Old Black Maggie – Episode 18

thOWCX6VKFDread of Night

It was late that night while in bed that Gary became unimaginably fearful. He imagined Old Black Maggie breaking into the house and creeping slowly into his mom’s and dad’s bedroom and quietly slitting their throats. He envisioned waking to the bodies lying in blood and Old Black Maggie sitting in her rocker at home smiling with pleasure at the thought of Gary finding them and crying out in anguish.

“Running away would be better than that,” Gary thought and he went to sleep.

He dreamed of a far away island; a distant place in the Polynesians where troubles were beyond the horizon and life was easy as an ocean breeze. White beaches stretched forever and palms swayed hypnotically.

Gary awakened. “Could Beez make it happen?” Gary thought. “Can I gain his confidence and friendship to the point where he could do that for me?”

“I could return after the death of Old Black Maggie,” Gary thought. “How many more years does she have? It won’t be long.”

Sleep eluded him the rest of the night. Gary feel asleep soon after he heard his dad leave the house for work. One eye barely opened an hour later when his mom left for job.

He dreamed of Old Black Maggie stalking him in the shadows of the downtown alleys and chasing him. No matter how fast he ran she was always close, so close he could smell the musty stench from her clothing.

It was 10:30 AM when Gary dislodged himself from his bed. He splashed water on his face at the bathroom sink. He trudged downstairs and poured a bowl full of cereal at the kitchen table.

Morning brings hope after a night of dread. Gary munched on the cereal and stared straight ahead at the door of a flat white refrigerator. It revealed no hope nor clues.

At 11:15 he walked along the railroad tracks near his home. He thought about returning home and packing a few belongings in an old army surplus backpack and hoping a train: west to Chicago and east to Pittsburgh.

He wondered what advice Beez might offer. “Perhaps if I tell him what I’m going to do he will offer to take me to Samoa or some other far flung and out of the way place, at least till Old Black Maggie dies. She’s going to get me; I know she is. She will hunt me down and knife me or haunt me until I die of fright. I wonder if she practices voodoo?”

“I wonder what life on the railroad would be like,” Gary thought. He walked on until he came to the bridge that crossed over the river. He stopped and looked down into the slow moving water. “If I could get the Ohio River I could stole away on a barge and go to the Mississippi and find a place to stay on the river far from here.

There on the bank below him was an old man. He was a hobo dressed in old cloths. He sat on the bank holding a fishing pole made from a tree branch. Gary walked off the bridge and slid down the steep bank to the river. He walked toward the man.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 17

th5LHHMLEOBeez’s Story of Old Black Maggie

“Years ago I almost hit her with my car,” Beez said. “She stepped out in front of me. If I hadn’t swerved to miss her she would have been dead today. It was because of my quick reflexes that she’s alive. She got scraped up a little. There were no witnesses; it was my word against hers. She stalked me for weeks. She was crazy. I had her arrested once for trying to break into my apartment. She tried to slice me with her knife. If not for wearing a thick jacket she would have taken a chunk of flesh out of my arm. The knife fell to the ground, she bent over to get it, and I shoved her into the gutter. I grabbed the knife and dropped it down the sewer”

“Why didn’t you report it to the police?” Gary said.

“She has a nephew on the police department,” Beez said. “That’s how she’s able to get away with so much. She snoops around. She has secrets on everybody. They say the chief of police frequents a cathouse above the Cameo Bar and Grill. I bet she knows everything about him and if she gets pulled in for something she’ll spill the beans on the whole dirty bunch, right through city hall and the police station. She walks the street sometimes all night. That’s where a city’s secrets are kept, in the night, and she knows plenty of them.”

The girl behind the counter brought Gary’s meal. He thanked Beez and they talked more about Old Black Maggie. Gary finished eating and they walked to the car.

“Let me drive you closer to your home,” Beez said opening the passenger door.

“Nah,” Gary said, “I want to walk home and think things over.”

“I’ll worry about you, Gary,” Beez said.

“I’ll walk around the park,” Gary said. “I got to talk this over with mom and dad.”

“How do you think that will help?” Beez said.

“Maybe they can do something,” Gary said.

“What can they do?” Beez said, “Go to the police. They may act in a way that more attention will be drawn to it. Old Black Maggie knows just enough people to make life miserable for your mom and dad.”

“What can she do?” Gary said.

