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  • Writer's pictureSara McNabb

Season 1 Episode 6 Transcript

Episode 6: “The Man Behind the Glass”

SARA: . . . and so the question remains, “what became of the other five Sodder children?” Despite the Fayetteville fire chief’s pronouncement, it’s clear the blaze that destroyed their family home didn’t claim them -- there were no indications of any remains among the charred ruins. But then what? Did they run away? That seems doubtful -- how would a fourteen-year-old escape with and care for three younger siblings, the youngest only five years old? It seems clear they were abducted -- but by whom? And most importantly, why? Were any of the bizarre circumstances and strange encounters they’d experienced in the months leading up to the dreadful night actually connected, or was it simply the desperation and grief of two parents grasping to make sense of something simply senseless? George and Jennie lost half of their family in that Christmas Eve blaze. They spent the remaining decades of their lives searching for them, wracking their brains for theories, following up on reported sightings, chasing leads across the country. Both passed away without answers. Today only their youngest, Sylvia -- two years old at the time of the fire -- still lives, and still carries on the search to reveal what happened to her brothers and sisters in 1945. She’s still asking questions, certain that somebody knows. I’m Sara McNabb, thanks for listening. If you’re new to the podcast, check out our previous episodes, all available for download. And remember, no crime has to go unsolved -- somewhere, out there, somebody knows.


LINDY: Didn’t interrupt you that time.

SARA: Oh -- geez. Uh, thanks?

LINDY: Mom’s on the phone.

SARA: You couldn’t just have told her I was recording the podcast? She’s finally gotten used to the idea it’s my job.

LINDY: So, you want me to add you to this call, or do you just want to talk to her on my phone?

SARA: Gimme the phone. Hi, Mom! Mom?

LINDY: It’s on mute.

SARA: Why?

LINDY: So she wouldn’t hear if you said you didn’t want to talk to her right now.


SARA: Hi, Mom!

DEBBIE: Why would you want to meet with Rufus Knobbe?!?

SARA: What the hell, Lindy?

LINDY: What?

DEBBIE: There’s a reason he’s locked up --


SARA: You told her I’m interviewing Rufus?

DEBBIE: -- My friend Beth I work with at the home, she used to be a prison nurse. She told me about when the power went out once, and the visitors there had to --


SARA: Mom, I’m not going to be at the penitentiary.

LINDY: Put her on speaker.

SARA: Shut up! Mom --

DEBBIE: Lindy told me you were interviewing Rufus -- so you’re not?

SARA: No, I am --

LINDY: Here, I’ll get it.

SARA: Don’t touch it --

DEBBIE: -- Sara, I don’t like the idea of you going into a prison like that, it’s dangerous. And that Rufus -- that man’s crazier than a sack of squirrels.

LINDY: Nuttier than a sack of squirrels, Mom.

DEBBIE: Lindy?

LINDY: It’s “nuttier than a sack of squirrels.”

DEBBIE: Am I on speaker?

LINDY: So we can both talk to you.

SARA: Mom, it’s not a big deal.

DEBBIE: Sara, take me off speaker and tell your brother to go find something to do.

SARA: You heard her.

LINDY: Suddenly I’m remembering why I live alone.


SARA: All right, Mom.

DEBBIE: So are you interviewing Rufus Knobbe or not?

SARA: I am, but it’s not in person. It’s a video visitation. It’s like a Zoom call.

DEBBIE: That was awfully fast.

SARA: I was able to get somebody to grease some skids for me.

DEBBIE: I don’t like it. He’s going to be able to see you, he’ll know your name --

SARA: Mom, I get it. But if I’m going to get to the bottom of this, I feel I need to hear it from Rufus. Besides, what can happen? He’s in prison.

DEBBIE: It’s my job to worry.

SARA: And you do it exceptionally well.

DEBBIE: So if you’re still working on this, this week’s podcast is going to be late?

SARA: I just finished recording it, Mom. I still have to edit and clean it up and do all the other post, but it’ll be up in time.

DEBBIE: And when’s your . . . call . . .?

SARA: Tomorrow. Because it’s so last-minute, they’ve given me a four-hour window, like it’s a cable installation or something. I have to finish all my prep for it tonight.

DEBBIE: So how is it, going back to Etta?

SARA: Weird. I mean, it’s good to see Lindy and the old house. But so much is different, and so much is exactly the same.

DEBBIE: Run into anybody?

SARA: None of my friends.

DEBBIE: A lot of them moved before we did.

