The time it was about love

Posted June 24, 2014 by Stacee in Signings / 1 Comment

We were lucky enough to see Damien Echols when he toured for his first book, Life After Death and it was captivating. When I saw that the new book, Yours For Eternity, was up on Edelweiss, not only did I request it for review, but I noticed that there was a 7 city tour that would be happening as well. Figuring that LA would be one of the stops, I started stalking the Book Soup website.

Alas, it was announced that Damien and his lovely wife, Lorri Davis, would be doing an appearance and signing at the New Beverly Cinema. I immediately bought tickets and pretty much counted down the days.

We got up to LA early and were able to find parking relatively close. After scouting out the location, we found the most delicious little cafe a couple of blocks away where I are the most phenomenal grilled cheese ever. I mean, it rivaled the ham and cheese crisps over in London.

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We got back to the New Beverly around 5 and just hung out, mostly people watching. Just before 6, the will call window opened and we were able to check in and pick up our books.

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They let us in the theatre just after 6 and we soon found ourselves in the front row. We were told that we could go wherever we liked and that when the signing started, we would be called up by the number on the back of our ticket.

Damien and Lorri came out on stage around 7:15.

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Damien thanked everyone for coming out and said that it was going to be as informal as possible. They do a lot of talks at law school and it’s boring as hell. He said they would talk a bit and then open it up to talk about anything.

Lorri talked about being approached to publish their correspondence. Through the letters is how they learned about each other, their relationship is based on communication.

D: When we started the process, there was about 5000 letters. They were in storage in Arkansas and it had to be shipped to us. It weighed 125 pounds. We read all of them and had to pick 150 — 75 of Lorri’s and 75 of mine. We wanted to cover every aspect of our relationship. The editor would pick something and Lorri would say “No way” and I would say “It’s okay, I’m nasty like that.”

We weren’t sure what we were going to do with all of them. Before being approached to publish them, we talked about burning the letters.

L: He talks like it was just such smooth sailing and it wasn’t. At first I took out all of the sex letters. Of course you want to look the best that you can. But in order to be honest about it, you have to include it all.

D: Imagine finding a journal from 20 years ago and reading it and finding out what a dumbass you were. You have to trust your editor.

It was then opened up up questions.

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Did you get to see the 17 year locusts?

D: I don’t remember. Did we?

{This sort of prompted a tangent of sorts and I didn’t get it all down}

Did you get to do all of the things you wanted to do?

D: It was sort of a prophecy. We talked about traveling around and really, that’s what we’re doing. I was in such a state of shock that I don’t really remember the first year of being out. I was so traumatized. I couldn’t even read. I would pick up a book and read one page over and over. I would introduce myself to the same person because I couldn’t remember having dinner with them the night before.

I do remember doing a lot of things I didn’t want to do. We went to New Zealand and Peter Jackson was trying up make me make up for 18 years in 2 months. He made me go parasailing. Somehow he thought it was okay for someone who was suffering from PTSD to be strapped into a life jacket and pushed off a cliff. There were a lot of things in the early days that I got trapped into doing.

I’ve been writing to someone on death row since 1990 and I’ve never met him. 6 months or a year will go by without talking and I wondered if that happened with you?

L: No. We talked on the phone and wrote letters every day for 16 years. We didn’t talk on the phone until around 3 months, but we’re a bit obsessive that way. For us, I don’t think we would have lasted if there was a lapse.

D: It was absolutely obsessive. In hindsight I think that’s why people love so much. It puts you in an altered state. It’s better than any drug or alcohol.

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When you got Lorri’s first letter, what made your respond?

D: When Paradise Lost came out, I think the most I got was 180 letters in one day. From the first paragraph, I knew I wanted to talk to her. She saw these mundane things in such a magical way and it made me want to see them the same way. I was completely jaded with humanity and she just shattered all of it.

There were two different letters from women who were jealous. How did you deal with it?

L: I’ve never really dealt with jealousy before. Looking back, Damien wasn’t doing anything. He wrote a lot of people. It was mainly about the lack of control. It took me about 2 years to get through it.

Is there anything still going on with the case?

D: Yeah. Not a lot. Look how long it took us to get this far. Almost 20 years. We still have hope that all 3 of us will have our names cleared.