“Both of my parents are dead,” Beez said. “I never married and I have no children. She can’t touch any family; I have none. My parents left me well-off. The building that the Majestic Theater is in is mine along with several other buildings and apartments. Thirty years ago my life was a living hell. It was right after the incident with my car. I had fire inspectors, electrical inspectors and code inspectors for everything pounding on my door threatening to close me down. She spread all sorts of rumors about me that still fly around town today. Nobody knows where they started, but I do. If I worked for anybody I’d been fired by now. That’s why I travel so much. It’s good to get away. It’s carefree. I’d love to have a wife and children, but why subject them to all the rumors and who wants their wife and child followed around. If it were me I wouldn’t want to subject my mom and dad to that sort of thing. All she has to do is start making phone calls.”

“The more attention I bring to her the more she will do?” Gary said.

“That’s how she operates,” Beez said.

“What can I do?” Gary said.

“What can we do?” Beez corrected. “We’re in this together like it or not. She already knows I’m helping you. She’ll be coming after me also.”

“But what can be done?” Gary said.

“Let me think about it,” Beez said. “Sometimes it just pays to get away.”

“What do you mean?” Gary said.

“I just go away for awhile,” Beez said. “It’s a great way to forget about things and clear your mind; you come back a new person.”

“I don’t think that’s anything I’m ready to do,” Gary said.

“I’m not suggesting it for you,” Beez said, “It’s what I do.”

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 16

In Fear’s Grip

Gary sat with Beez at the counter of Walton’s Drugstore.

“You are looking tired and worried,” Beez said.

“Is it true that Old Black Maggie won’t let you alone until she finds somebody else?” Gary said.

“Let me buy you a sandwich and fries,” Beez said. He called out the order to the counter girl.

“Who did you hear that from?” Beez said.

“From Mr. Russell at Russell’s Market,” Gary said.

“There is some truth to that,” Beez said.

“So if she leaves me alone that means she’s set her sights on someone else, right?” Gary said.

“So I’ve heard,” Beez said.

“So if I want to protect my friends I should steer clear of them?” Gary said.

Beez paused and rubbed his chin. “That makes you a very brave man. Those kids should be gratified to have you as a friend.”

“But, I should be concerned about you also,” Gary said.

“Don’t be,” Beez said. “I can take care of myself. You let me worry about me.”

“None of this makes sense,” Gary said. “I feel like I’m allowing witchcraft and superstition run my life.”

“I don’t believe in those things,” Beez said. “But people like Old Black Maggie use mystery to scare people. Some may think there is one chance in a million those types of things may exist and that one chance holds them captive. She doesn’t have special powers, but she has power. She enjoys scaring people.”

“What should I do?” Gary said.

“She is a violent woman with a violent past,” Beez said. “Rumor has it she carries a knife in her purse and she has used it.”

“Do you know who?” Gary said.

Beez became serious. “Me. It was years ago.”

“Is that why you’re looking out after me?” Gary said.

“As we have gotten to know each other I couldn’t believe you were stalked by Old Black Maggie,” Beez said. “It was a bitter reminder of me many years ago. I was older

than you at the time and she still found her way to me.”

“How did she happen to find her way to you?” Gary said.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 15

thKZ67NHOFProtection From The Holy Mother

Gary dreaded of leaving home. He even had a dread of being at home alone. The nights were difficult, filled with speculation and fear of the improbable.

He reasoned Old Black Maggie now knew he was spending his time at the drugstore. He could no longer go there. He went back to Russell’s Market.

The little bell above the door tingled when Gary opened the door. Mr. Russell leaned on the counter reading the newspaper. He looked up, but remained leaning. “Gary, haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Yeah,” Gary said. “Not since that day when Old Black Maggie was in here.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Russell said. “That’s right. The old hag scared you off. So where ya been hiding.”

“Walton’s Drugstore,” Gary said.

“Let me guess,” Russell said, “she found you there.”

“Yeah,” Gary said.

“Let me tell you how it works,” Russell said. “She’ll keep coming for you until she finds someone else to distract her.”

“She trailed me into the park a few days ago,” Gary said. “She warned me. She said I was in danger.”

“Ah!” Russell said standing. “Those old hags messing with your mind. They tell you they’re coming for you. They want you in fear. Those necklaces on the counter,” Russell said pointing to a display of hanging necklaces. “They’ve been blessed. It says so right on the tag. One of those could protect you from that hag. You won’t every have to worry about her again. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious, but that necklace will protect you and help you make good decisions.”

“They’re 79 cents,” Russell said. “But I know the bind you’re in so I’ll knock a nickel from it. Tax and everything 75 cents.” Russell handed one to him. “Look at it. Anyone can tell that it’s good material. It’s got a cross on it and the holy mother. What else do you need?”

Gary looked closely as he fondled it through his fingers.

