Hello readers. I know it has been a while since we had an interview with one of the characters. Today we welcome Debney Nichole Armstrong from the novel D.N.A. to THE CHAIR.
Author: Please explain to the audience in your own words what D.N.A. is about.
Debney: The novel explores the emotions I have to suffer through while living in a super dysfunctional family, my horrible mistakes in judgement, the fact I end up pregnant after a wild party and hopefully shows a powerful act of survival.
Author: So, Debney. I'm so glad you can take a few minutes away from your busy life to explain this chapter. Looks as if you are on a reality show. With all of the drama you have been through lately, what would make you do such a thing?
Debney: Believe me. Appearing on that slush of a show was the last thing on my mind. Between the guys from high school and Giante' s mother I had no choice. It is an experience I never want to go through again. All I want to tell your audience is, please enjoy the excerpt and leave comments on your opinion.
Author: Thanks. You heard her audience. Please read and leave a comment.
D.N.A.~ On the night before a planned family vacation, Debney is inexplicably excluded. After a bitter argument with her mother at being barred from family vacations, especially one so close to her eighteenth birthday, Debney arranges a romantic dinner with her long time crush. During the chaos of dinner turned teen party, she learns of the death of her family. Yes, sometimes relationships in families end tragically. People leave; parents die, and lives change. But does it all have to bring out the skeletons in the closet?
x. And Nothing Will Ever Be the Same
"Let me give you a hand."
Debney looked over her shoulder at the man standing near the car’s side-view mirror. She read the name 'Phil' on the tag around his neck, proclaiming him as a member of the studio's valet parking staff, but still felt reluctant to put her trust in him.
"That’s okay. I got it."
Phil chuckled loudly, his overweight belly shaking in merriment. "I don’t blame you. This is a beautiful car."
"The car can be replaced."
"You must have a rich daddy."
"I used to. This--" she reached into the body of the car and pulled out the infant seat. "Has more value than anything in the world." Maneuvering the molded plastic chair between the man, the car and herself she turned the baby so he could be seen. "Believe me I would give up everything for the safety of Baroque. I'm even coming on this dumb-assed, degrading show just for him."
"Only goes to show you're already a good parent. I’ve seen some pretty ignorant people drive up here and age didn’t matter. Most of them just cared about themselves. Waltzing in here like they was walking up a red carpet. Ordering people around and being downright ignorant. By starting off putting him first in your life, you’re making very adult choices." He stretched out his hand for the car keys. "The assistant is coming to show you where to go. I'm going to give you this stub. Just give it to the valet attendant when you're ready to leave and your car will be returned."
Debney accepted the slip of paper and turned to face the assistant who was now standing near her right shoulder.
"I need to get something from the trunk first."
The valet walked to the back of the car. "What is it you need?"
"The stroller frame to attach the seat makes it so much easier to travel around."
"Ms. Armstrong?" The assistant tapped her on the shoulder to grab her attention. "Hi, I'm Dustin, Floyd Joy's assistant. Follow me and I'll show you where you will be waiting until it’s your turn." Without a second glance he began to walk away. He turned to look back over his shoulder and noticed Debney was walking slowly behind him and struggling with the combined cumbersome weight of the baby’s diaper bag and her over-sized purse. "Let me carry that for you. You should ask your momma how to pack this thing. I bet you have too much in it."
"I wouldn’t ask her if she were alive."
Debney pushed the stroller with a little more speed than necessary which caused her to out-distance the assistant and him to scurry to catch up.
Quickly scanning his notes, he obviously found something which caused him to blush in embarrassment.
"Sorry, I should have read my notes. Here, this is the waiting area. Feel free to get drinks, snack, or whatever." He opened the door for her to enter before quickly making his escape.
Pushing the baby in the ridiculously expensive travel system, Debney was glad she had allowed Nadine to talk her into the purchase. There was no way she would have been able to walk the long route to the green room, lugging the heavy carrier and all of the paraphernalia in her hands. The baby looked safe and happy and it gave her something to concentrate on other than the enormous butterflies fighting to get out of her stomach. She was so nervous and very irritated at the fact she had to be there.
