The Witch of Winterford Street
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It had to be madness! How else could you explain it? Here Frank was knee deep in a muddy grave sawing the brittle ribs off a corpse fifteen years dead. Yes, he had to be crazy. It is doubtful a sane man would have put himself in a similar situation.
And it goes without saying that Frank didn’t care much for superstition or even karma, which was a more than a little odd considering the motivation behind his current grisly deeds. A woman, known by everyone as the Witch of Winterford Street, had promised vengeance against Frank’s neighbor, the guy with one eye, grey hair and even greyer skin, who Frank suspected of poisoning his sweet orange tabby.
The Witch said she could punish the odd fool as long as Frank gathered a few items personal to his prey. The first ones were obtained by picking through the old man’s trash—a length of floss, several strands of thin white hair and numerous wads of freshly used tissue. But it was the last item, the one that the Witch claimed to be the most important and potent, that led Frank to the ribs of the old man’s wife.
“This is almost unbearable,” Frank thought as he stood in the rotted coffin cutting at the bones of the corpse whose skull stared back at him with black hollow holes and flashed a smile that was not limited by lips. “It’s certainly enough to make a man question his sanity,” he said with a cackle.
“And the smells. Dear God! The smells,” he thought. They seemed to engulf Frank like a thick ground fog that coated his tongue and throat so much so that each attempt to swallow brought larger and larger amounts of bile up from his stomach. The air was so fetid that breathing was downright painful and Frank went long stretches before gulping the foul stuff.
But no matter how torturous the moment, Frank was unwavering. The old man must pay for his misdeed. So steeling himself against nausea and morals, he sawed through the fourth and final rib. Then, with the four fragile bones tucked safely in a bag, he climbed from the muddy pit and raced to the old hag’s house.
Sometime later, Frank barged into the Witch’s living room and handed her the bag while announcing, “It’s all there. Everything you asked for.”
The Witch looked at it with a mixture made of one part surprise and one part revulsion before asking, “ Everything?”
The bag slipped from her fingers striking the floor with enough force to shatter its contents, but the Wtich didn’t seem to notice. She continued sipping the cheap whiskey straight from the bottle and then, without batting an eye, she said, “Okay. Now we discuss payment. How much cash do you have on ya?”
Digging through his pockets, Frank found all of sixteen dollars and thirty-four cents, which he readily handed over. For her part, the Witch merely sighed and said, “Bring me another fifty tomorrow.”
Frank nodded a reply.
“But this evening we must make a pact—One that will bind us and strengthen my magics.”
And with that she undid the cord that wrapped about her ample waist and opened the folds of her wrinkled black robe exposing herself from the waist down. Her white legs had a lumpy consistency of cottage cheese and were decorated by knotty tangles of purple veins. Where her legs met, there was a salt and pepper bush as coarse as a wire scrubbing pad and when the woman propped her flabby leg on the coffee table, her crotch emitted a strong urine odor. Frank never questioned her motives or even her authenticity! He merely fell to a knee, swallowed the sheen of death that still coated his tongue and complied with her demands.
For Frank, insanity was simply too thick a veil to see through and since punishment was all that he sought, it is not surprising that it is all that he received.
If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.