SARA: But I have talked to some of Lindy’s -- C.J., Petra . . .


SARA: Mom? You still there? I can’t hear --

DEBBIE: Still here. How are they?

SARA: C.J.’s a cop now.

DEBBIE: No surprise. That always seemed like an inherited job in Etta.

SARA: Petra runs this funky online upcycling business where she makes furniture and art out of old junk and sells then to hipsters with too much money.

DEBBIE: So she’s doing well.

SARA: Seems like it.

DEBBIE: It sounds like you’ve got a lot to do. I won’t keep you --

SARA: Mom. Thank you for checking in on me.

DEBBIE: Part of the job. Do one thing for me?

SARA: Sure.

DEBBIE: Keep your eyes open and stay safe.

SARA: That’s two things, mom.

DEBBIE: Then make it two things. Call me if you need anything.

SARA: I will. Love ya, Mom.

DEBBIE: Love ya.


SARA: Lindy!

LINDY: Can I have my phone back now?

SARA: Why would you tell her about me interviewing Rufus?

LINDY: Would you rather I told her about what happened to your car?


LINDY: I needed to say something. When will they have the car ready?

SARA: Couple days still. The windshield’s done -- they got that in right away. But they didn’t have any tires the right size and had to order them.

LINDY: Any thoughts yet on who did it?

SARA: You know damn well.

LINDY: Excuse me?

SARA: The way you came running -- after I mentioned the cop car. Why didn’t you say anything to me before?

LINDY: What do you mean --

SARA: You’re gonna make me spell it out?


SARA: Okay. You think somebody connected to the police did it. It wasn’t a coincidence that it happened when I went to see Eddie Dial.

LINDY: I didn’t think anything would happen to you.

SARA: That’s good to know, that you wouldn’t send me somewhere you knew I’d be attacked. Mr. X wasn’t kidding when he told me everybody’s lying.

LINDY: That’s not fair, Sara. I went to help you as soon as --

SARA: But you didn’t warn me before!

LINDY: And you didn’t tell me anything before you came back to Etta.

SARA: You know --

LINDY: I guess your Mr. X was right.

SARA: I deserved that.

LINDY: I didn’t mean . . .

SARA: I know what you meant, and you’re right. This is a small town where everybody’s got a secret.

LINDY: It’s called “Etta Polite”.

SARA: What is?

LINDY: The way people here just don’t talk about certain things – anything they think might make someone else uncomfortable, for example. Look, all I know . . . all I know is that after what happened to Petra, there was a rumor about the police wanting to make sure Rufus got put away for it.

SARA: I don’t see the connection. Why’d you freak out and come running?

LINDY: It’s happened before here.

SARA: You mean the car?

LINDY: Yeah.

SARA: A lot?

LINDY: Almost never. Literally a couple times I’ve heard of -- but each time, it’s been when someone was pushing back on the Etta Police.

SARA: Eddie Dial mentioned something about “pressure.”

LINDY: I don’t remember anything about anything happening to his car, only his walking away from the case. When you called, told me what happened to your car -- you’d just come out of a meeting to uncover more about what happened to Rufus, and then you told me a police car was right there. I freaked out a little.

SARA: A little? You ran all the way over.

LINDY: With the connection you made about Charlie Fischer, yeah, I did.

SARA: And I haven’t thanked you for that, yet.

LINDY: No need. What are you expecting to learn talking to Rufus?

SARA: His side. Assuming he’s lucid enough.

LINDY: Then why go to all the trouble?

SARA: I need to hear it. To hear him.

LINDY: That’s a lot of effort for something it sounds like you’ve already decided.

SARA: I’ve been pretty certain about Rufus since I talked to Petra. But it’s the rest of it.

LINDY: The rest of what?

SARA: Everything around it -- why she’d fabricate such a story . . . why Charlie Fischer was killed . . . Eddie Dial told me to look into the Etta Police Union, around the time of the “abduction”.


SARA: There’s not much. And the fact Eddie didn’t say directly tells me something --

LINDY: Like that he doesn’t want his tires slashed or his windshield smashed?

SARA: Something like that. There were some allegations about misuse of funds, and there was talk of an audit.

LINDY: And when was this?

SARA: It started less than month before Petra claimed to be abducted.

LINDY: Maybe I should drive you back to Mom’s.

SARA: Tonight?

LINDY: Everything you’re doing right now here, you can do from there. Out of sight. And with police you can rely on.

SARA: I’m not ready to go. Not yet.

