INTERVIEW — TAPE #7, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)M: Maxine Mc Wethy
M: It was about the middle of the evening. Twyla walked onto the porch and was looking out. I was sitting right there and all of a sudden I saw her grab her head. I jumped up, went out there and I asked her if she had been hit by a rock. I didn’t hear one hit. She took her hand down. There was blood on her hand from where she had been scratched. One of them scratched her.
Q: One of the spirits?
M: We asked him later why he had done it and he said he was scared of us then.
Q: This was an early occurrence?
Q: Do you remember which one it was?
M: Michael, probably.
Q: But if he knows the future he should know that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
M: Yeah, he shouldn’t of —
Q: There is a record, though, in these cases of them —
M: And it happened two other times.
Q: There’s always a little bit of blood drawn for some strange reason. There is that vampirism element. No one really understands it but it’s strange, isn’t it? Some people think it’s like aliens testing blood and your imagination can go rampant with the possibilities, which makes it all the more intriguing.
M: It can drive you crazy thinking about it. We had several Tupelo women here one day. This was back in ’90 when it started. Twyla opened the freezer to get some ice. Something knocked the glass out of her hand, pulled a button off her blouse and scratched her again. Twyla was bleeding on three or four different occasions — twice with the knife.
Q: Maybe they’re experimenting genetically.
M: Oh I guess. There’s another thing. There’s a whole bunch of things that we haven’t told you about yet. I woke up one morning—this was when I was sleeping in there with Bill—and I felt poorly. I said, “Look at my back. It chewed me to death.”
Q: (nervous laughter)
M: He said there were needle pricks all over —
Q: Oh shit.
M: — the side of my shoulder. But it didn’t hurt or itch. It was weird.
Q: That’s another classic symptom. Not only of poltergeists but of witchcraft.
M: Oh really?
Q: It’s also symptomatic of alien experimentation. Have you had any missing time periods?
Q: Like that night before that you were pricked?
Q: When you’re asleep how would you know what was happening to you? It could have beamed you up onto the spaceship and made those needle marks.
M: No. Ohhh gosh.
Q: This is starting the juices flowing, isn’t it?
M: Yeah. One day I was sick with a headache. And, boy, when I get a headache I’m sick in bed all day long. Late that evening, my neighbor Frieda came over here. I came in here and sat up with her for about five minutes. I told her, “Frieda, I’m too sick to sit up. I have to go back and lay down.” So I went back in there and went to bed. I dosed off or something. The next morning, I was telling Twyla and the others about it. I said, “I was just flowing with a green light and all at once it turned blue.”
Q: This was your dream?
M: Yes. And he said, “NO, THAT WAS PURPLE. THAT WAS ME.” That’s what he told us.
Q: Have there been any other events like that?
M: No. (“MANY”)
Q: So there are a lot of alien parallels.
M: There was this Indian guy that was in the bar last night when we went there and got the key from Brenda. Well, this Indian guy — he’s younger than me but —
Q: What kind of Indian was he?
M: Choctaw. He was sitting in the house here with my brother-in-law’s sister and her son one night when that window got broke. We all went in there and sat on the couch. I had an ash tray and cigarettes. All at once, something stuck in my leg and I jumped up and spilled my ash tray. It was a hat pin about that long stuck in my leg.
Q: This is classic. Classic.
M: It had been hanging right up there holding up a calendar.
Q: When the nail hit me in the head, it didn’t draw any blood. (“JUST ABOUT”)
M: The hat pin was about that long with a pearl top on it and I don’t know where the thing is now but that scared that Indian boy so bad he won’t come back.
Q: Bill mentioned to me to ask you about the gas station. What happened in that little old gas station down there near the water tower?
M: Bill told you about that?
Q: He told me he went over there once.
M: That’s where Jonathan, Kathy and that other guy who first come out here from California went. Michael wanted us to go in that old station. So we went in. We didn’t hear much of them in there.
Q: So that really wasn’t a major event?
( . . . )
M: Bill’s drawing a VA check and I’m fixing to get my SSI. I told Twyla and Steve, “I want whatever we all make to be in their name.”
Q: The only problem with that is eight people have already signed some kind of deal.
M: I have to talk to Jonathan about that.
Q: That sets a precedent. This can all be taken care of.
