“Don’t you think it’ll be dangerous?” My mother asked me.
“Of course not. I’m going to hear these people’s stories, to listen. Most of these people are narcissist, they’ll love it.” I try to calm her relentless overthinking. Most of the people in my life have become accustom to my wild life style choices but this one takes the cake. Walking around the kitchen, I gather my paper that I was working on all night and organize them into my brown leather briefcase. Before my first interview I allowed my family to come over my house for breakfast. I tried to block out their worry filled questions and side eyed glances from my nit picking cousins but my decision was made.
“So tell me again how this came about?” My father asked. I was prepping, while cleaning up dishes as he asked me. This I didn’t mind. I believed in what I was doing and if they wanted to understand, I would answer any question they had.
“I was turned down for the New York Times because I hadn’t proven myself to be a compelling journalist. They told me to try something come back to them and they would reconsider but I needed to show them my voice and what I would bring to the table.” I told him.
“And how did your mind discover this idea?”
“I was watching a fairytale and I wondered about villains. I felt pity for their inevitable demise and wondered if anyone had ever sat down the evil forces in this world to get the truth out of them and why they do what they do. The people I have sent letters out to all understand what I am offering. I have a location, an assistant, a camera and notebook. I’ll be fine.” I reassure him.
I kissed everyone on the cheek. In two minutes, I was out the door and in my car driving to a remote location with a pop up interview room. To my surprise, my first interviewee contacted me first. It was a shock, but the man had promised he was someone I wanted to interview. I agreed by the eloquence of his writing alone. I knew this man had something to say to me.
The car drove up to the remote room and I could hear the gravel turning beneath my tires. Everything about this experience was frightening and exciting at the same time. My success or failure resides in this one interview. I prayed God sent me a human being worth capturing the attention of millions and securing me a job in the field I love. I walked out of my car and met my assistant carrying my coffee.
“Is he here yet?” I ask Brian as he hand me my coffee.
“Not yet. But everything is ready to go.” He clarifies.
“Great. I’m going to go get warmed up.”
“Okay. And you said you don’t know who the man is?” Brian asks.
“No he just told me that he has a lot to say about what the world wants to know.”
Brian shrugs and waits outside for my mystery interviewee.
Five minutes later, a battered old jeep drives up and plump older man jumps out. He walks with a peculiar energy that propels his old and large body forward. I see it out of the corner of the window and wonder who the man might be. Brian shakes his hand and leads him into the interview room. I rise and shake his hand.
“Thank you so much for meeting me here today, Sir. I’m so grateful.” I tell him.
“The pleasure is all mine.” He says in a thick accent. My mind recognizes the tone of his voice but I still don’t know who this man is.
I lead him to sit down with me in the room filled with lights, a video camera and a notepad for me. We settle in, I offer him water and we begin.
“Welcome. You are here today because you believe you have done something wrong in life. You believe your actions were inexcusable and harmful to other human beings. The reason why you are here talking to me is because I put out a message offering an interview filled with patient understanding, empathy and compassion. I do this not only to extend a chance for you to explain your wrong doing in a safe place but also for me to expand my heart and mind and see how strong the qualities I believe I posses are. Is that clear to you?”
“Yes ma’am that is clear.” He agrees and I swear his identity is on the tip of my tongue.
“Now in the safety of this room, my assistant and I, would you please state your name and what you have done?”
“Yes. My Name is Adolf Hitler and I have been hiding in various locations after murdering eleven million people and abusing my country and her people by manipulating them into hatred and fear to do my will.”
“Hitler died years ago, his most recent remains, his teeth confirmed it.” I tell him. My assistant and I makes eyes to one another.
The old man looks at me, reaches into his mouth and pulls out his fake set of teeth and puts them back in.
“I sent them to Russia myself.” He says gruffly.
“I’m sorry but if you really were Hitler then why are you doing this interview? Your security will be gone after this. I’ll publish it and sell this video to a television network.”
“When I am done, I will get in my car and leave. You promised, and we have a signed contract that whoever I was and whatever I revealed would not be turned in. That was part of the experience for you, to set someone free for doing something horrific. You want to learn to be like God, ya? You want to know what forgiveness is like?”
“I’m still not convinced.” I tell him.
“Your name is Rose Schmidt. Your grandfather was Albert Schmidt the third. Correct? He was an international lawyer and undercover agent for the united nations. I killed him in Poland. I sent him to a concentration camp and gave orders to kill him first.”
“That’s still researchable, and you could be making up that story.”
“Yes I could. But the only thing I could not make up is what he gave your grandmother before he left for Poland.”
“You know what he gave her?” I ask skeptical, how could he know?
“All Jews were told to surrender jewels and riches they were not worthy of. I knew your grandfather had a great deal of money and it was on record he bought something from a jewelry store. It was carved by a great artist with amazing craftsmanship. A hair accessory in the shape of a butterfly, with light blue tinted diamonds. Apparently your grandmother was a very free spirited woman. I know you know what I am talking about because it must have been in your family photos. I wanted it to give to my fiance but your grandmother had already fled to America. And now you wear it in your hair.” He points to the top of my head where the butterfly sits.
It really was him. I thought about my family what it would mean to them to set this man free. I thought about my future how bright it would be to have given the world a expose with Hitler. Then I thought about what it would mean to myself to be able to listen to this persons story. What compassion I would be possessed of. As I looked into his beety dark eyes, I knew that revenge wasn’t my m.o. and I settled in to listen to one of the stories of my lifetime.