Last Things

The Fourth and Final Conversation with Miss Priscilla Belette,

First Runner-up in the Centerboro "Miss Flying Saucer 1955 Contest"

For your information, I'm issuing the usual Bad Language Advisory for the same reasons as before, and you really ought pay attention to it before you begin reading this last interview with Miss Belette if you're one of those tender-minded ninnies. Also as before, the peculiarities in diction and spelling you'll run across in the interview are not errors on my part. They are deliberate renderings of Miss Belette's manner of speaking for the sake of verisimilitude. I'm a member of the 1939 graduating class of Centerboro High School and know how to write and how to spell. Since our third recorded interview some months ago, Miss Belette has faded a bit more and now occupies a bed and wheelchair on the third floor of the Oteseraga County Nursing Home...at least until she is forced to move elsewhere, who knows where, by the facility's new owners, true ratbags and buggers all, who intend to turn it into a private for-profit enterprise. Her dimmed powers notwithstanding, I have attempted to steer Miss Belette into coherent recollections of the history of Centerboro and its residents. This certainly must be our last recorded interview, though, of course, I'll continue to visit Miss Belette and keep an eye on her circumstances.

The Interview

EHA: Morning, Pris. It's Eddie. Are you up for a visit today? Hello...Pris? Do you know who I am?

Miss Belette: I know who you are goddamit! You're the hotdog guy. You promised you're gonna bring me hotdogs! What took ya so long? Where's the hotdog?

EHA: I bring you a hotdog every time I visit, Pris. I've got one for you right here in this bag, but we have to go to that little waiting room by PT where the nurses can't see you with it. OK? I'm going to wheel you down there now, and then you can have your hotdog.

Miss Belette: Remember mustard? I want mustard from a jar for the hotdog, not those little squeezy things. They give you these little squeezy...things...packages...that no one can open. Not even with your teeth. You gotta ask someone to open up your mustard...thing. Humiliatin', Eddie. It's humiliatin'! I even took my teeth out an' used 'em to try an' open up one of those things, an' it wouldn't open. Hadda ask someone.

EHA: Yes, I brought a jar of mustard. And I remembered Baby Ruths. Now let's just hide the bag right here under your little blanket, and we'll go for our ride.

Miss Belette: You're a good boy. Are you my boy? I got a boy somewhere, y'know, but I don't know 'xactly where. He doesn't live in town. I think he lives in...in...Indiana.

EHA: Well, no, I'm someone else's boy. I'm Eddie Anderson.

Miss Belette: Eddie? Why, you burned down the B--

EHA: No! No, let's not go over all that again. I didn't burn down the Beans' farm...and I know my ex-wife Harriet passed away.

Miss Belette: Wasn't going to say anything 'bout Harriet. Dead, y'know. Never visited me when I came here. No one visits 'cept you, Eddie. How come's that?

EHA: I don't know, Pris. Maybe you just outlived all your friends.

Miss Belette: Beller, he was my best friend. Him an' Rohr, they were my best friends. We had lotsa fun together. Remember how they sang that duet at Bumsmith's wedding?

EHA: I think you mean Boomschmidt...Boomschmidt's wedding. Yes, I remember. They really couldn't sing worth a darn.

Miss Belette: That's right...Boooooom-schmidt. I liked 'em 'cause they didn't call me bad names that time I got myself in trouble. They called me "Prissy," which I liked, but that was just between the three of us. I had nicknames for them, too. Now lemme see. It was...was...Jack Beller, but we called him "Jackie" among ourselves. An' it was Marvin...no, no it was...Martin Rohr, but when we did our hair 'n' nails 'n' got all dressed up, he was "Martine." We were real careful to keep the shades down. How come they don't visit. Haven't seen 'em in...well, in...it's gotta be--

EHA: Well, Pris, they're dead, too, and I think we've already talked enough about...Jackie and Martine...before, so maybe we could reminisce...

Miss Belette: Whoa! What's rememi...remimi...rrrr...rrrrrr...dammit!

EHA: I meant maybe we could talk about some of the other people you remember and some of the other things that happened in Centerboro.

Miss Belette: Can I eat now? I'm gettin' real hungry. Don't give ya squat for eats here, an' I'm sick 'n' tired of oatmeal.

