Interview with Aunt Martha About “Life after Copper Fire”
AM: Miss Gordon is more appropriate.
Q: Yes, but, I’ve lived in this town all my life and you’ve known me since I was a child.
AM: And are you related to me? (She raises an eyebrow.) No.
Q (now slightly intimidated): But…your readers know you as “Aunt Martha.”
AM: They’re not my readers. They’re Louisa’s. She belongs to my nephew, the Reverend Robert Gordon of the First Presbyterian Church of Copper Springs, Arizona. Personally, I don’t feel that a family’s private affairs should be aired publicly. What’s within the walls of a home should stay within those four walls, I’ve always said. But, of course, no one listens to me. Ever since Louisa wrote those books, the entire town knows my private business. I don’t know what the kerfuffle is all about. I can’t even go to Ibsen’s grocery store to buy a banana without someone stopping me and asking me what’s going to happen to Elisabeth and Danny, or if baby Meg has stopped her crying. She hasn’t, by the way. That baby blows the roof off when she cries. (She tilts her head and frowns.) I can’t understand why she cries so. Gordon babies never cried.
Q: Miss Gordon, it’s been said that you were baptized in pickle juice. How do you feel about that remark?
AM: (eyes narrowed) Who said that? Was it Mattie Osgood? She’s as mean as a snake. (She presses her lips together tightly.) Or was it Evelyn Bauer? Now there’s a woman who looks as if she chews cactus.
Q (shifting uncomfortably in his seat, worried that this interview is already off to a bad start): So, Miss Gordon, ahem, I understand that you were recently married.
AM: (blushing) Well, actually, yes. Judge Pryor and I were married a few months ago by my nephew. Did I mention my nephew to you? He’s the Reverend Robert…
Q (interrupting): Yes, yes, I believe you did. So, Miss Gordon, at the end of Copper Fire, you and the Judge had just announced your engagement and you were going to move into his house.
AM (scowling, with one eyebrow arched): After we were properly married.
Q (getting flustered): Of course, that’s what I meant. Didn’t I say that?
AM: No, you didn’t. If you’re going to interview someone, you need to ask questions properly and not insinuate anything immoral and indecent. (She sits up straighter in her chair and puts both hands on her purse handles.)
Q (sighs and looks at his watch): What I meant to ask was if you have since moved into the judge’s house and out of your nephew’s home, which, I understand, has become a very full household.
AM (snorts a laugh): A full household? That’s an understatement. The parsonage has turned into a veritable zoo. A carnival! The Gordons’ have always cherished their peace and quiet. But that house is overflowing with stray dogs and stray children! I don’t know how my nephew, the Reverend Robert Gordon, can write a sermon in that house. It’s a madhouse. Sheer bedlam. Danny and William keep blowing things up in the back yard and Elisabeth slams her door every few minutes because she’s mad at somebody and that baby cries and cries. I’ve never heard a baby cry like that baby Meg. (Her eyes dart around the room to see if anyone is listening in, then her voice drops to a whisper.) I think that crying must come from Louisa’s side of the family. Good heavens, that Elisabeth has a very loud voice and I will bet you my egg money that she cried like that as a baby.
Q: (scratches his head and wonders how to take back control of this interview) So, Miss Gordon, since the end of Copper Fire, you have moved out of your nephew’s house to live in the Judge’s house. That must be a big change for you.
AM: Well, actually, after we were married by my nephew, in a beautiful ceremony, by the way, the judge moved into the parsonage with me.
Q: But…I thought you were eager to move…the baby’s cries and the door slams and the rockets…
AM: I was eager. Very eager. Of course I was. But…how could I leave? The parsonage would collapse without me. Louisa can’t even boil water. They would all starve. And those children need more discipline. She’s much too lenient with the children. And think of my nephew! He’s a minister! He needs clerical robes that are crisply ironed. Have you ever seen anything Louisa has ironed? It’s got more wrinkles ironed into it than if she just left it alone in the first place! No, I didn’t dare leave them. It just wouldn’t have been right.
Q (grinning): Well, Aunt Martha, you old softie! You didn’t’ want to move, did you?!
AM: Don’t be ridiculous. (She springs to her feet, muscles tense, like a tiger tracking a gazelle.) I’m late for choir practice. (She turns to go but stops abruptly and spins around to face the interviewer.) And I don’t remember the last time I saw you in church on a Sunday morning. In fact, the choir’s been needing a new alto ever since Roy Spooner choked on his wife’s oatmeal and died. But that woman’s oatmeal always did taste like library paste. (She fixes her eyes on the interviewer like a predator who spots its prey.) I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t come with me right now. Can you?
Q: (grin fades)