Smiling young woman with long dark hair

Sofia Summerset interview

 Sunday, October 22, 2023 – 3:13 p.m.

Sofia Summerset is the sales assistant at Donovan Walker's Arcane Guidance.

Detectives Beckwith and Magee talked with her during a break outside.


  • Detective P. Beckwith
  • Detective J. Magee
  • Sofia Summerset

Detective Magee: Sofia? Could we speak to you outside?

Sofia Summerset: Okay. It's time for my break anyway. Is it going to take long?

Detective Magee: No. We'll be quick.

Sofia Summerset: Okay. Let me tell Don I'm going out. There's benches out front by the sundial. Don, I'm taking my break!

Don Walker: All right. I'll be preparing the sitting for Ms. Varney. If you see her come in, send her to the back. 

Sofia Summerset: Okay.

Detective Magee: Sofia, can you give us your name and address?

Sofia Summerset: Sophia Mae Summerset. I live with my dad at 301 Mosaic Drive in Taylor.

Detective Magee: How old are you?

Sofia Summerset: Almost 17.

Detective Beckwith: Does your mom or dad drive you to work?

Sofia Summerset: Eh, no. I have a license and my own ride. The blue Mini Cooper over there is mine.

Detective Magee: I suppose that's why you need the job at Arcane Guidance.

Sofia Summerset: I have to pay my own insurance. So, yeah.

Detective Beckwith: Do you go to school?

Sofia Summerset: Yeah, I'm a junior at Yoknapatawpha High School. Straight A's again this semester.

Detective Beckwith: Impressive. How long have you worked here at Arcane Guidance?

Sofia Summerset: Since July.

Detective Magee: Do you like it?

Sofia Summerset: I like the money.

Detective Magee: Not that enthused about the work?

Sofia Summerset: What? Selling worthless rocks to old women at inflated prices? Would you be?

Detective Beckwith: So you're not a believer like Don?

Sofia Summerset: I'm a believer in my $17.50 an hour.

Detective Beckwith: What does Don have you doing for that kind of money?

Sofia Summerset: I sell rocks and then upsell tarot and palm readings. I make customers feel like they and their futures are important and that Arcane Guidance is part of that future.

Detective Magee: You're pretty savvy. Where did you learn to do that, school?

Sofia Summerset: Nah, my dad. He's a marketing manager here in Oxford. They don't teach you the stuff that makes money in school. People will buy anything if you sell them the right way, even worthless rocks.

Detective Beckwith: How do you know they're worthless? Don sure seems to think they help.

Sofia Summerset: I know better than that. My mom has raised me to spot a con man. She has two qualifications—she teaches Psychology at Mississippi State, and she divorced my father. 

Detective Beckwith: So you think Don Walker is a con man?

Sofia Summerset: I did at first, but after a few months working here, I found out that he actually believes in this New Age garbage.

Detective Magee: How?

Sofia Summerset: Because he does readings for himself more than his clients. If we're not open, he's usually somewhere in the house with a deck of tarot cards predicting his own future. He does it so much that if he forecasts something that doesn't come true, he forgets it. If it does, he proclaims it from the rooftops. It's a total crock.

Detective Magee: Did you tell him you don't believe in his readings?

Sofia Summerset: No way. I tell Don what he wants to hear. Besides, like any good saleswoman in this business, you make way more money if you know the psychic crap is fake.

Detective Beckwith: Savvy and blunt.

Sofia Summerset: Not blunt, just direct.

Detective Magee: All right, so what are your hours here?

Sofia Summerset: 2:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. Noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Detective Beckwith: Did you say 2:30 on weekdays? I thought you went to school.

Sofia Summerset: I do. I have Work Apprenticeship class the last hour of the day, so I'm allowed to leave school early for my job.

Detective Beckwith: All right. Were you working last Wednesday?

Sofia Summerset: Sure.

Detective Beckwith: Do you remember what time you got to work?

Sofia Summerset: I was here by 2:30 p.m. I'm never late.

Detective Magee: Was Don here when you arrived?

Sofia Summerset: Yeah. He opens at 11:00 a.m. on weekdays, so he was setting up the candle, incense, and sage smudging displays when I got in.

Detective Beckwith: Sage smudging?

Sofia Summerset: The high art of burning sage to smoke out the negative vibes in your house without setting off your smoke alarms.

Detective Beckwith: Gotcha. Ever so blunt.

Sofia Summerset: Direct.

Detective Beckwith: Yes. Direct. Did Don ever leave last Wednesday?

Sofia Summerset: Not that I remember.

Detective Magee: Did he do any readings in the back?

Sofia Summerset: Penny Starling came in for her regular reading at 4:00 p.m. I think they were done in an hour. At 5:00 p.m., we cataloged all of the reprinted grimoires, alchemy texts, and astrology books in our new database software while we were taking care of occasional customers until we closed. We're busier on weekends.

Detective Beckwith: Has Don ever had trouble paying you on time?

Sofia Summerset: Maybe once or twice if he has a slow week. He makes it up to me when Ms. Varney comes in. She literally keeps us in business with her hours-long readings.

Detective Magee: Did Don ever mention Hoyt Biffle?

Sofia Summerset: Not to me. I don't know who that even is.

Detective Beckwith: What kind of person is Don? Any violent streaks?

Sofia Summerset: Ha! Seriously? Don's a huge pushover. He is not that smart about important things and really gullible, but he's never violent. I never heard him yell at anyone. Once, I caught a couple of boys pocketing some polished onyx and let Don know. He told the boys they could keep the stones if they told him their parents' names and phone numbers. Later, he called their parents, who not only paid for the stones but one of them became a regular client. He's that type of person.

Detective Magee: Okay, how about Birdie Tarver, do you know her?

Sofia Summerset: Sure, she's Don's girlfriend.

Detective Beckwith: What is your impression of her?

Sofia Summerset: She's nice to me. She asks how I'm doing in school and that kind of stuff. She never buys anything; I suppose Don would just give her anything she would ask for anyway.

Detective Magee: Did Birdie Tarver come in last Wednesday?

Sofia Summerset: Yep.

Detective Beckwith: What time?

Sofia Summerset: Early afternoon. Before Ms. Starling's reading. She asked for Don. I told her that he'd be doing a reading soon, but it wouldn't take long.

Detective Magee: What did she say?

Sofia Summerset: That she'd come back later.

Detective Beckwith: Did she?

Sofia Summerset: Nope.

Detective Magee: What was her demeanor like? Was she acting differently?

Sofia Summerset: Now that you mention it, she did seem more jumpy than usual. I think she's a little high-strung usually, but she really looked nervous that day. You know, like when someone buys birth control pills in public for the first time? My first job was at the CVS on Jackson Avenue.

Detective Magee: I see. Well, that's all we have for you, Sofia. We'll let you get back to work.

Sofia Summerset: Okay. Oh, hello, Ms. Varney. Mr. Walker is waiting for you inside. And Detective Beckwith, if you need any tools to help you in whatever it is you're investigating, come back and buy something next time.

Detective Beckwith: Like some amethyst?

Sofia Summerset: Nope, charoite fine tunes your psychic abilities, isn't that right, Ms. Varney? Come on in, Ms. Varney. I see you're looking great today. I have a new shipment of the Élixir Secret d'Isabelle de Baviere ready for you. Goodbye, detectives.

Detective Beckwith: She's going to be a shark.

Detective Magee: Yep.

Interview ended – 3:34 p.m.


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