The following interview took place on Monday 25th September 2017 at the central law courts in Berlin.
Interviewee: Jon Quennell , prisoner 20232556 (‘JQ’)
Interviewer: David James Richardson, (‘DJR’)
DJR: “Hello Mr Quennell, thank you for agreeing to this interview today. Firstly, may I call you ‘Jon’? Is that OK with you?”
JQ: “Well, actually I’m going by the name ‘Johnny’ these days, so I’d prefer if you addressed me as such.”
DJV: “Great, thank you. OK…erm…Johnny, first things first, for those people who may not be aware, your story was recently used as the basis for a very popular short story, called ‘The Woman Who Smiled’, by the author Damían Vargas.”
JQ: “Uh huh.”
DJR: “From your body language, I’d say that you are not entirely happy with Mr Vargas and his book. Is that the case?”
JQ: “You could say that.”
DJR: “Do you not consider that Mr Vargas wrote an accurate account of the events that led to your being incarcerated in this institution Johnny?”
JQ: “No, I do not”.
DJR: “Can I get you you to perhaps elaborate upon why you feel this way Johnny? Do you consider that the book was in somehow, inaccurate?”
JQ: “Well, here’s the thing David, and to be perfectly blunt, I really don’t fucking know. You see, the events that occurred, in which – it is alleged – I in some way caused the death of a certain Mr Obst, are an almost complete blur to me. I was suffering, at the time, from some severe stress caused from working so hard. I was, and still need help to manage certain psychological issues. I accept that I may have done some things in that week that would not be considered to be actions of a so-called ‘normal’ member of society, but what I think is far far more concerning is how this totally unknown author has jumped upon my case in a selfish pursuit to feather his own career. At the cost of my own. I mean, do you think that is fair?”
DJR: “Well, with respect Johnny, I’m not the one who is here to answer the questions-”
JQ: “But this man has written, from what I understand, a pretty squalid piece of cheap commercial fiction, and he’s done this for his own gain. He’s not trying to help me. Or anyone else that I may have possibly caused suffering to.”
DJR: “Is that to say that you have not read Mr Vargas’s story Johnny?”
JQ: “Not in its entirety, no. But I got the gist of it believe me.”
DJR: “And you would contend the account of events that Mr Vargas has portrayed in the story?”
JQ: “I would. Yes.”
DJR: “So, and forgive me for cutting to the chase, so to speak, quite so early in the interview, but are you saying that you did not kill Mr Obst on that fateful Sunday afternoon in Berlin?”
JQ: “I have no recollection of those events.”
DJR: “OK, in that case, lets step back, if we may, to the central thread that runs through the story ‘The Woman Who Smiled’ which is this; that whilst on a short business trip to Berlin, you briefly encountered a woman who possessed a smile which, and I quote; “…had conveyed an entire book’s worth of intent starting with ‘I know you’ and ending with ‘I do’.” Please, tell me about this encounter and why it was so important to you.
JQ: “It’s very difficult for me to answer that David. You see, the thing is, I’ve always been very lucky with the ladies. Getting them into bed has never presented a problem for me. I don’t wish to sound immodest, however I’m a pretty good-looking chap and I work in an interesting industry. As a result, I’ve know the acquaintances of many very attractive women. This woman, however, well she was something else entirely. Now, I was clearly suffering from stress and, as I admitted at the police station, I had not been managing my meds very well- ”
DJR: “And you had been drinking, which I believe is something your healthcare physician had told you to avoid doing?”
JQ: “Yes, that is correct, I had been drinking again. I am told that I am a functioning alcoholic. But my point, if you will let me make it, is that this woman well she was simply the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen. And I felt an uncontrollable urge to find her.”
DJR: “And, because of this urge, you then spent an entire week attempting to search for this woman, a total stranger to you, in the Rossenthaler Platz area of Berlin”.
JQ: “I did.”
DJR: “Do you now, having had time to reflect upon those events, see the actions that you took – one might say, to ‘stalk’ this woman – so you see those as actions of a normal, rational person?”
JQ: “Define ‘normal’ David. Define ‘rational’. I mean, what is ‘love’ but an irrational, uncontrollable urge? Is love not itself nothing more than an involuntary menage of irrational feelings and desires?”
DJR: “Well, one might say that yes, however, whilst other men may have stopped to talk to her-”
JQ: “Are you trying to get a rise out of me?”
DJR: “I’m sorry, what?”
JQ: “You’re just like the other people that interviewed me. I thought you were different. You can’t comprehend the feelings that I had when I saw that woman, and the deep deep sense of frustration I had afterwards, having not stopped to talk to her. You can’t see that what I was doing was, quite possibly, the ultimate attempt to foster a beautiful romance. All you see is a mentally-unhinged ‘nutjob’ who turned into a stalker, bashed some guys up and got thrown in a German slammer. I don’t think I want to continue with this charade”.
DJR: “Wait, I’m sorry John…I mean Johnny. I didn’t mean to imply anything. I’m simply suggesting that many people, my self included, often pass by people on the street or on public transport and, naturally we subsequently wonder if maybe we should have stopped to talk to them. That’s a scenario that I think most people can relate to. One, I’d suggest that the readers of Vargas’s book probably relate to, hence why it is doing so well. My point is that most of us don’t then do the things that you did, such as to encamp themselves in bars and in cars, to break into people’s apartments and to use violence when things don’t-”
JQ: “I fucking told him I wasn’t a burglar. I told him, that Obst fella. But he hit me. He hit me first. With a fuckin’ brass light. Cut my head wide open he did. All I did was to push him. He fell backwards and smashed his head open on a table”.
DJR: “But he found you in his apartment. You had broken in by breaking the door open. He surely believed that you were a threat to him-”
JQ: “I wasn’t.”
DJR: “But you killed him Jon”.
JQ: “I only fucking pushed him. I told you.”
DJR: “Please sit down Jon, we’re only here to talk. You say you only pushed him but you don’t deny, surely that in doing so you killed him, do you Jon?”
JQ: “It was an accident. I borrowed his flat, that’s all. I did nothing else wrong”.
DJR: “But you killed him Jon”.
JQ: “The table killed him. They should arrest the fucking table”.
DJR: “You killed him Jon”.
JQ: “Stop saying that. I just pushed him and he fell. I wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could do.”
DJR: “What did you do after that happened then Jon?”
JQ: “I don’t remember”
DJR: “Did you call emergency services?”
JQ: “I don’t remember”
DJR: “Did you rush to neighbours for assistance?”
JQ: “I said, I don’t remember”
DJR: “Well I put it to you Jon, and to the Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury here today, that you did nothing to assist the man as he lay dying on the floor. In fact you deliberately ignored him and continued about your deviant business, stalking a woman, a complete stranger. That, at the very least, makes you guilty of wilful neglect, and of first-degree manslaughter”.
JQ: “What jury?”
DJR: “I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”
JQ: “You said Jury. I thought you were interviewing me for QC Magazine?”
DJR: “Interviewing you for GC Magazine? My Jon Quennell, we are all gathered here in court today to hear your version of events leading up to the murder of Her Obst in his apartment”.
JQ: “I don’t understand…”
DJR: “My Quennell?”
JQ: “I think I might need to go and lie down. I think I need my pills”.