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Post Office to Close

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Now that the cafe and the beauty shop have closed, I should have known I'd be next. Got my notice in the mail. The post office will be closing down and all mail will be sent over to the Gate City Post Office. It's gonna be a sad old day for me. But I'm still keeping up with the news, so just call me or bring your news on by the house, or tell my other half if you see him around town.

Since Essie Rue has gotten that job playing the organ at the Dreamland Roller Rink over in North Birmingham, she and her husband, Billy, are talking about moving over there. I'm hoping she won't... with Julian and Opal gone, me, Ninny Threadgoode, and Biddie Louise Otis will be all that's left of the old gang.

This week I am sorry to report that someone broke into Vesta Adcock's home and stole all her bird figurines out of her china cabinet, and some change she had in a drawer.

Not only that, I was over at the cemetery Christmas Day, putting flowers on my mother's grave, and someone stole my purse right out of the car. Times have changed. What kind of a person would do that, is what I wonder.

By the way, is there anything sadder than toys on a grave?

... Dot Weems...

OCTOBER 12, 1986

Evelyn got up early, went into the kitchen, and started preparing her treat for Mrs. Threadgoode. She heated up the plate right before they started for the nursing home, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and placed that in a thermo-bag, so it would be good and hot. Again, she made Ed rush across town as fast as he could.

The old woman was waiting, and Evelyn made her close her eyes while she unwrapped the plate and undid the lid on the jar of iced tea with mint.

"Okay. You can look now."

When Mrs. Threadgoode saw what she had on her plate, she clapped her hands, as excited as a child on Christmas. There before her was a plate of perfectly fried green tomatoes and fresh cream-white corn, six slices of bacon, with a bowl of baby lima beans on the side and four huge light and fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

Evelyn almost started to cry when she saw how happy her friend was. She told Mrs. Threadgoode to eat her food while it was still warm and excused herself for minute and went down the hall to find Geneene. She gave her a hundred dollars in an envelope, and twenty-five dollars for herself, and asked if she wouldn't please make sure that Mrs. Threadgoode got whatever she wanted to eat and anything else she wanted while Evelyn was gone.

Geneene said, "No money for me, honey, she's one of my sweet ones. Don't worry, Mrs. Couch. I'll take care of her for you."

When she came back, her friend's plate was empty.

"Oh Evelyn. I don't know what I've done to deserve you spoiling me like you do. That was the best meal I've had since the cafe closed."

"You deserve to be spoiled."

"Well, I don't know about that. I don't know why you're so good to me, but I appreciate it. You know I do. I thank the Lord every night and ask Him to watch out for you every day."

"I know you do."

Evelyn sat there with her and held her hand and eventually told her that she was going out of town for a while, but that she'd be back and would have a surprise for her.

"Oh, I love a surprise. Is it bigger than a breadbox?"

"Can't tell you that. Then it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?"

"I guess not... well hurry up, now, and get back, 'cause you know how I'm gonna be wondering. Is it a shell? You going to Florida? Opal and Julian sent me a shell from Florida."

Evelyn shook her head. "No, it's not a shell. Now, don't ask me. You're just going to have to wait and see."

She gave her a piece of paper and said, "This is the phone number and address of where I'll be, and you let me know if you need me, okay?"

Mrs. Threadgoode said she would and held her hand until it was time for her to go. Then the women walked to the front door, where Ed was waiting.

He asked, "How are you today, Mrs. Threadgoode?”

"Oh, I'm just fine, honey... full of fried green tomatoes and lima beans that our girl, here, brought me."

Evelyn was hugging her goodbye when a bird-breasted woman in a nightgown and fox furs marched up to them and announced in a loud voice, "You people will have to move along now. My husband and I have just purchased this place and everyone must leave by six o'clock!"

She continued on down the hall, terrorizing all the other old ladies at Rose Terrace.

Evelyn looked at Mrs. Threadgoode. "Vesta Adcock?"

Mrs. Threadgoode nodded. "That's her, all right. What did I tell you? That poor thing doesn't have a full string of fish."

