The next few days were lazy summer days of warm breezes and swaying trees. Yet, turmoil simmered inside Gary. His nights were sleepless and his thoughts were distant. He longed to be far away. He longed to be on an island out of the reach of Old Black Maggie. He longed for her death; death would release him from the grip of her spell on him. No longer would he have to move about the streets looking over his shoulder and wondering what alley or doorway she was hidden in, what bush she was behind, or what street she was a patrolling.
Gary read the book over and over hoping for a way to escape the fear that gripped him. The only reasonable thing to do was disappear. He confided in the old hobo, Pot, and now he was dead. He feared for Beez, but he was confident. He had challenged Old Black Maggie and her power was not strong enough for him. He had conquered her. And the way Gary reasoned it out was that Beez could move about freely. Gary was restricted by the guardianship of his parents. In Gary’s mind, he needed to be free from his parents, the city, and thus Old Black Maggie.
There was one way that he could break free from Old Black Maggie. The book told him. “If you possess something precious to a witch or warlock they will no longer be able to bind you with a spell.” The question; what is precious to Old Black Maggie? Gary wrestled with that question for a couple of days.
Gary met with Donnie and Whipper at Russell’s. They sat on the steps and talked about endless subjects, school, teachers, girls, sports, sports heroes, parents, and gossip around the neighborhood.
Finally, Gary said, “I got something to tell you guys and you got to promise not to tell anyone.”
“Not a soul,” Donnie said. “I swear on my grandpa’s grave.”
“If I tell, may lightning strike me dead,” Whipper said.
“This isn’t kids stuff you guys,” Gary said. “It’s serious and if someone should tell, it may mean another life.”
“Another life?” Donnie said.
“Remember the guy they found in the river?” Gary said.
“Yeah,” Whipper said. “The hobo.”
“I was with him a few days before it happened,” Gary said. His lip trembled.
“Did you see it happen?” Donnie said.
“No,” Gary said, “but I’m the reason it happened.”
Gary related the details of the events of that day.
“But what does that have to do with you?” Whipper said.
“Pot hid me from Old Black Maggie,” Gary said. “That makes him her enemy. When she spit in the water that cursed the river and it was the river that killed old Pot.”
There was a strange silence among the three. It was as if Gary had infected them with something for which no antidote was available. It was trying not to think of a compelling thought or not look at a horrible accident. It was in the mind and now nothing could shake it free.
Gary looked dismally at the ground knowing he had brought his friends into a dangerous abode of the occult and unknown. “I should have never told you guys. I’m sorry.”
“We’ll just pretend we never heard anything,” Whipper said.
“I don’t think it works that way,” Gary said, “but there is a way out.” Gary motioned with his head. “Come over to my house I want to show you guys something. I have a plan.”