Old Black Maggie roamed the streets of Kokomo, Indiana and children mocked and chanted:
“Maggie, Maggie old black Maggie
Ugly and smelly
And her cloths are shabby.”
No one was really sure who Old Black Maggie was. She was as much a part of the downtown landscape as the stores and the cannon at Highland Park and probably just as old. Her clothing was drab and hung like Spanish Moss from a bald cypress. She wore a black beret cocked to the side of her head. Rumor had it she kept a Derringer tucked in it.
Gary Tanner followed her one day to an apartment attached to a much larger handsome Victorian home near an exclusive part of town. All the way to the apartment she looked over her shoulder to see if anyone followed, but Gary kept at least a block away. He was certain of not being detected. It was a creepy mysterious look over the shoulder. She hunched deep into her coat. There was a slight hump in her back. She had an old craggy face with a nose that hooked low. She wore a constant squint of the right eye.
As soon as Gary saw where she lived he rushed back to the other side of town to his neighborhood. Everyone was gathered in front of the neighborhood grocery, Russell’s Market.
There were about ten kids in all ranging from age 10 to 14. Gary was 14.
“Get this guys,” Gary said. “I followed Old Black Maggie. I know where she lives.”
“Does she live under the tracks that goes over the river?” Donnie, a thin red headed boy, said.
“No…” Gary said and was interrupted.
“Does she live in the shack behind the graveyard?” Allen, a short chubby boy, said.
“No…” Gary said.
“She sleeps in the ally behind Palmer’s Restaurant and eats their garbage. In the winter she sleeps in steps to the basement,” Donnie said with finality.
“Look guys!” Gary said. “None of that is true. She lives a small apartment attached to the old Bickford Mansion.”
“The one with all the vines?” Allen said.
“Yeah,” Gary said.
“It has twelve chimneys; one for each person killed there,” Allen said.
“There has never been a murder in that house,” Gary said. “Okay, but will it make you feel better if they are called suspicious deaths?”
“They say there’s bodies buried in the basement.” Whipper, a small boy said.
“I bet Old Black Maggie knows where everyone of them is,” Donnie said
“I hear she killed ‘em and ate ‘em,” Whipper said
“Mr. Russell knows about Old Black Maggie,” Allen said. “Let’s go inside and ask him.”
“We all can’t go in there,” Gary said. “He’ll chase us out.”
“I’ll go ask him to come out here and tell us about her,” Donnie said. He darted inside and came out after a moment. “He said he’ll be out in a minute. He said he’s got plenty of stories about Old Black Maggie.”