Evelyn laughed and waved goodbye. Her friend waved and called out, "You hurry back, now... oh, and listen.... Send an old lady a picture postcard sometime, will you?"


OCTOBER 14, l986

Seven years before, Evelyn Couch had been shopping out at the mall and had walked by Goldboro's Radio and TV Center when she saw a fat woman on one of the TV sets in the window who looked vaguely familiar. She tried to place who that woman was, and what show she was on. The woman seemed to be staring right back at her. Then it hit her: My God, that's me. She had been looking at herself on the TV monitor. She was horrified.

It was the first time she had realized how heavy she was. It had happened so gradually over the years, and now, there she was, looking exactly like her mother.

After that she had tried every diet known to man, but she just could not seem to stick to any of them. She had even failed the Last Chance Diet. Twice.

She had joined a health club, once, but was so exhausted by the time she'd pulled herself into those awful leotards, she went home to bed.

An article she'd read in Cosmopolitan said that doctors were now able to suck the fat right out of you, and she would have done that, too, if she had not been so afraid of doctors and hospitals.

So she had just done all her shopping at the Stout Shop and was always pleased when she saw women there who were fatter than she was. To celebrate that fact, she would usually go and treat herself at the Pancake House, two blocks away.

Food had become the only thing she looked forward to, and candy, cakes, and pies were the only sweetness in her life...

But now, after all these months of being with Mrs. Threadgoode each week, things had begun to change. Ninny Threadgoode made her feel young. She began to see herself as a woman with half her life still ahead of her. Her friend really believed that she was capable of selling Mary Kay cosmetics. Nobody had ever believed she could do anything before, or had faith in her; least of all, Evelyn herself. The more Mrs. Threadgoode talked about it and the more she thought about it, the less Towanda ran rampant in her mind, beating up on the world, and she began to see herself as thin and happy— behind the wheel of a pink Cadillac.

And then, that Sunday she had gone to the Martin Luther King Memorial Baptist Church, a miraculous thing had happened: For the first time in months, she stopped thinking about killing herself or others and realized that she wanted to live. So, still feeling high from the church, she had screwed her courage to the wall and, with the help of two five-milligram tablets of Valium, had actually gone to see a doctor. He tinned out to be a charming young man who gave her an examination she didn't remember much about, except that he found nothing seriously wrong. Her estrogen level was low, just as Mrs. Threadgoode had suspected. That very afternoon, she had her first prescription for Premarin,.625 mg., and began to feel better almost immediately.

One month later, she had an enormous orgasm that nearly scared poor Ed to death.

Ten days after that, Ed was on an exercise program down at the Y.M.C.A.

And within two weeks of receiving her Mary Kay Beauty Showcase, she had studied and completed her Perfect Start Workbook, signed the Mary Kay Beauty Consultant Agreement, and was holding skin-care classes. Soon, in a special ceremony, her Mary Kay district director presented her with a special Perfect Start pin, which she wore with pride. She had even forgotten to eat lunch, once...

Things were happening fast. But not fast enough to suit Evelyn; so she took five thousand dollars out of their savings, packed her bags, and today she was sitting on a plane headed to a fat farm in California, reading the brochure they had sent her, as excited as she had been on the first day of school.


7 AM: One hour brisk walk, alternating walk in town and nature walk

8 AM: Coffee and 3 oz. of salt-free tomato Juice

8:30AM: Wake-up exercises, done to the recording of "I'm So Excited," by the Pointer Sisters

9 AM: Stretch and flex exercise class, using balls, wands, and hoops as aids

11 AM: Water fun, using balls and water wings as aids

12 NOON: Lunch... 250 calories

I PM: Free time for massage and facials... offering Boots and Mitties, a hot oil treatment for the hands and feet

6 PM: Dinner...275 calories

73O PM: Arts and crafts... Mrs. Jamie Higdon teaching painting, with still life (using artificial fruit only)

FRIDAY ONLY Mrs. Alexander Bagge teaches us how to make basket pots out of dough (nonedible) 

NOVEMBER 7, 1967

Hank Roberts had just turned twenty-seven and owned his own construction company. This morning, he and his buddy Travis, with the long hair, had just started a new job. The big yellow bulldozer grumbled and whined as he dug up the vacant lot alongside the old Threadgoode place on First Street. They were getting ready to put a red brick annex to the Baptist church.