EHA: We're almost there, Pris. Just around that corner there and we're home free.

Miss Belette: If somebody comes, you grab the hotdog!

EHA: Yes, that's the plan. Just like last time. No one is going to be the wiser, and while you're eating, we can talk.

Miss Belette: You bet, sonny! I can talk all right. My name is...Prissy Belette...an' I live someplace around here, but not right where we are with this hotdog. Upstairs, I think. Right, I go up in that box that the doors close up, an' I got t'have the brakes on the chair I sit in or I go zoomin' all over the place. Then the doors open an' I go to the right an' then to the right again an' then--

EHA: Here's your hotdog, Pris. I already put the mustard on, so you can--

Miss Belette: I know how to eat. See this here hotdog here, sonny? Well, I just do like this. See that? I put it right here in my trap an' then I chew it up. Like that. An' then I--

EHA: No need to be sarcastic, Pris. I was just going to say that I put the mustard on so you wouldn't have to fuss with it.

Miss Belette: Okey-doke. Okay! Never mind! Whaddya want, Eddie?

EHA: Well, maybe you could tell me what you know about--

Miss Belette: Sure thing! You betcha, sonny! Just lemme finish up this weenie. Mmmmm-mmm! Next time maybe ya could bring me some...fried baloney! An' Fresca. They never--

EHA: Let's talk about--

Miss Belette: Not Dixon! I told ya before!

EHA: No, of course not. Let's see here; let me just check my list. Ah, how about Judge Willey, Judge Nathan Willey?

Miss Belette: I remember Judge Willie! He was a friend of that Herbie. That's why...why...I don't wanna talk about it! I don't wanna talk 'bout that goddam sonuvabitch Dixon.

EHA: I think you might feel better if you do. Sometimes talking about...unpleasant things...helps, you know.

Miss Belette: That's what you think, sonny!

EHA: Tell you what...you talk about Judge Willey, and next time I come it's fried baloney for you!

Miss Belette: Herbie an' the judge were friends, didja know that? I don't know why. An' that lady who dropped something in my purse in the store an' didn't say nothing when the walrus marched me off was his cousin. Not Herbie's. The other one. But he was OK, the judge, 'cause he made Dixon stay a hundred yards away from me after...you know. An' I didn't go to jail...just stay away from the Busy Bee for...a long time. So, I guess that was fair. Coulda been worse!

EHA: Yes, it could have.

Miss Belette: Yes, indeedy. But it coulda been better. That Mrs. Somebody, the one who dropped...maybe a brooch, was it...or...earring maybe it was, in my purse...she coulda gone to the pokey. Woulda served her right for being not honest.

EHA: Yes, it would have. Is there anything else you know about Judge Willey?

Miss Belette: Nope, 'cept he hadda dog, some kinda police dog, but not as nice as Kitty. You'd walk by the judge's house, an' ya could count on seein' a whole lotta teeth 'n' spit comin' at you if you got too close to his fence. Say, Eddie, where's Kitty. He was just around here a while ago, an' now I can't find him anywhere. I look all over, too. I go into all the rooms an' look an' look for Kitty even when those old people get mad an' yell at me to get out, who the hell do I think I am! I tell 'em, I'm just lookin' for my little sweetums, but do they care? No! They just yell get the hell outta here, you--.

EHA: I'll look for him on my way out again, Pris. I'm sure he's around somewhere.

Miss Belette: Boooooooooom-schmidt! He's 'round somewhere all righty by God..

EHA: Boomschmidt?

Miss Belette: No, Eddie. Kitty! Kitty's 'round here somewheres. I should feed him pretty soon. I betcha he's hungry, poor li'l' guy.

EHA: Ah, we haven't ever talked much about Freddy Bean. Do you remember Freddy?

Miss Belette: Freddy? It's Kitty, not Freddy.

EHA: Do you remember Freddy Bean? Remember? William and Martha Bean's oldest boy?

Miss Belette: Duck egg!

EHA: Duck egg? Pris, I'd like to talk about Freddy B--

Miss Belette: Freddy, he made me eat the duck egg!

EHA: Wha...? When? Freddy made you eat a duck egg?

