Old Black Maggie – Episode 28

thM9Z05T6NDefeating a Witch

Fifteen minutes after leaving Russell’s Market all three boys were in Gary’s bed room reading his book on witchcraft.

“Let me show you something on page 127,” Gary said. Gary read. “One way in which a person who has had a spell cast upon them by a witch or warlock is to find something that is in their possession that is dear to them. It may be trinket, amulet, or something like that. Those things usually have special power and significance to the witch or warlock, but little value to anyone else. Yet witches and warlocks are suspicious and paranoid by nature and will assume the holder of that object has the power it contains.

As long as it is in the possession of that person they have nothing to fear from the witch or warlock, they are rendered powerless.”

“What does that mean?” Whipper said.

“It means I have to get something that is valuable to her,” Gary said.

“Like what?” Donnie said.

“I’ve had some time to think about it,” Gary said. “She will wear different clothing. Sometimes it’s black other times it’s brown. She’ll have different sweaters but what does she always wear that never changes?”

“That black beret,” Donnie said. “She always wears it, winter or summer.”

“That must be important to her,” Gary said. “If I get that I got her; she can’t do anything to me or my friends.”

“How are you going to get it,” Whipper said, “run up and snatch it from he head?”

“The book says I can not take it from her grasp, I have to take it without her noticing it,” Gary said.

“How are you going to do that?” Donnie said.

“When I followed her home that one night she took the beret off and hung it on a hook in her dinning room,” Gary said. “I’ve got to go to her home again. When she’s asleep, sneak into her place, and take the beret.”

“That’s suicide!” Donnie said.

“It has to be done,” Gary said.

“Don’t expect us to help you,” Donnie said

“Don’t worry,” Gary said. “This is something only I can do.”

“When are you going to do it?” Whipper said.

“It has to be soon,” Gary said. “There’s one thing I can’t figure out; why is she doing this to me?”

Whipper ruffled the hair on Gary’s head. “Maybe it’s your curly red hair.”

The boys read other excerpts from the book and soon Gary returned it to its hiding place. Donnie and Whipper left and Gary laid in bed planning how to gain possession of

Old Black Maggie’s beret.

That night he laid with eyes wide open, never attempting sleep; planning, scheming, and reviewing possible scenarios that might lead to failure and how to react. “Once I have the beret the game is over.”

It was another night that sleep seemed to escape Gary. He heard his dad awaken and leave for work, slept briefly, and heard his mother leave for work.

As peculiar as it seemed he walked about all day long as if he had a good nights sleep. He mowed a couple of lawns in the morning, slept briefly in the afternoon, and felt refreshed when his mother and father came home from work.

There was excitement and anxiety, tonight would be the night.


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Old Black Maggie Episode 27


The next few days were lazy summer days of warm breezes and swaying trees. Yet, turmoil simmered inside Gary. His nights were sleepless and his thoughts were distant. He longed to be far away. He longed to be on an island out of the reach of Old Black Maggie. He longed for her death; death would release him from the grip of her spell on him. No longer would he have to move about the streets looking over his shoulder and wondering what alley or doorway she was hidden in, what bush she was behind, or what street she was a patrolling.

Gary read the book over and over hoping for a way to escape the fear that gripped him. The only reasonable thing to do was disappear. He confided in the old hobo, Pot, and now he was dead. He feared for Beez, but he was confident. He had challenged Old Black Maggie and her power was not strong enough for him. He had conquered her. And the way Gary reasoned it out was that Beez could move about freely. Gary was restricted by the guardianship of his parents. In Gary’s mind he needed to be free from his parents, the city, and thus Old Black Maggie.

There was one way that he could break free from Old Black Maggie. The book told him. “If you possess something precious to a witch or warlock they will no longer be able to bind you with a spell.” The question; what is precious to Old Black Maggie? Gary wrestled with that question for a couple of days.

