I wanted to get a different perspective on Lloyd Cork's letter so I read it to a good friend who's taught English for 11 years at the college level. Over the last couple of years she's developed a writing program for prisoners so I definitely wanted to get her reaction.
Immediately she began talking about literacy levels. She said that the letter really indicated to her that he had low levels of literacy and that he was unfamiliar with how to organize his thoughts in writing. There were sections of his letter that seemed scattered and almost insane to my ear. She simply heard a man who was struggling to get his thoughts into words.
It dawned on me how difficult it is to truly communicate with anyone in writing or even over the phone. I'd originally thought that maybe I'd interview Lloyd Cork in letters, but I don't want to limit his ability to communicate with me because I'm expecting him to exercise a muscle that he's never had the chance to develop. I don't know what kind of education he had. I do know that when I met his mother the filmmakers asked her to sign a release for the interview and she had to make a mark because she didn't know how to write her own name.
There's a good chance that the best I can hope for with Lloyd Cork is a phone interview. The telephone, however, has its own problem. Silence. If I ask a question and he goes quiet over the phone I won't know if he's shifting out of discomfort or if he's looking into the distance in an effort to remember.
I just want to see him.
I tell myself that I'm hoping a meeting with Lloyd Cork will bring me peace, but I know now that nothing about this process (making the film, doing the research, writing about it) will ever bring me peace. Then I tell myself that if I can hear economic and social desperation in Cork's life story that maybe I'll see that he and Booker were both affected by the same lack of opportunities for blacks and that they just took different paths. But I already know the answer to this, I got it from Erlene.
I'm just not that naive anymore. The journey is not the thing. Maybe I'm just inquisitive and I want to look a known murderer in the eye because I can.
Or maybe there is more. Yes, Lloyd Cork probably murdered Booker Wright. I strongly suspect that the murder was unplanned. If I was 100% certain I would probably save myself the hassle of filling out forms and figuring out travel. As tired as I am of chasing ghosts, I just feel that something awaits me in a face-to-face meeting with him. A nugget not made of peace or of understanding, but maybe another link to the puzzle. Maybe a final dead end that closes the door on the questions.
As tired as this whole thing makes me, as soon as this post is finished I will write another letter to Lloyd Cork to start the arduous process of getting approval so that I can meet with him. The honest to goodness truth is that I don't even know why.