Chapter 4: Bill
Case 019 - Interview 019-15-bh
INTERVIEW WITH BILL
INT: [standard introductory information]
RES: Hi. I'm Craaaazy Bill Pineapple. What can I do for you?
INT: As you know, I'm talking to some of the members of the youth group who knew Brian. I understand you were a friend of his.
RES: I don't know that he had any friends, really. I guess I knew him as well as anybody. He wasn't what you'd call a popular person.
INT: It's interesting that you would say that. What does that mean, to be a popular person?
RES: It means you have alot of friends. A lot of people know you and like you. Like me, I'm a popular guy. Everybody knows me, and most people like me, even though I am kind of annoying. Not that people trust me. Not alot of people trust me. Even though I am very trustworthy, most people would trust John before they trust me. Don't you think that's strange? We took a survey, and almost everyone we asked said they would trust John but they wouldn't trust me. What about you? Would you trust me?
INT: Who is John?
RES: Oh, you don't know John.
INT: No, I don't. Is he a member of the youth group?
RES: John? Hahaha. No, he's not a member of the youth group.
INT: Is he in the band?
RES: Yeah, he's in a band.
INT: Oh. I thought everyone who was in the band was in the youth group.
RES: Wait a minute. You mean Ben's band?
INT: Yes, I did mean Ben's band. Are you a friend of Ben's also?
RES: Hahahaha. Ben's a fiend. He doesn't have any friends. He's just a dork. He's my locker partner. He only eats toast. He's been my locker partner for three years. He's very neat.
INT: He's very neat?
RES: Yeah. He keeps his half of the locker real clean. My half is a mess. I'm so annoying.
INT: We were talking about being popular. You don't think Ben is popular?
RES: No. Not at all. He won't talk to anybody, for one thing. Plus he's too smart - and too weird.
INT: Is that the same reason Brian was unpopular?
RES: Brian? Well, the thing about Brian was, he was weird, but not the same way Ben is weird. Ben thinks he's too good for everybody, that's why he doesn't have any friends. But Brian, he was just lame.
RES: Lame. I'm a friendly guy, I try to get along with everybody. I tried to talk to Brian, get to know him. But he was just stupid. He tried too hard. He came on too strong, you know? He pushed and pushed, and he was boring. He thought he was funny. Or he wanted you to think he was funny. But his jokes were all lame. Like that note. You saw the note?
INT: Yes, I did. Did you?
RES: Oh, yeah. We all did. The whole youth group knows about the note.
INT: They do? How so?
RES: Because of Ben.
RES: Yeah. Ben found it in his pocket at breakfast. He said it was under his pillow. Brian left him a little love note. So he read it out loud. He got up on a chair and sang it, like grand opera, to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." Everyone laughed. We had no idea it was a real note. Nobody knew that something awful had happened to Bwi. Not until later. Then we felt terrible. Or at least, I felt terrible. I don't think Ben has any feelings. Maybe he's a robot!
INT: That seems to me to be a very cruel thing for Ben to do.
RES: Oh, yeah, I know it looks that way. But you have to understand. Ben isn't like other people. He doesn't look at the world the way other people do. It's because he's a genius. He's not normal.
INT: I see. And Brian? Was he "normal?"
RES: Brian was normal, but he didn't want to admit it. He wanted to be weird, the way the popular people in the youth group were weird. Because he knew he had no hope of being popular the way the popular people at school are popular. It didn't work. He couldn't be weird, and he couldn't be normal, and he couldn't be cool. So he gave up hope. He quit trying.
INT: It sounds to me like you're saying he was doomed.
RES: No one is doomed. We have free will. You can always choose. Brian chose to give up and die. I think he made the wrong choice, but it was up to him. Maybe for him he made the right choice. But I think there's always hope. If you just keep trying, there's always hope. No one is insane, they just don't try hard enough. Like my mom. People say she's insane. She's depressed. She's schizophrenic. But she could be OK if she wanted to. She just doesn't want to. She'd rather lie around and be crazy. So that's what she does.
INT: Your mother has a mental illness?
RES: Yeah. And multiple sclerosis. She lives in a nursing home in Ohio. My dad's remarried.
INT: Do you see your mom often?
RES: Sometimes. It's really not worth the trip. She doesn't even know I'm there.
INT: I'm so sorry. It sounds like you've had a tough life, but you keep trying.
RES: You have to try.
INT: And yet you believe Brian gave up?
RES: Well, when he didn't get into the band, I think maybe that was what finally did it. He wasn't a very good guitar player, but then Rob isn't a very good bass player either. The reason he didn't get in was because he was a dork. He didn't have any good ideas, and he wasn't funny. I mean, he was ugly, too. He had all these pimples. But Rob has pimples, and it didn't matter. I once heard Rob say to a girl, "I counted my zits this morning. I had seventeen zits on my face! Isn't that great?" Hahaha. But Brian, he was ashamed. He didn't deal with what he had.