Miss Belette: That's what I just said, Eddie. Are you listenin' to me?

EHA: Tell us about Freddy and the duck egg.

Miss Belette: Who's us?

EHA: Me! Tell me about the duck egg and Freddy...please.

Miss Belette: Well, you know how Emma Tingley an' I...we were friends. An' it was when...when it was real hot out. This was after school let out for the summer. We were in the park downtown maybe chasing pigeons. An' Emma, she says, hey, wanna go up and swim in the duckpond? Well, that was always a good idea on a hot day, so I said sure do, but I hadda stop home an' get my bathing suit first an' then we could go after lunch. So we go to my house an' Mama makes us a...a...sang...sangwhich with something an' a drink, an' then we went up the road on our bikes to the farm. Pruneface fell off her bike, an' then she died. Served her right. You know ol' Pruneface, don'tcha?

EHA: Yes, that would be Miss Peppercorn. But you and Emma rode your bikes to the Bean farm for a dip in the pond, and--

Miss Belette: An' it was a hot ride.

EHA: And...?

Miss Belette: We were chasin' pigeons.... We were pretty pooped out by the time we got to the farm, an' Mrs. Bean made us some lemonade. She always did that for us kids. She was a nice lady...I think.

EHA: She was indeed. So you drank your lemonade, and then what happened?

Miss Belette: Well, we went for a swim, an' I remember that Jinx boy was there with some of his buddies. They were older kids. We played, what was it? A game where we'd throw a ball around an' try to...well, I don't remember exactly what. But there was a ball. An' then I went home for supper 'cause Mama would get mad if I got home late. Real mad an' then II couldn't go out of the house the next day.

EHA: What about Freddy and the duck egg?

Miss Belette: Oh, that was another time. Boomschmidt! Hah! Booooooooooooooom!

EHA: Oh, for pity's sake! When did Freddy--

Miss Belette: Now, see here, goddamit, Eddie! You just better not get mad like that. I could tell a nurse on you! Or that big fella with the mop who likes me. With the tattoos. He'd clean your clock for you good, Eddie. I mean it now.

EHA: OK, Pris. Sorry, really. When did Freddy make you eat a duck egg?

Miss Belette: That would be... well, it would be a long time ago... one other time when... I accidentally bumped him, an' he goes into a pond, an' his feets got muddy. Then he said that I should say sorry an' kiss his feet. Kiss his feet, my patoot! That'd be the day I said sorry for an accident an' kiss his dirty feet! I might of said sorry, but he wouldn't leave it. No, I hadda kiss his feet, too, so I told him where he could go. Then he said I should wait right there, an' he'd be right back, he hadda go see something where the ducks were. Baby Ruth, Eddie. I want my Baby Ruth now!

EHA: Just a minute, Pris. I think it's right here in my pocket. Yep. Here it is. I'll open it up for you while you finish your story about Freddy and the duck egg.

Miss Belette: I don't wanna a duck egg! I wanna Baby Ruth! It's right there... in your hand! C'mon an' fork it over!

EHA: Pris, if I give you the Baby Ruth, will you promise to tell--

Miss Belette: Sure will, Eddie. You bet! I pay attention. I know what I'm talkin' 'bout.

EHA: Here you go, Pris.

Miss Belette: Thank you, Eddie. I sure do miss my candy bars. What were you sayin' just now?

EHA: The. Duck. Egg. And. Freddy. Please.

Miss Belette: The duck egg. Freddy. Well, he knocked me down an' sat on me an' made me eat the duck egg 'cause I wouldn't kiss his feet. The whole thing, shell 'n' all. That's all. I never liked 'im. He did things like that not just to me. Good thing he was so skinny or he'd of crushed me flat.

EHA: Skinny? Freddy was never skinny. He was always porky, right from the start. Are you sure it was Freddy who sat on you and made you eat a duck egg?

Miss Belette: Maybe...maybe it was...maybe not Freddy. Could of been somebody else. Somebody made me eat an egg!

EHA: Pris, did you know Freddy Bean?

Miss Belette: Never heard of 'im!

EHA: All righty, then. Let's move on. How about we try this. You know any good stories, Pris?

Miss Belette: Stories. Yep, I know stories, lotsa them. Wouldja like to hear one, ah..., Eddie?