Gary met with Donnie and Whipper at Russell’s. They sat on the steps and talked about endless subjects, school, teachers, girls, sports, sports heroes, parents, and gossip around the neighborhood.

Finally Gary said, “I got something to tell you guys and you got to promise not to tell anyone.”

“Not a soul,” Donnie said. “I swear an my grandpa’s grave.”

“If I tell may lightening strike me dead,” Whipper said.

“This isn’t kids stuff you guys,” Gary said. “It’s serious and if someone should tell, it may mean another life.”

“Another life?” Donnie said.

“Remember the guy they found in the river?” Gary said.

“Yeah,” Whipper said. “The hobo.”

“I was with him a few days before it happened,” Gary said. His lip trembled.

“Did you see it happen?” Donnie said.

“No,” Gary said, “but I’m the reason it happened.”

Gary related the details of the events of that day.

“But what does that have to do with you?” Whipper said.

“Pot hid me from Old Black Maggie,” Gary said. “That makes him her enemy. When she spit in the water that cursed the river and it was the river that killed old Pot.”

There was a strange silence among the three. It was as if Gary had infected them with something for which no antidote was available. It was trying not to think of a compelling thought or not look at a horrible accident. It was in the mind and now nothing could shake it free.

Gary looked dismally at the ground knowing he had brought his friends into a dangerous abode of the occult and unknown. “I should have never told you guys. I’m sorry.”

“We’ll just pretend we never heard anything,” Whipper said.

“I don’t think it works that way,” Gary said, “but there is a way out.” Gary motioned with his head. “Come over to my house I want to show you guys something. I have a plan.”


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Old Black Maggie – Episode 26

thHVT6H124Tea and Friendship

On the bus ride downtown all he could think about was Old Black Maggie spitting into the river and walking away. He envisioned old Pot floating face down in the river and being dragged out like a bloated dog.

The bus stopped two blocks from Beez’s apartment that was above the Majestic Theater. Gary clung close to the buildings as he stepped hurriedly and jumped over puddles.

He ran up the steps to Beez’s apartment and knocked. Beez let him in right away.

“What’s wrong?” Beez said. “You look frightened.”

“Do you have today’s paper?” Gary said.

“I was reading it when you called,” Beez said.

“Did you read about the guy dead in the river?” Gary said.

“Yes,” Beez said suspiciously, “do you know something about it?”

“It was Old Black Maggie,” Gary said near tears.

“Are you sure?” Beez said. “Did you see her do something?”

“No,” Gary said. “But a few days ago I was eating fish with Pot, that’s the man’s name. We were on the river just down from the railroad bridge over the river. From nowhere old Black Maggie comes down the tracks. Pot hid me in the weeds. Old Black Maggie stopped and looked down at Pot. She gave him an evil eye and spit into the river. He got killed because he helped me.”

“How did he help you?” Beez said.

“I told him I wanted to get away and wanted advice on hoping a train,” Gary said. “He told me it wasn’t a good idea. I told him about Old Black Maggie. When I got back to the tracks, here she comes. I ran back to Pot’s camp and told him Old Black Maggie was coming. He hid me in the grass; he helped me and Old Black Maggie put a curse on him right then and there.”

Beez turned and looked out the window. He scratched his cheek and turned back to Gary. “How close were you to this man named Pot?”

“I just met him,” Gary said. “It was chance meeting. I was walking down the tracks and saw him fishing. I asked him if they were bighting and he invited me to have some fish with him. He even gave me a coke.”

Beez walked over to a closet and got a towel and handed it to Gary. “You’re soaked. Dry yourself off. We have to reason this out.” He walked into the kitchen. “I’ll put on some water for tea.”

While Beez was busy in the small kitchen Gary looked around his apartment. It was richly furnished. Beez had taste and wealth. Two entire walls housed books interrupted only by small mementoes from distant lands where he had traveled. Paintings and pictures were on another wall. The furniture was dark leather. The room smelled like leather, but had a fresh and clean feeling to it. Beez was meticulous, everything was just so.

