An Interview With Garrett Duke

by: Kristy Duke

Chills silently crawl up my neck as I slowly sit down upon an old rusty metal fold up chair while I absentmindedly look at the gold watch that hangs loosely upon my right wrist. I sigh wearily as a wave of impatience washes over me at finding that I have arrived at the meeting place five minutes early. As quick as it had washed over me, my impatience quickly dissolves into nervousness as my mind rushes quickly over me, questions of doubt are quickly thrown within me. Taking a deep breath in attempt to lose my nervousness and fear, I slowly begin to look around the dark musky room that surrounds me. A couple of windows are planted toward the back of the room that displays the thick array of tall and shady trees at the edge of the thick woods while a small window lies upon the left wall, out the window shows a beautiful landscape of the large hills that seem to roll off in the distance. A large garage door lies tightly closed upon the front wall in the right corner while a ugly painted brown front door lies upon the left corner of the wall with a square thick darkly tinted window in the upper half. The far right wall remains windowless and door less while the ugly gray brick walls remain covered by either thick and sturdy shelves covered in grease stains and holding an assortment of car equipment or piles of new tires or work benches. An old rebuilt muscle car lies silently parked a few feet from the wooden shelves that line the windowless right wall, remaining dark and empty.

Despite of the few windows that are scattered around the three of the four walls, the large garage room is miserably dark and musty. A strong stench of car oil and grease fills the garage while the cement floor is cracked and badly stained with oil and grease. For a long moment I stare down upon the thin notebook I had brought along to take notes and dread begins to fill me as I silently wonder how I will be able to see enough to write down the notes I have come prepared for. I sit silently upon the old metal fold up chair that sits a few feet from a stack of tires upon the left wall. Despite the closest window a few feet away, the rainy and gloomy day fails to shine in enough light to light up the garage. Once again I sigh wearily as my mind nervously thinks of questions, filling me with nervousness and dread. I should have made the arrangements to meet at a restaurant or perhaps a bench outside of his father’s garage. But he had insisted, within his father’s garage.

Nervously I glare through the darkness of the room at my watch once again to find that ten minutes had passed of taking in my surroundings, of silently taking everything in, of thinking things over. He is now five minutes late. I should have expected him to be late, everything so far has been done his way, by the rules he wants to make. Frustration slowly filters through my body, at him for being late and at me for being so impatient, I should be grateful for the opportunity to meet with him, to talk to him. He is no celebrity…most people don’t even know who he is, but I do and it is important for me to know who he really is. The person he is. In order to do that I have to give him time, allow him to make the rules, and allow him to show whenever he decides to show. It is his way of showing who’s the boss, whose in charge. Him.

A couple of long minutes slowly crawls by before the ugly brown door slowly opens and a thick ray of gloomy light shines into the room to hurt my eyes. After a moment of my eyes to adjust to the new bright light, I slowly watch a tall, muscular dark figure step into the building before closing the door. I watch as he turns his back to me in order to relock the door before he turns and glares harshly at me for a long moment before he slowly begins to walk to the two chairs that were set out without turning on any lights. Of course, he prefers darkness over light. I watch daringly for a long moment as he silently and slowly continues to walk towards me, his foot steps seem to echo off of the hollow walls.

Excitement laced with intense fear quickly explodes within me as he slowly approaches the empty chair that is set up a couple of feet away from me. For a long moment he stands challengingly over me while he stares through me with hardened smokey gray-blue eyes while I cowardly take him in. He is wearing what looks to be an expensive pair of black CAT working boots with tight fighting faded denim jeans that reach the thick heel of his boots, the end of the jeans are harshly fraying with long wear. Hanging over his belt line of his jeans is an old thin gray shirt with the short sleeves torn off, the Atlanta Braves logo is spread boldly across his chest. His muscular arms are crossed over his chest to display his attitude as well as displaying the dark black inked tattoo on his upper right arm of a coiled snake with his head up in striking position and a red tongue hissing out of the large fangs of the snake. A silver ring ear ring dangles shortly in his right ear lobe while a thick, wide, long scar appears from under his right ear and slowly travels down his neck and under his chin. His dirty blond hair is worn short and tousled on top with thin short side burns. A thin goatee surrounds his thin lips under his cold and hard gray eyes.