Travis, who had smoked two joints already this morning, was walking around, kicking at the ground with his boot, and began mumbling to himself.

"Hey, man, look at this shit. This is heavy, gross stuff, man..."

Pretty soon Hank stopped for lunch, and Travis called over to him, "Hey, man, look at all this shit!”

Hank came over and looked at the ground he had just dug up. It was full of fish heads, now mostly just rows of little sharp teeth, along with dried-up skulls of hogs and chickens eaten for supper by people long forgotten.

Hank was a country boy and used to such sights, so he just looked and said, "Yeah, look a-there."

He walked back over and sat down, opened his black tin lunch pail, and began eating one of his four sandwiches. Travis was still struck by what they had uncovered, and continued to poke around. He began to trip out on the bones and skulls and teeth. "Jesus Christ! There must be hundreds of these things! What are they doing here?"

"How the hell do I know?"

"Shit, man, this is bizarre as hell"

Hank, who was getting disgusted, called out, "It's just a bunch of hogs' heads, dammit! Don't go getting weird on me!"

Travis kicked at something and stopped dead in his tracks. After a minute, he said in an odd voice, "Hey, Hank."


"You ever heard of a hog with a glass eye?"

Hank got up and walked over and looked. "Well," he said, "I’ll be damned."

DECEMBER 13, 1930

Ruth and Idgie had left the cafe and gone over to the big house to see Momma Threadgoode, who was sick. Sipsey had come down to stay with the baby, as she often did. Tonight, she had brought along Artis, the eleven-year-old blue-gummed twin, so he could walk her home. He was a devil, but she couldn't resist him.

It was eight o'clock and Artis was asleep on the bed. Sipsey was listening to the radio and eating what was left of the skillet bread and molasses.

“... And now, the makers of the new Rinso Blue, with sodium, bring you..."

Outside, there was nothing but the sound of leaves cracking as the black pickup truck with the Georgia license plate drove up to the back of the cafe with its lights off.

Two minutes later, a drunken Frank Bennett kicked the back door open and came through the kitchen into the back room. He pointed his gun at Sipsey and headed toward the crib. She got up and tried to reach the baby, but he grabbed her by the back of the dress and threw her across the room.

She jumped back up again and lunged at him. "You leave dat baby alone! Dat's Miz Ruth's baby!"

"Get away from me, nigger." He slammed her with the broad ride of his gun, hitting her with so much force that she was knocked cold and blood began to trickle from her ear.

Artis woke up and yelled, "Grandma!" and ran over to her while Frank Bennett picked the baby up and headed out the back door.

There was a new moon that night. Just enough light for Frank to make his way back to the truck. He opened the door and put the baby—who had not made a sound—into the front seat, and was climbing in when all of a sudden he heard a sound behind him... as if something heavy had hit a tree stump that had been covered with a quilt. The sound he had heard was that of a five-pound skillet hitting his own thick Irish hair, a fraction of a second before his skull split open. He was dead before he hit the ground, and Sipsey was headed back inside with the baby.

"Ain't nobody gonna get dis baby, no suh, not while I's alive."

Frank Bennett had not figured that she would get back up off the floor. He also hadn't figured that the skinny little black woman had been handling five-pound skillets, two at a time, since she was eleven. He had figured dead wrong.

As Sipsey passed by Artis, frozen in his tracks, he could see that she was wild-eyed. She said, "Go get Big George. I done kilt me a white man, I done kilt him daid."

Artis slowly tiptoed over to where Frank was lying beside the truck, and as he leaned over to get a good look, he saw that glass eye shining in the moonlight.

He ran so fast over the railroad tracks he forgot to breathe and nearly passed out before he made it home. Big George was asleep, but he could see Onzell was still up, back in the kitchen.

He flew in the door, holding his side in pain and panting, "I gotta see Daddy!"

Onzell said, "You better not wake yo daddy up, boy, hell whup you within an inch of your life..." but Artis was already in the bedroom, shaking the big man.