LINDY: Sara --

SARA: It’s getting late, and I have a lot to finish, for the podcast and to get ready for the call with Rufus.

LINDY: Okay. But if you change your mind --

SARA: You’ll be the first to know.

SARA: Knowers, I’m changing things up. From here on out, I’m streaming all interviews, all my theorizing -- everything -- straight to an encrypted and secure cloud storage. I’m not sure how all the pieces will ultimately be cut together -- and as far as I know, this could end up the true crime podcast version of The Blair Witch Project -- but the phone’s staying on as long as it’s got charge. Now, a few minutes ago, at the very end of my four-hour appointment window -- because nobody ever shows at the beginning of an appointment window -- the video visitation people let me know they’d be putting Rufus on soon. I have my laptop open, I’m logged in, and ready. Just to paint the scene for you -- since stopping in the middle of the interview to describe anything for you would be bizarre, not to mention maybe weirding out Rufus -- on screen it all looks like a standard video conference. The prisoners typically have a blank wall behind them -- nothing as visually dramatic as a long hallway of barred cell doors. I managed to find a somewhat recent photo of Rufus. He was in the background of a photo from three years ago in an article about a program where inmates train service dogs as part of their rehabilitation. At least in that picture, Rufus hadn’t changed much. He’s grayer for sure, but with the same wild hair and pirate beard he had in the Etta Weekly’s photos. He looks thinner, but that could be the crazy-oversized prison uniform. The poor guy was just swimming in khaki cotton. I won’t lie, I’m hesitant --


SARA: Okay, looks like something’s happening. I only have thirty minutes with Rufus, starting . . . now. Oh, wow --


SARA: Hello.


SARA: Mr. Knobbe, this is Sara McNabb. Thank you again for agreeing to this call.


SARA: I can’t tell if he’s staring or if the connection’s frozen up. Mr. Knobbe, this is Sara McNabb. Thank you again --

RUFUS: I heard you the first time.

SARA: Oh, good. I was afraid the connection wasn’t working. Mr. Knobbe --

RUFUS: Rufus.

SARA: Rufus. First, thank you for accepting this call.


SARA: Now, I understand you’ve been up for parole, but denied because one of the conditions of parole is that an inmate must show remorse --

RUFUS: Been before the parole board. What good are lies? When has anyone ever said, “A lie will set you free”? It’s the snare, part of the trap.

SARA: The trap?

RUFUS: In my heart and in my mind, I know I’m not guilty. Saying it to go free would make me guilty, though, wouldn’t it? Then they can control you.

SARA: Don’t they already control you? You’re going to spend the rest of your life in prison -- don’t you want out?

RUFUS: Out? I come and go as I need to, whenever I want.

SARA: Tell me about that.

RUFUS: I’m up and down these halls every day. Where they watch me. Every minute. But I’ve learned in here. When I want to walk a roadside, I walk it. When I want to rest in the shade of a great big ol’ tree, I stretch out and rest. I thought I understood before, but I’ve learned in here.

SARA: Can I ask you about Petra Novak --

RUFUS: Don’t know her.

SARA: She’s the young woman you were convicted of abducting and assaulting.

RUFUS: I know who they claim she is. Never met her. See? That’s the lie. They use lies to take your story and make it theirs. To control you.

SARA: Why do they want to control you?

RUFUS: So they can do what they want. It’s their story, then. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Why would I carry scissors? What can you do with that? Besides make a dress and wrap it up pretty in colored paper and sweet ribbons an’ bows? They convicted me when they picked me out. Long before I got here. Long before the court.

SARA: That was their story, not yours?


SARA: But you’ve had people who’ve tried to help you, who wanted to help. Your attorney, Eddie Dial --

RUFUS: No. I’m in this world all by myself. The secret is everyone is, we all are. You are. This is a dungeon. You know why they invented them?

SARA: Dungeons?

RUFUS: Uh-huh.

SARA: For control?

RUFUS: To keep you alone, make you feel like you’ve got no control and you’re fully in theirs. But what they don’t know is you don’t have to live their story. That’s what the Count of Monte Cristo knew. It’s what I know. Now there’s a true crime for your show.

SARA: You know my podcast?

RUFUS: You don’t think they control you? You don’t think they’re making you live their story? You don’t think you’re being maneuvered from “A” to “B” to there to, to the other side, to the inside?

SARA: Oh, you have no idea . . .

RUFUS: I wasn’t even in Etta when that girl took that drive. Did that stop them from coming for me? Did that stop them from putting me in here?

