An Interview with Sander

Updated: Feb 11

Sander Vanderbilt is nine years old and has mid-function ASD. The below is an excerpt from Dr. Montero's report on the interview that took place at Atlanta Police Headquarters between her and Sander shortly after the latter was picked up in the presence of the bodies of his parents.


The changes in tense and POV are his and have been left unchanged.

"I like colouring, it's ordered...one thing comes after the other and it makes calm happen better. I start with red-seven and then green-four and blue-six. It takes much time I'm told but that doesn't matter because it's only time.

I suppose I'm upset because Daddy and Mother are gone but I don't know because I've never felt like it before and I don't like New Things. New Things make we Not Speak and only want to Do Moaning until they go away or I forget about them. Usually I colour until I feel better. I wish I could Do Colouring now.


I want colouring now. Give me colouring!"

(There is a pause as Dr. Montero seeks art materials and Sander descends into quiet moaning as he hugs his knees. Colouring books and an art box of mixed items are rounds and brought)

"Red-seven first on the sun and the stones and the crabs. I like crabs, Daddy took us to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina with the Big Wheel, the Biggest In The Country, part of a 60 mile stretch of beaches! Nice warm water to paddle my feet in because I won't swim in it - oh no! - because fish wee, pooh, and have sexual relationships on it! And crabs! They walk sideways, are red-seven and make clacky, scratchy noises as they walk. Just like her big sharp claws did - she was frightened you know, like really scared - when I saw her in the headlights. She was was red-seven too but more pink-three and white-zero and other colours I try to mix up but never get right!"

(A long pause in which the only sounds are the scratch of colouring pencils, the squeak of felt tip pens, and Sander's breathing. He is muttering something under his breath. It sounds like a sequence of numbers; probably his litany of colours. )


"At the Centre-For-Very-Special-Children, the other boys and girls used to make fun of my name. I am brown-two in my skin but not as much as Daddy who is black-though-he-is-brown because I'm a mix of him and Mother who is white-though-she-is-pink-except-when-she-is-angry-when-she-is-red and they think I like chicken because I am brown and because of that white-man-with-the-beard-called-Sanders who wasn't a Colonel or even a Private you know? He was a naughty man who stole black-but-really-brown people their recipes. I do like chicken a lot, especially Big Mommy's kind when she was alive, but I didn't tell them that. They'd have Called Names anyway because they knew their parents were ashamed of their Different so needed to Make Fun to Feel Happy by making others Feel Sad."

(He resumes colouring in silence for a few minutes)

"I know you do not believe me. You think it is Made Up like the stories Mother used to try to read to me about fairies and dwarfs and leprechauns and fair maidens and men-with-swords and witches and Ireland-where-she-is-from. I know you think I am Being a Bad Boy and Telling Lies but Daddy says I can't Do Lies because it is Bad. Granddad Marcus used to beat-him-with-a-belt for Doing Lies but I don't Do Lies. Mother said Sander-is-a-very-special-boy-like-an-angel-who-can't-do-lies and she was very happy and proud she said and Did Crying until her eyes went all red-seven around the skin."


(More colouring and heavy breathing. I check to see if he is crying but his eyes are dry.)

"There was a lot of red-seven where the police-men-and-women found Daddy-without-his-head and Mother-all-ripped-up-and-dried-all-brown-and-grey. A tall black-but-brown policeman went behind as car to Make Vomiting as an angry one smoked-a-bad-makes-you-smell cigarette and a pretty black-but-lighter-brown policewoman tried to speak to me. But I Did Moaning and wanted Not Talking now because of too many New-Feelings-I-don't-understand. She seemed nice but angry-policeman-who-smelled-of-smoke was not nice as he pushed me into his car like I was a Bad Man on TV."


(His colouring is less neat now, his blues are crossing the dividing lines significantly. Until now, his colours have remained well defined and neat.)

"I am not a Bad-Man-who-Does-Lies. The worried-doctor-man-who-looks-at-Mother-inappropriately in Boston said I do-not-know-how to Do-Lies because I have-no-imagination. I see what is there and can't Do Making Up like in the stories-of-fairy-tales-from-Ireland mother likes or what she tells Daddy about her smoking-it-makes-you-smell."


(He's gone back to reds now and these are, for want of a better term, aggressively messy, intentionally so.)


"I saw a woman-in-a-black-one-dress who looked like a dog-with-the-skin-pulled-off with Daddy and Mother's red-seven blood all over the black-one dress and with big longer-than-my-arm claws on her fingers and big-pointy-teeth like the-silly-girl-in-red-seven-hood-who-doesn't-recognise-granny asked the wolf-who-talks-wolfs-don't-talk in that silly story. She looked at me with eyes like yellow-twelve and orange-nine and ran away. That's when the taxi-driver-frightened-fat-sweaty-man left me and I Did Moaning then Made Screaming until the police came."

Sander Vanderbilt's - and perhaps coincidentally Dr. Montero's - current location is unknown there several sightings of the "colouring not with glasses" in the company of someone matching the description of his uncle Charles have been reported.

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Alan J. Fisher; Writer and Poet

chronicles@chroniclesofenoch.com