After an eternity of silence passes, Garrett silently sits down upon the empty metal chair while his hardened eyes continue to throw daggers at me. For a moment, I glare down at the oil and grease stained floor as the awkward silence continues to grow within us while slices of rain patter upon the roof. Taking a long deep breath, I force myself to gather up courage and to look back up at him and he quickly looks away, out through the foggy window.

I silently continue to take him in, his features and actions as my thoughts slowly turn to his twin brother back in Hazzard, of all that I know of him, of what he looks like. Silently I make comparisons between the two twin brothers and am surprised by the high amount of differences they hold on one another, they almost don’t even look like brothers. Bo, his twin brother, is a couple inches taller than he is with brighter and thicker blond hair and baby blue eyes; while Garrett has a slightly tanner complexion, more muscular than Bo with darker and shorter hair, facial hair and eerily smokey gray-blue eyes. As well as the small silver ring ear ring that hangs steadily upon Garrett’s small right ear lobe and the darkly inked tattoo that flexes upon Garrett’s powerful muscles upon his upper right arm, Bo remains tattoo-less and without an earring. But the most shocking and distinguishable between the two twins is the thick long scar that runs from behind his right ear, down his neck and under his chin. The horrid looking pale scar seems to be the one feature that sticks out the most, the most noticeable upon the young man’s handsome face, gathering everyone’s attention with wonderment and surprise.

Looking at Garrett, watching his movements and features, I am surprised at how little the two resemble each other and how different they are. Even their attitudes are different, their emotions, and their personalities. No one would ever guess them to be brothers not a lone twins. Where Bo’s eyes and smile brightly displays the innocence that only a child possesses, Garrett’s smokey gray-blue eyes are hard and cold, seeming as emotionless as an old gray stone, while his own posture displays the harsh attitude he possesses towards everyone and everything. I sigh warily as I think of the two brothers’ differences of style, attitude, appearance, and lifestyle; of the different lives the two brothers had lived from one another. Silently I wonder if their lifestyle has anything to do with their differences at all, that if they had grown up with one another, they would be more alike…more brotherly.

“Well,” Garrett’s thickly southern accented voice breaks the thick icy silence that had filled the old garage, to cut through my thoughts and bring me back to reality, “did you come here to stare at me or what?”

“Well, uh, I,” I slowly stutter nervously while I silently become angry at myself for my slowness, for my lack of ability to say what I want to say without showing fear, “I guess I don’t know what I want exactly, other than to get to know you.”

Chills vibrate down my body as he gives out a hollow, sarcastic laugh before eyeing me with his emotionless eyes. “I think you know who I am,” he finally says seriously as he leans forward to yank something out of his back pocket. Silently, I watch as he pulls out a crumpled hard box of Marlboro Lights and an with an ocean blue clear lighter out of his back pocket before selecting a thin cigarette out of the half empty box. Setting the torn box upon his faded jean knees he slowly places the end of the cigarette in his mouth while flicking a thin long flame from the lighter and as he bends over to light the cigarette it becomes available knowledge through the clear blue plastic, that the lighter is only half full of lighter fluid. A thin cloud of gray smoke slowly filters from the end of the lighted cigarette as he sucks desperately onto the cigarette while tossing the box and the lighter onto the concrete floor, making a loud echo.

“I know about you,” I silently speak up as he takes the cigarette out to breathe out a puff of smoke while he watches the smoke filter out from the lighted end with little interest for a while before forcing his attention back to me, “but not who you are and in order to get any farther than where I am at, I think I need to know who you are.”

