I recently met with A.M. Roelke and a couple of real characters from her book The Space Station Murders, now available at MuseItUpPublishing.com.
Reb: Thank you, Herb Molloy and Zack Ives for coming today.
Herb: A couple of ‘real characters’ huh?
Reb: Herb, would you like to introduce yourself?
Herb: Yeah, why not. Herb Molloy. And that’s private.
Zack: Zack Ives. Not sure exactly how old I am. They didn’t keep such good records on my home planet, and sometimes it was hard to tell one year from the next. I grew up, what can I say? I’m definitely an adult. *laughs*
Reb: Where are each of you from (born)?
Herb: Earth. *mumbles under his breath* Do I not look human?
Zack: Tribulation. It’s a mining planet.
Reb: What about your family: Parents? Children?
Herb: I’m sorry, but why is that important?
Zack: My mom’s name was Adelaide Stevenson. She married my dad, Jonathan Ives.
Herb: I refuse to answer questions like this. This is not therapy, and I’m not talking about the past.
Zack: *shakes his head and grins at Herb* My older brothers, Laurie and Aaron. They’re dead.
Zack: No. Back when we were kids, my brothers and I used to catch spiders in the mine and name them. I hadn’t thought about that in awhile….
Reb: Do you have any Best Friends?
Herb: My best friend died, okay? Why do you think I’m so messed up?
Zack: Heh. Not right now. Nobody owes me any favors or anything, either, at least not anybody who could help me right now. This one guy on the station seems to be looking after me a bit more than he has to. Herb something. I think maybe he’s my friend, not sure why.
Reb: Do you have a job?
Herb: This is as bad as therapy. I’m leaving. *walks away*
Zack: No. Right now I’m homeless and jobless. I was heading elsewhere, just a stopover here, but I got robbed. I can work real hard, though. Maybe I’ll manage to get a job, and earn enough for a ticket off. Maybe I’ll find work somewhere on a planet. I can drive a cab, you know.
Herb *wanders back* “You’re still here?”
Reb: What are your hopes/plans for the future?
Herb: Survive. How’s that one? And I’d like to get off the booze. Maybe someday I’ll even be able to get back on the police force.
Zack: Oh, I’d like to get a nice job, something that would last awhile. Maybe someday I’ll meet a nice girl and settle down, raise a family somewhere where my kids could go to school. I wouldn’t want them to grow up feeling stupid, or having to go into any mines.
Reb: What would you change about your life?
Herb: What wouldn’t I?
Zack: I’d change that my family was dead. I’d have found some way to get us all off that rock alive, if I could.
Reb: What do you like best about your life? Worst?
Herb: I’m…I guess that I haven’t given up yet. Somehow or other. Worst is definitely Jimmy dying in a holdup. A holdup!
Zack: Well, not much is right about my life right now. I’m stuck here, I got robbed, kinda roughed up from a couple of fights, and I’m out of work with nowhere to go. But I like it that I’m still strong. I’ve got a few rounds left in me. *laughs*
Oh, and I like the library, where you can read books—for free! (Did you know that? The books are just free!) And I like some of the people I’ve met, real generous folks, even though we’re all in the same boat, homeless, without much to spare. Herb especially—that guy is complicated and prickly, but he’s awful generous to be the grouch he pretends to be.
Reb: Have you ever been in trouble with the law? If so, why?
Herb: Uh, not really. I’ve spent more time working for the law, if you know what I mean. Well, once, when I was a kid. But nothing too bad. *grins*
Zack: Heh. No, I’ve steered pretty clear of the law. I mean, the real law. I guess I broke some laws by learning to read, but I don’t count laws like that. Do you?
Reb: What is your favorite hobby?
Herb: Reading. Does that count? I read a lot. I like mysteries.
Zack: Singing! I also like to juggle. I’m pretty good at it. Singing’s more fun, though, because you can get out what you’re feeling inside. Don’t even have to be singing about what you’re feeling, you just sort of put whatever you’re feeling into whatever you’re singing, and it makes you feel better.
Reb: If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Why?
Herb: *mumbles under breath again, can’t understand* ……
Zack: I don’t know. I’m still looking for a home. Maybe a nice green planet, somewhere with lots of trees, or grass, or somethin’ nice to look at, where the air smells clean, and there’s room enough. Guess that’s a pipe dream.
Reb: How would you describe yourself? (girly girl, athlete, loner, gamer, nerd, reader, etc)
Herb: Yeah, girly. I’m a big ol’ ex-cop living on the street, and I’m girly. Are we done yet?
Zack: I guess the guy who wouldn’t give up. I’ve survived this long, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat me.
