Character Interview: Alan Ashley
TWP: Thank you for making time in your schedule for The Word Place, Mr. Ashley.
AA: What is it you’d like to talk about?
TWP: Now that the war is over, people seem to want to get back to business as usual, but for returning soldiers, especially those who have been wounded, it’s not that easy. Could you share your perspective with us?
AA: My perspective on being blind?
TWP: Yes, if you don’t mind.
AA: It’s not something I like to talk about, but it’s an obvious handicap. Some people think because a man can’t see, he can’t think either.
TWP: But you’re head of Ashley Enterprises, the largest corporation in this region.
AA: Yes, I am. I lost my sight—not my education, which by the way includes an MBA from Harvard.
TWP: There were newspaper articles recently on some disagreement about who would be CEO of the company.
AA: My two cousins ran through their own inheritance and wanted mine. They thought it would be like taking candy from a baby, but the court sent them packing, and I took over as my father intended me to do. Our profits have risen steadily since then, and employee turnover has virtually stopped.
TWP: Did the government provide you with some training…so far as living in a sightless world?
AA: I had other injuries. (Removes his dark glasses) You can see the scarring from the shell explosion which left me blind. (Holds out his hands) And my hands. You don’t play catch with a shell, even if it’s a dud. I had some plastic surgery to repair the worst burn scars. Then I was offered a few months of vocational training. Vocational training! They wanted me to learn to cane chairs! So I used my own money to pay for eighteen months in a private facility where I learned to read Braille and to use a Braille writer.
TWP: I understand your engagement had just been announced when you went overseas, so you had to put off your marriage until you came home.
AA: There was no marriage! My fiancée informed me she couldn’t marry half a man. That’s how she sees me now—as half a man!
TWP: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up a painful subject.
AA: It’s over.
TWP: You’ve moved back into the life you always meant to lead. Has it been more difficult for others you’ve known?
AA: I had the advantage of money and social position, so I expect it’s been somewhat easier for me. I haven’t kept in touch with any of the men I knew over there or in the hospital here.
TWP: Is there a particular reason for that? I wonder if being with people who’ve had the same experiences might not make the transition easier.
AA: I’ve heard there are groups in some places, but I’m not interested, nor do I have time. I have a business to run.
TWP: You sound…excuse my bluntness…somewhat bitter.
AA: Bitter? You have no idea what you’re talking about! You’ll have to excuse me now. I have an appointment.
Links of Interest
It's ten years later, and the Great Depression is ravaging the country and its populace. The last person Alan Ashely expects to see is the young legal secretary who turned down his job offer and disappeared from his life...and when she walks into his office, he knows he can't let her go a second time.