The prosecutor said he would look at any new evidence that we brought to him and we haven’t heard anything. You think that judges and prosecutors are in the position because they care about society, but they’re really just politicians. What’s going to have to happen is that those people are going to have to move on. New people who are open to changing the case will have to be in those positions.

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I’ve been talking to someone who has been wrongfully convicted. Any advice on how to get him free?

L: That’s a tough one. It’s all so very difficult. We had a great documentary, we had a great website. That brought in supporters that provided insight. It was like everything was done for me. I know most cases don’t have that. I know there’s so many cases that are out there.

The best thing I can say is to use the media. If you can, hire a publicist. Any time something happens with the case, put it out there.

D: People think that just because there’s evidence pointing to someone else that the guy will get to go home. But they’ll still kill someone and sweep it under the rug just so they don’t have to admit a mistake.

People thought that because we had celebrities that we didn’t need money. But we always needed funds.

Watching Paradise Lost made me want to be a lawyer. I studied your case quite a lot. I just need to know, what was the sex like the night you were released?

D; Probably not as great as you’re thinking. On the day I got out, I hadn’t slept or eaten in a week. All I did was pace the floor. When we got into that courtroom I just wanted to rest. I didn’t know I was going to get out until the night before. That week was worse than the entire 18 years and I was petrified that they were going to yank it away from me.

The sex just wasn’t that great.

L: I think we should come up with a better answer.

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What’s with the cane?

D: Arthritis. Basically, I slept on concrete for almost 20 years. I was in the grocery store and dropped something and when I went to bend over to get it, I fell right over. It took me about 5 minutes to climb up on the seafood counter. No one helped me. I’m sure they all thought I was drunk.

So I got this cane and it comes apart and maybe it’s just my just my sense of humor, but I like it.

L: Security keeps asking him if he fell off his motorcycle. He keeps telling them that it’s arthritis and you just see them deflate.

Jason expressed he didn’t want to agree to the plea. What’s your relationship with him like now?

D: It’s better. We text and email. We don’t talk on the phone, I hate it. People think we should be the best friends in the world, but the last time I talked to him was when he was 16 and I was 18. We’re completely different people. Jessie was never really a close friend. From what I hear he’s not doing too well. Jason lives in Seattle. He wants to get his law degree.

Do you ever struggle with anger?

D: I struggled a lot. For the first 3 years, as soon as I would open my eyes, I was pissed. And then I realized that I was miserable. I knew I had to do something to cope. I was in an external hell as well as an internal hell. By the time I got out, I was meditation 5-7 hours a day.

{He talked a bit about magick and I just didn’t get any of it down}

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Is it difficult to live with the celebrity of it?

D: That’s one of the things I love about New York. People don’t give a damn. The people I know there don’t think of me as that guy who was in jail. The last thing we would talk about is the case. They think of me as that guy who’s always in the tattoo shop. It was different when we lived in Salem. I would get stopped 30 times a day and sometimes I would feel trapped.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s good things too.

Around 8pm, the signing started. We were lined up by number and told that there would be no posed photos.

By the time that we got to Damien and Lorri, people were taking photos. We only had one book, so I had the post it with both of our names for the inscription. Damien opened the book and put his hand out and said to Hubs, “You must be Billy” and then to me, “And you must be Stacee.” He shook both of our hands and I thanked them for taking the time to do this. Lorri thanked us for attending.

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After the book was signed, we asked if they would both sign the tickets we had and then take a photo. Damien and Lorri both agreed and I apologized for being so needy.

It was amazing to see Damien the first time we toured, but seeing him with Lorri shows an entirely different dynamic. They’re absolutely adorable together and while their story could been seen as heartbreaking, they embrace the unique path.

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If you’re not familiar with the WM3, briefly, they are Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley who in 1993, were arrested and wrongly convicted for the murders of three eight year old boys.

They spent over 18 years in prison before being released in August of 2011.

For detailed information, check out: http://www.wm3.org/

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One Response to “The time it was about love”

  1. Thanks for this post. I have followed his case since the premier of the HBO special. I am glad he moved from Salem because a friend of mine works there and said that gossip was rampant, believe it or not, and she couldn’t understand how that type of negative energy would be good for someone suffering from PTSD. I am sorry to see that his health has been so bad.

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