|Cora drags up. No witches for her.|
We Pester Old Roy For More Details.
Warren’s lips hung open, black from the licorice.
I was waiting for Old Roy to tell us more about Ragtail, but he clammed up with his hat over his face like he was going to resume his nap.
“What happened to the women?” Cora asked. “Did they leave?”
Old Roy grumbled through his hat, “The story gets told that the wimmin faded their separate ways and no more was heard of ‘em.”
“Did Eb build the cabin for Esther May?” Jessie asked.
“And get goats for Anna?” I added.
“Yeah, he did all that,” Old Roy said. “And before you ask anything else, them three, with the goats and Yalla, lived in the valley for several years then disappeared.”
“What happened?” This time it was Eli who couldn’t keep quiet.
“There’s them that believe Ragtail found the gold. That he hit his El Dorado. To sidestep thieves and claim jumpers he moved his outfit to parts unknown.”
I didn’t like the idea that people who had become real in my mind could disappear. I wanted a happy ending.
Cora changed the subject. She put her small hand on Old Roy’s and said, “Mister Old Roy, will you tell us another story tomorrow?”
He sat up and studied Cora’s earnest smile, then took in the rest of us. “Do you kids want an adventure as well as hearing about one?”
We all hollered at once.
“All right, then, here’s what you do. Go git Marjolaine to tell you a story.”
“Who’s that?” I thought I knew everybody in town, but the strange name fell off my ear like a bloated tick.
Old Roy reclined with his hat shading his eyes. “She lives down by the creek.”
“We’re at the creek all the time,” I said. “No one lives there.”
“Go longer downstream. Where the bulrushes grow.”
Warren took a step back and squeaked, “You don’t mean the witch woman. Ain’t a person goes near her.”
Elijah and I agreed with him.
“She don’t even come to town until after dark,” Eli said.
“And then only if there’s no moon,” Warren added.
Old Roy shooed us away with a backhanded wave. “Go talk to her.”
# # #
When we met the next day, our little gang was different. We’d lived through a grown-up tale and wanted more.
We tried all the usual haunts, Eli even peeked into the saloon, but we couldn’t find Old Roy anywhere.
He’d told us where to get the next story, but the truth was we were scared of the witch woman. Kids were supposed to have disappeared, and she was suspected of cooking them like pigs on a spit. Parents invoked her image to get their children to quit playing and come in at night.
This was so serious that not one of us made fun of little Cora for being openly afraid.
“Do you think she’s a witch?” That was Eli, rubbing his palms together.
“She may already know that we’re coming,” Jessie said.
I stared at her. “Are we going, then?” But it was a group question.
“I ain’t.” Cora was out.
But that was okay because she was the youngest and quickest to booger up.
Will the kids see the witch? If they do, will they survive? Leave a comment.
To read the series, click on September in the Archive list to the right and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.
Thank a veteran.