INT: Why, then, do you think that Rob is in the band and Brian was not?
RES: For one thing, Rob is Ben's friend. Or something. But the main thing is, when Rob says something dumb, it's funny. Like "Ear." Saying "Ear" is funny when Rob does it. When Bwi did it, it was just dumb. Rob writes really dumb lyrics. But they're funny. Bwi tried to write songs about vomit-eating birds. Now that's dumb. But it wasn't funny. Maybe if it had been Rob's idea, it would have been funny. I don't know.
INT: I hear you saying also that Brian wanted to be popular, while Ben and Rob do not.
RES: Yeah. You're right. Ben doesn't want anything. I'm not sure Rob wants anything either. They both laugh alot, like they think something's really funny. But they don't care if anyone else thinks it's funny. That's the thing about Ben and Rob. They don't care. They just laugh. Hahahaha. I care, though. Feelings are important to me. I like to make people happy. Making people happy makes me happy. I like to see people smile. People say I'm annoying, and I guess I am, but I would never hurt anyone. I just love everybody.
INT: Are you having any problems with the death of someone that you knew so well?
RES: I didn't really know him that well. I just knew him like everybody else. I'm doing OK. It isn't like it's a big loss. It's a little upsetting, to have someone who's so close to my age die like that. But I'm OK. Thank you for asking, though. I think you're doing a really important job here, helping people with these things. I know Rob said he really liked talking to you.
INT: He did? I'm glad to hear that. I enjoyed talking with him, too. He has some interesting ideas. So does Ben, although he's somewhat more difficult to communicate with.
RES: You talked to Ben? Did he talk?
INT: Yes and no. Ben is an enigma.
RES: Hahaha. Yes. He sure is. Did he offer to take his clothes off?
INT: As a matter of fact, he did. I declined.
RES: Hahaha, oh my god, I can't believe he did that. He said he was going to, but I didn't think he would. hahaha. Have you heard their band?
INT: I went to the Battle of the Bands, just last week. You might have seen me. I was conspicuously the oldest person there.
RES: Oh, age is only in the mind. Anyway, I wasn't there. What did you think of them?
INT: I had a hard time hearing much. They were very loud. My ears are still ringing a little.
RES: Did Rob tell you about Bubblefest?
RES: [hands her a flyer] They like to blow bubbles. At least, lately. They've been sitting in front of the police station in the nice weather blowing bubbles and playing the harmonica. It's so annoying! Anyway, they're going to get a bunch of people in weird hats to stand on top of the Washington Street overpass and blow bubbles at trains. Why don't you come? It'll be fun. I could pick you up.
INT: Thanks, I can get there on my own. I would like to be there, if my family responsibilities permit.
RES: It's going to be the Last Annual Bubblefest. The biggest event of the year. Or ear in this case.
INT: Ah, it sounds like a wonderful idea.
RES: It's something you can tell your grandchildren about in twenty or thirty years! And hey, if you decide you want to go and need a ride, give me a call. It's no problem, really.
INT: They're going to be blowing bubbles at trains?
RES: Yeah, and at the cars driving under them, too.
INT: I see. It sounds like quite a spectacle. I hope to be there.
It's been very nice talking with you. If anything comes up, please feel free to call me. Perhaps I'll see you at Bubble ah Fest.
RES: Righto! Catch ya on the flip side. Ear! Do you want me to shut this door?
INT: Thank you. Please. Goodbye.
Welcome to Singlenesia
"connect <name> <password>" connects you to an existing character.
"WHO" tells you who is logged in to the game (case sensitive).
"QUIT" exits the game and saves your character.
connect elavil CO-HORT
WHO Connected Idle Doing
Elavil 1m 0s
Butch 15m 3m Nothing. As usual.
Cuddles 17m 15s Playing with my kitty
Shipman 23m 2m TheBudget (tm)
Marcia 30m 36m D: Idle. Meetings
Conejita 41m 2s Dark_Knight
Phineas 46m 1m Abusing a mime
Dark_Knight 46m 1m
EarNest 1h 55m your mom
Zalcor 3h 4m Coding
Elroy 6d 33s Answering a call
11 Players Connected
Porch (#7098) A screened porch. There is an old, chintz-covered sofa along the back wall. Several tattered wicker chairs with faded cushions surround a wicker table, where a pitcher of lemonade sweats invitingly. You can smell the gardenias planted along the path from the gate.
You page Shipman with, "Hello, James. Got a minute?"
Shipman pages, "For you, my dear, always."
Shipman has arrived.
Elavil hugs Shipman.
Shipman hugs Elavil.
