Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 2:40 p.m.
Willow Chambers is a barback at Vine and Swine, a nose-to-tail restaurant and full bar on the square in Oxford.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee talked to her at the Vine and Swine restaurant.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Willow Chambers
Detective Magee: Willow Chambers?
Willow Chambers: Yes?
Detective Magee: Could we have a moment of your time before your shift starts?
Willow Chambers: Um, I was a little late coming in, so I only have like a couple of minutes.
Detective Beckwith: We spoke with the bar manager earlier, so the restaurant knows that we'll be talking to you during part of your shift.
Willow Chambers: Okay. Who are you?
Detective Beckwith: We are Yoknapatawpha County detectives. I'm Detective Beckwith, and this is Detective Magee.
Willow Chambers: I didn't do anything, did I?
Detective Magee: No, no, we're looking for information about some customers you may have encountered several days ago.
Willow Chambers: Oh, okay.
Detective Magee: First, could we get your full name and place of residence?
Willow Chambers: My name is Willow Ava Chambers. I live at 38 Pear Tree Lane in Taylor, Mississippi, in a rental property my dad owns.
Detective Beckwith: Do you bartend here at the Vine and Swine?
Willow Chambers: No. I'm only 19. To be a bartender in Mississippi, you need to be 21 years old.
Detective Beckwith: Ah, all right. Tell me what you do here, then.
Willow Chambers: I'm a barback, so that means I get to do all the things that Stella doesn't want to do like wipe down the bar, fill garnish trays, stock bottles, clear tables, that sort of thing.
Detective Magee: Were you behind the bar on Thursday the 21st?
Willow Chambers: I was working that day, but I don't know if I was behind the bar or wiping down tables.
Detective Beckwith: Do you remember a woman who came in and ordered a really expensive bottle of wine that she drank at the bar instead of at a table?
Willow Chambers: Oh, yeah, the Whitehall lady. We have her name in the computer here if that's what you want … Cherie Atkinson.
Detective Magee: Got it.
Willow Chambers: Okay.
Detective Beckwith: Was Cherie alone that day?
Willow Chambers: No, she was here with Janet, an actress in the Yoknapatawpha Players. I don't remember her last name.
Detective Magee: What were you doing when they came in?
Willow Chambers: I was cutting limes behind the bar.
Detective Beckwith: Did they sit near to where you were?
Willow Chambers: Yes, just behind me, near the end of the bar over there.
Detective Beckwith: Were you involved with getting their drinks in any way?
Willow Chambers: No. I only noticed them when Cherie—that was her name?—ordered that expensive bottle of wine.
Detective Magee: No one has ordered an expensive bottle of wine since you've worked here?
Willow Chambers: Not at the bar. They do in the dining area to have with their dinners, but that wasn't what got my attention. It was the way Cherie was treating Stella.
Detective Magee: And how was that?
Willow Chambers: Supremely bitchy.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Willow Chambers: Because she expected us to open a $75 bottle of wine so she could drink a glass for $15 or $20 and let the rest go bad.
Detective Magee: How were Cherie and Janet getting along?
Willow Chambers: Okay. Cherie certainly wasn't as nasty to Janet as she was to Stella.
Detective Magee: Can you explain that with a little more detail?
Willow Chambers: Cherie was trying to convince Janet to do something. Janet kept looking down and then away like she didn't want to do what Cherie wanted her to do.
Detective Beckwith: Did you catch anything the two of them said to each other?
Willow Chambers: When I started putting dirty glasses in the trays for the glasswasher, I heard Cherie say something like, "You can just lock him in. It won't hurt him." And Janet said, "I can't. They'll know I did it on purpose."
Detective Magee: What did Cherie say to that?
Willow Chambers: Um, something like, "I'll tell him to say he wasn't. He'll tell everyone he was stuck." Janet shook her head.
Detective Beckwith: Did she say anything else?
Willow Chambers: I put the glasses in the washer then, so I didn't get the rest of that conversation.
Detective Magee: What did you do then?
Willow Chambers: I ran back to the storage room to get more vermouth. When I came back, Cherie was drinking another glass of wine.
Detective Magee: Did you hear any more of their conversation?
Willow Chambers: Not much. Janet said something like "she could switch stuff around too." and told Cherie, "if you want," and "okay," then Cherie asked for the bill. That's it. I had to fill an ice well right after, which is noisy. After I did that, Cherie and Janet were gone.
Detective Beckwith: I'm impressed with your memory. It's been more than a few days since this happened.
Willow Chambers: It's part of the job. People talk; you listen. If you pretend you're not there, and people forget you're there… Plus, you do stand out as a customer if you're a colossal bitch to everyone.
Detective Beckwith: Imagine that.
Detective Magee: Thank you, Ms. Chambers, you've been very helpful. We'll let you get back to work now.
Willow Chambers: No problem.
Interview ended – 2:54 p.m.