Dec 13, 2005

Post Script to an execution

I got an email from my dear friend David Weir who, incidentally just wrote a wonderful piece for about what's left of Biloxi... He asked if I thought Barbara Becnel really did love Tookie. I wrote back:

Yes, I think she did love him. But how and why? It's a long story. I think he represented to her something pure, pure hatred, pure ghetto, pure black. She was none of those things. She was pale with white girl's hair, she was beige inside, she was soft and and academic and caught up in white middle class dramas and ambitions, and she began feeling a little odd about sitting pretty in her liberal lazy-boy, and so she looked around. How could I be different? How could I be pure something? And so suddenly he was there and he was pure bold and a physical presence to behold. So she took it, and she wrote the books not him, and she arranged the Nobel Prize, he had no idea what was going on, and she did the film and she arranged all the publicity and it was all B. And no doubt it was her idea to get married, although she raised holy hell when I told her I was writing that they were. She had Vernell C. call me right up and say, 'no, that ain't true. You musta miunderstood. Or maybe I got it wrong.' He did get it wrong. I was told by 3 others, at least one of whom was very reliable that they hitched up in the visitor's room. Eyewitness. It was common knowledge. But Barbara had something on Vernell and that's why he changed his story. Anyway, she got a lot out of her time with Tookie. One thing she got out of it was the sacred permission to be angry. (You'll forgive my hobby horse) She could be self righteous big time. And she did and she was. Angry as hell and no one could take that away from her. And so here were these two in pure anger and pure black and a folie a deux perhaps. I don't think she ever thought he was really innocent, although she said he was. But she knew better although at the same time she could accept a frame, she could begin to see the world his way, after all that time together. Perhaps, she really did believe he was innocent.... In the end, she needed his cause and he needed her humanity and each gave the other what the needed. But it wasn't enough. He didn't get enough humanity, not enough to crack his pride and save himself. She couldn't give him that because she didn't have quite enough herself, she had too much of her own pride... And from his side, he couldn't give her a child, I suppose, if that's what she wanted, something permanent, or maybe he was fine for her just where he was, that old truth of row wives, 'well at least you know where he is every night'... Anyway, they couldn't quite deliver for each and so now she's stuck with a legacy that will eventually be forgotten and he's free out there somewhere.....