The teapot whistled and shortly Beez served a tray of tea, cream, sugar, and lemon.

Gary observed Beez and prepared his tea in the same manner; three lumps of sugar, a dash of cream, and a squeeze from a lemon slice. They sipped at the same time.

“That will warm and relax you,” Beez said. “What are you feeling right now?”

“I’m scared,” Gary said. “I don’t know what to do.”

Beez rested his hand on Gary’s shoulder. “Now look at me, Gary. Look in my eyes. Nothing is going to happen to you, but I am concerned.”

“About what?” Gary said.

“Your emotional wellbeing,” Beez said. “You’re a bundle of nerves. Young people aren’t meant to carry that sort of thing around with them. It is meant for older ones, ones with experience. Your life is meant to be lived carefree and unencumbered by fear and guilt. It is a time for exploration and wonderment.”

“Beez could you take me some place,” Gary pleaded, “someplace faraway. I’d pay you back every dime it would cost you. I promise.”

Beez smiled sympathetically and patted Gary’s shoulder. “I would like to do that, but it would be impossible. I could not take you from your home and parents. You are not ready for that.”

“And neither am I ready for this!” Gary said.

“You are right, there,” Beez said, “but I would not know where to begin.”

“I’ll think of a way, Beez,” Gary said, “but I got to get away.”

They finished the tea.

“Do you want me to drive you home?” Beez said.

“No,” Gary said. “It’s stopped raining and I think the walk would do me some good.”

“I think so too,” Beez said.

Beez walked Gary to the door and opened it. Gary turned to Beez and hugged him.

Gary uttered through tears, “Thanks, Beez. You are the best friend a guy could ask for.”

Beez smiled. “Take care and be careful, young man.”

“I will,” Gary said and slowly descended the steps from Beez’s apartment.


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Old Black Maggie – Episode 25

thXA3MV54HAnother Murder

The next day was cold for summer, it was windy and rainy. Gary’s dad and mom had left for work. He had a few jobs mowing lawns, but the rain hampered any effort.

Gary met with some friends down at Russell’s Market. They stood under the porch, talked and laughed.

Donnie cautioned, “Let’s not have too much fun Russell will chase us away. He says punk kids drive away business.”

“Like a crappy dirty store is inviting,” Donnie said. “The place is a dump.”

“Shhh,” Whipper said. “He’ll kick us out for sure.”

The rain was light, but the humidity thick. Gary’s skin felt clammy. He joked with his friends, but in the back of his mind lurked Old Black Maggie and the book on witchcraft. He wanted to tell the others what he knew about it, but held it in.

The newspaper van came by and dropped a bundle at Russell’s store. Gary picked up the bundle.

“What are you doing?” Donnie said.

“I’m going to take it inside to Russell,” Gary said.

“Let him waddle his own fat butt out here and get it himself,” Whipper said.

“There’s nothing wrong with being nice to the guy,” Gary said.

“You take that in and he’ll tell you to buy something or get lost and take your hoodlum friends with you,” Whipper said.

“I’ll take it in,” Gary said. “He could have chased us off a long time ago.”

Gary had hold of the bundle by the string. He stepped to the counter and hoisted the bundle on the counter.

“Thanks a lot,” Russell said.

Gary grabbed a box cutter from next to the register and cut the twine around the bundle. “I’ll put these in the rack for ya.”

“Hey, thanks, Gary,” Russell said. “Hand me the top paper.”

Gary went over the paper rack and replaced the old papers with the new ones. He brought the old papers back to the counter.

“Wow,” Russell said. “Some old hobo was found floating in the river dead. Nobody knows his name. The hobo who found him said they called him Pot. What a stupid name. I bet he didn‘t even have a pot to his name.”

Gary stood as if shocked by electricity. He had to think to breath. He actually had to remind himself where he was.