M: I don’t want him losing his VA and I don’t want to lose my SSI.
Q: I’m familiar with that. I think you have to get more than a thousand dollars a month in order to lose your benefits. Or you lose partial benefits or something like that. That’s also why you need an attorney because, as Twyla said yesterday, “Thank God Carlton didn’t have any money.” You don’t want this to really tear apart your family with greed.
M: We don’t lie about it but, see, we draw food stamps. We can’t lie about anything.
Q: This is still why you need an attorney, though, to set the framework between family members.
M: I really don’t think they’re going to rip us off.
M: Jonathan and —
Q: No, but that’s not the point.
M: Maybe I’ll have to — (“UH-HUH”)
Q: You want a leader, you know?
Q: Not that kind of a leader.
M: (laughs) Yeah. Well, he’ll do. (laughs)
Q: You want somebody who will be able to deal between family members too. I’ve seen this family. I know (laughs) what could go on.
Q: And I don’t even care about my participation. Whatever you want is fine with me. The only thing I know is that, luckily, I have a good attorney who does things by the book. I don’t much like him — I mean, you know, He’s a nice Jewish attorney. I couldn’t even afford most entertainment industry lawyers. They’re so expensive that they usually ask for $50,000 minimum to start.
M: (whistles then gasps)
Q: I know. So this one is good. It’s lucky. I knew him as a friend first.
M: Oh yeah.
Q: It’s lucky that we have him because he used to work for the Writers Guild so he knows all there is to know in terms of film deals and things like that. Plus, he has great connections. Between the two of us, we know just about everyone. I really see this as selling the screen rights first. The option money would finance the time spent working on the book together.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: SPIRIT WHISPERING CAN BE HEARD ON THE TAPE HERE.)
M: Bill’s half-sister was here one day. She was a nurse. I told her, “We’re stupid about things like this.” And she said, “Well, I would be too.”
Q: Everyone is. Only attorneys have any clue. That’s why they get paid so much money. (“DAMN ATTORNEYS”) They have to go to school for many years. So, anyway, since I already have my book finished about the history of the talking poltergeist, I’ll add to it some information about your case. But that has nothing to do with your deal or anything like that. I’ll pay you some money to make use of the photos. In terms of book deals, the only way you make money is if you have a bestseller.
M: That sounds right.
Q: It’s like movies. You only get your percentage of the net after a film breaks even. Even “Forrest Gump” hasn’t broken even yet. There’s so much creative paperwork that goes on. If I publish my history book, it won’t be as compelling as the casebook of your family which probably should be dramatized and done in the form of a novel. I think that would be the bestseller.
Q: I don’t think my history book would be a bestseller. What I probably would propose is paying you outright an amount like $500 for use of the photos and then maybe a small honorarium — a small percentage based upon sales. Again, this is not a book that has to do with your family. It’s about the history of the talking poltergeist. Maybe I’ll put something in the contract about that. It’s not something that you even have to acknowledge at this point.
Q: It’s like a newspaper or magazine article. Of course, I wouldn’t need to do anything without permission.
M: Uh-uh. I know you wouldn’t.
Q: I’m so excited about this project that I would even call people I’ve worked with that I’ve never before approached creatively. People like Sherry Lansing and others at Paramount. I definitely want this to happen. It’s exasperating for me when I get rejection letters because, frankly, I think it’s so important for humanity to learn more about these spirits.
M: Poor old Fae. She cleaned my house up for me. She made me go back to bed this morning.
Q: Isn’t she sweet?
M: She mopped all the floors, cleaned the beds and emptied the baskets.
Q: That’s also why I want to spend more time with the family for the eventual book because I think that the human story is equally important to the haunting story in terms of the relationships, even though we don’t have to go into too much detail. Even like the little squabbles and things like that. Every family has that. It’s just like the relationships and, Jesus! — struggling to survive here in the heat. That’s like a “Rocky” story right there. The economy here really is surprising. It’s so different from L.A.’s.
M: I’ve lived out there. I hated it.
Q: I mean the difference in terms of the average salary here and there is unbelievable. Twyla said her husband works sixty-hour weeks and doesn’t get paid overtime increases. If he worked those hours in L.A. he could retire after a year or so because they get paid so much for overtime.
