Now, lookin’ around I can see some faces that didn’t hear about the Witch and her poor dog. I’m sure any of the others’ll be more than happy to tell you the tale later. I’m not here to be repeating myself.
The Witch told us things were gonna get worse, we should have believed her, but we thought is was her grief talkin’. Like they say, hindsight is always 20/20. Things hadn’t even quietened down from that dog, and more dogs started showin’ up dead, or not showin’ up at all. The town went awful quiet after the dogs was silenced.
Dogs that should have been playin’ fetch, guarding their Master’s home, or catching bad guys were bein’ mourned every day. After the dogs were mostly gone, except for some little puppies, the cats started disappearin’. They lasted a little longer, but eventually all the cats that had sat in laps, chased a piece of yarn, and loved their person hade been buried under rosebushes, and mourned just like the dogs.
Yes, the Witch stayed, even though she knew how bad things were gonna get. She knew she’d be needed, she was there to offer comfort, and make a pot of her tea for the ones left behind. Yes, she was there until the bitter end.
I asked her once why she did it. She looked at me with those sad, gentle eyes, and when she spoke her voice sounded so tired, “Because it is the right thing to do.”. I still hear her sayin’ that in my nightmares. After all the dogs and cats were gone people started disappearin’, or dyin’.
I remember the very first human victims of that madman. Nothin’ but a pair of kids really, still in school. It was horrible what happened to them, on the night of the prom too! And here ‘Bubba’ was set on asking his sweetheart to marry him after the prom.
He’d gone so far as to buy a diamond ring, a real pretty one, too. Bubba wasn’t the smartest kid by any road, but he worked hard n studied harder, and always had a smile for everyone. He was joining the Marines, had it all set for after he graduated. Bubba’s sweetheart wasn’t from around here, she came to town to live with her Aunt and Uncle after her parents were killed while they were workin’ with Doctors Without Borders.
Still raw from losing her parents, with an accent, and the faintest little scar from her hare-lip surgery that poor child had Bully-Bait written all over her in big, bloody red letters. The sad thing was that she was always pretty-ish, and her scar made her even cuter, it pulled her mouth up in such a way that she looked like she was ready to laugh out loud.
On her first day of school here the girl, Priscilla-Anne, was so nervous she almost stuttered when she was sayin’ hello to a room fulla strangers. There was an awful bully in her first class, Hank, and he lit into her right off, like a shark that smells blood. Hank was well on his way to makin’ poor Priscilla-Anne cry when Bubba came back from the Nurse’s Office.
Bubba took one look at what was goin’ on and he stood up for Priscilla. From that day on, they were inseperable, even goin’ to church together, and their always held hands. Nothin’ show-offy, or like they owned each other. More like they were two parts of the same star or something.
By the time they were in HIgh School together Prissy and Bubba were destined to be Prom King and Queen, from their very first day as Freshmen. Bubba could have been a great football player, except he were just too gentle. He played baseball and his Home Run record still stands. Yes!! That Bubba!!
He played the trumpet so fine he could bring tears to your eyes when he played “The Star-Spangled Banner”, ot “Amazing Grace”. He never could whistle worth a darn, but he made this buzzy trumpet-noise through his lips all day long. You could always tell what he was trumpetin’. Well, I don’t know what else to call it!!
On the night of the Prom poor Bubba was so nervous that he kept playin these odd little sounds, but when he looked at Prissy he’d start into some Classical piece. His Math teacher asked him what it was, and this plain 18 year old kid says, “Romeo and Juliet Overture” by some fellow by the name of Tchaikovsky.
I heard that song a couple times after that, and I saw bubba and Prissy on the stage, wearin’ their King and Queen crowns of cardboard, gold filligree foil and some shiny crystals in bright colours, smilin’ under all them lights.
Seein’ that hurt so bad I had to stop listening to it. Bubba wasn’t patient, and in a silly, love-struck gesture he got down on his knee on that stage and asked Prissy to marry him. She shrieked like Miss America and hollered “Yes!!” before she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight-tight.
It was a wonder that the roof of the gym didn’t fall in in, everyone cheered and clapped that long and loud for them. Well, just like the kids in one of them scary movies, Bubba and Prissy took Bubba’s Daddy’s car and went parkin’, down by Dead Tree River. When they didn’t show up at midnight like they had promised their parents started worryin’, but they trusted their young ones.
It’s true that back then, things were different than they are now; little kids could play outside ‘till sundown and nobody thought a thing of it. Somebody’s Momma was sure to chase all the kids home when they hollered up their own. Heck, back then kids went Trick or Treatin’ on their own, and nobody worried about where they were or who gave ‘em what candy.