“They make ’em in a small village in Mexico where there have been many miracles,” Russell said. “This is the second batch I’ve had. They won’t last long. Look here, I got one.” Russell showed Gary the one around his neck. “Mrs. Cavanaugh bought one last week. She fell in her house. No one ever comes to see her, but on the day she fell a door to door salesman came by her house and found her. If not for the necklace she’d still by laying there rotting.”

Gary reached in his pocket and counted 75 cents.

“This is the best money you’ll ever spend,” Russell said.

Russell put the money in his pocket.

“Why didn’t you put the money in the register,” Gary said.

“If this money is mixed with the money in the register the necklace won’t work,” Russell said.

Gary nodded slightly, skeptical of the explanation.

Gary walked from Russell’s with the necklace around his neck not certain of its power, but certain Russell just made some under-the-table gain. “It’ is better to be safe than sorry,” he mumbled.

In the distance, two blocks away, he saw Beez’s car parked in a driveway. No sooner did he take notice and Beez drove away. Gary smiled knowing that others were looking out for him including Russell and the holy mother.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 14

th3W2MY6KUSaved from Old Black Maggie

Gary and Beez meeting at Walton’s Drugstore became routine. Beez often gave advice to Gary, but always cautioned mom and dad are the best place to go for advice.

Then it happened one day.

Beez left the drugstore and drove off. A few moments later Gary left and walked toward his home. It was near dark. He ventured the short-cut through the park. The trees were full of leaves and hung low like demon hands ready to grasp someone off to the Forbidden. The lights that lighted the pathway through the park had not yet come on.

Gary sighted a shadowy figure huddled among the shrubs a short distance from the pathway. His heart pounded. He walked faster. He looked over his shoulder. It was Old Black Maggie. He stumbled on a loosened brick from the pathway and staggered forward.

“Hey, you,” Old Black Maggie said in a haggish voice, “I want to see you. I’m watching you. Danger is near. Danger is near.”
Gary ran straight and true. He reached the street that split through the park and ran across without looking. “Beep, beep” a horn and two lights. Gary held out his hand like a halfback avoiding a tackle and pushed himself away from the car.

“Gary! It’s me, Beez!”

Without a word Gary hopped in the car. “Go! Go! Old Black Maggie is right behind me.”

Beez sped away.

“She was waiting for me in the park,” Gary said nearly out of breath.

Beez looked through his side mirror and adjusted it.

“Are you sure it was her?” Beez said.

“Absolutely,” Gary said. “And this is strange, I thought I could smell her.”

“We can’t let her know where you live,” Beez said. “I’m going to drive a few blocks out of the way and leave you near your home. I don’t even know where you live.”

“315 Dewey,” Gary said. “It’s next to an alley.”

“I’ll let you off in the alley,” Beez said. “Can I see your back door from the cross alley?”

“Yes,” Gary said.

“I’ll let you out and wait till I’m sure you’re safe inside,” Beez said.

“I think I should tell you something,” Beez said. “I know much about Old Black Maggie. She has a nephew on the police department. He tells her everything. That’s why she gets away with so much. Her nephew warns her and before that it was her brother that warned her. They come from a strange family. They can’t be trusted.”

“Have you had dealings with them in the past,” Gary said.

“Yes,” Beez said. “Many years ago.”

“What was it?” Gary said.

“Perhaps another time,” Beez said. “Let’s get you home.”

Beez drove down the alley and Gary got out.

“Thanks again,” Gary said.

“Now you get home,” Beez said. “I’ll be watching.”

Gary ran to the back door of his home and waved at Beez as he stepped inside.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 13

Lies

Gary walked in the back door of his home. Supper was on the table.

“Where ya been?” Mrs. Tanner said.

“I was downtown,” Gary said.

“What were you doing there?” Mrs. Tanner said.

“I went to the library,” Gary said. “Spent nearly the whole afternoon there.”

“You see Old Black Maggie?” Mrs. Tanner said.

Gary went to the sink and washed his hands. “Yeah, I ran down the street and that’s why I ended up at the library.”

“Be careful of her,” Mrs. Tanner said.

“I will,” Gary said.

“Go get you dad for supper,” Mrs. Tanner said.

Gary walked into the living room. Mr. Tanner sat in his chair reading the paper.

“Supper, Dad,” Gary said.

“Hey, Gary,” Mr. Tanner said laying down the paper. “Where you been all day?”

“I told Mom I was at the library about all afternoon,” Gary said.

They sat at the table and the food was passed.

“Library,” Mr. Tanner said.

“Yeah,” Gary said feeling and inquisition was coming on.