SARA: This is what I want to learn, Rufus -- Did anybody see you in Scottsville that day? Have you ever been to that farm she said you forced her to drive to?

RUFUS: This is only a game. The money, that’s what they worry about. It’s how they keep score, like in the song, right? Music. Vibration. That they don’t understand. Because they don’t want to lose, they find someone else to blame, so their score doesn’t go down. High enough score, they don’t get controlled. They give you a desk or a hammer or a badge.

SARA: Whose hammer? Whose badge?

RUFUS: The ones in the game. Thing is, they don’t know it controls them, too -- If you have money, they control you. Me, I don’t play the game. No money, no control.

SARA: Nobody can control everything.

RUFUS: Don’t they?!?

SARA: Who could do that, Rufus?

RUFUS: Who couldn’t?

SARA: Don’t you want out of that place, Rufus?


SARA: Wouldn’t you be happier, out here, where they don’t control you, control where you eat, where you sleep, where you go? Wouldn’t you be happier if people knew your true story, not the one they’ve been telling about you?

RUFUS: That’s how they control you.

SARA: I don’t understand.

RUFUS: Happiness. If you have happiness, they can take it from you. I’ve learned that in here. If you have privileges, they can take them away. If you have visitors, they can take them away. It’s just like money.

SARA: That . . . actually makes sense.

RUFUS: It’s their game. If you don’t play it, they can’t control you. I got nothing – not even happiness -- so there’s nothing they can take from me.

SARA: But there’s basics, right? everybody needs a roof over their head, something to eat --

RUFUS: All I need is air. It’s in us, it’s around us, it connects us. The breath, that’s where life is. All the rest is how they control you. (Singing) I wandered around And finally found The somebody who Could make me be true-- Could make me feel blue . . . (Speaking) Music controls the vibrations. Redirects the energy, prevents them from getting their hooks in. (Singing) And even be glad, Just to be sad Thinking of you. . . . (Speaking) It’s all waves, like in the sea -- ever been to the beach? A wave knocks things away. Ever been hit by one? Where does it go after? Just like sound, just like song. Otherwise, they put their hooks in you, and get what you call your soul. They make you into what they want you to be, Sara, and you’re letting them.

SARA: They’re not --

RUFUS: This is all you? You’re gonna tell me this is all your idea? That you just came up with calling Rufus on the Jetsons phone because you just had nothing better to do today than chat with a convicted kidnaper? What do you get out of this, Miss? Why would you do this?

SARA: I’m telling a story.

RUFUS: My story isn’t yours to tell! Don’t try to control me! You tell your story. They’ve tried to make me into what they needed me to be. Everyone believes it, which makes it real -- out there. But they can’t make it real in here.

SARA: In prison.

RUFUS: In here. Where my story lives. Where my music and my vibration shield me and I live where I live without their control.

SARA: What did you do twenty years ago, Rufus? Tell me. Tell me where you were, who you might have been with --

RUFUS: I did what I do, that’s what I always do, it’s all that I do --

SARA: What? --

RUFUS: What I do. They came for me, made an example of me, to control all of you. You’re being controlled right now -- you know that, right?

SARA: You tell me.

RUFUS: Don’t waste my time. Don’t waste your time.

SARA: Rufus, I think you’re supposed to stay in that chair. I can’t see -- I can’t hear you.

RUFUS: What they say and what is are not the same.

PRISON GUARD Back in the chair, Rufus.

SARA: Rufus, we still have almost twenty minutes for this call.

RUFUS: What is and what they want is not the same.


RUFUS: (Singing) Some others I’ve seen Might never be mean, Might never be cross, Or try to be boss -- But they wouldn’t do. It had to be you, wonderful you It had to be you . . .



SARA: Another first for the show, knowers -- a trip to a parallel reality, with the emphasis on trip. No wonder they picked him to pin the abduction on -- if his court testimony was that coherent, against Petra’s monologue it would have been like “Bambi versus Godzilla”. This interview . . . I’m going to have to listen more than a few times to process --


SARA: Make sure it’s saved . . .



SARA: Great. The power’s out. Nothing changes in Etta. At least the laptop battery’s a hundred percent --


SARA: Yeah, Hello --

MR. X: Sara --

SARA: You -- I’ve done all you’ve asked. I need answers now --

MR. X: Get out of the house.

SARA: Why? What’s wrong?

MR. X: Close the computer and get out.

SARA: What do you know?

MR. X: You’re in danger. Go out the side door, they’re coming --



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