INTERVIEW — TAPE #6, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)
M: Maxine Mc Wethy (the mother)
W: Bill Mc Wethy (Maxine's husband)
T: Twyla Eller (daughter)
F: Marla Ward (nicknamed Fae; daughter)
S: Steve Eller (Twyla's husband)
E: Eric Carrell (one of Kim's sons)
Q: So the phenomena here are probably due to a combination of factors. It’s probably the house, Twyla, the area — it’s like all these different circumstances have to occur on order for this to happen.
W: I still say that there is something pertaining to the household. Something.
Q: Oh definitely. I think it’s probably a little bit of both. The one thing I saw in doing my research was that it’s always houses that have weather boarding and spaces below the floor and above the ceiling. Just because a house looks scary doesn’t mean anything.
W: This place here on the hill sold for $55,000 not too long back.
Q: My little condo was around twice that much. I think Oklahoma is a good place to raise kids.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I PREPARE TO TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE WATER TOWER.)
Q: A lot of cities must have water towers but for some reason this one looks kind of unique. I’m not quite sure why. Is it bigger than most?
W: It’s a pretty good-sized tower. One thousand gallons.
Q: The fact that it’s blue is unusual too.
W: Right there it gives you a good view.
Q: That was a good picture.
W: Do you want one of the old service station down here?
Q: Is that of interest too? What happened there basically?
W: There’s a story we’ll get Maxine to tell you about.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: BILL SOON DIRECTS MY ATTENTION TO ANOTHER HOUSE.)
W: This is my brother’s place that he passed on to me . . . buying . . . by my son — which I call a gift because I don’t have any way of maintaining it any more. There’s the old cemetery.
Q: I’ll take a picture of that.
W: And that’s the most historical building left still standing.
Q: That would be a great picture.
W: If you can get on across and pull in the driveway —
W: — you can take shots on the inside of that thing.
Q: Do you think we should do that?
W: If you ever need the pay phone, that’s it right there.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE SERVICE STATION AND THEN WE DRIVE ON.)
W: Old Jim Bunch owned that house. That was my sister’s husband’s dad.
Q: Your family is so big. It’s very hard for me to keep track of everyone in terms of the names and relationship.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I SNAP SOME PHOTOS AS WE DRIVE AROUND THE PERIMETER OF THE CEMETERY.)
W: There’s Kim, Steven and them.
Q: It’s nice when a family can remain close by. You don’t have to travel to see each other. My parents had a very unhappy divorce.
W: I had a bad divorce and I had a good marriage.
Q: Maxine’s your second wife?
W: She’s my second wife and it’s just like none of them kids are mine and yet they are mine.
Q: Part of the love. You’re the one who teaches them their morals.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: WE LEAVE THE CAR AFTER ARRIVING BACK AT THE HOUSE.)
Q: I just forgot to leave the windows open.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I OPEN THE CAR WINDOWS BUT ACCIDENTALLY LEAVE THE TAPE RECORDER IN THE CAR AND GO BACK TO RETRIEVE IT. SOON AFTER I RETURN, BILL SAYS SOMETHING HARD TO HEAR ABOUT MICHAEL POSSIBLY BEING A DEMON.)
T: That’s not a good word.
Q: You don’t want to hear that word.
T: Don’t say that. I don’t want people thinking that’s what it is.
M: If he was a demon he wouldn’t try to get me to quit smoking.
Q: If he was a demon he would try to take possession of somebody.
M: He wouldn’t tear my cigarettes up and tell me that they would kill me.
S: Did the man have a doll or something?
T: We had a seance here one night and there was this big doll hat Megan put up there — a short doll but it had big hands. One of the kids picked it up and that doll said, “HEY.”
M: (laughs) He did.
T: And then the kid threw it across the room. I guess Michael made the doll talk.
Q: It wasn’t supposed to talk?
T: No. The doll isn’t one that was supposed to talk.
M: That doll had big old eyes and shaggy brown hair.
Q: Was it like a Raggedy Ann?
T: No. It’s this rag doll. It’s still here somewhere.
M: It was weird. You went out there?
T: They went everywhere.
