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Blue Smoke

Echoes of Robert Four:
A Spirited Interview with Donovan, Ghost and Casper

Ghost Freeman, Donovan Noel, Casper Auclair
Casper Auclair (Robert Four)
Robbie & Bobbie Freeman
Tiny Timmy Thompson

Donovan: Ghost, Casper, thrilled to have you back for this reunion interview! Let's dive into the reflections on your epic tale.

Ghost: Thanks for having us, Donovan. Always a pleasure to chat about our wild journey.

Casper: Absolutely, Donovan. Resurrecting old memories, or should I say, reincarnating them?

Donovan: Precisely! Now, Casper, the story bears your name as the title, and you’re in the story from start to finish, so let's start with you. What's your take on the story's singular core theme?

Casper: Well, for a while, I thought it was all about human prejudice and resilience of the human spirit. Watching Ghost face the Klan, his abductors, and good ol' Deputy Tom, racism seemed like the central theme.

Ghost: Understandable, especially with your Little Prick encounter. *he chuckles.* That name still makes me laugh. Man, that man hated foreigners, but that's not the heart of our tale, is it guys?

Casper: No, not at all! Not at all!

Donovan: Ghost, spill the beans. What's the one central deep essence of the story that every single character from both narratives is driven by?

Ghost: It starts with the opening heartfelt family scene — Robbie’s and my birthday, the overwhelming love of our parents. I cried tears of joy that day, I never thought that was possible. Daddy laid it out a scene after that when he said, “I sigh with love to see my boys and my wife whom I love more than Heaven. I want my boys to understand this, so they will grow up with love. I have to show my boys responsibility of love,” Then he left to get that antenna. Family is the beating heart for each character, isn't it?

Donovan: Family first - when possible. It’s a universal theme. Let's unpack that family drive. Ghost, lay it out for your crew.

Ghost: It's crystal clear for me. Sacrifice was the name of the game. I chose Kooth High over a safer option for the sake of proximity to family, and passed up every college offer to stay close. That hurricane night? Left the safety of my dorm to be with Robbie and Mamma. Family always came first.

Donovan: Casper, you struggled with the ties of family didn’t you? Casper, you lost sight of it, huh?

Casper: Oui monsieur, I did. It nearly cost me everything. In France, we say, "Famille avant tout." Ghost always lived by that, but I lost my way. I'm ashamed to say I didn't carry on that value that Ghost left for me. Papa and I clashed incessantly. I couldn't see he was trying to help me, in his own way. I left for America, ignoring his family advice. The moment my plane landed, I knew it was the worst decision of my life. I knew it then, but hid it within me. Donovan, thank you for giving me Timmy for so many reasons. The Thompsons became my American family and I can't imagine how miserable I would've been without them.

Ghost: Donovan, you wrote about how family can includes friends and community and how we all need to help each other home. I love the line, "I feel like everyone is swapping sons or are we all just one big, real family taking care of each other?"

Donovan: Thanx Ghost. Casper, tell us how family effected Jamin.

Casper: Initially, Jamin wanted to attend a tennis academy. If his parents had said no, he wouldn't have been as defiant as I was. But he did go, and his loneliness away from his family caused his game to suffer. It wasn't until he left the academy, reunited with his family and KK and I joined his team that he became a solid professional. I learned a lot from his experience, though it took me a while to understand all of it’s impact on me. Ghost, Gina played a crucial role in keeping you balanced, didn't she?

Ghost: Gina and Robbie.

Casper: Of course, Robbie.

Ghost: Robbie never knew my retaliating thoughts, but Gina did. It was her confronting Deputy Tom, or should I say her dad, that changed everything.

Donovan: Family changed him as well, didn't it?

Ghost: Maybe more than anyone. Gina saved Tom and me, by revealing to him his fatherhood and accepting him. Let me talk about Tom a second. After Gina’s mom left him as teens and his parents died is when Tom went dark. When Gina provides him family again, Tom finds reclamation of himself. Finally, when Skeeter left for Paris and he’s alone again, he takes his life. He felt serious guilt for his transgressions and without Skeeter, Robbie and his daughter Gina, He had to face his past demons alone and he knew he couldn’t. He just couldn’t go back to lonliness.