EHA: I'd enjoy that, Pris.

Miss Belette: Well, there was this one time when I was drivin' Herbie's wieniemobile up 'round Lakeville. Remember Herbie's wieniemobile, Eddie? It was like a giant hotdog, an' my job, it was to drive around an' sell hots. What I wouldn't give to be drivin' that wieniemobile again! It was summer...an' it was me drivin' a big hotdog all over 'round here. Didja know Herbie tol' me I was his best worker? I was, 'cause I never ate more 'n my share of hotdogs on the job.

EHA: We may have talked about this before. Is there some story about the...wieniemobile...you'd like to tell now?

Miss Belette: Yessir, there is! There I was mindin' my own beeswax going down the street with the grocery store 'n' bait shop up in Lakeville. So I turn the corner to go over to the road back to Centerboro when I see this car parked and a guy leaning on the hood. Well, he waves me over, an' I drive right over and park behind him. He comes over an' I say to him, what can I get you today, sir? He smiles an' says, well, how 'bout a dog with everything. You bet, I say, an' then I pull a dog out an' start slappin' on the ketchup 'n' mustard 'n' pickles 'n' kraut 'n' beans...an' beans... an'... an'... an'... then I say, how 'bout somethin' to drink with that? He smiles again an' says, well, how 'bout a nice cold coke, sweetheart? So I grab a coke outta the little icebox an' hand it over. He lifts the cap off with the...lifter...an' takes a swig an' starts eatin' the hotdog. Ya know, Eddie, I think that's why I like hotdogs. It's 'cause of that one summer with drivin' around hotdogs. My mama said I smelled just like a hotdog all summer! It got into my clothes an' hair. I prob'ly did smell like a hotdog!

EHA: So, he started to eat the hotdog, and...

Miss Belette: ...an'... an' I say to him, that'll be thirty-five cents, please. I always said please, Eddie. He gives me this look, and I think, oh-oh, I think he's gonna stiff me. But it was worse than that, Eddie. He says, I think I'll have me 'nother one of those dogs. An' while you're at it, honey, I think I'll have all the money in that there cashbox, too. Well, Eddie, that spooky look he gave me made me nervous. I thought maybe I could yell an' somebody could come an' help me, but there wasn't nobody 'round, and then he puts his hand over my hand an' says if I didn't hurry up he's gonna stick an icepick in the wieniemobile's tires, throw all the hotdogs on the ground, an' take the cash anyway, an' would I be a nice li'l' girl an' save him all that trouble. Well, Eddie, nobody could blame me for makin' him another hotdog an' handin' over the cash. Right? Nobody! So that's what I did. Then he says, you'd better not tell anybody about this or you'll be making big trouble for yourself. An' I didn't, Eddie. I never told nobody about this until now 'cept Herbie. An' he said just be quiet about it an' he'd take care of that goddam bastard himself. No...no, that's not right. I remember. I told Martine...an' Jackie. They said, sounds like that Freddy Bean. What'd he look like? An' I told them what he looked like, an' they said, sure enough, that was Freddy all right, an' not to worry, 'cause he's just a fat pig an' he couldn't hurt nobody, just try to scare 'em. Well, I felt better, but I didn't say somethin' to anybody just in case. That's OK, right, Eddie?

EHA: I think you can rest easy, Pris. You were scared, and who knows what that Freddy Bean might have done. Do you know what year this happened?

Miss Belette: Nope! Long time ago. Cat's outta the bag now! Maybe we should go feed Kitty?

EHA: Anything else about Freddy, Pris? Can you remember anything else he did?

Miss Belette: Gotta go.

EHA: Kitty isn't hungry, Pris. We can stay here and chat about--

Miss Belette: Gotta go bathroom! Now!

EHA: Oh...oh, just a minute...let me get an aide. Here, give me that paper bag and that piece of roll you didn't eat. Ok, wait right here, Pris. I'll be right back.

Miss Belette: Better hurry, Eddie! I'm gonna blow. Don't leave me here, Eddie! Where ya goin'? Eddie!


EHA: That was a close one, hey, Pris? Next time you have to go like that, give me a little more time to get help, OK?

