Author Brandon Shire has graciously given us this sneak peek into the next installment of his Cold series. While this interview comes after Cold, there are no spoilers here for either Cold or the follow up book, but this will definitely introduce you to Lem and, without question, pique your interest.
I'll reserve my review for later, but I don't think it's saying too much to tell you that Cold is a giant 5 star read for me.
An Interview with Lem Porter (Murderer, sentenced to life in prison):
[I’m here under the pretense of asking questions for my thesis in analyzing the effectiveness of criminal rehabilitation. The warden isn’t too happy about my presence, but my dad is his boss, so he has allowed me to pick out several inmates that caught my interest. But right at the end, as we expected, he only allowed me to interview one inmate and cited security reasons, which I know is prison speak for we don’t want you here. Lem Porter was the person I wanted to speak to from the beginning, but I am not allowed to ask about his case or his reasons for killing his brother. This was the primary reason I chose him. He has never discussed his reasons or his case, and the people that hired me want to know.
This is my first time interviewing a convicted murderer and he is a very big, intimidating man. He’s served eighteen years in prison and I’m expecting a hard, angry criminal. So naturally I shrink back when this huge man enters the room.]
Julie: Hello Mr. Porter, thank you for speaking with me. May I call you Lem?
[I reach out to shake his hand. He looks at it for just a moment before he reaches out. His grasp is very gentle, almost as if his is afraid to touch me.]
Lem Porter: Lem will do fine.
[I explain my supposed purpose for the visit and he seems less than impressed. Actually, he seems bored at the prospect of my questions, but is polite enough not to say so.]
I understand that you spend a lot of your time in the greenhouse at the institution. Is there a reason that you were chosen for that duty?
Lem: It wasn’t a greenhouse when I started. It was an outbuilding that held a few lawnmowers, but I have a background in forestry and degrees in Biology and Forest Management so the administration thought they could put a program together to help inmates rehabilitate.
Julie: Excellent. How has it worked out so far?
Lem: They’re still waiting on funding, and have been for six years.
Book 1: Prison is a brutal, heartless, and demeaning environment. No one knows this better than a man sentenced to life in prison for murder. Lem Porter is a high-profile prisoner who had a solid career ahead of him in a field he loved until he killed his brother. He has spent almost eighteen years behind bars and doesn’t have much hope left.
Anderson Passero had it all. He built a career, a name, and a relationship with a man he thought he loved. Only after he very publicly landed in prison did he realize how ignorant he’d been. He has eight months left on his sentence and he is eager to go home and put prison life behind him. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will always carry these eight months with him, and they may just help him to understand what love really means.
[I was warned that Lem was a man of very few words. Maybe that’s why the warden approved of him when he wouldn’t approve of the other choices I made.]
Can you tell me about what you did before prison?
[He looks at me curiously, likely wondering why I am really here. Now I’m beginning to wonder myself. This man is far from what I expected when I researched his case.]
Lem: I was a park naturalist, which in a nutshell means that I was an over-degreed hermit that didn’t like to come out of the woods. My job encompassed being a field scientist, teacher, zoologist, stream monitor, forester, and occasionally EMT and law enforcement officer.
Julie: My aunt is a park naturalist.
[I am not supposed to divulge any personal information about myself, but I can sense his interest immediately, and with it comes a complete shift in his attitude even though his face remains as blank as it has been from the start.]
Lem: Where is she posted?
Julie: Yosemite right now. But she’s due for a transfer.
[He nods at me, knowing that the Forest Service moves employees around so they don’t get too attached to the land they are charged to oversee.]
Lem: Beautiful place.
Julie: Would you like to go back into that field when you get out?
Lem: Can’t pass the background check.
Julie: Couldn’t you work as an animal rehabilitator?
[My question has struck him. His face has frozen. Surely he must have thought of this in all the years he’s been in prison.]
Julie: They don’t require background checks because they don’t work with the public.
[He nods and a silence falls between us.]
[I want to ask him about the tattoo he has, but if I do I know he’ll realize that I have too much information on him.]
Do you get many visitors?
Julie: Do you have any family on the outside? Someone that could help you get back on your feet when you got out?
[I know this is a lie. He has a nephew. His ex-sister-in-law’s parents testified at his trial about how close he and his brother were. In fact, the transcripts show that they repeatedly pleaded with him to explain why he did it.]
You’re coming up for parole. Do you think you’ll get out?
Lem: I had the hearing already. It was denied. I won’t come up for another 3-5 years.
Julie: But what about then?
[He shrugs, but doesn’t give an answer.]
How do you feel about conjugal visits?
[I see a smile twitch at the corner of his lips before he laughs.]
Lem: There’s no such thing. They only have them in the movies.
[My question has the effect I was looking for.]
Can you tell me about your family? More precisely, your brother?
[His harsh abruptness surprises me, and it’s the first time I feel uncomfortable in his presence.]
Okay, can you tell me what you miss most about life on the outside? Sex, food, dancing, private showers?
Lem: The space between trees and mountain tops.
[I nod. My aunt is the same. We won’t see or hear from her for months, and when we do, you can always tell that she absolutely hates being trapped indoors. It makes me wonder how deeply confinement has affected the man before me.]
If you’re released what is the first thing you’ll do?
Lem: Honestly, I haven’t thought about it.
[My eyes narrow. He’s just given me the key the people who sent me here are looking for.]
Thank you for visiting with me.
[I nod at him and he offers a startled look. I don’t think I’ve fooled him. He knows there’s another agenda here. He’s too smart not to know.]
Brandon Shire Book Links
Want to see the rest of the stops on the tour? Click here:
View All My Reviews