M: Good. I wanted him to.
T: They went out there by Boiling Springs.
M: See, he doesn’t have much time to do these things.
Q: Well, that’s okay. I can always come back.
M: Yeah. Good. (S)
W: That at least gives you an idea of what’s . . .
Q: I want to do some more research if I can but I know that on Sunday not everything’s open. I’ll do the best I can.
W: See if you can work in the Historical Society in Coalgate.
Q: If I can, I’ll try. If it’s a museum, I’ll go. (“DO IT”)
W: And the Chickasaw Nation Building.
Q: You can tie-in some of the old Indian legends too. I also want to visit the library. Sometimes they have newspapers on microfiche or computerized in terms of subject. Did anyone ever research Michael’s last name?
M: They’ve tried.
Q: But they never found anything?
F: I found a W. Dale Sutherland in Coalgate. And they had a little boy. His mom’s name was Jane Sutherland.
Q: That’s —
F: I can’t remember his dad’s name.
M: Arthur — that’s what Michael said.
F: It was something like that. It was in the paper. I wrote it down.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: SOON THERE IS THE SOUND OF ANOTHER OBJECT MATERIALIZING AND STRIKING THE WALL.)
E: A quarter.
T: That was a quarter.
S: He threw that hard, didn’t he? Did you hear that thing hit?
T: That sounded like a quarter. Oh, God, he’s throwing quarters.
Q: So it’s not your mood doing it?
T: No. I don’t know. I guess. I don’t know. He’s throwing quarters.
S: That sounded like something bigger than a quarter.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: TWO OBJECTS ARE DISCOVERED THAT HAVE MATERIALIZED.)
Q: What is that?
T: It’s sort of a gemstone. See, he knocked the setting off.
Q: What is this?
T: Old money.
M: That isn’t coming out of your gem stuff, is it?
W: It may be.
Q: Oh my God. It’s an amusement center coin.
T: I thought it was going to be Canadian or something.
Q: You get those for the shuffleboard machines. (“HEY”) So it came from outside the house?
T: Sure it did.
W: It says “Heads you win and tails you lose.” (“TAKE YOUR TIME”)
Q: When this one fell it had a lot of force to it.
M: It hit and then it rolled all the way.
Q: Can I keep this?
M: (referring to the piece of jewelry) I know that’s been around here because I’ve seen it.
Q: This one?
M: I think.
W: I’ve never seen it before.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: TWYLA AND STEVE PREPARE TO LEAVE.)
M: Well, throw something out first, Michael, before you leave.
Q: Does he follow you when you leave? Will he talk to us again?
Q: You probably should have copies made of some of these photos and put them away for safe-keeping.
T: Think so?
Q: It would only cost about $100.
M: Oh my God.
T: (laughs) $100? You know what $100 is to me?
Q: Yeah, I know.
T: It’s different from $100 for you, isn’t it?
Q: I know.
M: Oh, no. Punched a hole in my icebox.
S: You better speak up.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: SPIRIT WHISPERING CAN BE HEARD ON THE TAPE HERE.)
Q: They’re funny characters.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: MEGAN IS REPEATEDLY ASKING FOR CANDY AND TWYLA COMMENTS ON A PHOTO SHE SEES IN A PERIODICAL.)
T: (to Megan) Stop it. Nuh-uh.
M: The names are on the back if you want to read about them.
T: Yeah, I know.
S: There is no candy.
T: He is cute! For an older guy he is good-looking.
M: Yeah, he’s real —
T: He’s got beautiful teeth.
Q: (reading) Film producer Bill Macdonald . . .
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: STEVE BROUGHT BACK SODA FOR THE FAMILY AND SOME BOTTLED WATER FOR ME.)
T: Your water doesn’t have to be cold?
Q: I don’t care.
T: I like mine cool.
Q: I like mine cool but if it’s not . . .
M: Throw something to drink, Michael. (“OPEN THAT DOOR”)
S: Not at me.
Q: (to MEGAN) Say good-bye. To Twyla.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: MEGAN SAYS “GOOD-BYE” REPEATEDLY.)
Q: You can say good-bye.
