I recently headed south to track down Pattie Byrd, in hopes of finagling a person to person interview with this rising Associated Content star. Turns out she wasn’t all that hard to find. I just asked around for a slightly deranged Monday “rambler” and when the preacher and the barber figured out that I wasn’t talking about a car, they promptly directed me to her house.
I found a note on her front door:
“Nobody home. Gone to bail out Aunt Lottie. Take whatever you want except my hats.”
Great. I decided a jail interview would be just the ticket, so I headed toot sweet for the local police department. I even found I had an extra twenty, in case I needed to bribe local law enforcement. I wished I had thought to bring my camera, though. This was going to be a classic.
Sure enough, there was Pattie, behind bars screaming bloody murder. She had a scrawny looking Barney Fife jammed up against the bars, locked in a Byrdlock. The conversation went as follows:
“Hi Pattie! I saw your note.”
“Oh, hi Nance. Yeah, things got a little out of hand.”
“Where’s Aunt Lottie?”
“Well, that’s just it. Fred sprung her before I got here and Barney here put an APB out on her.” Barney was hanging from her hands that were now wrapped around his neck, looking a lot like a marionette doing the chicken dance.
“Uh, Pattie, could you put him down for a minute? I just stopped by for a quick interview, if you don’t mind. I’ve run through just about every interesting person I know, and I don’t think I could interview myself again. You know. Some might see that as tacky.”
“Interview? Why sure! Here, hold him for a sec while I grab a comb.”
Barney hightailed it back to the office upon his release, probably to call in reinforcements from Mount Pilot. Pattie primped and preened for several minutes, and even found an old Cote lipstick, circa 1956. I had some second thoughts about the camera thing.
“There we go. I’m good. What do you want to know?”
“Well, I thought we’d start by exploring your fascinating subject matter. Where do you get your ideas?”
“Are you blind? Look around, girlie. This place is infested with subject matter. We might be a little shy on brain matter, but subject matter runs rampant around here. Come on, ask me something tough!”
“Uh, well, how long have you been writing for AC?”
“Jeez Louise, is that the best you’ve got? Read my bio, ya ninny. Come on, Nance. Hit me with your best shot!”
I was beginning to wonder if I was within grasping distance from the bars. Now I knew what Jodie Foster felt like interviewing Hannibal Lecter. Not wanting to unnecessarily prolong my rapidly deteriorating interview, I stepped back a bit and prepared to ask her my clincher, the titillating “tell all without asking the question” question, the mother lode of nuance question that exposed people for whom they truly are.
“Okay, then Pa……” What the………??
The squealing of tires was deafening. Acrid smoke from burning rubber filled the jail cell, and a painfully loud snap pierced the air. When the haze cleared, all that remained of the small barred window of the jail cell was a gaping hole. I stepped over debris and cement chips in time to see Pattie chasing down a Datsun pick-up, with a chain and the remains of the window bars flopping around in its dusty wake.
Her final words still echo in my brain. “Hold up, dammit! Aunt LOTTIEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Damn. Where’s the camera when you need it.
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