“What’s wrong?” Russell said, “you look like you just soiled yourself.”

“I met him a week or so ago,” Gary said and dashed from the store not bothering to say anything to his friends outside.

“Hey where ya goin’?” Donnie said.

Gary hurried home. He dug his book from the closet and read about the curse of death for helping an enemy of a witch or warlock. He hid the book. He ran down the steps and called Beez.

“Hello,” Beez said.

“It’s Gary, I got to see you right away. It’s important.”

“Sure,” Beez said. “Where do you want to meet?”

“Some place private,” Gary said.

“Can you get to my place?” Beez said.

“I’ll catch a bus,” Gary said.

Gary hung up, ran from the house, and caught a bus.


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Old Black Maggie – Episode 24

Making Gary Count

Every time Gary had the opportunity he delved into the book. It was fascinating and intriguing. It was like being let into a secret world understood by few. Reading it had a profound effect on his thinking; he became convinced of witchery and its power. To Gary it became more than superstition and old wives tales. He felt as though he possessed a special knowledge and understanding that allowed him to be wise and discerning in which ordinary things were not so ordinary, but the result of a hidden world.

A week after receiving the book he met Beez at the drugstore. They ordered their usual. Beez had a comic and Gary the Sporting News.

Beez leaned over to Gary. “How’s the book?”

“It’s incredible,” Gary said. “It’s hard to believe. If the things in that book weren’t possible witchcraft would have died off long ago.”

“I thought you might enjoy it,” Beez said. “Careful that you don’t get involved, I got it for you just to be informed.”

“You don’t have to worry about me,” Gary said, “I have no intention in becoming a warlock. It scares me. It’s given me ideas on how to identify the practice of a witch.

There is one thing that really scares me, Beez.”

“What’s that?” Beez said.

“Anyone knowingly aiding someone a witch’s targets is putting their own wellbeing at risk,” Gary said. “And, Beez, that’s you.”

“Like I said, Gary,” Beez said, “”Don’t worry about me, worry about yourself and your mom and dad.”

“Thanks, Beez,” Gary said. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“I just want you and your family protected,” Beez said. “I’ve never met your mom or dad, but I feel like they are friends.”

“I’d like for them to meet you someday,” Gary said.

“I would like to,” Gary said. “But parents sometimes feel an instinctive jealousy when their children establish a relationship with another adult. They think the other adult is trying to take their child away from them. It’s an instinctual response and quite understandable. It’s best you and I remain friends.”

“You have such a good way of putting things.” Gary said. “You always think of the other person, never yourself. I hope I can do that someday.”
Beez smiled fondly. “Dear lad, you already have. You amaze me at how adult you are. You are concerned about everybody, but yourself.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Gary said.

“There may come a time or two you will have to consider yourself only,” Beez said. “That’s when you know you’ve reached maturity, to know when to put yourself first.

Their will come tough decisions, but you’re coming to that point.”

“You talk to me like I’m somebody,” Gary said, “like I count.”


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Old Black Maggie – Episode 23

thIDATC7KRWitchcraft 101

It was noon and nobody was at home except for Gary. The phone rang.

Gary picked up the phone. “Hello.”

“Is this Gary?”

“Yes it is,” Gary said.

“This is Beez, how are you doing?” Beez said.

“I’m fine,” Gary said.

“Are you doing anything right now?” Beez said.

“No,” Gary said. “I was just about ready to fix a sandwich,” Gary said.

“Well, don’t, Gary said. “Meet me in a half hour at the root beer stand on your end of town. Can you do that?”

“Sure,” Gary said.

“I got something for you,” Beez said. “It’s something I want you to have.”

“What is it?” Gary said.

“You’ll see when you get there,” Beez said.

Gary pulled his bike from the garage and peddled to the root beer stand. Beez was already there sitting in his car with the top down.

“Hop in!” Beez said.

Gary sat in the passengers seat and pretty carhop came to take their orders.