Miss Belette: Do my best, Eddie. Can't always tell, ya know. Sometimes it just sneaks up on ya. Hell of a thing, Eddie, gettin' old, ain't it. Here's me who could dance 'n' twirl my baton 'n' work at Herbie's alligator farm...an'...an' now I gotta get somebody to help me with the bathroom. Ha! BOOM-schmidt! Boom-SCHMIDT! BOOM--

EHA: Well, you made it in time, Pris, so let's forget about it and move on. I've been wondering if you--

Miss Belette: Don't always get there in time. Once I was walkin' down the hall by the TV room an' I could all of a sudden feel like--

EHA: Say, Pris. I've got an idea. How about you remember another story for us...I mean for me. You said you have a lot of stories.

Miss Belette: Yep, lotsa stories! BOOMSCHMIDT! I remember about the splace pip. Do you remember that, Eddie...the...shspace shpip, the one at the Bean farm? People bought a ticket! That jackass up there built it thought he was goin' to some other place, a... a... a plan... a...

EHA: Planet? It was Mars, if I remember.

Miss Belette: Yep! A planet! It was Mars! There were tickets that...that the...fella who stole the weenie money sold all over town. Who was that? It was Freddy, that's who it was. He walks up 'n' down Main Street an' sold tickets for...five dollars I think it was. That was a lot of moola back then! He was all dressed up like a spaceman, an' people couldn't see in the helmet who he was, but it all came out, an' it was just Freddy, an' he sold a lot of tickets for people to go to... to...

EHA: Mars.

Miss Belette: Mars! But it was all a gyp! Eddie, it was bunko! There wasn't no space shrip. Freddy got the idea from that jackass fiddlin' around in a silo up there on the Bean farm. That was Freddy's...not father... not grandpa. It was the guy never talked much, that cuckoo who lived there sometimes an' sometimes in the old hotel. D'ya know what he did? He stole bikes from all over the place an' took off their seats. Then he took the bikes an' threw them in a ditch on the farm an' nailed the seats to boards in the old silo. An' they figured he would of sat there with the old radio that was there, too, an' twiddle the dials, an' prob'ly make sounds like "Vrooom! Vrooom!" an' pretend he was flying around up in space like a...like a... a pilot. 'Cause he was nuts, Eddie! They found this out later, after the tickets. I remember 'cause some of us went up when they opened up that old silo an' found everything there an' the old rusty bikes in the ditch. So Freddy, he must've got the idea to sell tickets for a trip to Mars an' get people's money. How could people be so dumb an' buy a ticket to Mars? Who would believe that?

EHA: Well, maybe--

Miss Belette: An' then I think Freddy's daddy had to pay everybody back the money he stole 'cause he spent it all. Isn't that right, Eddie?

EHA: I believe that's right.

Miss Belette: I'll betcha his daddy wanted to tan his hide for him, but that Freddy, why he just disappears for a while, an' then things kinda calm down, an' then he comes back. What ever happened to him, Eddie?

EHA: They put Ben in the Custodial Asylum, and he spent the rest of his life there.

Miss Belette: Not him! That Freddy. What happened to him?

EHA: Well, I've been trying to find out myself, Pris. He and I have some...old business to settle, and I'd really like to know if anyone might know where he is. Do you?

Miss Belette: Nope, can't say I do. Hope he don't try to get back at me for tellin' on him.

EHA: I don't think he'd be able to do anything like that, Pris, even if he were still around.

Miss Belette: That's prob'ly right. Why, I could prob'ly knock him right on his big keister. He should be 'fraid of me!

EHA: You're absolutely right, Pris. He should. Could we maybe hear another story now?

Miss Belette: What kinda story?

EHA: About Centerboro or someone who lived in Centerboro...

