Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?
Archie: Heroes? Do they really exist? Between rash fools and idle cowards, falls the almost accidental shadow of me. Violence is not my natural way, but I wasn’t going to be pushed around by Tony Gamenmann or any of them! Well so I thought. That said, I’m the only one who cared enough about Ellen’s disappearance to risk actually doing anything. I stood up to Hec, the ex-intelligence heavy, the fix-it man who tried to fit me up in that Manhattan doss-house – that was some corridor shaker – okay he’s piling on the years and pounds, but I hung him out to dry.
Bertram: Do you run from conflict?
Archie: No. But neither do I run towards it.
Bertram: How do your enemies see you?
Archie: That I’m easy. Hah!
Bertram: How does your author, Louisiana Alba, see you?
Archie: I think he thinks if he gives me enough rope I’ll hang myself and save him a few pages of work. The truth is I know him better than he knows me and had his number throughout. He got me me in the end with that plot twister (deus ex macchina, if you ask me). Okay I didn’t see it coming and it was, I guess, in the story, but it left my fate ambiguous as a consequence and I’m not too happy about that. Though staying off death row, whatever my current circumstances, is a trade off I can live with. Tomorrow’s there to solve all that.
Bertram: Do you think Alba portrayed you accurately?
Archie: Lou tried hard but you know I think I’m a better writer and could have done a better job and will next time.
Bertram: What do you think of yourself?
Archie: I am one hell of a writer.
Bertram: Do you have a hero?
Archie: After Achilles you mean? Bukowski. Joyce, followed close by the list of literary heavies as long as 20th century literature is wide.
Bertram: Why do you see yourself in Achilles?
Archie: He was a man who knew how and when to procrastinate. Lou just wanted to be ‘literary’. Some authors are like that. Lou laughs when I say that. Can you hear him now? He reckons I’m a big head with a bad case of genre-itus. What does he know. It’s Homer, Shakespeare and me against Lou Alba. Who would you put your money on?
Bertram:. Do you have a goal?
Archie: (Like Don Quixote) I want to be myself.
Bertram: What are your achievements?
Archie: Surviving my story not enough for you?
Bertram: Do you keep your achievements to yourself?
Archie: Apparently I do, or else I wouldn’t have ended up in the soup at the end.
Bertram: What do you want?
Bertram: What makes you happy?
Archie: Giving that Hispanic kid fifty bucks in the games parlour after the kid beat me at coin soccer, that made me feel good. He didn’t believe my motives were honest, but he got the money (and he won it fair and square) so that’s what counts.
Bertram: What are you afraid of?
Archie: That there’s no end to injustice.
Bertram: What makes you angry?
Bertram: What makes you sad?
Bertram: What do you regret?
Archie: That I wasn’t smart enough to do enough about the injustices I saw.
Bertram: What, if anything, haunts you?
Archie: My own words. That and getting that editorial job instead of telling Ellen the truth right out about my novel… that haunts as much as it hurts.
Bertram: Are you lucky?
Archie: Do I sound like it? It’s not all my fault though. With Lou as advocate a character need eyes in the back of his head.
Bertram: Have you ever failed at anything?
Archie: I should have killed that scribbler myself – I got blamed for it anyway.
Bertram: Have you ever betrayed anyone?
Archie: Apart from myself, no, well not in the author’s version of me anyway. Did I betray Hec? I took his money and knocked him into a sad heap in that hotel, but as it wasn’t his money anyway and he was nothing to me, why should I think twice about him? He should thank me; I surprised him into a character recognition of his own. You know what they say, when the going gets tough the tough get going. I got going. Achilles could have said that. As for Ellen, a self-interested sort like her can look out for herself. Alessandro? You can’t betray someone that immoral. Ditto for Tony G and Menny Lowes. Cal? That’s where it gets to the most complicated. When I heard he was dead I thought: I have really done it now. But he wasn’t dead. I should have realised he was too smart for all of them. And who’s on the cover my book? Cal.
Bertram: Are you honorable?
Archie: I thought I was too powerless to be anything else. I am and was surprisingly honest, and will be in the future, just you wait and see.
Bertram: Are you healthy?
Bertram: Do you have any handicaps?
Archie: Apart from my way of thinking? Maybe I trust others I have regard for a little too much. I’m a bit naive like that. But you know we characters are often thrust into these situations without help. Lou kept so much of the backstory locked up. What’s a protagonist supposed to do in the court of literary adventure without knowledge of crucial backstory facts?
Bertram: Is there anything about your background you’d like to discuss?
Archie: I’ll claim the fifth on that.
Bertram: Was there a major turning point in your life?
Archie: Finding out there were scribblers out there mean enough to steal another scribbler’s words. There were two in my case.
Bertram: What are the last three books you read?
Archie: The Year of the Death of Riccardo Reis. Ham on Rye. The Fall. In the Midst of Death. Not necessarily in that order though, if I recall correctly…
Bertram: Where can someone find out more about you?
Archie: At Elephantears Press or from Louisiana Alba
See also: Uncorrected Proof by Louisiana Alba