[TRANSCRIPT OF MARTIN DEEKS INTERVIEW WITH OPERATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST GETZ – DATE REDACTED]
When you’re an eleven-year-old kid, you don’t think much about the impact people have on you. I mean, you might hate a teacher who makes you stay after because you talked in class, but you don’t think about what that action might mean to you later in life. Just like you might hate the coach who stands back when the bigger guys on the team hang someone up in a locker from their jock strap, but you don’t think about what that does to the kid. You don’t have the experience to understand it. Not when you’re eleven.
I lived with the Boggses for almost two years. No, maybe it was three. I know I didn’t want to move back with my mother when they told me I had to. I liked the Boggses. Mrs. Boggs could bake these cookies… I swear she spiked them with crack or something. No way anyone could eat just one.
No, that’s not why I wanted to stay. I mean, yeah… she was a sweet lady. Always there to talk or make a sandwich or patch my favorite pair of jeans… and when you’re eleven that pair of jeans is the best damned thing in the whole world. No, it was Mr. Boggs I didn’t want to leave.
You know I shot my dad, right? So yeah, I never had a dad. Not really. Not until Mr. Boggs. His first name was Darren, but I never called him that, even when he asked me to. He was one of those guys you just called Mister. I think he’d been a Marine during Vietnam or something. He never talked about it. But he had this… this presence. Like a GI Joe doll except he talked and smoked big-ass cigars.
But Mr. Boggs, he had expectations. You had to do things the right way. Not just the way someone said, but the right way. Doing the right thing was a big part of who he was, and he drilled that into me. You know, he sat me down one night not long after I came to live with them. We talked about that night… how scared I’d been and how sure I was my father was gonna shoot us both. He asked about the gun… not who I got it from, which is what everyone else wanted to know. He wanted to know why I’d gotten one. Why I was so sure that was the only way.
[Getz] So he didn’t judge you?
No, and that was, like, the most amazing thing ever. He wanted to know how I’d been backed into that place. And you know what he said? He said what I did was right. You gotta protect yourself and those close to you any way you can. That’s exactly what he said. He said you gotta be sure it’s the only way, though.
I sat there with him for hours. Mostly he just listened once he got me started, maybe asking a question if he needed to know more. And you know what? I didn’t have many more nightmares after that. Maybe once or twice, but he’d always come in and talk. Said he had ‘em too, and that was really something. A big, bad-ass guy like Mr. Boggs admitting he had nightmares to an eleven-year-old kid. That was… I’d never felt something like that before, you know?
[Getz] Sounds like he was quite a guy.
He was. But I can’t forget Letitia. Funny… she had this name right out of some old movie but she was cool. She was the one who said I needed to go to college. “You’re a smart kid, Martin,” she’d always say. “Don’t you waste that brain on no street corner, you hear me?” She had this way about her. You could be sitting with her in the kitchen eating cookies and she’d lay this big old guilt trip on you because you got a B on some assignment and she knew you coulda gotten an A.
She didn’t nag. Never raised her voice, either. She’d just look at you over the tops of her glasses and sigh. That was it. But that damned sigh, it cut you right to the bone. Maybe if you really screwed up, she’d add on something like “You’re better than that.” And man, you just wanted to crawl into a hole and pull the whole thing down on top of you when Letitia did that.
[Getz] What about Mr. Boggs? Did he…
Naw. He’d just grin and shake his head. Only time I ever got it from him was this time when I cut out on Ray. He’d gotten into it with some of the bigger kids down the way, and even back then I was more of a lover than a fighter.
When I got home he was mad. Not shouting mad, but that kind of mad you can see in a man’s eyes. I started talking about turning the other cheek and he let me have it. “You don’t EVER cut and run on a friend, Mr. Deeks.” That’s what he called me when I was in trouble. “A man don’t get many friends in this life, and when you have one you look after them. That’s the right thing to do.”
He lived those words, too. He had a couple of buddies… I think they’d been in his unit or something. And they were tight. I mean go to the grave for each other tight. I’d just sit in the corner of the living room and watch them drink beer and listen to them telling stories. And man, I wanted friends like that. But that day, Mr. Boggs told me you had to earn those kind of friends. It was like a contract, and both parties had to hold up their end.
People always think the hardest thing in my life was having to shoot my father. But it wasn’t. The hardest thing I ever had to do was leave the Boggses and go back with my mother. I tried to stay in touch, but Mr. Boggs said a man has to look forward, not back. It damned near killed him to say that, though. I could see it in his eyes.
[Getz] Did you ever…
No. Funny thing is… no, it’s not really funny at all. They were killed in a home invasion not five years after I moved out. I go see them now, of course. [extended pause] What really hurts… I mean right down to the bone hurts… is I never got to tell Mr. Boggs how much I loved him. Letitia, she knew. You could tell her that all day and she’d smile and make more cookies. But him…
Ok, I’m done. I think you got enough for one day, don’t you?