Dark-haired man in sunglasses making a face

Rob Budd interview #2

Friday, April 24, 2020 – 11:20 a.m.

Robert Budd contacted the detectives and asked to speak to them again.

Detective Murphy re-interviewed him in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi.


  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Robert Budd

Detective Murphy: For the record, please state your name, age, and address.

Robert Budd: You know this already.

Detective Murphy: Don't start giving me a hard time already. You know how this game is played.

Robert Budd: Okay, fine. My name. Robert Budd, age 32. My address is Parchman Farm.

Detective Murphy: All right, Budd, it's just me and you. We're just two people talking here, okay?

Robert Budd: I don't trust most women, Detective.

Detective Murphy: Look, this is as much a risk to me as it is to you. You called us over here and then refused to talk to my partner, so he's waiting outside and not at all happy about it either. So let's just get to it.

Robert Budd: Well… why are you here? Is this your idea of a joke?

Detective Murphy: I just want to learn about Dalton Kimbrough from the man I think knows him best.

Robert Budd: Oh yeah? What makes you say that?

Detective Murphy: I saw his movies and read his journal. I know he looked up to you.

Robert Budd: Haha!

Detective Murphy: Do you think he killed himself?

Robert Budd: You never knew him. Y'all can read all his books and watch all his movies and buy all his t-shirts, lady, but you'll never know him.

Detective Murphy: I hear a "No." You don't think he did it.

Robert Budd: He would never miss a curtain call. That's all I'm saying.

Detective Murphy: Well, you may have known him better, but you didn't see him the way I did. Sprawled out on the bathroom tiles like roadkill. It was quite a sight to behold. Now tell me how you met him.

Robert Budd: Who? Dalton?

Detective Murphy: That's right.

Robert Budd: I've always known him. Since I can remember. Always hated him too. He just didn't match up to my standards, you know. My credo was a little more than he cared to pronounce. He was a bum.

Detective Murphy: And he was making films while you were in prison.

Robert Budd: Fit for the slaughter, he was!

Detective Murphy: He did it to himself? But then who really decides anything. Isn't that right? Isn't that the way you see it?

Robert Budd: You've been watching too many movies, Detective. … It's me.

Detective Murphy: You?

Robert Budd: Yeah

Detective Murphy: Who?

Robert Budd: I'm Dalton Kimbrough.

Detective Murphy: You're who? What now?

Robert Budd: I'm your guy. The killer and the killed.

Detective Murphy: You're telling me you're Dalton Kimbrough?

Robert Budd: That's right. I killed myself. Wasn't that your theory?

Detective Murphy: You're just messing with my head.

Robert Budd: No, I'm not; just start thinking like an a******.

Detective Murphy: Hey—

Robert Budd: I'm the film director, Dalton Kimbrough, and the star, Robert Budd. Hell, I could even be Cheyenne Wyoming. I'm an entire acting troupe, don't you know?

Detective Murphy: If you're Kimbrough, then who's the other guy? The dead guy?

Robert Budd: A proxy, a patsy, a savage little nasty.

Detective Murphy: What's his name?

Robert Budd: What does it matter? He was playing the role of Dalton Kimbrough, and he performed magically. He deserved every f****** Oscar there ever was because, you see, he was acting, always the consummate actor. He so inhabited his part that he became the director, who is me, the consummate director. And this is precisely what I expected, what I demanded!

Detective Murphy: What are you saying? You staged this?

Robert Budd: Being sent to prison was not what I expected. All of this was a bit of an accident. When they threw me in here, I was suddenly faced with the possibility that my career had ended before it had even properly begun. I grew terrified — mortified — thinking about how I might waste away in this concrete trap without ever getting to express myself according to my potential.

Detective Murphy: Uh-huh. A tragedy to be sure.

Robert Budd: But they allow you just enough communication with the outside world in prison to keep producing — and by that, I mean producing that magic art we call life, freedom. I was the director in a glass booth, just out of reach but close enough that they still knew who was boss. It takes actors, man. Only a f****** first-rate, natural-born actor would go through all of that for a good script.

Detective Murphy: But what's his name?

Robert Budd: Don't you see, Detective? You were solving a fictional crime too. You don't even know who your victim is, much less who killed him. You have a whole new troupe of suspects. A thousand invisible motives.

Detective Murphy: Even if you are who you say you are, there's no way you could have physically killed that man. That's all I'm after.

Robert Budd: What part of the body kills, Detective? The hand or the mind?

Detective Murphy: Who you are and what you say don't mean anything. I came out here to find out where she is. Whether or not you put Cheyenne Wyoming up to this murder is a different matter. We'll get into all of that when we find her.

Robert Budd: You've become so predatory, Detective. I thought we were just two people sitting here, talking.

Detective Murphy: I don't know who I'm talking with is the problem.

Robert Budd: It was all a performance. That's all it was. I guess we all knew that sooner or later, someone was bound to get hurt.

Detective Murphy: Where is she?

Robert Budd: I already told you the last time we talked.

Detective Murphy: Told me what?  Where she is?

Robert Budd: She is where women go to be alone. To be together. She's right in your backyard. Under your nose. The whole time.

Detective Murphy: She's in Oxford?

Robert Budd: She is everywhere. She is nowhere. She is me, and I am her. She is a prisoner the same as I am.

Detective Murphy: That doesn't answer my question.

Robert Budd: She is so close, and yet so far.

Detective Murphy: What about you? Have you ever been to Oxford?

Robert Budd: I am a citizen of the world. Like her, I have been everywhere. I have been nowhere. Is Oxford one of those?

Detective Murphy: You're wearing me out with this nonsense. Do you like it here? You want to stay here as long as possible? Is that the idea?

Robert Budd: I cannot be imprisoned.

Detective Murphy: And yet, here you are. Do you have anything of substance you want to tell me?

Robert Budd: I have told you more than you know.

Detective Murphy: You're wasting my time and not doing yourself any favors.

Robert Budd: I am beyond favors. I am beyond anyone's goodwill. I face now, as before, only doom.

Detective Murphy: Okay. I've had about all of this I intend to take. If you ever return to the real world and decide you want to tell us something that makes sense, you let us know.

Interview ended – 11:49 a.m.



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