos this is just a cheap hotel. In the States you'd feel, being there, time is running out on your life. The Majestic is where Shauna Green and the man were staying.
She did not come to Dos Locos the next day, nor the day after that. I am not good at the business of waiting and I felt she had answers for me. I passed the storefront meeting hall for alcoholics. She was not there that day, nor was the man. I went to the hotel. The day was bright, the air a wrath of heat. I was just entering the hotel, going through that moment where the change of light affects you most when I saw them.
They were off by themselves near the stairs. The man did not look well. His physical manner as Shauna spoke to him intently smacked of utter despair. Shauna Green was crying. I left without being seen. At least I assumed I had not been seen.
She was in Dos Locos the next day when I arrived. She was at my usual table by the window. She had a drink and was writing in what seemed to be a diary. I joined her and when I sat she took a sip of her drink and utterly composed began with, "Before we get back to asking me questions... the man I'm here with was a professor of mine. He wrote a few chapbooks of poetry. His drinking has ruined two marriages and at least that many careers. I've always been attracted to artists. And the more they fail the more I seem to love them. We're here trying to make a life for ourselves. We got word the other day his daughter is very sick. She has no money. I sent what little extra we have. What I have. He feels totally despaired over it all. We're in financial trouble of our own. Work and money... you have to keep on. Now..."
"You saw me in the lobby", I said.
"There... down the street from the AA storefront. Let's get back to your article."
I showed her a copy of the L.A. WEEKLY review and I underlined where Greg Burke had described the author. "This doesn't match your Boston Teran."
She seemed surprised, "I don't understand."
Are you sure you met with the author?"
She looked at me as if the question were preposterous.
"Is it possible you were being jerked around?"
"Is it possible you're..." I didn't want to use the word lying.
"You mean am I lying or being deceptive?"
"I don't want to insinuate a pejorative."
"I don't lie. And for one reason. I'm not good at it. As for being deceptive. There are many times in my life I could have used being deceptive and would have taken advantage of it. I stick to the truth because I am limited in the more necessary skills of survival."
Pointing to the Greg Burke review I asked, "If you met the author, then who might this be?"
She had no answer. It all seemed beyond her.
"I want to ask you about another book...Trois Femmes."
This was Boston Teran's most recent novel. It was about a deaf girl in the Bronx and her life from the fifties to the seventies and her relationship with two women who fight for her survival. It was decidedly female in context and point of view.
Shauna thought for a moment. Then she started to shake her head. I thought to say she did not know the book but instead came out with, "Boston Teran didn't write that."
"As far as I remember, a woman wrote that."
"How do you know? What do you mean remember?"
She then went on to describe an incident that had taken place at Mr. Allen's house. Shauna was there to organize paperwork. Mr. Allen had left a file with notes that a young woman was to pick up. A friend, he said, who may need to use my office. The woman, at the time, was about the same age as Shauna. She came with a disc and what looked to be a manuscript box. Shauna was in the dining room working but could hear the young woman on her cell phone while she went though the file. She was talking about a book and certain details that had to be dealt with - additions, rewrites, clarifications, descriptive tweaks.
The girl then went upstairs to the back office and spent all day at the computer. She left at one point but told Shauna she would be back. This is when Shauna fell victim to her curiosity. She was embarrassed doing such a thing, but not so embarrassed as to prohibit her.
There was an open manuscript box by the computer. There were pages in the printer, pages noted with handwriting, pages junked. Shauna sat and nervously, as if she could be caught, read the first pages of the book. It was a novel about a girl - a deaf girl - growing up in the Bronx in the fifties and whose father was a low end thief and drug dealer. They lived in a basement apartment. It was exactly the Boston Teran novel - Trios Femmes.
I talked with her of my suspicions and asked what she thought of them. She sat there, this student of life, with her cigarette and cocktail, considering, "Did you ever read Pessoa," she asked, "the Portuguese writer?"
I had not.
"THE BOOK OF DISQUIET... his factless autobiography. He created different living characters so he could write from their alter points of view. In it he writes, ...I arrange my life in such a way that it becomes a mystery to others."
"Do you think Mr. Allen would let me interview him for this article?"
"If there are more than one writers and he is part of maintaining that, the answer is obvious."
I asked if she remembered the girl's name. She did not. We talked about our lives after that. The personal insurrections, the lost masterpieces we thought were true love. She was much more free with herself than I could ever be. She was, in fact, a personal diary carelessly left open where one has written much too much about oneself.
It was near about time for her to leave. As she collected herself she said, "I wanted to be a writer because in my heart I knew I lacked immortality. What about you?"
'I always wanted to know something no one else knows first."
Before she left she went first to the ladies' room. Her diary remained on the table. It was saddled with faded envelopes, notes. I felt for her and her predicament. We all have been to that place where our backs are against the wall. Even if the wall is partly of our own creation. While she was in the ladies' room I took some of my cash and traveler's checks and neatly hid them in her diary. I never saw or talked with her again.
Except there was a note. It was given to me days later in Dos Locos by one of the waitresses. The note was from Shauna Green. It read: Thank you for your kindness. It filled a desperate need at a desperate hour. I found our talks illuminating. I contacted Mr. Allen and told him there was a lady who wanted to interview him for a 'scholarly' article on Boston Teran's works. I believe I successfully lied, or was deceptive enough about your true intentions. At least to get you in the door. This is his number, he is expecting your call. You will find him gregarious, charming and quite smart... All the best, Shauna G.
