Fleeta Mullins, the cashier and cook at the Mutual, sits down with Adriana Trigiani to discuss the finer points of Big Cherry Holler, Trigiani’s sequel to Big Stone Gap set in, where else? Big Stone Gap.
Fleeta Mullins: Okay, now just let me turn this thing on.
Adriana Trigiani: Fleeta? Is there a reason we’re doing this interview in your car?
FM: Yes ma’am. I didn’t want a bunch of input from those layabouts at the Mutual Soda Fountain. I don’t need me Spec Broadwater tellin’ me what to ask and how to ask it.
AT: No problem.
FM: Now, my first question is: did Jack Mac cheat on Ave Maria–some of us think he did and some of us think maybe not.
AT: What do you think?
FM: I think men are men and he definitely had himself a fine time whilst Ave Maria was runnin’ around It-lee.
FM: So he did! I knew it! I knew it!
AT: I didn’t say he did or didn’t, Fleeta. That’s up to you, the reader.
FM: Well, that just stinks. You ought to tell us.
AT: If Ave Maria wants to find out, then you’ll find out. The
books are written in her voice and she makes all the decisions.
FM: But you’re the one writin’ the story.
AT: I’m just passing along what she’s thinking.
FM: Well, I guess I’ll have to live with not knowing.
AT: For now.
FM: You mean I may find out in a future book?
AT: I think you might. FM: Hallelujah. ‘Cause I got me a pool goin’ and I wanna win. Now, I want to know about Pete Rutledge.
AT: Fleeta, I don’t mean to be a pill, but if you’re going to smoke, could you crack a window?
FM: Sorry. I liked Pete. I wanted him to be happy–but I didn’t want him to be happy at the expense of our local Jack. Now, help me with this–is Pete really in love with Ave Maria, or is he just after her ’cause he can’t have her?
AT: I think he really loves her.
FM: That’s bold.
AT: Don’t you think you could be married and make a friend and the feelings sometimes get intense?
FM: Of course. It’s happened to me.
FM: There’s a man that comes to the wrestling meets over in Kingsport–and we had coffee after a GLOW show.
AT: What’s a GLOW show?
FM: The Glorious Ladies of Wrestling. Anyway, I had to have a talk with him, ’cause he got fresh and I told him we had a lot in common but he didn’t need to be puttin’ his hand on my knee to make a point, you know what I’m sayin’?
AT: I do.
FM: I think when you’re murried, you’re murried and there’s no room for hanky-panky. ‘Course I was raised Baptist and we got us some rules.
AT: Were you surprised where the story went in Big Cherry Holler?
FM: I think it got serious, but I didn’t mind that. I think as you go on in life, you get you some problems and things have to be worked out. And I like how everybody in town got into Ave’s business, ’cause you know, that’s just how it is in this town. You can’t hardly floss without half the town knowin’ it. Now, them ladies at Ballantine wanted me to ask you something.
FM: When you boil it all down, what is the theme of Big Cherry Holler?
AT: Letting go. Letting go of the past, of expectations we have about our mates, letting go of old hurts and making room for something wonderful to happen. Growth and change are good, don’t you think?
FM: I guess so. If both in the marriage is growin’ and changin’ together–but there ain’t nothing worse than bein’ on different pages–when that’s happens, well, it’s look-out-it’s-Splitsville.
AT: What did you think the theme of the book was?
FM: Keep an eagle eye on your husband. That, and don’t let
your wife go off to It-lee without you.
AT: Very practical advice.
FM: Well, I’m known for that.
AT: I’ve heard.
FM: Well, I got to get back to the Mutual. The lunch crowd’s loading in and when they’re hungry, I got to get them fed.
AT: What’s the special today?
FM: Soup beans, corn bread, collard greens, spiced apples, and coffee.
AT: Sounds good.
FM: I’ll save ye some.
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