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 faraway 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 fell asleep soon after he heard his dad leave the house for work. One eye barely opened an hour later when his mom left for her 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 the river. He stopped and looked down into the slow-moving water. “If I could get the Ohio River I could stowaway 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 clothes. 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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