Shipman says, "You've been building! It looks great1"
Shipman says, "er. That's a !"
You say, "Thanks. I like it, too. Zalcor said he'd help me code the lemonade so people could actually 'drink' it."
Shipman says, "Fancy. So you're fraternizing with wizards now, eh?"
You smile. "You know I have a firm NoWizards policy. He is a nice guy, though. Kind of shy, but very sweet once you get past that formal administrative stuffiness."
Shipman says, "How are your kilted rock and roll stars? Or should I say tilted?"
You say, "Today, finally, I think I spoke to someone who was neither kilted nor tilted. The only thing crazy about him is his name."
Shipman says, "What's his name? Jack the Ripper?"
You say, "No. Apparently he's called Crazy Bill Pineapple. But he seemed quite nice. He has some interesting ideas about popularity. I think I may be onto something here."
Shipman says, "I'm glad to hear it. Tell me more."
You say, "Bill said that what differentiated Brian (that's the boy who suicided) from Ben and Rob (Ben is the kilt, Rob is the turtles) was that Brian wanted to be popular while Ben and Rob don't care."
Shipman says, "Caring has always been a big issue for you."
Zalcor pages, "Hello!"
You say, "Yes. I agree. As you know, I think caring separates the human from the inhuman. That we are united by our ability, our capacity, our need to care for one another. It is intimacy that unites us. Ben and Rob seem to have opted out of the human condition. Or at least they're trying to."
You page Zalcor with, "Hello, yourself! How goes?"
Shipman says, "Do you think this puts them at special risk?"
You say, "I don't know. I just don't know. It was the boy who cared who died, after all. Also Bill told me a very disturbing story about Ben."
Shipman says, "Disturbing?"
You say, "Yes. Bill says that after Ben found Brian's suicide note, he stood up on a chair and sang it to all the students in the dining hall. To the tune of `My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.'"
You say, "fdl?"
Shipman says, "Fall Down Laughing."
You page Zalcor with, "I admit it does sound kind of funny. But still. It also indicates an almost pathological lack of compassion."
Zalcor pages, "Huh?????"
You page Zalcor with, "Sorry, crosspage. I am talking to Shipman about the kid in the rowboat. Are you going to be around awhile?"
Zalcor pages, "Yes. I have to go work on the code for the ocean. When do you think you might be free?"
You page Zalcor, "Not long, I think. Half an hour?"
Zalcor pages, "Until then."
Shipman says, "Hello?"
You say, "Oh, sorry. I was talking to Zal. I accidentally crosspaged to him. What I said was *scrolls back* that I find Ben's behavior almost pathological in its lack of empathy."
Shipman says, "Did Ben know when he read the note that Brian had suicided?"
You say, "That part is unclear."
Shipman says, "It sounds to me as though you have some issues with Ben. He must have made you very uncomfortable."
You say, "Oh, yes. He made me feel like an idiot. I'm trying to take that into account."
Shipman says, "You have to watch out for your editorial tendencies, you know that."
You say, "Yeah, yeah, I'm working on it. He really is an extraordinarily upsetting person. He went right to my weakness and exploited it. Everyone tells me he's a genius. I pulled some of his achievement tests. He really is quite remarkable."
Shipman says, "He threatens you."
You say, "Not exactly. Well, maybe. I dunno. He certainly had no trouble manipulating the interview."
Shipman says, "What is it about Ben that upsets you the most?"
You say, "Hmmm. I suppose it's his contempt for everything. He refuses to care, and he makes me feel like a fool because I am a caring person. He turns everything I believe in inside out. I don't know how to deal with it. Caring is my way of connecting with people, of forming a rapport. He's like a mountain of glass, and I can't get up it."
Shipman says, "What are you going to do next?"
You say, "That was the other thing I wanted to ask you. Bill told me about a - hmmm - some sort of performance art that they're putting on this weekend. Something about hats and blowing bubbles at trains."
Shipman says, "They do sound like a creative bunch. Did they invite you to attend?"
You say, "Well, Bill did. Do you think I should go? I didn't get much out of that Battle of the Bands."
Shipman says, "These things take time. What do you want to do?"
You say, "I want to go. I'm not quite sure why, but I want to go."
Shipman says, "Good. If you want to earn their trust, you have to be involved in their culture, in their lives. You can't expect them to reveal their intimate lives to you while you sit in your safe academic office with your tape recorder on."
You say, "I am afraid of looking foolish."
Shipman says, "You? Afraid?"
You say, "I suppose you're right. But I hope the dean doesn't see me out there!"
Shipman says, "Elavil, my dear, you know the drill. Be in the world but not of the world. It seems to me that you are ideally suited to have one foot in their culture and one foot in your own. I see no other way for you to win their confidence, or to earn their confidences."