Saturday, January 23, 2016

Savvy Saturday: A Conversation with Alexandra Wellingway, Rich Girl and Witch By Ron D. Voigts

I am waiting at small coffee house on an off-street in Maiden Falls, WV, called The Rusty Cup, a place with steampunk décor and mismatched furniture. A clock with exposed gears, a painting of a man in a top hat and gas mask, and poster for the 1960 movie, The Time Machine, decorate the walls. My interview with Alexandra Wellingway hasn’t started yet because she is running late.

The establishment’s front door opens and she waltzes in. She looks the same as I saw her last time— short black hair, gold nose ring, and Ankh tattoo on her neck—except today she wears earring with Gothic crosses dangling at the ends, a silver scarf wrapped around her neck and a black duster coat that stops above her ankles. She slips into the chair opposite me, points to the barista who nods back and flashes me a brief smile.

Ron: Miss Wellingway I was worried you would not make it. Good to see you.

Alex: I told you before, please, call me Alex. All my friends do. <Loosens the scarf.> Mother had one of her hissy fits. She’s been talking to dead ancestors again, worried that I’d get into an accident by driving my Vet too fast.

Ron: She speaks with dead family members?

Alex: Perhaps, I said too much. Mother thinks they communicate with her, and who am I to say they don’t. <Raises an eyebrow>

Ron: Do you drive too fast?

Alex: Hey, what’s a Corvette for if you can’t open her up and take a few fast corners? Driving the mountains of West Virginia at 80 or 90 mph is exhilarating. Of course it makes Cavendish nervous. Sometimes he shuts his eyes on the hairpin turns. <Giggles>

The barista places a steaming mug in front of her.

Alex: <Winks at him> Thank you, Arnie.

Ron: So tell us a bit about—

Alex holds up a finger for me to wait. She sips her drink and sighs.

Alex: This is really good. You must try some. <Pushes the cup towards me> I won’t take no for an answer.

Ron: <Sips> That is good. I taste something sweet but not sure what.

Alex: Peach brandy. The brew is something Arnie makes just for me.

Ron: I was about to ask about your friend Cavendish who you mentioned earlier. What kind of guy is he?

Alex: He’s loyal, trusting and ready to help. Sounds like a boy scout. <Laughs> He’s a good guy. Had it rough when his wife died. Got himself in a bit of trouble with the law. Something about sending a guy to the hospital although I hear the idiot had it coming. Mother fixed things and arranged for him to come back to Maiden Falls. She put him in charge of the town newspaper but she has other plans for him. <Takes another drink> Mother doesn’t share them with me but I gather it’s something big, and I think she’s trying to play matchmaker between us. <Rolls eyes>

Ron: What about the woman, Jane? I heard she’s a psychic.

Alex: She is quite gifted. Puts her hands on something and experiences whatever the last person who touched it saw and heard. The girl sees auras and can sense the good and bad in people. Unfortunately she has the mind of a ten year old. Mother says there is more to her than that. She’s like an onion with many layers and we haven’t gotten to them all yet.

Ron: Tell us something about Alex.

Alex: <Eyes narrow on me> I’m the poor little rich girl who grew up in a town where everyone knows you.

Ron: Was it hard growing up a Wellingway?

Alex: Everyone was overly polite to me. I could go and do whatever I wanted and no one disagreed. Teachers always gave me a break when I didn’t have my homework done, except for Mr. Welsh in the 4th grade. He didn’t patronize me. Once when I misbehaved, he made me stand with my nose holding a penny pressed against a blackboard for a half hour. <Snickers> I had Lincoln’s image on the tip of my nose for the rest of the day.

Ron: Do you have favorite food?

Alex: Tough question. I must tell you I was a vegan until I went off to college. Growing up I ate no meat. I refused to be at the table when animal flesh was served. This worked out well since my parents took dinner much later than I. For a short while, Mother allowed me to have a job. Builds character, she said. I worked at a fried chicken place downtown. My first customer ordered two wings and a chicken breast. I stood for a long time with the tongs and stared down at the bins of chicken parts. When my boss finally asked if I had a problem, I said, “What does a chicken breast and wing look like?” He took me to his office and brought out the corporate manual which had pictures. <Laughs and sips drink> My favorite food now would be sushi or pizza with pepperoni. Funny how we can change.

Ron: I must ask about the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Are you a—

Alex: <Interrupting> You really shouldn’t talk about Arnie that way, although I’ve heard he does like bananas.

The barista, hearing his name, looks her way. She gives him a playful wave and points to her drink.

Alex: <Leans towards me> You were going to ask me if I’m a witch, right? <I nod> A certain amount of preternatural talent runs in my family. Some of it is innate. Other stuff you got to work at like spells and potions and such. I leave the hard work to Mother. She concocted this brew last month and drank it. Saw double for two days. <Snickers>

The barista arrives with another cup of Alex’s special blend, sets it in front of her and leaves.

Ron: Then you are a witch?

Alex: I actually ordered this for you. <She points at the drink and it glides across the table on its own, stopping in front of me.>

Ron: Moving on then. What about the family curse? Can you tell us about that?

Alex: Very messy affair. Happened about 150 years ago. Some bad things happened. Somebody killed somebody. Revenge and more deaths. Then this necromancer got involved. Poof! No more boys are born in the Wellingway family. Only one daughter per generation.

Ron: And here you are.

Just little ol' me and Mother living in that drafty house on the hill.

Ron: Is there anything more you’d like to tell our readers?

Alex: If they haven’t read The Witch’s Daughter, it is a must read. It’s required for all seniors at the local high school. <Laughs> Okay, I made that part up. But the story does tell how Jane, Cavendish and I met and solved a cold case murder. <She reaches across the table and touches the back of my hand.> A little birdie told me you’re working on the next book.

Before I can say anything, she jumps up, comes around and gives me a hug.

Alex: Got to run. Cavendish is meeting me at Bunnies Tavern for chili and a beer.

She rushes out. I hear the roar of a car engine and the squeal of tires. I imagine her yellow Corvette racing down the main street of Maiden Falls.