Monday, June 26, 2006

Kissing Chuck Lecter

My Q&A with Chuck Poulter on book signings happened about four months ago, if I remember correctly. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the nameless periodicals that shows up on my doorstep every so often contained a follow-up!

Apparently, it was written after the trial using material the reporter gathered just after Chuck was jailed. It's one of those human-interest stories that's supposed to help you feel sympathy for the criminal. They rarely work, and this is no exception: I feel thoroughly excited for him.

I'll quote the article at length and hope the magazine's publisher doesn't mind. He shouldn't. After all, copyright infringement is the sincerest form of flattery. Here's the first half or so:
I sit opposite a broken man. He mutters something about setting fire to a car.

"Can I get you something before we start?" I venture.

"Peanut butter to get these stupid wigs off." He waves carelessly at his armpits, which, indeed, appear to have black, curly wigs affixed. I try to keep my face impassive, but something gives me away.

"That won't work, will it?" He laughs a hoarse, half-maniacal laugh that sounds like it's seen a month of Mondays, all in a row. "I didn't believe it when he told me, but I want to believe something he said."

I look "Chuck" over--he politely requests that I don't give his surname--and I try not to fall into a fit of hysteria. He's still wearing a toga with a large, black 53 painted on the front. He scratches at the wigs under his armpits. An undersized laurel wreath adorns his head, outlining his bald spot. I've been told he refuses to give it up.

At least he doesn't still have the pistol. His plastic harp has likewise been confiscated.

"You know what I'm going to do as soon as I get out of here?" he says. "I'm going to a comedy show, and I'm going to laugh at all those drunk people."

Chuck is accused of assaulting and holding hostage a woman who asked for his autograph--at Chuck's own book signing. Yes, Chuck is a recently-published author. Things were going "swimmingly," he says, until he was duped into committing a felony by a con artist. He declines to give even a hint of the identity of the wretched person.

Why? Because one of these days, Chuck is going to set fire to his car.

"I don't want to get caught," he says. "If I tell you the victim, you could trace it back to me."

"Won't the act itself point at you?" I ask.

"Oh, I'm going to wait a good ten years for my vendetta to entirely consume my black, shrivelled heart like a charcoal briquet." He laughs again. "I'll be ready then."

I decide to dive into the questions.

"I suppose the thing everyone wants to know is why," I start. "Why did you hold a fan of yours hostage at your own book signing?"

"I didn't think I could pull off the hamburger stunt."

I don't want to know what that means, so I go on to the next question.

"Do you think you'll be acquitted?"

"Does peanut butter take wigs off your armpits?" He laughs at his rhetorical question. "Listen to my defense tactic: I was researching hostage situations for an upcoming novel! Do you think I'll be acquitted?"

"You could plead insanity," I suggest.

"I've thought of that. It might even get me off the sexual harrassment charges."

Chuck is also charged with sexual harrassment, for allegedly puckering up and asking multiple young female fans if they'd like to "kiss a cannibal" before he'd sign their books.

"I might combine them to make the insanity plea more believable," he says.

He might be insane, but he's no Hannibal Lecter. I try to help him feel better by telling him that.

"I wrote that, you know," he says.

... and it continues in its mushy, let's-feel-sorry-for-the-bad-guy way.

Chuck took my advice, and he's obviously better off for it. The whole world knows who he is! I do hope he realizes this--and the fact that this was his very last book signing for the rest of his career--before he goes about trying to exact revenge.

Also, in case you're reading this, Chuck: I don't own a car.

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