M: Well, they’re fixing to make him sergeant.
M: It would pay more. His boss didn’t want him to say anything about it.
Q: What I’ll do then is have my attorney draw up a contract. Who should I send it to — you or Twyla?
M: You can send it to me.
Q: I think that would be best because you’re one of these people who has some idea of getting things done. I think Twyla’s got enough on her hands just worrying about the poltergeist. (laughs)
Q: That’s really frazzled her, I can tell. That’s why I don’t think she wanted to go with me to the cemetery that night. I don’t think she could deal with anything more.
M: She’s in over her head. I went over there to the cemetery in my car one night with a load of people. This one boy from Ada was sitting in the middle and Twyla was sitting on the other side. As we were going through the cemetery her door flew open. Something jerked her door open. That’s when I think Michael got lost or some of the spirits got him.
Q: That’s one of the most memorable events that has happened.
M: That scared us to death. Then, we went out to Rachel’s. We had the same crowd with us.
Q: You went to the bridge area?
M: Right out this way.
M: The bridge is that way.
Q: Rachel’s — what do you mean?
M: Where the house burned.
Q: Where the cellar is?
M: No, that’s (laughs) —
Q: I don’t know if I saw that or not.
M: Where the house burned down. You went to the fence?
Q: Oh right. Yes. I took a picture of that.
M: There’s a chain link fence there.
Q: Right. And what happened there?
M: Brenda was there and there was a boy sitting by the door. His door flew open and he almost fell out. Something jerked his door open. This was a bunch of kids from Ada that I had with me.
Q: People out to see the spook.
M: They like to go out and see what’ll happen.
Q: What is going on?
M: Everybody got addicted to this out here.
Q: Oh sure. The only case where nothing really happened in terms of the family having many visitors was on the Isle of Man because it was so secluded. Still, famous psychics and various people visited.
M: They get scared to death but they still come out.
Q: It’s fun.
M: They say, “We’re not coming back out” and “Uh-uh, I’m not about to go back out there.”
Q: It’s like a roller coaster ride. It’s like a haunted house.
M: And then they’ve got to come back.
Q: That insect I saw last night might not be at all related to the case because I don’t know how insects behave out here.
M: I bet you wonder about it, don’t you?
Q: Well, I heard this scratching scratching scratching and, of course, one of the famous symptoms of poltergeists is scratching. So I looked out the window and there was this big beetle scratching at my door. It kept going for a while and eventually it went away and I couldn’t find it. But I thought, “Could that possibly be Michael trying to let me know he’s here?”
M: He lets people know in some way.
Q: Exactly. I kept asking about strange animals and I was afraid of insects. It’s something we’ll never know the truth about for sure. What kind of insect is that and I’ll look it up. What are those big black beetles? Do you know what kind they are?
M: No, I don’t.
Q: The chiggers are mosquitos.
M: Was it black or brown?
Q: It was black.
M: I don’t know.
Q: Well, it was dark at night but it was a definitely a beetle. Have you ever seen insects doing strange things around here?
M: I hadn’t noticed. We’ve got so many around here.
Q: You know what else is eerie about this area? How the light keeps changing when the clouds pass over by. That’s eerie in itself. There are so many clouds. I guess those are the crickets that make that SHSHSH swishing noise.
Q: What’s that? Like in the field? You hear this huge cacophony of noise. What’s making that sound?
M: That’s the locusts.
Q: Locusts. Oh yeah. That’s it.
M: Probably. We’ve got a lot of them around.
Q: They jump all over the place but it’s a loud, very ominous noise.
M: Yeah. That’s what that is.
Q: Now I keep thinking that I hear strange noises.
M: You probably do.
Q: But I definitely have a vision in terms of what the story points should be. There’s no apparent ending yet.
Q: There could be an ending. You could make any one of those major events the climax. For example, the spirits coming over to your house from the burned-down orphanage could be one possible climax.
M: Oh, you know, I told you about something calling Brenda’s name. That she couldn’t sleep?
M: She said, “I was really sleepy and all at once I woke up — became wide awake and couldn’t sleep.” And that’s when something called her name outside.
Q: How long ago was this?
M: This was just here recently. Carlton used to stay in that room before he got real bad and I moved him into the house.