“Tell here what you’d like,” Beez said. “And don’t say, her.”

Gary smiled shyly. “Coney dog, fries, and root beer.”

“I’ll have the same,” Beez said.

The girl left and Gary watched her walk away.

“Cute,” Beez said.

“Yeah,” Gary said.

“If I could have your attention,” Beez said. “I brought you a gift.” Beez reached behind the passengers seat and handed Gary a book.

It was entitled All You Ever Wanted to Know About Witchcraft.

“I thought you didn’t believe in this stuff,” Gary said.

“I don’t believe in God,” Gary said. “That’s doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. I think it’s important you are informed. I want you to be informed. I know you are troubled and I want to help.”

“Gee, Beez,” Gary said, “I don’t know what to say.”

Beez smiled.

“I guess I could say thanks,” Gary said.

“It’s not necessary,” Beez said. “We’re friends.”

Gary thumbed through the book with interest. The order was brought and he ate while reading from random passages. “Some of this is really spooky.”

“I thought you might find it interesting,” Beez said.

“Yeah it is,” Gary said. “I’m going to study this.”

“Look,” Beez said. “It might not be a good idea to let you parents see that. It may just make them curious. You said you don’t want them to get involved in this and if they knew you had this they would start to ask questions that might lead you to lie to them, so be cautious.”

“That’s good of you to think of them,” Gary said.

Gary left Beez and rode his bike home. He hid the book on a shelf in his closet behind his baseball gloves.



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Old Black Maggie Episode 22

thIWV3TKZHA Chance Meeting?

Gary skidded down the railroad bank and then the bank of the river. Pot was scraping the flat metal grill used to cook the fish.

“Pot! Pot!” Gary said quietly. “She’s on the tracks coming this way.”

“Who?” Pot said.

“Old Black Maggie,” Gary said. “She’s out to get me.”

“Go over there, boy,” Pot said flinging his hand at the tall grass and weeds just beyond his shelter. “Hide in there!”

Gary hid in the grass and weeds.

“Keep your head down, boy,” Pot said. “I’ll tell you when the coast is clear.”

Gary laid flat. His heart pounded and his hands quivered nervously. He parted the grass with his shaking fingers to see. He watched the bridge over the river. Old Black Maggie slowly appeared ambling along. She stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked down at Pot’s camp.

“How ya doin’ Madame,” Pot said.

She said nothing.

“Fish are bightin’ pretty good,” Pot said.

Old Black Maggie spit into the river. She scowled at Pot and continued her way.

“Have yourself a nice day ma’am,” Pot said.

Old Black Maggie moved on as if nothing had been said.

Pot stretched his neck until Old Black Maggie was out of sight. “Come on out, boy.”

Gary slowly climbed from the grass and weeds.

“Was that her?” Pot said.

“Yes, it was her,” Gary said with wide eyes and trembling. “Now what do you think? How did she know I was here?”
“We can’t be sure of anything,” Pot said. “If she called out your name or something we might have something to worry about, but I’ve seen her walk down these tracks before, it’s just a coincidence.”

“Pot,” Gary said. “I’m scared to death.”

“Look, boy,” Pot said. “Just give this some time. Don’t do anything foolish.”

“Now I’ve put you at risk,” Gary said.

“Don’t worry about me,” Pot said. “I can take care of myself. Now you better get out of here. There’s a path along the river. Follow it, it will take you to the park.” Pot pointed to the path. “Here’s some advice; keep people around you. Now, get goin’!”

Gary hunched down and walked briskly along the path watching for Old Black Maggie. He reached the park and made his way home. The advice given him by Pot seemed logical. He determined to start hanging around his friends again, especially Beez; he knew and understood.

The next couple of days he spent with his friends. He saw Beez at the drugstore and they talked at length about travel and mentioned very little about Old Black Maggie.

Best of all, there were no sightings of Old Black Maggie.



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