He rolls his hardened eyes at me before taking another long drag upon his name brand cigarette and I slowly open the black cover of my one subject notebook before clicking on the end of my pen. “What the hell is all that shit for?” he cuss as angry dark storm clouds darken his gray eyes as he points at my notebook with his cigarette before quickly standing up, “I agreed for a little meeting, because I thought of it nice that some woman found me attractive enough to talk to, a woman interested in who I really am and now you pull this crap! There is no damn way that I am going to talk to you just so you can write each and every little word I say…write that in your damn notebook!”

“Look Garrett,” I quickly stand up to find him way over a foot taller than I am as I watch him breath heavily upon his cigarette as he starts to turn, “I didn’t mean to upset you…really. I guess I figured if I wrote things down, the better I would remember.”

“Remember what?” he quickly turns around to send fear rushing through me as his temper radiates off of his muscular body and flames of anger and hatred burn in his icy cold gray eyes, “Last I knew, you weren’t no damn reporter nor no author for that matter! I live a boring life so I don’t know what the interest in me is! I live in a damn small hick town where nothing happens except for a crooked law system after my so called family. There! End of story…the end!”

Fighting to hide the fear that radiates in my body and fight the urge to run to find a hiding spot, I quickly drop my notebook and pen upon the cement floor and a big booming echo seems to ping pong across the hollow walls. “OK Garrett, no notebook,” I sigh forcing a look of confidence I don’t feel, “I will admit, I do find you attractive and I am a woman who is interested in who you are, what makes you cook…what makes you, you,” I sigh as I search for words to make him stay, to put him back in his chair and with ease. Silence once again fills the room as he glares at me for a harsh moment before glaring at the closed door before I continue, “OK fine, you want to go, is that it? Then go, there is nothing keeping you here, but yourself. But before you go, let me give you some advice…drop the attitude and maybe you could get yourself a girl friend.”

“That ain’t none of your damn business! As you just said yourself, you know nothin’ bout me!” sucking desperately onto his cigarette once again he turns his back to me as guilt and dread slowly slithers through me.

For a long moment I watch him walk to the nearest wall, his own stature and walk even displays his attitude, his anger as he stops next to a decently sized black CD player where a few dusty CDs are stacked besides the speakers. I allow silence to grow between us as his anger creates an eery awkwardness within the room while he glances through the stack before picking up an CD case. I watch with interest as he pushes a button upon the CD player and the black piece slowly opens like an hungry mouth before he opens the CD case to take out a colored CD. I stare at the photo of the small paper that rests within the cover of the case and after awhile I read the large letters on top to find it to be Uncle Kracker, who I only recognize from the song he sings with Country star, Kenny Chesney. Taking a last drag upon his small cigarette he places the CD within the slot before closing it and turning it on before the alternative rock singer blares through the speakers and Garrett respectively turns it down a notch.

“Last chance and no notebook,” Garrett’s voice is low and tightly controlled with his back still turned towards me as tosses the butt of the cigarette upon the stained floor and stomps it out with the tip of his black leather boots.

“No notebook,” I agree while I slowly take my seat in the uncomfortable metal chairs while I watch him slowly make his way to a grease stained small refrigerator. Silence begins to grow within the musky room once again as he opens the small door just enough to take out a clear brown bottle with the label of Bud Light glued onto the bottom portion of the bottle, “or pen…anything else I need to know, before I ask a few questions?”

Roughly, he yanks the sharp lid off of the bottle before throwing it towards a small black metal garbage can and the metal lid pings against the rim of the bottle before bouncing upon the cement floor. Garrett stares at the fallen lid before turning to me with his emotionless eyes and I sigh slightly with relief as the anger seems to have slowly decreased within the few minutes that he had his back towards me. Taking slow steps towards his thrown chair that is set up a couple of feet farther back from where it had been before he had roughly stood up while taking a long couple of drinks, drinking half of his beer. “What you need to know?” he throws me an angered look as he slides the chair back besides his box of cigarettes before he sits down, setting his half drank beer next to his lighter. “I want to know what the hell this is about?”