Q: What’s really ironic is that I remember an event in my own childhood where somebody once was calling my name and I went all through the apartment looking for it and I never could find it. I don’t think this is related but —
M: It could be.
Q: (laughs) You never know, I guess.
M: When was that?
Q: I was living in Pasadena, California.
M: Before you ever knew about this?
Q: Oh yeah.
Q: I was around twelve years old at the time. At first, I thought it was one of my friends from school playing a joke. I went all through the house looking for who was calling my name.
M: I’ve heard him call my name in this house too.
Q: My mom and brother were asleep. I didn’t find anybody and considered whether or not I could possibly have imagined it. I definitely remember that. That’s probably one of the reasons why I was interested in the unexplained to begin with.
M: I’ll bet it was. Maybe something was wanting you to get into that. (laughs)
Q: Who knows?
M: Fae and I went to the cemetery again last night.
Q: I first started researching poltergeists after I finished my Julia Pastrana story. It was around 155 pages, which really wasn’t long enough to publish as a book, so I was looking for two other famous cases to accompany it. Then, I did the Bell Witch and I had one other case selected to finish. However, the Bell Witch led to a book in itself. This whole thing has grown out of happen chance. In terms of the commercial aspects, the fact that your story is contemporary makes it far more appealing to producers than the Bell Witch case.
M: Me and Fae went back out to the cemetery where her daddy was buried. We got back in the car and got ready to go and I turned the key on but the thing wouldn’t even turn over. And she said, “Daddy don’t want us to leave.”
Q: Oh really?
M: That was kind of weird. It turned out the battery cable had become loose. We saw a couple with a little baby over there and Brenda asked them if they’d give us a jump. I had jumper cables. They came over to the car. I had the hood raised and the young man just moved the battery cable a little bit. Then, it started right up. (laughs) She spooked me when she said, “Daddy don’t want us to leave.”
Q: Your interaction with Michael yesterday when he made the remark was amazing. He just made a little remark and then left. Maybe my being here prevented more from happening.
M: I doubt it. He don’t do much more than that anymore. Once I had a little black and white dog that Brenda gave me — an Australian Shepherd. That was the best little old dog. It would go way out there to poop. It wouldn’t poop in the yard. Well, one time it got so full of ticks and everything you find around here that the poor thing couldn’t even walk on its hind legs. Twyla and I were out there and she was picking ticks off of him and Michael hollered, “HELP ME, MAXINE” (small laugh) —
Q: (small laugh)
M: — just like he was concerned about it.
Q: Another one of the major events is the dog that wouldn’t die. Were you here when they when Twyla was telling me about that?
M: The dead dog. Yeah.
Q: I think somebody mentioned that you once heard an animal talking?
M: The horse was talking. Did Twyla tell you about that?
M: Oh my God. Her friend, this Indian girl named Melanie, was out here one evening. She and Twyla were outside and one of our neighbors’ horses comes into our yard once in a while. They were out there with the horse. And then Twyla and Melanie came in here just dying laughing, saying that, “Something had that horse’s lip pulled way back here —”
M: “— and the horse was just laughing.” I think it was Michael that did it.
Q: He made it seem like the horse was talking?
Q: Do you remember what he was saying?
M: I don’t mean talking. Laughing.
Q: “HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE.”
M: Uh-huh. Something had its bottom lip pulled back.
Q: You can go with any of many different theories as to what’s causing this. That’s also what makes it so interesting. But when you really look at some of these pranks, they really are like what an eight-year-old child would do.
M: Yeah. And Twyla was riding her ten-speed when she was living here. She rode her ten-speed for exercise. One time, she parked it right out here in the front when she came back. She came in here and when she looked out that window she saw the bicycle taking off by itself. Then, all of a sudden it turned over and the back wheel was just going around and around. Michael had a wreck on it.
Q: Oh really?
M: So we went out there and Twyla said, “Michael, were you riding that bike?” And he said, “YEAH. I HAD A WRECK.” (laughs)
Q: Did he hurt himself?
M: I don’t know but it was so funny.
Q: Twyla’s still a very young girl and she’s lived with this a long time. It’s amazing she doesn’t let it worry her. I guess she just knows it won’t hurt her.
M: Oh, she loves him too.