Miss Belette: Did I ever tell you 'bout...lemme tell you a story, Eddie. Did I ever tell ya 'bout the time in the Big Woods? No? Well, it was after those people lived in the old house in the middle and burned it down an' the woods burned down, too. Or not the whole woods, but a lot of it. This was 'round when the shape spip…I mean..shsp...shpace ship… didn’t take off for Mars. I was up in the woods with my friends, but I couldn’t tell ya who ‘cause I disremember. We...we were playing hide-’n’-go-seek, an' I got an idea to hide in the cellar of the old house. See, Eddie, the house was burned up but the cellar was there and the floor over the cellar. And there was an ol' chimney that didn't get burned up too. Now lotsa people lived in the house there. Not then, but for years 'n' years before it was burned up...which it was now when I hid there. Jeez, it was dark in the cellar there under all the trees, an' light would come in through the cracks in the floor, but it wasn’t enough light to light up inside, know what I mean? It was a scary place. No one believed that that iggy thing…that ig…ignumblubs was around, but that didn’t matter ‘cause ya can be scared of something that isn’t around, right, especially if you're in a old dark cellar? So I coulda been scared of the..igblum--

EHA: It was the Ignormus, Pris.

Miss Belette: That’s what I said, Eddie, an’ I was scared in the cellar where I was hidin'. I went down the stairs real careful an' quiet an' went way back where they use to keep potatoes 'n' onions. I knew that 'cause I could still smell ‘em. An' there were beer bottles all over 'cause that's where us kids'd go to drink beer so's nobody'd catch us. An' there were spider webs all over, an' I think there were rats, too, 'cause there was noise like rats running 'round. It’s hard to describe but kinda like when a lady with nails is tapping fast on a table. I did not like that, Eddie, but it was too late to change my hidin' place, so I just scrunched up in a corner an' kept quiet.

EHA: Is there going to be a point to this story, Pris?

Miss Belette: I’m gettin’ there, Eddie. Jeez! Just hold your horsies, OK? I was in the dark corner, but my eyes could start seein’ things after a while, an' that’s when I saw him sittin’ on a crate over by the coalbin by the stairs on the other side of the cellar. Holy cow, I nearly jumped outta my skin! He was just sittin’ there in the dark not makin’ a move or hardly a sound. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stayed put ‘cause I’d have to go run right by him to get up the stairs an' outta there. I thought, well maybe he didn’t see me come down the stairs, but I knew I was kiddin’ myself, an' now I was even more scared than when that goddam Freddy took the money 'n' hotdogs.

EHA: Do you know who was in the cellar with you?

Miss Belette: Well, no, Eddie. It was still dark, an' his face was lookin’ away. But I could hear him breathin’, an' once in a while he’d give a sigh like...like he was sad or thinkin’ 'bout something he didn’t wanta be thinkin’ about. Booooomschmidt!

EHA: Boomschmidt? Was it Boomschmidt?

Miss Belette: What makes ya say that, Eddie? It wasn’t Boomschmidt.

EHA: Why do you keep saying “Boomschmidt,” Pris? You keep doing that.

Miss Belette: I don’t say that. Why would I say that? I was tellin’ my story ‘bout the cellar in the Big Woods. D'ya know that house?

EHA: Yes, it was the old Grimby house. Are you going to tell me who the man in the cellar was?

Miss Belette: What cellar?

EHA: Who was the man in the cellar of the old house in the Big Woods?

Miss Belette: Oh, him! I saw him here 'n' there 'round town an' up at the farm. I think he didn’t live 'round here, but he'd come here in the summer. Other times, too.

EHA: What do you remember about him? I mean, when you saw him in the Grimby cellar?

Miss Belette: Well, he was just sittin' there. An' he had on glasses an' was writin' somethin' in a little book an' once in a while he starts talkin' to himself. An' the funny thing...he didn't even seem like he knew I was there. An' then he starts talkin' more 'n' more to himself after a while. I can't remember what he said, but he sounded like he was tryin' to ask himself questions an' answer 'em. Is that nuts, Eddie?

EHA: This is very peculiar. So what happened? Did you ever find out who he was?

Miss Belette: I thought to myself, I'm not gonna stay in this stinky cellar with a guy talkin' to himself, an' so I went to go up the stairs quiet an' get outta there. But when I started to go to the stairs, he must of heard me 'cause he turned 'round an' said something like, why, hello there and who're you? I don't know if he said those words, but they were words like that, get me, Eddie? He sounded friendly, an' so I wasn't too 'fraid 'cause he looked kinda older an' had a nice face, not mean or scary. So I prob'ly said, I'm Pris, an' not to be rude, but what the Sam Hill are you doin' sittin' down in this cellar? He smiled, I 'member, an' said he could ask me the same. So I said, well, I'm playing hide-'n'-go-seek with my friends an' this is a good place to hide, so what's your story? He said, why are we sittin' in this cellar. Let's go get some fresh air. So we went up the stairs an' out the door. I think it's time for meds, Eddie.