Most of the Momma’s knew one another from the PTA, Boy or Girl Scouts, the Library Club, and such-like. Half of the costumes were made by their Mommas to begin with. I remember the one year, Missus Wheeler made her eldest boy into a Mummy by ripping up old, raggedy bed sheets an wrapping around and around her boy.
She did this while she was workin’ at the nursing home. Her man weren’t any good and up and left her for a younger gal, so she was goin’ to school to be a nurse, raisin’ her kids on her own, and working 2 and three part-time jobs to support them.
Anyway, back to Bubba and Prissy, there they were, parked in that battered old Ford his Daddy drove to work, talkin’ about their dreams an’ plans. They didn’t notice ‘till too late that the battery were goin’ dead. When the lights shut down and the music stopped playin’ (Prissy said it was “You Light Up My Life”), they both sat there holdin’ hands and blinkin’.
There were some awful scary noises in the woods, animals huntin’ for their dinner, and animals bein’ dinner; Bubba didn’t think nothing of it, he’d been huntin’ with his Daddy for about ten years, and he knew them woods pretty well. He reassured Prissy that they would be fine, and told her he was goin’ to go Apple Tree road, it weren’t but a half-mile away and every so often they could see the lights from passin’ cars.
Prissy begged him to take her along, or for Bubba to stay with her till morning came around. He patted her hand and kissed her, but he went anyway, not wantin’ to have Prissy out all night. As he walked towards the road she could hear him making that trumpety noise, she said it were “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”.
Accourse it faded away and Prissy was there by herself, in the dark-dark of the woods, with them noises goin’ on around her and getting’ more scared by the minute. Back then girls just didn’t go campin’ or huntin’ with their Daddies, no more than a boy would take Sewin’ or Home Ec. in school.
She started cryin’ a little bit and then she thought she heard Bubba comin back, because she heard his trumpetin’ far-off and soundin’ kind of funny. It stopped and she was hopin’ that meant that Bubba had found someone to give the car a jump. She snuggled under the car blanket Bubba’s Daddy kept in the back seat, and started thinkin’ about their wedding and how she wanted the whole town to be there, so they could all be as happy as she was.
She said later that she might of fell asleep, and got woke up by this funny chokin’ noise. It seemed like the night had gotten darker, and there was something scratching away on the roof of that old Ford. It weren’t too long and the choking noise went away and there was just that soft ‘skritch skritch’ on the roof and the softest little dripping sound. She couldn’t see a thing through the windows, and wondered if some clouds might of moved in to cover that little scythe of a moon.
Eventually she got lulled to sleep by the skritchin’ and the sound of the wind in the trees, She told me herself, as she was packin’ to move as far away from here as her Aunt and Uncle would go. Next thing she knew, someone was callin’ her name and knockin’ on the car.
She answered the Sheriff and told him they were okay, that Bubba had gone to get a jump ‘cause they’d run the battery in his Daddy’s car dead.
“Prissy, honey, I want you to take my hand when I open the door, follow me and whatever you do, don’t look back.” The door creaked open and the Sheriff’s big ole calloused hand was stuck in. Prissy done what he said, until about halfway to his police car; then she asked where Bubba was, an’ was he all right.
The Sheriff kind of choked an’ said he’d tell when they was in the car. Prissy stopped dead in her tracks an’ told the Sheriff that she wasn’t goin’ anywhere till she knew that Bubba was okay. The Sheriff almost fell, she were that stubborn, her feet was planted just like a mule’s and her chin stuck out, makin’ her look like one o’ them kitchen witches.
“Where… Is… Bubba?” She snapped, soundin’ an awful lot like a Marine D. I., “I want to know if he’s all right.”
She spun around and started screamin’, by the time they got that poor child to the Doc, her voice was gone and she just sat there, starin’ at nothin’. The Doc gave her somethin’ and she collapsed like a balloon when the air gets out.
Y’see, when poor Prissy turned ‘round, there was Bubba, hangin’, upside down from a tree branch over the car, his throat cut wide open, blood smeared all over that old Ford, and his fingernails skritchin’ just a little on the roof of the car. The worst part was that his lips an’ tongue was gone.
To this day I wonder who was makin’ that trumpet-buzzing that night. The Coroner said that Bubba had died almost as soon as he got outta the car, so he couldn’t of been doin’ it. People say we’re better off not knowin’, an’ they’re right. I saw who did that to Bubba, an’ I’ll never forget, or tell another soul; it was that bad.
Nope, I’m not sayin’ another word, it is getting on to suppertime an’ I hear some o’ your parents callin’ you in to eat. Hurry on home, an’ don’t stop to talk to any strangers.