Q: It’s like a wonderful little pet or something. Almost.
M: But they still spook her, though.
Q: Of course. Like when we saw the shadow in the window. I don’t know if she saw anything or was jut responding to my reaction.
M: Something was peeping out of it.
Q: When I first noticed something, I didn’t say anything. Then, Twyla squealed. What I saw was nothing more than a dark shadow and the curtains moving. But I don’t know what happened. Who knows? It’s bizarre. There are so many bizarre things.
M: Well, Brenda went inside the house first. She said, “You all come in here. You can feel him.”
Q: Was that like the electro-magnetic sensation?
M: Yeah. I didn’t feel that. I didn’t make it in time to feel anything.
Q: But I’ve heard about many other people —
M: I’ve felt him sometimes.
Q: Sometimes you can produce that feeling on your own —
M: You get cold chills.
Q: — when you get worried about what’s going on.
Q: But I think if he wanted to hurt anybody he could do it very quickly.
M: He would’ve done it a long time ago. That’s why we’re not afraid of him. People say, “Why don’t you all leave?” Well, we’re not afraid of him.
Q: In other cases, the poltergeists have moved right along with a family.
Q: I don’t think he definitely needs a house like this.
M: He told us that too.
Q: But he could stay here. In other cases, they could be in different places at the same time. They could be in five different places at the same time.
M: I think so too.
Q: Especially if there are many of them. What’s interesting here is the duality of the spirits and the aliens. Along with all the other things. Okay, so now I’m going to have my attorney send you a contract. The deal will be contingent upon receiving the other contract. That’s what my attorney said I should do so hopefully you can find an attorney who will work on a contingency basis. Whatever you recommend is fine. I think if we just take it one step at a time it will happen. Meanwhile, I’ll go ahead and start working. No matter what happens — if worse comes to worse — I’m not talking really about my history book now. In terms of a screenplay or book — if LMNO ties-up the rights and there’s no way for me to work with them, I can always do a fictionalized version and change the names. I still would make sure that you were taken care of because I’m not greedy, you know?
M: I’m not either, really. Not really. (small laugh)
Q: In that case, I would just pay you for research purposes.
M: Jonathan asked me if $7,000 would be enough, and I said, “Yeah, I’m not greedy.”
Q: That’s also why you need an attorney, though. That is not enough. I don’t think that amount would stand up in court. I don’t think they could get away with that. Not such a low amount for eight people.
M: Yeah, that’s the way I feel. I feel like we all should get something out of it.
Q: I went to this seminar called “How to Work with an Agent and an Attorney.” It was at UCLA and the attorney who was a guest there said, “Unless each person gets $3,000 minimum, it won’t hold up in court.” My own attorney didn’t say that but that’s not the kind of question he would ever answer. He’d always say, “Well, it all depends.” (laughs) He’s so thorough that he would never say anything unless he was 100% sure. I work very quickly too. I could soon do a treatment which would allow an agent to have something to auction and I do know agents that I could approach. And my attorney knows producers. Plus I know producers. There’s a lot of them I would approach until something happened. I recently was working on a news release with one producer and it turned out he’s this young kid whose father gave him a recording company. He recently paid a first-time writer — someone who’s never written before — $500,000 to write a screenplay based on a stupid horror movie schlock idea.
Q: That’s what I’m saying. There’s a lot of money to be made in the genre.
M: I think so.
Q: Exactly. So if they’ll pay that much for something stupid that doesn’t even exist, something based on reality should at least get that much.
M: I know it.
Q: You know? Come on.
M: This is reality. Yeah.
Q: This is truth. I mean my God. And the producers will have publicists promoting the project. I hate to say it but there’s so much opportunity here. That’s why I’m so dedicated. Plus, I see the importance of the story in terms of the spiritual aspects of life. What does all this make you think in terms of religion and life? Obviously you believe that there is an afterlife.
M: Well, I don’t know.
Q: Do all these events make the puzzle — our basic dilemma in life — easier to accept or more difficult to accept? Since we don’t really know why we were born in the first place, do we?
M: Uh-uh. I don’t really know why these things are here either — why they’re all over the place. (small laugh)
Q: Yeah, but they aren’t really all over the place everywhere to this extent the way yours are.
M: Where you hear bells.