EHA: You get your meds at 2:00 PM, Pris. About 15 minutes. I'll get you back to the nurse's station, don't worry. So you went upstairs and outside and the man said...

Miss Belette: He said, it sure does smell down there, an' I said, it's the potatoes 'n' onions, but mostly onions. Rats, too. An' he says, hmmmmm. I said, what does "hmmmmm" mean? He said, it means that gives me an idea. I've been sittin' in the dark down there tryin' to come up with an idea for a story. It beat me what he meant by that 'cause why would somebody want to write a story about a stinky cellar, an' I asked him that. He says that the story wasn't 'xactly 'bout the cellar, but part of the story was in the cellar an' I just helped him get a real good idea..

EHA: I can't believe this! I think I know who that must have been. What else did he say to you?

Miss Belette: He told me, maybe I'll put you in the book. Well, Eddie, I can tell you I was real excited, an' I told him, sure, mister, go right ahead! I don't know if he ever did. After that day I don't think I ever saw him again.

EHA: Pris, I'm sure I know who that was, and if I'm right, I'm sorry to tell you he never did write you into a story.

Miss Belette: Oh, pooh! What was the book I never was in?

EHA: Let me think a second here. If I have my chronology right, it would have to be the book that turned out to be...Men from Mars. Yes, it would have been Freddy and the Men from Mars.

Miss Belette: Freddy? You don't mean that icepick guy? Don't go tell me Freddy was in a book!

EHA: Well, yes, kind of. It's complicated, Pris, but the man in the cellar...Mr. Brooks it was...wrote Freddy into a book...actually many books.

Miss Belette: Not fair, Eddie! How come's that? He was not a good person, an' he gets wrote into books, an' a nice girl like me...no book? Not fair. An' that Francine! She should of not been crowned the queen of the flying saucers! That was all fixed, an'--

EHA: Well, if it makes a difference, Mr. Brooks turned Freddy into a pig in the books.

Miss Belette: A pig?

EHA: Yes, a pig. Haven't you heard of Mr. Brooks's famous Freddy the Pig books?

Miss Belette: Nope! Never heard of 'em. Not much of a reader, me. I couldn't keep words from jumpin' 'round on me on the page. It was hard to read, Eddie. Were they good books?

EHA: That's a matter of opinion. Personally, I--

Miss Belette: Read something to me, Eddie! My mama use to read to me. She tried 'n' tried to help me read, but it was hard. I could understand when she read, but letters don't make a lotta sense to me.

EHA: What would you like me to read to you?

Miss Belette: The book I'm not in!

EHA: Well, that narrows it down.

Miss Belette: C'mon, Eddie, quit kiddin'. You quit pullin' my leg! Don'tcha know I mean that book you just said...the one Mr. Books wrote an' didn't put me in?

EHA: Freddy and the Men from Mars? You want me to read you Freddy and the Men from Mars?

Miss Belette: That's the one!

EHA: But...but...it's not very good. How about I bring--

Miss Belette: I want to read about the cellar an' Freddy a pig an'--

EHA: Okay, okay. Let's calm down now, Pris.

Miss Belette: Read!

EHA: I don't have the book right here with me, but I'll bring it next time I visit, all right, and then--

Miss Belette: Promise, Eddie! An' a fried baloney! You said fried baloney, I remember!

EHA: Okay, okay, I promise. Look, we have to get you back to the nurse's station for your meds now, Pris. All set 'n' ready to go?

Miss Belette: Yep! You betcha! Are you gonna visit me, Eddie? Are you gonna come see me? You can call me "Prissy" 'cause you're my best friend!

EHA: Absolutely.

Miss Belette: What're we waitin' for? Time to go. Pills 'n' eats!

EHA: Okey-dokey, then. Here we go. Do you want to go fast or slow today, Pris?

Miss Belette: Fast today, Eddie! Let's go fast!


Previous Interviews: The first, the second, and the third


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