Following the assistant's gestures she entered the small room. It consisted of a couch, stained carpet, an armchair and a table holding a variety of snacks and iced beverages. Nervous and definitely feeling parched, she immediately crossed the room and chose a cold drink.
"Okay, Ms. Armstrong sit here, and try to relax. You can have a snack and make sure you sit on the right side of the couch and try to face that light." He pointed to a red bulb stationed above a small TV screen.
"Every time it turns green it means they are scanning to your face. You won't have to say anything and nothing you say back here can be heard out there." He looked at his watch. "I need to go. F.J. will come and speak to you in a few minutes and just before it’s time for you to go on stage, our staff member, Amber, will come in so she can sit with the baby."
"That won't be necessary. I'll keep him with me."
"Sorry, it doesn't work like that."
Startled, Debney turned to the sound of the voice coming from the entrance to the room. It was Floyd Joy James. He stepped in, hands stretched in welcome and she moved away to stand closer to her baby. She had seen his show many times in the past few days and he was ruthless. The premise of his You're Not the Daddy's show was to tear down the esteem and reputation of the girls brought into the arena. The guys were brought on first, interviewed as the victims, praised for trying to be responsible and then the girls came on and shot themselves in the foot. Usually they were the satirical ghetto girls. Didn't matter what their ethnicity was because they all came on screen loud, vulgar and defensive. But who could blame them? The negative portrayal of them, the disrespect from what most of the girls believed to be the love of their lives, fueled on by the jeers of the audience would light the flame of any woman. And to make it worse, you could tell F.J. was getting a kick out of the drama because every time the camera panned on him, he would be smiling and sweating, looking like a pervert getting his rocks off at the expense of ignorant teenagers. Debney had already slotted him in her mind as a woman-hating, depraved idiot and she refused to shake his hand.
Holding the cool can tighter she studied his face. He didn't look like the cruel uncaring person she had seen daily on her TV screen. Here, his hair was soft and curly and his face was kind and encouraging. He smiled slightly and spoke softly.
"Don't be nervous, Debbie. Everything will be alright. We don't allow the children on stage because sometimes things get really emotional and we like to keep the babies out of harm’s way. You understand, right?" He put his hand on his chest across where his heart was supposed to be. "Do you mind if I take a peek?"
"No, go--" She paused to clear her throat. "Go ahead. Just try not to wake him."
F.J. pushed back the canopies covering the baby and smiled what seemed more of a genuine smile than she had ever seen on him. But of course, small infants and baby animals always made people smile.
"Beautiful and his name is Baroque? Did you name him after the time period in history or is it pronounced differently?" He asked with a smirk.
"Time period and please don't call me Debbie." She refused to elaborate.
F.J. was her enemy and as sure as day, she wasn't handing out any weapons to be used against her. She had seen the shocked faces of some of the girls from the show. They had obviously spilled their guts to him at what was obviously a staged, impromptu visit and once in front of the camera, he used their words to nail their coffins. Idiot was nowhere in her name. After a few more pleasantries and instructions, F.J. and his assistant left the room.
Debney sat down as soon as the door snapped shut. F.J. was good, but she hadn't watched his show just to be a voyeur in the lives of others, she had watched to make sure she wouldn't be dragged into any traps or fall into any molds. Her goal was to remain a lady and keep her cool. And she had dressed the part. She'd gone out, purchased a just-below-knee, flowing ivory dress because she didn’t want it to slide too high when she sat. She also wore a matching lace cardigan with pearl buttons. She'd taken time putting on her makeup and wore her hair loose with a hint of curls. She intended to be the opposite of everyone ever on the show.
Sitting in the green room on the designated spot, it was obvious whenever the camera was pointed in her direction because the light would flash a bright green just before the monitor would switch on. After her first startle of the process, she relaxed and sipped on her drink. Eventually, she had to mask her annoyance at the constant flash on/flash off when she realized it was a ploy to fuel irritation. After getting up and being able to walk the room in ten easy steps, she deduced everything was designed to cause anger.