T: She can go with you.
Q: Yeah. Probably. (to Maxine) I guess I’ll go too. I’ll come by tomorrow.
M: Bye. God bless you. You be careful.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I RECORD IMPRESSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS ON THE WAY TO THE MOTEL.)
Q: The screenplay should deal with strange events where various people have different explanations yet the true solution always remains mysterious. Right when you think it’s a demon or a poltergeist or whatever, there’s a UFO incident, a bigfoot sighting or something that makes you think something else is the reason. But, for example, the story about Saturn — isn’t that what a child would lie about, though? All these nuances of reality and truth — all this strangeness. I remember Bill’s casual remark, “Well, I reckon it really is a demon”; and then Twyla saying, “Oh, no, don’t even say that.” Those are the telling moments when the truth twinkles for a second. I wonder if it really is the reason why he’s sick.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: AT THE HOTEL I HUMOROUSLY RECORD A STRANGE EXPERIENCE THAT SOON OCCURS.)
Q: Michael that prankster has sent a chigger trying to get into my hotel room.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: IT WAS A BEETLE AND NOT ONE OF THE SO-CALLED ‘CHIGGERS’ THAT EVERYONE HAD BEEN WARNING ME ABOUT, WHICH EVEN THEN I UNDERSTOOD TO MEAN AN INSECT LIKE A MOSQUITO.)
Q: Uuhua. He’s been flinging himself against my door for a while now. And now as I look out the window it’s gone. Quite suddenly disappeared. I think that’s — oh my God — I think that’s Michael. I think it’s Beelzebub. It looked just like Beelzebub. There it is again. I guess its a chigger. I don’t know. It’s right outside my door jumping all about. Euchhhh.
( . . . )
Q: The chigger is still at my door trying to get in. It is almost eleven o’clock and it is still scratching at my door trying to get in.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THIS IS THE END OF SATURDAY RECORDING. I CONTINUE MAKING OBSERVATIONS ON SUNDAY ON MY WAY TO CENTRAHOMA. AFTER HAVING ASKED EVERYONE IF THEY KNEW ANYONE WHO HAD EXPERIENCED FAINTING SPELLS AS A CHILD I SUDDENLY CAME TO A DISTURBING REALIZATION.)
Q: Remember my fainting spells in school?
( . . . )
Q: Remember the strange voice calling my name? “MARK, MARK . . .”
( . . . )
Q: I just realized the truth. My mother was demonically possessed.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THIS WAS A HALF-HUMOROUS REMARK. THERE WAS A STRANGE OCCASION WHEN MY MOTHER BECAME UPSET UPON MY DENTING THE CAR WHILE PARKING. THE NEXT MORNING HER FACE HAD BALLOONED UP AND SHE LOOKED LIKE ‘THE ELEPHANT MAN.’ SHE INSISTS THAT THIS EPISODE WAS JUST A BAD CASE OF HIVES.)
Q: I’m on my way to Coalgate. I just passed Rock Creek Bridge. We’re in Michael territory. The Coal County sign just went by. Michael, do you have anything you’d like to say on this beautiful morning in August? I hear a little laugh. I think I hear it breathing actually. Maybe not. Want to play with the door locks? Oh shit. I don’t want to do this now.
( . . . )
Q: I have been in the presence of something nameless — something who’s commonly called poltergeist, a noisy ghost, but yet — more. An entity with the ability to do anything. It’s all true.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: LATER, ON MY WAY TO THE AIRPORT THE FOLLOWING MONDAY, I RECORD SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE UNUSED PORTION OF THIS TAPE SIDE. THE FIRST IS A REMINDER TO MYSELF PERTAINING TO THE FAMILY’S PHOTOS. THE REMAINDER OF THE SIDE WAS LEFT BLANK.)
Q: Return the pictures.
( . . . )
Q: The fortune cookie said, “There’s a cloud hanging over you.”
( . . . )
Q: Three separate stories concurrently. The Bell Witch — Michael — my experiences. “The Encroachers.”
( . . . )
Q: When we were watching “The Invisible Man” (referring to my brother and I as children), Michael was scared and I wasn’t.