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 roof, 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 breathe. 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?”
“Someplace 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.