“It’s about you,” I fight for confidence as he gives me a look of disbelief as he reaches down to pick up his pack of cigarettes and his lighter once again before dropping a cigarette into his hands from the box. I watch him lighting his second cigarette as my mind rushes through the questions I had planned to ask, questions that seem inadequate to the man that sits in front of me. “I want to know who you are…as I have said a few times by now.”

“Yeah and each time you say it, I grow even more confused,” he says as smoke leaves his mouth to fill the musky air, “hell I don’t even know who you are or why you want to know me. Do you know how weird this whole damn thing is? I can’t believe I was dumb enough to fall for it all, to leave my plans, of what I was doing, and travel an hour away to meet some chic I don’t even know.”

“Well I told you over the phone a couple of times, that I’d be glad to come to Hazzard,” I gently remind him as I fight to ignore his hardened glare, “I’d have preferred to have it in Hazzard, to have gotten a look around. You picked the meeting place.”

“Yeah I know,” he says after a long moment and his eyes go array as he glances around the room, “I wanted a reason to come back to the old place, to see if anything has changed. . .to see my true friends.”

“True friends?” I ask looking up at him.

“Yeah the ones I left behind when I was forced to go to that hick town,” he hisses through clenched teeth before he is reminded of his lit cigarette and takes a long drag on it, “where I actually fit in. Here.”

“Forced?” I ask trying to put on a quizzical face despite already knowing why he had to leave Atlanta, “Who forced you and why? You’re old enough to make your own decisions and while we are on age, how old are you exactly.”

“What’s it to you?” he glares through the thick smoke that has clouded between us, “Same as Bo…twenty-three as of May sixth, ” he finally caves in as his tensed posture seems to relax a bit, “My old man forced me to go down with my sister…to serve as protection for her and her children. I guess forced was the wrong word for it, I was given a choice, a choice I didn’t like that is. Either take her down to Hazzard or pay for things at home and at the garage . . .that and the fact neither him or mom would ever let me forget of my betrayal to my sister, her children.”

“I thought you liked the garage?” I ask looking around, motioning around us with my right arm, “I figured that’s why you arranged to have it here?”

“I love the garage…the smell, the grease, the oil,” he sighs dreamily before he awakens and realizes I am still here, “but I ain’t about to take the raw end of the deal with everything…dad woulda left for Hazzard, he’d a put Randy as supervisor and there is no damn way I’m gonna work under that old good for nothing weasel. Dad needs to fire the lazy bums and get some people that can do the job the right way. . .like me. But no, I was sent to Hazzard,” anger clouds his eyes once again as he seems to silently lose himself within what could have been, “so here I am.”

“Yep here you are,” I sigh as I watch his expressions as he sucks upon his cigarette before breathing out, “so what do you plan to do now that you are in Hazzard?”

“Survive,” he gives a sarcastic laugh for a moment, “hell if I know…sleep and watch the corn grow is about the only thing to do in Hazzard. I guess Bo and Luke are occupied with the damn law, but for anyone else, there’s nothin’ to do. Work on cars and watch rust take over. I am currently looking for a job in order to help with Kristy and LB with payments at the farm house we are renting.”

“LB. You get along with LB?” I ask.

“He alright,” he shrugs as he tosses the cigarette down and wipes it with the bottom of his shoes, “I don’t see what Kristy sees in him, but I’ve seen worse.”

“So, Kristy,” I slowly speak up, “she your sister?”

“Half,” he cuts down to one word sentences and I silently nod.

“Know how that goes. . .have one of my own,” I quickly give him a little information on my own self, “why she have to move to Hazzard? Was it her choice?”

“That’s a touchy subject,” he speaks up slowly as his right hand sub-consciencely goes up behind his right hear and slowly begins to trace his scar, “not her first choice, but she didn’t have a problem moving to Hazzard.”

I nod as I sense him closing the door he had slightly opened for me with mentioning Kristy and moving to Hazzard and I fight to aim for a different track. “I’ve heard through the grape vine that the friends you just mentioned…in Atlanta,” I finally say and he looks skeptically at me, his eyes remain icily cold and hard, “I’ve heard they’re bad news…the guys that brought you to trouble.”

