This weekend I will give you another episode of the Three Ingredients serial. However, as a mid-week post, I’m giving you another character interview from my novel, Atonement, Tennessee. It should give you some insight into everyday life in that fictional town. So here goes!
Chip from Italian 2 Go
A young man walks into my office with his hair sticking out every which way. He can’t be older than 16. I recognize him — Chip, a resident of Atonement, Tennessee. He has a bit part in the story, but as the local pizza delivery boy, he knows the town inside and out. I get up to shake his hand. He looks just a little bit shaken.
Teagan: Hi Chip. Thanks for coming by. How are you? Oh… Was traffic bad?
Chip: You’re welcome Miss Teagan. I guess it was sort of more traffic than I expected. It’s about as bad as Atlanta — I’ve been there a time or two, you know “Hot-lanta.” (I chuckle with him. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that term.) I can tell you, it’s a lot worse than Nashville traffic. And Atonement, Tennessee doesn’t have any!
Teagan: Wow, really? No traffic? That sounds great to me.
Chip: Well, I guess so, ma’am. It’s kind of boring that way though. But I do get to get out and drive. I just got my license. I’m not sure how much fun that would be around here.
(He used a rural pronunciation for Italian and Coke-a-Cola that is seldom heard today. I admit I was as charmed by it as Ralda was.)
Teagan: That’s right; you work at Italian 2 Go, the local pizzeria. You probably know the area better than anyone.
Chip: Well, maybe. I guess that’s something else I like about my job — getting out and seeing a lot of people. You know, seeing what’s going on. There aren’t many jobs to choose from in Atonement. So I’m okay with working at Italian 2 Go for now.
Teagan: What did you think when you got a call to deliver to the old Sunhold estate? I got the impression that not all your coworkers were willing to go.
Chip: They didn’t think I’d do it, but I showed ‘em. Like they said in that old movie, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!”
Chip: Ha-ha. No ma’am, of course not. But there’s some as believes it is. I know the place is sort of rundown and spooky lookin’… There are a lot of people who might have refused to go there. But the only thing that bothers me about the place is that long driveway. You gotta admit it’s “too far and snaky,” as my grandma would say.
Chip: Other than Sunhold and its cemetery, I haven’t heard the other kids talk about any. But my grandma used to tell a bunch of scary stories about the old house and the whole town for that matter. She swore on the Bible they were true too, even though most of them happened before her grandma’s time.
Teagan: What kind of scary stories? (He shrugs.) Just generic weird and spooky stuff? (Chip nods.) Did your grandma, or anyone, ever say what was behind all the weird stuff?
Chip: Grandma said something about it being part of the land. Ha… (Chip grins conspiratorially) Grandma doesn’t know it, but she’s kinda new agey. Once the science teacher had a special speaker come to class — a geologist. He was talking about ley lines, and it reminded me of how Grandma said all the weird stuff from olden days was part of the land.
Teagan: Humm… that’s really interesting. So Atonement, Tennessee has a long mysterious history then… I expect the place is more interesting than most of the residents realize.
Chip: Maybe so, ma’am. The other day I met this Professor Heart, from Nashville. He was way into birds, if you can believe that. He sure seemed to think Atonement was interesting. But I don’t know why. I think big cities are more interesting.
(He glances at the clock.) If you’ll excuse me, I’m in town with an American Government class trip from my school. The teacher said I’d better get back on time.
Teagan: Oh, of course Chip. Don’t let me make you late. Be sure to check out the memorials and museums. Say hello to everyone in Atonement for me when you get home.
(Chip waves politely to the readers, takes a quick look at a text message on his phone, chuckles at it, and leaves.)
Directions to Atonement, Tennessee: