Copyright ©2011 Joseph F. Leonardi
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Printed in the United States of America.
The following work is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Historical characters are used in fictional senses and settings.
The interviewer started with the most basic question one could ask when the subject was purportedly a person over one hundred years old, “When were you born?”
The Old Man pushed a button and his chair sat him just a bit upright. He was about to answer, but paused. Again, he depressed the button and the chair rose up to a complete sitting position. He motioned for his water glass and took a long gulping drink. The interviewer moved a little closer and repeated the question.
The Old Man told her he wasn’t hard of hearing and that he’d heard her the first time. The middle-aged woman, who looked younger than her years, sat back in her chair and waited, pen at the ready.
The Old Man fidgeted a little. When he finally appeared comfortable, he removed his glasses and locked his eyes directly into the interviewer’s eyes.
“I wasn’t born, or at least I don’t recall being born.”
The interviewer retorted, “Well, none of us recall being born.”
The Old Man roared a hardy laugh. His eyes watered from his boisterous outburst. When the laughter calmed to a chuckle, he stated; “I guess you’re right.”
He paused, took a deep breath and began again, “I don’t remember ever being told of my birth. I don’t recall parents or a childhood.”
The young woman sat still, she was carefully choosing her next words — her next question. She didn’t want to offend the older gentleman, “If your memory is off today, perhaps I should come back another time.”
“No,” he answered with a broad smile, “My memory is fine, completely intact — I simply don’t recall ever being a child, because I simply never was.”
She smiled at the older gentleman, not knowing what to say next. Usually, she would not have taken on such an assignment; however, when she received a letter claiming that a man who was rumored to be more than a century old wanted to be interviewed by her, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Although she was an investigative reporter specializing in government corruption, how could she give up the chance to talk to someone who was alive for some of the country’s greatest and worst times? Now, she thought, he may be suffering from some mild dementia. She wanted to be kind, but she was a reporter. “Sir, how could you have not been a child, perhaps you have simply blocked the memories of your younger days.”
The Old Man hefted himself from his chair and stood upright. “Young lady, I am not as feeble as you might imagine. I am suffering a tough time, but I have endured before.” His legs had trouble supporting him and he sank back to the chair. He chuckled again and continued, “As my long deceased friend would often joke, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
She smiled, she knew the quote, but didn’t remember from whom.
It was his turn to be the questioner, “What is your name?”
“Dominique. What a nice name. Well Dominique, my memory is perfect. When I was younger, I never remembered having a childhood because I don’t believe it ever existed. It was as if one day I woke up, just as I have every day since. Simply put —- one day I was.”
“What is your first memory then?”
“Waking up, I just told you that.”
She stared at him and returned his smile, “Okay, now you are just messing with me.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I am.”
They shared a laugh. Finally able to get to his feet, he stood up and moved to the window. He looked out at the beautiful, calm Atlantic Ocean. She joined him at the window. “Dominique, it is beautiful here. I have loved Key West for a long, long time.”