Mr. Allen lives in one of those exclusive housing developments on the west side of Los Angeles. There is a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce in the driveway. He was a high ranking member of the DNC through two presidential campaigns. He was also integral to Al Gore's Jefferson Trust, which was for individual donations of over one hundred thousand dollars. He is everything Shauna Green said he was, and more. And above the jumbo television in his family room the very picture Shauna had told me about of a group of men taken somewhere in the Far East. One of them, young, light haired and blue eyed was exactly who she had described as being the author.
We sat at a table that overlooked his patio garden. We drank coffee and he asked how Shauna was getting on. I will highlight only those parts of our conversation that are pertinent.
"...You're a close friend of the author..."
"How did you two meet?"
"That's not something I discuss."
"For personal reasons... legal reasons?"
"If and when Boston wants to write about it... then I'll discuss it."
"Early press releases and bio's suggest GOD IS A BULLET was based on an actual journey the author took into Mexico."
"This is true. I was approached by an ex-pat I know. He needed someone to trip into Mexico for a family back east to gather information on a daughter who had run away from home as a teenager and got hooked up with a bunch of crazies. Drugs and Satan. Mostly drugs. She'd been missing ten years when suddenly she calls home to get some money sent down to Mexico. Said her life was at risk. The author was willing to go down there and take the risk and there was risk. But he wanted something to write about and look... GOD IS A BULLET. The author is also working on a manuscript about the actual journey."
"Shauna," said the girl, "was called 'The Rose'."
"Let me read you something to comment on." I read Greg Burke's physical description of the author in his review. "Does the physical description fit?"
He looked at me quizzically.
"Shauna describes him completely different." I then gave him Shauna's description. "Would you care to comment on this. Why the discrepancy?"
"I don't know. You'd have to ask Shauna. I don't recall her even meeting the author."
"She was very detailed. She did know the girl in Mexico was called 'The Rose'. She got that from the author."
"If she says so. She might have gotten it from me."
"Why don't you tell me what the author looks like?"
"Why don't you tell me the real focus of this interview?"
"...who is the actual writer of Trios Femmes?"
I detailed Shauna's story about the woman, the manuscript, Shauna's embarrassing act of curiosity. When done Mr. Allen set his coffee down and went to the garden door. He looked out into the calm daylight and finally turned to me. His expression went from an authoritative stare to a kind, even dismissive smile.
"The woman was a paid secretary. Boston was out of the country. She was handling the rewrite via phone and computer so we could quickly and efficiently get the manuscript prepped for the publishers. Now... would you be so kind as to make me understand what is the point of this interview as I thought we were here to talk about the author's works."
"It is my contention the author has maintained anonymity as a smoke screen because there is more than one author working on these books. I am not sure how it all plays out but I feel the facts tell us this. There is one person who went to Mexico and lived the journey that became GOD IS A BULLET. There is another who initially went to meet the interviewer. And there is a woman. When you look at the varied number of women characters written from a woman's point of view..."
Mr. Allen cut me off with, "Very interesting."
"What I said would be easy to confirm or deny."
"You're being evasive."
"Quite the contrary. I am always precise. And when it comes to being the author's manager my answer always takes into consideration what is in the author's best interest."
"Authors as - singular or plural."
"In the best interest of Boston Teran."
"How is it that when you discuss your client and - friend - you always say "the author" or "Boston." You never use the pronoun 'he'. Never once. Not even incidentally."
"I answer professionally...not personally."
"....in other words, evasive."
He came back to the table and sat. He was disarming and congenial. "If there were a number of authors working together as Boston Teran and I had to maintain anonymity, I would answer exactly as I have. On the other hand, if there were a singular author working as Boston Teran who wanted to maintain anonymity I would answer exactly as I have. So you see, I am never evasive. I pride myself on being exceedingly precise."
"You should have been in politics.'
I realized when I said that I spoke without thinking.
Mr. Allen came back with, "I am in politics."
From both points of view this interview had come to it's end. But I was not done.
"When I have finished the article may I bring it to you for review. That way you can read it, question me, and sign off or not."
"That would be fine."
When I returned with the article for his review it was my intention to ask Mr. Allen to make a few copies we could use to write in changes, additions, etc. I would say I had made copies but forgot the file at home. I would be lying.
He'd have to go to his office to make copies. Alone, I'd go to the family room. There I would use my cell phone camera or some kind of small pocket camera and get snapshots of that photograph over the jumbo television taken in the Far East that included the young man Shauna said was the author.
Everything went exactly as I'd hoped. Mr. Allen took the article to his office and told me to make myself comfortable in the family room. But when I got there—-
The photograph was gone. I looked around the room. It had disappeared. I walked over to the television. It was in a cabinet and the sunlight through a window near it had bleached down the wood across the top except for this slim dark spot where the frame of the photograph had sat for who knows how long.
Mr. Allen signed off on everything you see written from that first interview. No changes. When it was near time to leave I asked about the photograph. He said friends had been over and they had small children. The photograph had fallen when one of them bumped into the cabinet. The glass had sheared the photo and he was trying to have it repaired. He had made a story I did not believe at all sound perfectly plausible. But it seems he had done that all the way through the interview.
As he walked me to the door he said, "One thing about Shauna. She has a tendency towards self importance that makes her not only exaggerate but lie. She will tell people things they want to hear. She knows how to feed into their interests. Especially when she is desperate for money, which is more often than not."
"She doesn't come across like that to me at all."
"She lied your way into an interview, did she not?"
"You just don't want me to believe her version of the truth."
"I am telling you this as a closing remark which you can use, or not use, in the article."
As is obvious I included Mr. Allen's final comments. He is trying to close that door to the author before a shadow is cast into it. Whether he has been successful, I leave to you. Whether I have been, I leave to you. Afterall, the final arbiter of all things valuable, informative, or just plain interesting is the anonymous reader.