Thursday, November 1, 2007



About five miles from Vinton there was an old house, the windows boarded up and the door secured with a padlock. Behind it was a small building that had once been a chicken-house. Wendi lived there.

She was sitting on a stool out near the road, waiting to catch a ride into town. Her seven cats were meowing and rubbing against her legs.

She was mumbling and grumbling to herself. "The nerve of that Jimmy Freshcorn. Telling me not to find things that ain't lost. I'll sure tell him a thing or two."

She heard a car coming in the distance and turned to see who it was.
"Hey! Doc Hefflin! Give me a ride to town!"

He slid to a stop as she stepped right out in front of his car.

"Wendi! Someone is going to run over you yet. You better quit doing such things. Get in. I'm heading for town anyway."

"Thanks Doc," she said. "I'll give you a quarter the next time."

"Forget it. I don't want your money. I said I'm headed for town."

Doc Hefflin let Wendi off at the Fire Station as usual. She went on in to bum a cigarette from Joe.

Then she walked down the street to the Constable's office. She had a thing or two to tell him.
She reached the office just as he came out.

"You listen here, Jimmy Freshcorn. You better be nice to me. I'll put a spell on you!"

Jimmy laughed. "Old woman, you're no witch."

"Yes I am! I put a spell on Henry Taylor and he broke his big toe the next day. I've got the power!"

Jimmy just shook his head, turned and walked away.

Wendi stamped her foot and shook her fist at him. Then she walked on down the street to Wilda's Restaurant for her usual breakfast.

Wilda came over as Wendi sat down at the counter.

"Did you save me my gravy without none of that salty sausage in it?"

"Now Wendi, you know I always save you your gravy. I got it right back here, keeping it warm for you."

She put the bowl of gravy on the counter along with a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Wendi crumbled up the biscuit into the gravy and began eating.

"That Jimmy Freshcorn. Just because he is the Constable he thinks he knows so much. He'd better not give me a hard time. I'll surely put a spell on him. Turn him into a dog or a snake or something."

"Woof! Woof!" said Charles Pugh, who was sitting over in the corner.

"You better be careful yourself, Charles Pugh. I'll surely get you too."

"Wendi, you just scare me to death," said Charles, laughing as hard as he could.

Wendi snorted angrily and turned back to her biscuit and gravy. She took a sip of coffee.
Wilda winked at Charles.

When she had finished, Wendi walked out the door and over to the Grocery that Everett Wood's son Hank ran for him.

"Hank, you got some of those rolls left. Give them to me. I can warm them up in the skillet and they will be fine."

"Sure, Wendi. These are only about a week old. I've saved them for you. Can I get you anything else?"

"How about some of that cow butter. That oleo ain't fit to eat. I got to have something to put on those rolls."

"Here you are. That'll be a quarter for the butter."

"A quarter! You're trying to rob a poor old woman."

"Now Wendi, you know that's a good deal. You can't get it any cheaper."

"Well, I guess I'll have to take it. Give me a can of that tomato soup. I'm going to cook some macaroni and put tomato soup in it. And give me a big onion too."

Hank put it all in a paper bag and handed it to her.

As she stepped out to the sidewalk, H. K. Butler, the undertaker, came strutting down the street, leading his big dog. When he saw Wendi, he tried to duck back between two buildings so she wouldn't see him. But it was too late.

"I see you, H. K. Butler! Don't think you can hide from me. I'll whirl around and touch my nose and my forehead and put a spell on you."

"Hello, Wendi. I didn't want to take up your valuable time. I wasn't trying to hide or anything. I'm just out for my usual walk as you can see."

"You better be nice to me, H. K. Butler," she said as he walked by her.

About noon Jimmy Freshcorn sat down at the counter in Wilda's Restaurant.

"I hear Wendi is going to turn you into a dog or something," Wilda said.

"Everybody knows Wendi. She thinks she has the power. It's probably hardening of the arteries if the truth were known. How old is she now?"

"Surely up in her eighties. But I wouldn't want her mad at me. I do feel sorry for her, though. Who does she have to take care of her?"

"She ought to get a room in town. But I'm really glad she still lives out in the country, so I don't have to bother with her very much."

Jimmy finished his burger and coffee, then got up and went out the door.

He walked along the street, looking at the houses, then on down to the Grocery where he spoke to Hank.

"Hank, how's it going?"

"OK Jimmy. Been a busy day. How about you?"

"About like usual. Has Wendi been in to bother you today?"

"Just the usual. I gave her some week-old rolls. You do have to watch her like a hawk. She'll pick up anything loose. But she's usually harmless."

"She surely does need help. But how can you help her? I don't know."

"The Reverend Brother Ed Harris has tried to talk with her. She says she is a member of his church, though I've never seen her there. But I do think she did go one time."

Jimmy walked on down to the funeral home to see H. K. Butler.

"H.K. How's the world treating you today?"

"Could be better. That Wendi was in here this morning, going through the pockets of the coats on the coat rack. Said she was looking for some matches. You really have to watch her."

"I know. We're all going to have to do something."

Jimmy went back to his office. He leaned back in his chair, put his feet on the desk, and closed his eyes.

Jimmy woke with a start as the door burst open. He jumped to his feet and the chair fell over backwards.

"Dadblast you, Jimmy Freshcorn, you lazy thing!"

"Wendi! What's the matter with you? Bursting in here like that!"

"I told you you better be nice to me. Now I'm going to give it to you. I have the power and I'm going to put a spell on you. Turn you into a dog."

The noise was beginning to attract a crowd. People were looking in the window.

Wendi stood up straight, whirled around three times, touched her nose and then her forehead.
"Abracadabra! You are now a dog, Jimmy Freshcorn. I have put my spell on you."

Jimmy got down on the floor and began barking and bouncing around on his hands and knees like a dog. He bounced out the door onto the sidewalk, still barking and howling. The people scattered.

"Jimmy!" shouted Wendi. "What have I done to you? I didn't mean it! I was just trying to scare you. Please don't be a dog. Be yourself again."

She ran after him and tried to make him stand on his feet. "Get up!" she shouted. "Oh! Why did I ever put a spell on you! What'll I do now?"

Jimmy kept barking and howling, but finally he stood up.

"Wendi, I was just trying to teach you a lesson. You're no more a witch than I am. You got to quit doing these crazy things, and you got to quit bothering people. We all care about you, but you got to behave."

For once Wendi was speechless. For a moment she stood as stiff as a board.

"Dadblast you, Jimmy Freshcorn, you near scared the gizzard out of me!"

Then she stopped. She shook her head. She went up to Jimmy and gave him a big hug, then turned, and walked away.

She walked back to Wilda's Restaurant.

"Give me a big cup of black coffee, straight. I sure need it. That Jimmy Freshcorn! He near scared me to death! Pretending he really was a dog. We've got to do something about him. He's getting to big for his britches."

Wilda just smiled.

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