“I get into trouble my own self,” he hisses at me as he picks up his half drank beer, “don’t need no friends to take me to trouble. Now I’ve got a question for you,” he takes another long drink before continuing, “Where is all this taking us? I don’t see where any of this has to do with who I am…it is the past.”

“The past make us who we are,” I throw back at him as I lean back into my chair while I fold my arms across my chest, “perhaps it isn’t taking us anywhere, but it is all interesting stuff. I don’t spose you’d tell me where you got that nasty scar on your neck from?”

“You spose right,” he hiss angrily at me as he glares down at his cigarettes for a moment before finishing the rest of his beer.

“I’ve heard you were in the Army for a year or so,” I finally speak up after a long moment of silence of awaiting for him to continue, “and that you got kicked out for drugs, is that true?”

Flames of anger once again enlighten his eerily gray eyes and he harshly stands up to send his chair flipping over on it’s side while he stares angrily at me. My heart races within me as I realize too late that I have gone too far with the interview, with my questions. “What the hell does any of this have to do with anything?! No don’t tell me, let me guess…you want to get to know me. Well cut the crap!” he yells and his voice boomerangs off the brick walls, “You nor anyone else cares that much about who I am…I am who I am. Take it or leave it!”

For a long moment I stare uncomfortably at the stained floor as his anger quickly heats up the room as he abruptly walks away, leaving me to think of what he has said, of his anger. Guilt once again fills within me as I fight for words to undue the damage I have created within the interview. Slowly I glance up as a dim light sends shadows dancing across the floor to find Garrett grabbing another beer out of the refrigerator. “OK I’ll leave it,” I silently shrug as he tosses the lid and this time making a basket within the garbage can before glaring evilly at me, “Uh I mean, I’ll take it. Look, I didn’t mean to upset you…again.”

“Again is right,” he rolls his eyes while taking a large drink before resting along side the wall while listening to his CD continue to play Uncle Kracker, who only sings a few distinguishable words, “Let me ask you a question….why? Why interview me? There are more interesting people to get to know…and yet you chose me. Why?”

“You’re the one I don’t understand,” I shyly answer, “I really don’t know how to answer your question.”

“There ain’t nothin’ to understand,” he answers shortly as he bends down to grab his cigarettes and lighter once again.

“Two negatives make a positive,” I force a smile, “which means there is something to understand.”

“Like I damn care what makes a positive or a negative!” he runs his muscular left hand through his hair while his right holds the cigarette to his mouth, “I don’t even understand why the hell I am here taking this sort of shit…from a person I don’t even know! ” he takes a deep breath, “Damn it! This isn’t getting no one anywhere but going around in circles with the same damn questions…a waste of time if you ask me. My time!”

“More time away from Hazzard,” I remind him, “talking of which, how do you get along with the family you have down there? Bo, Luke, Daisy, and Uncle Jesse?”

He sighs defiantly as he glances towards the door for a long moment before glancing back at me with the same hardened eyes that he came in with. “I don’t,” he sighs as I silently wonder what is keeping him here talking instead of walking out as he could have done several times, “I don’t and never will fit in with them nor in that hick town nor do I want to fit in. Once the time is right, I am back up here, where I belong. ”

I silently nod as he turns around to stare coldly at me, taking me in as I silently fight for questions to keep him where he is at, to know him. “Hazzard seems like a nice place, but I guess that is to one’s own opinion,” I slowly speak up and he nods as he puts out his half smoked cigarette and I hesitantly stand up, “thank-you for meeting with me, I know it was an interruption in your schedule, but I appreciate your cooperation.”

His eyes seem to lighten a bit as he stares questionably at me with disbelief before asking, “This it?”

“I guess so. . .there isn’t much else I can think of to ask,” I slowly answer as I find myself liking the young Duke in spite of his attitude, of his temper that is easily set off, “as I said, thank-you.”

“Yeah,” he nods once again as he finishes his beer in one long gulp.

 

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