Dear readers, tonight with us is a man living in a unique kind of prison. Acting against the protagonist, he is here to tell us about his observations of life from his unique perspective.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I am Jaimie. I was born in the war years and went to school in Vienna. We lived in a posh district and when the war was over and Vienna cut up into four like the rest of Austria, my family was luckily in the British zone, so they tell me, but I was too young back then to appreciate that so-called luck.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I was an only child and was very curious. I tried to make the family cat step on a hot plate in the kitchen to see if its pads felt heat. They did. I copped it. Do you say cop if no cops were around? I used to catch flies and pull their wings off. I was not cruel, just curious. What is a fly anyway in the grand scheme of things? I used to scribble and draw a lot. I studied law, but dropped out. It was not for me, and so I took off for Thailand for a few years, to learn English, among other things. That is where I started work for an English-speaking rag there. My English improved, but I could not get rid of my accent. Well, neither could Arnold Schwarzenegger, and look where he went.
What do you do now?
Now I service the Panopticon, a Limbo of sorts, or a last chance for some rare ones just passing through. I am the keeper of lost endings and most people get stuck with me in my archives forever. Many are old and boring. In a way, running this place is my punishment for having snooped into people’s lives as a tabloid hack, or so I am told. But sometimes it can get interesting.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Well, this one plays a different ballgame, is that not what you say? I, however, must say that my visitor is a bit different to the others who come here that I must admit I am quite happy to quickly “archive”. This one has a mind of her own. She even saw through my hologram, dammit. She answers back. And she drinks my brandy. OK, I do offer her a glass here and there. It cannot always be tea.
What did you first think when she first entered?
I had seen her with her throat cut and had wondered how that could have happened – she was a little scared, apprehensive, as they all are. But she quickly found the key, or shall I say, trick. Yes. She tricked me. Not straight away, of course. I am cleverer than that, but nevertheless …
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
It wasn’t really scary, but as things progressed, I could see she was getting the upper hand. Not that she could hurt me in physical terms, but words. Ah, words. She was taking them away from me, turning them back on to me, attacking me even. That had never happened to me before.
What is the worst thing about living in the Panopticon?
Knowing you may never leave. Loneliness. Watching her turn the screws, the key, and just leave after all the time you’ve spent together. Being stuck forever with all the other dead half-players.
What is the best thing about it?
The best thing about living in the Panopticon is the complete control I have. I can turn events on and off at will. I am the puppet master.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Friends? I have no friends in the Panopticon. The few friends I had in that other life were all false. So I became thus. But they caught me because I wrote it all down in my zealous and steamy news stories. Of course, I fudged. Had to. Friends? Bah!
Any romantic involvement?
I am above all that sort of thing. But I must say, I might, just might, mind you, have been falling an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit – no not in love – in a bit of a lovelet with Katrina Klain. Isn’t it so that you always want what you cannot have?
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Hate? I hate them all! The one who put me here. He did not even want me to have some fun downstairs. The one who would not let me in upstairs. (I probably would have died, died again, of boredom upstairs, anyway, so maybe not hate hate.) But the never-ending Limbo of lost endings that no one can claim, that is what I hate most of all. But I have to make the best of it don’t I? I need a drink.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
I rather like the James Bond Martini, even though I am a great stirrer. Ha. I like to lounge in my plush burgundy settee, the large one I bought online. Yes, I like to go shopping on my big tv screen – a shame to have to only use it for playing back the lives of others. And the fun thing is I never have to pay anything. Whoever heard of paying in Limbo. Ok. I do sign off with a false name and they take that as credit enough. Arnie has not wised up to it yet.
What does the future hold for you?
Future? I have no future. That is the dilemma. I have been on tv and it did not work out. In the other life … I must not tell all. So sorry. That is all you will be hearing from me here.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
One thing I can tell you. Katrina Klain has a formidable friend. And this friend is preparing another book. No Limbo there, but a lot of the other place, and fires, and the sweet redolence of homecoming, and whale barf. Imagine that! Ambergris. But I won’t be in it. I, sadly, have lost my sense of smell. So here I must bid you farewell. Thank you for listening to my side of the story.
Based in Vienna, Austria, Australian writer Sylvia Petter holds a PhD in Creative Writing. Her latest book of short fictions, Geflimmer der Vergangenheit, includes 21 stories drawn from her English-language collections, The Past Present (2001), Back Burning (2007), and Mercury Blobs (2013), and translated into German by Eberhard Hain. Her collection of 17 erotic tales, Consuming the Muse, was published in 2013 by Raging Aardvark under the pen name, AstridL.
You can find Jaimie on the pages of All the Beautiful Liars.
Join us next week to meet a spy from a near future where magic has returned to the world. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.