Joy

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twenty

He brushes his shaggy hair out of his face. He feels like he should have gotten a haircut before coming here. Or just… something. He doesn’t feel ready.

Deep down, though, a knot of excitement pulses in his gut.

He turns to Joe, and straightens his shoulders for the camera. “So, behind me is the M.Dirk Penitentiary, where Joy DeVries has been incarcerated for the past two months. I finally managed to get an interview with her. They’ve given me an hour, but I’m not allowed to film it or even bring my phone in. I can make notes, and I’m going to try to rewrite everything she says as verbatim as I can.

“I have no idea how this is going to go. From everything I’ve compiled about her, I don’t know if she’s going to even want to talk to me. I don’t know if she will want this documentary to happen. I just don’t know. But my journey has led me here, to this. And I… I’m going to go in there and meet her. See you on the other side.”

He takes a deep breath as Joe lowers the camera.

“I’ll just be in the van, dude, I’ll watch for ya comin’ out so I can get the walk back when you’re headin’ this way,” the cameraman says, motioning over his shoulder with his thumb.

“Okay, sounds good,” the other man replies, smoothing down his shirt. He heads down the sidewalk to the front gate, and speaks to one of the security guards there. He’s escorted up the winding road to the main lobby, and then through a series of checkpoints and pat downs and guards listing rules and more pat downs and finally, he sits at a steel table in a concrete room.

One security guard stands in the corner, and there’s a camera above him. The metal chair across from him stands vacant, and the man with the visitor’s pass taps his foot nervously on the floor.

Tap, taptap, tappity-tap.

Butterflies flutter in his belly. He wonders what she’ll look like, now. Her mugshot was so haunting, those months ago, especially on the news when they would display it right next to her Joy Daisy headshot with all the makeup and bright pink hair. What a contrast, of course for shock value. Serial killers walk among us! That sort of thing.

He knows all the tricks. He’d taken journalism courses.

But he’s not here to embellish. He’s here for the truth. For the facts. For Joy.

Taptap, tap.

The door opens with a screeee of heavy metal on concrete. And there she is.

Her skin is pallid, almost translucent beneath the fluorescent lights, but there’s colour in her cheeks. Her eyes are bright, lucid. The orange jumpsuit looks comfortable on her, which makes sense considering she’d been dressing in bright colours for years.

She studies him as she hobbles to her seat, and plonks herself down, staying still as the escorting guard clips her to the fasteners to keep her in place. As if this tiny girl was going to launch herself across the table to strangle her interviewer.

He runs his tongue along the front of his teeth, mouth suddenly dry. Maybe she would do that. He doesn’t really know her. Not really.

Tap, tap, taptap, tap.

“You look familiar,” she finally says, leaning back in her chair. She squints at him, her nose scrunching up like a child thinking really hard. “Have I fucked you before?”

A hysterical laugh tears its way out of his throat and he plants his foot down hard on the floor. Instead of his leg jostling, the pen in his hand shakes, and he inadvertently thrums it against the notebook beneath.

Taptaptap, taptap.

“Yeah. Yeah, once.” He grips the pen with white knuckles to try to keep himself from fidgeting. “I was an intern on your show. My name’s Alvin.”

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