The Haunting of Truman Capote...






One day in the early millennium, I happened upon a library bookshelf where I noticed a worn, frayed and terribly bent paperback copy of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

I had read it decades ago, as had all the world, but having an urge to wander down literary lanes once tread, once more, I checked it out, and within a weekend re-read that engrossing tale. I again experienced Truman's simple but heralding voice, talking to me through those pages, figuratively holding my hand as he walked me through those gruesome mid-November, 1959 Kansas Clutter family murders.

The story was still as I had remembered it, so pitifully sad, so disturbing in so many ways, but this time, it wasn't the tale so much as the man who caught me in his web, and not until 7 years later would he let me go.

The difference in reading this work, this time: I, myself, was on the verge of becoming a novelist, so now his journey felt like mine. Truman and I, via an ethereal bridge through time and space, had mind-melded, and I was transported from the tale to the teller, and he was in me.

Beyond my career in public relations, beyond the corporate pieces I had penned, and beyond the many people who had tried their very best to convince me to take on longer works, it was Truman - a man I had never met, and who never knew I existed - who latched onto me and wouldn't let go until I wrote the final chapter of his life, the one he said he knew I could write, having had a cop for a father who knew crime and criminals, and who happened to have also died from addiction - alcoholism.

So, despite every effort to ignore his voice, his life and that Clutter tale washed in and out of my consciousness for over two years, as I began to watch interviews and films and documentaries, everything I could get my hands on, on his life, - memorizing his demeanour, listening ad nauseum to that Gore Vidal ascribed "Brussel sprout" voice, watching the way he walked, talked, sat, the way he held a cocktail glass or a cigarette or how he flashed a smile, what materials he liked best in clothing, what he found funny and what he found sad, or what seemed to frustrate him or un-nerved him - every nuance, witnessed, digested, inhaled, and never exhaled, for two very long, agonizing, going-nowhere years.

Then one day, a vision appeared in my mind's eye, that of a singular girl walking a lonely stretch of gravel road dissecting wheat fields somewhere in Kansas - the place, and the girl, a mystery.

It obviously was not Truman, as one would assume it should have been if I was supposedly obsessing on the man, but a young girl, who never uttered a word, who had me follow her every step. I never saw her face, my eye was to her back left, as if I were right behind her, maybe hovering just over her shoulder, accompanying her on this unknown journey.

Well, that unknown girl and that unknown quest stayed with me as a video clip would stay with you if you hit Play, Stop, Reverse, and hit Play again, the same girl, the same view, the same walking scene and unidentifiable road going nowhere...for SIX LONG MONTHS, inside my head, playing over and over and over again, seeing, hearing, sensing nothing more except for a soft cross-breeze kissing my cheek and a kind of hissing noise snaking through the stands of wheat. I thought I was losing my mind!

For the longest time, I assumed that girl was ME. It had to be me, right? Because I'm the one who has Truman talking in my ear from the moment I wake up 'til the moment I fall asleep, every freaking day for these last two years!

But it wasn't me. It was never me.

The epiphany finally came to me in bed one night, in that semi-conscious state you find yourself just before the sandman takes you away for that temporary death. At that moment, I knew who it was and why she was so important to Truman's finale.

And with that realization, the story, my story, of Truman's end was born; and although the entire plot was not yet known to me, the title, well, I think Truman gave it to me himself - No More Blood - was as real and as certain as the ruler straight wheat fields wafting back and forth in that Kansas breeze.

I finally had "my" ending to In Cold Blood and closure on a life that seemed to spiral out of control as soon as the champagne was drunk and the confetti flitted to the dance floor at Truman's 1966 Black & White gala celebration at The Plaza in New York City.

Truman got what every writer dreams - astronomical fame and fortune - seemingly overnight (although this was his 7th book and two movie screen plays were already under his belt).

But Truman whispered otherwise to me. In Cold Blood was his death sentence.

I invite you to read my tale, told from my heart, and from personal experience watching a similar exceptional man wrestle with his own demons that in the end would cost him everything he had - "The End" to his own life.

Can there be justice, closure, peace, of a kind?
Can there be at least a literary end to all tortured souls?
Can there be, in fact, No More Blood?

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B J's Bookshelf...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Hobbit
Sessions
The Joy Luck Club
All the King's Men
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Mansfield Park
Faust: First Part
The Catcher in the Rye
Islands in the Stream
And the Sea Will Tell
Animal Farm
Charlotte's Web
Sophie's Choice
Angela's Ashes
Memoirs of a Geisha
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Hunt for Red October


B. J. Thomspon's favorite books »

B J's Literary Heros ~ Ernest Hemingway ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald ~ James A. Michener ~ Herman Wouk ~ James Jones ~ Vincent Bugliosi

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