The room was claustrophobic, the piped-in music was mind-numbing and if the baby had been crying, as she had seen some of the girls’ babies doing, she would go crazy. After five minutes, the piped-in music was replaced with the dialogue from the stage. It took everything in her to ignore the lies and bank down her anger.
If it weren't for the calm voice of Gianté which was periodically being allowed to break through the shouts of the others, she would have grabbed the stroller and gone the hell home. At just the moment when she made up her mind to do just that, the door opened and an Amazon of a woman walked in. She tiptoed to the stroller, peeked at the sleeping baby and whispered, "Hi, I'm Amber." She held out the badge swinging from a chain around her neck and bearing the station's emblem. "I'll sit with the baby. I promise I won't touch him. You follow him." She pointed at the assistant standing outside the door. "I promise the baby will be safe until your return."
"Okay, Amber. You're his first babysitter and I'm putting my trust in you, but before I leave I’ll just take a quick picture." She pulled her cell from the pocket of her dress. "Just a quick snap for his memory book and plus, if I come back and he’s gone, I’ll know who to come after. Just call me paranoid."
Debney followed the assistant through the maze of hallways to the small sitting area, stood to be connected to a wireless mic and then was left to await the cue for her to go on.
"Oh, and Debney, just a small reminder, don’t call him anything but ‘F.J.’ because he hates being called Floyd."
"I remember reading that in the paperwork and rules mailed to me."
"Great. So all’s set and you should be called in a couple of minutes. I'll go take care of a few things." He moved away to talk to a stage hand and she stood quietly to wait for her cue.
"Okay, please welcome Debney Nichole Armstrong to the show."
F.J. stood, smoothed down the ridiculously fluorescent, blue and orange pinstriped jacket of his suit and turned to the camera with his trademarked snicker/joker look of a smile plastered on his face. He loved this part of the show, all hell usually broke loose. After being forced to sit in the green room watching flashing lights and listening to their lives and reputations being torn apart by what really amounted to worthless callous boys pretending to be men, the teenage girls always stormed on stage ready to bust heads. From what he had seen of her nervous posture in the dressing room and her outfit chosen with the sure intent to play the innocent victim, Debney Armstrong was about to be torn apart by the audience. He couldn’t wait to see her lose control. The excitement had him feeling giddy with anticipation.
The audience's boos, ridicules and catcalls were so loud, Debney almost didn't hear F.J. James announce her. Nervous and a little reluctant to move, she almost stumbled up the steps when the assistant prodded her with a jab to the back to go forward. Hurrying up the small ramp to the stage she faltered at the rush of angry, cruel energy in the studio. The smothering urge to turn and run caused bile to rise in her throat and she thought she would pass out. The wave of F.J.'s hand in front of her face was the distraction she needed to bring her back to reality.
As she walked down the remaining steps and in front of the panel on the stage, she reminded herself that if it weren't for the future of the baby, she swore she would just turn around and walk out of the room. She had very little urge to expose her life in front of a group of people who didn't know her from the proverbial Eve, let alone to those who had already made up their minds to condemn her as a free-flying, teenage whore.
Taking in a deep breath and releasing quickly, she focused her attention on the widely smiling host of the show. The man looked more like an idiot up close than she had thought. What the hell had he done to his hair during their time apart? The change in his persona was mimicked in the change in hairdo. The softness was gone.
"Hi, Debney." He pointed to the only vacant seat out of the five chairs beside his stationed on the stage.
"Here have a seat. Mind if I call you Debbie or should I call you by the name the kids call you in school? What was that?"
Three of the guys shouted. Standing and waving their hands in the air like idiots to incite the crowd. Gianté moved his chair just a bit to his left to distance himself from the others and lowered his gaze to his clasped hands before looking away from her.
Sliding slowly into the chair, Debney forced a smile to her face before answering F.J. James. Obviously the gloves were off. The smile on his face was brittle and dangerous. Nothing like the gushing, smiling man she'd met earlier in the green room. The glint in his eyes just before he transferred his gaze from her to the audience promised to draw blood.
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