A week passed and the talk about Old Black Maggie quieted.
Gary saw her downtown, but quickly avoided crossing her path. She now seemed more evil than mysterious.
Later that afternoon Gary went to Russell’s Market to buy a loaf of bread. He laid it on the counter.
“That will be 19 cents,” Russell said.
Gary handed Russell a quarter and Russell gave him 6 cents change. Russell was about the say “thanks.” The door flew open and a harsh breeze swept in. It was Old Black Maggie.
She quickly grabbed a can of cat food and stepped in front of Gary. She placed the can slowly on the counter. “How much,” she said mysteriously.
“15 cents,” Russell said with a nervous smile.
“I only got a dime,” Old Back Maggie said.
Everything seemed to stop. The clock above Russell behind the counter seemed to hesitate ticking out the next second. Russell extended credit only to regulars in the neighborhood. He licked his lips and tugged at his collar.
“I got a nickel,” Gary said and he placed it on the counter.
Old Black Maggie stared at him with one eye wide open and the other squinted nearly shut. “What is you name?” she said with a gravelly voice.
“Gary Tanner,” Gary said.
“Thank you, Gary,” Old Black Maggie said. “You are a nice lad. Don‘t follow me any more.”
Russell stood like a soldier at attention. She scowled at him and quickly left the store.
“She knows your name now, boy and she knows you followed her,” Russell said. “She’s a hag. There is no such thing as an act of kindness with her. She’ll find out where you live and haunt you. You shouldn‘t have given her your last name.”
Gary said nothing. He cradled the loaf of bread in his arms and slowly walked to the door.
“Get home before it’s dark, boy,” Russell said. “She works best at night. Run, boy, run.”
Gary ran from the store and after a half block slowed to a fast walk, but looked around to see if Old Black Maggie was near.
He passed though the park by way of a winding brick walk. Running next to the park laid two sets of railroad tracks hidden by thick shrubs. The shrubs moved as if some one were in them. He ran to the exit of the park and looked down the railroad track. Walking slowly and hunched over like an evil vision was Old Black Maggie moving away as if by levitation.