"Daddy! Daddy! Get up! You' gots to come wit me!"

Big George woke with a start. "Whut? Whut's da matter witch you, boy?"

"I cain't tell you. Grandma wants you over to the café!"


"Yes! Right now! She say ax you to come right now!"

Big George was putting on his pants. "This better not be no joke, boy, or I'll have yo butt."

Onzell, who had been standing in the door, listening, went over to get her sweater to go with them, but Big George said for her to stay home.

"She ain't sick, is she?" Onzell said.

Big George said, "Naw, baby, naw, she ain't sick. You just stay here."

Jasper came into the living room, half asleep. "What...?"

Onzell said, "Nothin', honey, go on back to bed... and don't wake up Willie Boy."

When they got away from the house, Artis said, "Daddy, Grandma done kilt a white man."

The moon was gone behind the clouds and Big George couldn't see his son's face. He said, "You're the one gonna be daid, boy, when I find out what you is up to."

Sipsey was standing in the yard when they got there. Big George leaned down and felt Frank's cold arm, sticking out from the sheet Sipsey had covered him with, and he stood back up and put his hands on hips. He looked back down at the body and shook his head. "Mmmm, mmmm. You done did it this time, Momma."

But even as he was shaking his head, Big George was making a decision. There was no defense for a black who killed a white man in Alabama, so it never occurred to him to do anything but what he had to do.

He picked up Frank's body and threw it over his shoulder and said, "Come on, boy," and took it all the way in the back of the yard and put it in the wooden shed. He laid it down on the dirt floor, and said to Artis, "You stay here till I get back, boy, and don't you move. I's got to get rid of dat truck." About an hour later, when Idgie and Ruth got home, the baby was back in his bed and sound asleep. Idgie drove Sipsey home and told her how worried she was about Momma Threadgoode being so sick; Sipsey never told her how close they had come to losing the baby.

Artis stayed in the shed all night, nervous and excited, rocking back and forth on his haunches. Along around four o'clock, he couldn't resist; he opened his knife and, in the pitch dark, struck the body under the sheet—once, twice, three, four times—and on and on.

About sunup, the door creaked open and Artis peed on himself. It was his daddy. He had driven the truck into the river, out by the Wagon Wheel, and had walked all the way back; about ten miles.

When Big George pulled off the sheet and said, "We got to burn his clothes," they both stopped and stared.

The sun had just cracked through the wooden slats. Artis looked at Big George, his eyes as big as platters, with his mouth open, and said, "Daddy, dat white man don't have no head."

Big George shook his head again. "Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm..." His mother had chopped that man's head off and buried it somewhere.

Stopping only long enough to take in that horrendous fact, he said, "Boy, help me wid dese clothes."

Artis had never seen a white man naked before. He was all white and pink, just like those hogs after they'd been boiled and all their hair had come off.

Big George handed him the sheet and the bloody clothes and told him to go way out in the woods and bury them, deep, and then to go home and say nothing. To nobody. Anywhere. Ever.

While Artis was digging the hole, he couldn't help but smile. He had a secret. A powerful secret that he would have as long as he lived. Something that would give him power when he was feeling weak. Something that only he and the devil knew. The thought of it made him smile with pleasure. He would never have to feel the anger, the hurt, the humiliation of the others, ever again. He was different. He would always be set apart. He had stabbed himself a white man...

And whenever any white folks gave him any grief, he could smile inside. I stabbed me one of you, already...

At seven-thirty, Big George had already started slaughtering the hogs and started the water boiling in the big black iron pot—a little early in the year, but not too soon.

Later that afternoon, when Grady and the two detectives from Georgia were questioning his daddy about the missing white man, Artis had nearly fainted when one of them came over and looked right in the pot. He was sure the man had seen Frank Bennett's arm bobbing up and down among the boiling hogs. But evidently, he hadn't, because two days later, the fat Georgia man told Big George that it was the best barbecue he had ever eaten, and asked him what his secret was.

Big George smiled and said, "Thank you, suh, I'd hafto say the secret's in the sauce."

NOVEMBER 10, 1967

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