Reb: Can you drive a car? Had any accidents or tickets?
Herb: Not in space. No cars here.
Zack: I’m a cab driver! At least, that was one of my jobs planet-side. And nope, I’m proud to say I was Papa Rodney’s best driver, in all six months of my employment, before he had to lay me off. He told me to my face, I was the best driver he’d had in years. I’m proud of that. I never even dinged a fender!
Reb: What is your favorite kind of vehicle? Why?
Herb: A spaceship. Just a light, little runabout with a loud engine. Haven’t had one of those in awhile. I bought one after I got out of the army, but had to sell it a little while later.
Zack: Cabs, because I can drive ‘em, and it’s good money.
Reb: Are you an omnivore or vegetarian? Why?
Herb: I eat whatever.
Zack: Huh? I don’t know what those words mean, sorry. I’m Jewish, if that helps, but I don’t really practice.
Reb: Do you attend church, synagogue, mosque, wherever regularly? Why or why not?
Herb: Lapsed Catholic. No.
Zack: Nope. I don’t go to Synagogue, either. Never been very religious. It’s my heritage, though, and maybe I’ll learn more about it someday when I’ve got the time to spare from just surviving.
Reb: Do you believe in an afterlife? Reincarnation?
Herb: I guess I still believe in most of the things I believed in when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s true, but I think I still believe it. You know how you can believe in something without even wanting to? Yeah.
Zack: I don’t know. Haven’t really thought about it much. I don’t think it all just ends after we die, though. I mean, I like to think of my folks being somewhere nice, where they don’t have to hurt anymore. I like to think somebody cares, and would look after them, the way nobody did while they were alive. Wouldn’t it be nice to think there’s some, you know, justice? Somebody who looks after the people nobody cared about, who’d make things up to them after they died, if nobody gave ‘em a fair shake while they were alive? I guess I’ll find out someday.
Reb: Do you believe in evil? Demons?
Herb: Evil? Oh yeah. I’ve seen plenty of evil in my time.
Zack: Yeah. Evil. There’s a lot of that around. You don’t have to convince me.
Reb: Do you believe in angels?
Herb: Yeah. Kind of. One time in the war… Well, like I said, this isn’t therapy. Just…yeah.
Zack: I’m alive, ain’t I? Somebody must’ve been looking out for me….
Reb: Tell us about your role in the story.
Herb: What story?
Zack: I couldn’t tell you. I’m just sort of passing through, you know? Some nice people here, but I doubt I’ll stay longer than I have to. No work, you know?
Reb: What is the title of the book you are in? Who wrote it?
Herb: Oh, that thing. The Space Station Murders. Some lady. I forget.
Zack: Uh. The Space Station Murders. Yeah, Herb said something about murders. Said we’ve got to be careful because there’s someone stalking around, killing homeless people. That takes some kind of coward, if you ask me. I think we should try to catch him.
I forget who wrote it, sorry. You could ask Herb. He’s smart, he’d probably remember.
Reb: What do you think of the other characters in the story with you?
Herb: Oh, you mean Zack. I call him the kid. He’s got a lot to learn, but I kind of wish he wouldn’t have to learn it. He’s still got his hope, you know? I want things to work out for him, before he loses that.
Zack: Oh, well, there’s some jerks, there’s some real nice people. Herb’s a great guy, even if he does act a little bossy. He calls me “kid” all the time, but he doesn’t mean anything by it.
Reb: What problem are you trying to solve?
Herb: My own ‘issues.’ I’d like to get off the booze. It’s not good for me, Jimmy wouldn’t like the way I’ve gone downhill. And I don’t like people pitying me. Maybe I can be a cop again someday. It’s the only thing I’m really good at. Other than that, I’d like to look after the other homeless people under the artificial bridge. They’ve got so little, and there’s that killer on the loose. Somebody ought to do something about that....
Zack: Trying to stay alive, just like everybody else. I’d like to get a decent job. And solve those murders! Somebody needs to.
Reb: Tell us about the ‘bad guy’ or situation that causes you a problem.
Herb: Um, the punk who gunned down Jimmy. That’s about it. Oh yeah, and a murderer on the loose right now.
Zack: I was mugged, somebody took my money. So now I’m stuck here until I earn enough for a ticket off the station.
Reb: Anything else you want to tell us?
Zack: *grins* Keep hanging on. Don’t give up, the last chip count ain’t in yet.
Reb: Thank you gentlemen *looks pointedly at Herb*, for your time and patience. I enjoyed speaking with you both. Good luck with whatever you pursue.
AM's books is available wherever fine eBooks are sold.