“You have sure taken an interest in reading lately,” Mr. Tanner said.

“Going to the library?” Gary said.

“That, and the book you got,” Mr. Tanner said. “What’s the name of it?”

The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Gary said.

“Hemingway, right?” Mr. Tanner said.

“Have you read it, Dad?” Gary said.

“Years ago, it was in Esquire,” Mr. Tanner said, “and a movie.”

“Who was it that gave you the book?” Mrs. Tanner said.

“A guy at the drugstore,” Gary said.

“Do you know his name?” Mr. Tanner said.

“Walter Beasely,” Gary said and told them only the circumstances of how he got the book.

“He sounds like a very nice man,” Mrs. Tanner said.

“He seems nice,” Gary said.

“What do you know about him?” Mr. Tanner said.

“He drives an Austin-Healy,” Gary said.

“What is that?” Mrs. Tanner said.

Gary felt as if his mom and dad knew the whole story, but he wasn’t sure. He had to remain calm. “It’s a sports car.”

“Two-seater, right?” Mr. Tanner said.

“Yeah,” Gary said. “Just two seats.”

“Do you know what this Walter Beasly does for a living and where he lives?”

“No,” Gary said. “I don’t known anything about him except he travels a lot.”

“Did you guys get the new contract?” Mrs. Tanner said to Mr. Tanner.

“We’ll know Monday,” Mr. Tanner said.

And the conversation drifted away from Beez and to the mundane.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 12

th6MTB7J5AA Drive in the Park

They drove two miles west of town and turned down Raceway Rd.

“Do you know what’s on this road?” Beez said.

“Yeah,” Gary said, “ the motor speedway.”

“Have you ever driven a car before?” Beez said.

“I’ve steered mom and dad’s car,” Gary said. “That’s about it.”

Beez pulled into the driveway that led back to the raceway. He stopped beside the grandstands and got out. He unlocked the chain on the gate to the track, and opened it.

He got back in the car and drove in.

Beez got out of the car. “Get out and get in the driver’s seat.”

“You’re kidding me,” Gary said.

“I don’t kid about my Austin,” Beez said. “Let me show you how to drive it.”

Gary walked around to the driver’s side. “Won’t we get caught?”

“Notice,” Beez said. “I had the keys. I come out here every now and then and just drive around the track. It relieves tension.”

It took about ten minutes to circle the quater mile track with Beez in the passenger seat giving Gary instructions on how to operate the clutch, breaks, accelerator, and gear shift.

Beez got out.

“What are you doing?” Gary said.

“Take it around a few times without me,” Beez said. “I’ll be sitting in the pit.”

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll wreck it?” Gary said.

“That’s why I’m getting out,” Beez joked. “Now go have a good time.”

Gary had an exhilarating time. He went around the track at least a dozen times. Finally he brought the car to a rest in front of the pit.

Beez walked out to the car. “Are you sure you had enough?”

“Yeah,” Gary said. “I’ve got to get home, but this has been fun. Thank you, Beez, ya really now have to make a guy feel good. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.”

“Let me take you back to the neighborhood,” Beez said. “I’ll open the gate you drive it out and then I’d better drive.”

On the way back to town Beez said to Gary, “There is something you can do for me.”

“What’s that?” Gary said. “Don’t mention a word to anybody about today. Not even your parents. If this gets out I could get in big trouble letting you drive around the track.

I could be arrested, pay a large fine, and loose my license.”

“Don’t worry, Beez,” Gary said. “I had too much fun to spoil it.”

“We’ll do it again sometime,” Beez said, “but mums the word. In fact, I’ll drop you off a couple of blocks from your house.”

“Good idea,” Gary said. “One question could lead to another and I’d end up lying about things, then we’d really be in big trouble.”

“Yeah,” Beez smiled. “We might have to run a way to Tahiti to avoid prosecution.”

About three blocks from Gary’s house Beez let Gary out of the car.

“Thanks, Beez,” Gary said. “You’ve been a real friend.”

“Anytime,” Beez said. “And by the way. If you are ever downtown and Old Black Maggie starts to follow you, lose her and come to my place. There’s a side door to the Majestic Building, go inside, on the ledge above the door on the inside is a key, get it and go to the third floor. I’m the first door on the left. Just go in and make yourself at home. You can stay there until you feel it’s safe.”

“She’s really dangerous, isn’t she, Beez,” Gary said.

“Yes, Gary, she really is,” Beez said. “Take this serious and be safe.”

“Thanks, Beez,” Gary said, “for everything.”

Beez gave Gary an assured smile and dove away.

 

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