Casper: Tom’s suicide was a shock Donovan. I didn’t see that coming. I felt extreme guilt afterwards because I was the last to talk to him, but I didn’t know how he felt.

Donovan: Casper, any thoughts on Coach Little Prick's motivations?

Casper: You never told us Donovan what made him who he is. But I saw one moment of compassion in him and it was about family. When the student assistant entered the gym with an emergency note about Timmy, Little Prick asks, "Is it my wife?" I could see love and concern in his face, but only for a moment – and that moment was family.

Donovan: Casper, talk a bit about Timmy?

Casper: Oh, I love talking about Timmy. Tiny lectured me often about forgiving my dad and showed himself as an example of not wasting time battling those you love. He said, "Cancer makes you forgive your dad." In fact, the last thing he told me before he died was to forgive my dad. His goodbye video to his dad drove home his love for his family. I was in tears—a long time after he passed.

Ghost: You know I met Timmy after he died. He came to see me and Daddy at the swamp.

Casper: What? You didn’t tell me that. That’s awesome! Hey Ghost, aside from your death, what was the worst moment in the book for you - your kidnap and torture?

Ghost: Not even close. Watching Robbie at my funeral was the worst moment I experienced. Emotional pain is worse than physical. Robbie's devotion to our family was the strongest of all. When Momma was dying, he quit working for a year to be by her side every moment. We all saw his love for me and Daddy every single day.

Donovan: What was your best moment in the story Ghost?

Ghost: Two things, the birth of Skeeter, knowing he was my son, and Robbie and Gina’s  marriage. Man, that made me cry again out of happiness. But Casper, when you shot that free-throw left-handed for Timmy, that was a great moment for me. I was so proud of you. What about you? What’s your best and worst moment?

Casper: Holding Timmy’s hand when he died was both my best and worst moment. I’ve never experienced anyone dying, and I love Timmy so much. My chest still burns from that. I also love it when Papa apologized and hugged me after the final game - that was the final tipping point for me! But honestly, when I saw Jamin and my parents arrive the day after Timmy died, it felt like water cooling a fire. You didn’t write about that much Donovan, but that was a massive relief for me, and I’ve never felt so much relief and comfort as when I saw them arrive. In Ghosts life, I love the first opening scene with Ghost and Robbie’s birthday. I smiled so big when I saw it.

Donovan smiles: Speaking of the chest burning, did that stem from the bullet to your heart, Ghost? Did that carry over to your heart Casper?

Ghost punches me and chuckles: You tell me; you wrote our lives, Donovan.

Donovan: One last question. If you two played each other in one-on-one, who would win?

Ghost: OOOOOHH Wow. I don’t know. I think Casper is more well-rounded. He played more and got better.

Casper: 100% sure Ghost would win. He established in me everything I can do. He’s my source of talent. My talent is secondary, his is primary! It has to be him, but it would be amazing to play

Donovan: Any final thoughts boys?

Ghost: Casper when do we get to see you dance and sing again. I loved that!

Casper: Oh at Timmys house - that was fun. I'll dance all day, but that was it for my singing sir! But Donovan, There's a ripple in the pond of our camaraderie. You could have let me have a round with Méchante Camille at the cat house. I mean, come on bro!!! Why leave me out?  I’m still chapped by that! *Casper punches my arm smiling.*

Donovan: I’ll write a revised edition for you, I promise. Guys, I love you both so much. Thank you for visiting me again. We’ll do another interview soon and on your lives after the story’s ending.

Casper and Ghost: Thank you, Donovan!

Casper: Oh, Donovan. One day Jamin and I were in Père Lachaise Cemetery visiting Jamin's uncle Ben who is buried there. Guess who we met there? Yves Baptiste!

Ghost: Where do I know that name?

Casper: He's the subject of Donovan's next book, "The Orphan of Père Lachaise." He is one complex guy to say the least. Did you know he's a famous painter? Well, I guess you do. Well, i'm excited to read about this guy Donovan.

Ghost: Hey Donovan, are there any more Robert reincarnations - to follow?

Donovan: Hmmm!

Images from The Orphan of Père Lachaise
Young Yves Baptiste at the Paris  Conservatory for the Artistically gifted
Père Lachaise Cemetery - Paris
Yves Baptiste dresses vintage at an exhibition
Painting his specialty of the macabre.
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