Time to meet the Witch

Well… here it is, the central theme in the first “Tin Cup Clan” book. I admit I’ve put the ol’ girl off for awhile, after all, there were other subjects we needed to address. I need to begin by reminding all, there are always at least two sides to every story. The Witch is certainly no exception.

We all grew up hearing old ghost stories, as the teller changed, the story evolved with each telling. But, as I’ve said before… I firmly believe there’s a grain of truth in each one. It’s inevitable that such truths, after time and telling, become lost or difficult to recognise.

Our boys are out to find that truth, one way or another. Was she really a witch as the legend says? Or… was she simply an innocent victim of superstition in a bygone era. I’m gonna leave that question right there, and allow you to decide for yourself when you read the book.

So dear reader, I present to you, the “Leech Cemetery Witch.”

Excerpt : Chapter four(4)

The Tin Cup Clan-(Mystery of the Leech Cemetery Witch).

Even though we had all four grew up hearing the story. Stick was only too happy to tell us all again.

The way I heard it goes like this. You see, back nearly a hundred years or so, there was this old woman what lived up around Sinkin’ creek. I don’t think nobody knew her name fer sure, most folk called her Wilmide. She lived in the opening of an old spent mine shaft along with an old one-eyed dog.

Folks said she was spose to wear clothes she wove from the hair of what-ever animals she ate. She even wore a hat made from chicken feathers and stuff like that. And a necklace that had chicken feet tied to it to boot. Papaw said, that if you wanted a love potion, or maybe somebody had wronged you, or even a hex, or somethin’ like that, she was the one to go see. But she weren’t gonna do it for free.

David couldn’t stand this silliness any longer, before finally blurting out. “If she didn’t have no use fer foldin’ money, what did a body pay her with then?”

Stick raised his hand, putting him in his place before continuing. “I’m gittin’ there, I’m gittin’ there.”

Papaw said, you could bring her anything from dead chickens to dead goats, the deader the better. What kind depended on what you were askin’ her to do. The bigger the hex, the bigger the price.

Well; this went on for a number of years, nobody paid a crazy ol’ woman in the woods much mind. That was till one cold snowy winter. I mean it was a bad one too, cold like folks round here never seen before. Snow so deep, they say a horse’s belly would rub raw against it. It was durin’ such a winter, a young lady came to pay the ol’ witch a visit. There, by the light of that ol’ fireplace, she told a sad, sad story.

She said, her ol’ man worked the hooty owl over at the Blue Diamond. At least that’s what he told her he was doin’. But he was lyin’ ya see. He had himself a woman on the side. Nobody knows for sure who she was, some folk say the mayor’s wife or maybe the sheriffs.  To make matters even worse, he went and had himself a baby with her.

Well, if that weren’t bad enough, his wife had a baby of her own to tend to, a wee little baby at that. Well, he was stayin’ gone all the time, sayin’ he was at that mine, workin’ and such. But, even “workin’” as much as he said he was, he weren’t takin’ proper care and providin’ for his family. Blamed it on the hours at the mine I reckon.

One night; it got cold, I mean really cold, in that ol’ cabin there weren’t no coal for heat, so that poor little baby up and froze to death. Of course, this drove the wife nuttier than a squirrel turd. Somehow, she had heard through the grapevine about Wilmide, and in her terrible grief, took a mind to go see her.

She wanted revenge on her ol’ man in the worst kinda way, no matter the cost. And she wanted double for the woman he was seein’ as well. She felt she deserved that woman’s baby to make up for the one what died cause of the cold. But old Wilmide asked a hefty price, she wanted that baby fer herself.

Why an old woman would want a baby, nobody knows. But the woman was so mad, and so depressed, she agreed to the ol’ woman’s terms. So, hands were shook, the deal was done.

Weren’t long after that, there was a massive cave in at the Blue Diamond. Twenty-three men lost their lives in that horrible accident, including the woman’s husband. Mine explosion they said. Some died right away, them was the lucky ones. The others lingered for quite some time, days even, till finally the air gave out. A few even managed to scribble death letters to their families.

The man’s girlfriend went crazy with grief. I reckon she couldn’t live with his diein’ and all. So, one cold dark night, she went and jumped to her death over at the bluffs. That same night, the man’s wife found that little baby sittin’ there on her front porch, near froze to death, no note nor nothin’.

Big David interrupted. I thought you said the ol’ woman was gonna git that baby.

Hold yer horses, I’m gettin’ there, I’m gettin’ there, replied Stick.

Well… word got out amongst the town folk, and like it usually does, gossip turned to panic. They just knew it was ol Wilmide’s hex what killed all those brave men. A hangin’ mob was put together by the town leaders, and they took off up the mountain, after the ol’ witch.

There they found her, sittin’ in that ol’ mine, that one-eyed dog by her side. I reckon she knew they was comin’, cause all’s she said was, “come on in boys and warm ye-self over by the fire a spell.” When they made their way over to the warm fire, someone heard a baby cry, and there on the stones they found an old basket. In that basket lay that ladies’ baby, all wrapped up in rabbit skins.

The excitement was getting to Chucky. What’d they do, what’d they do? he asked.

I’m gittin’ there, I’m gittin’ there, hold your horses. First, they grabbed the ol’ witch, bound her hand and foot with iron cuffs, cause everybody knows, a witch cain’t escape from iron bindins’. Then, they went over to the hearth to gather up that baby. Low and behold. They’s no baby there, but over to the side they seen a baby’s basket held tight in the jaws of that one eyed dog just as it went runnin’ up the holler. Search parties looked high and low, but the baby, and the ol’ dog were nowhere to be found.

They tied that ol’ woman behind a couple of horses and dragged her all the way into town. That’s where the men beat her to the point of death, even tortured her with hot brandin’ irons and everything. Still, she wouldn’t tell em where the dog or the baby was, or even if her hex was to blame for the cave-in.

It didn’t matter how much they beat her, she just laid there, laughin’ at em. Through all that torture she never uttered a single solitary word.

They built a hangin’ post right then and there, and that’s where they hung her. Right smack in the middle of town. Some folk say, she never stopped laughin’, even as she hung there swingin’ in the wind. But at the stroke of midnight she went silent and limp.

Now, everybody knows, you cain’t bury a witch on Holy ground. So they picked a spot way out back of Leech Cemetery. Just outside the fence so’s not to be sinful. Then they sealed her body in an iron box so’s she couldn’t escape and buried her there with nary a single marker.

Folks say some seen a big dog standin’ on the next ridge, watchin’ the whole burial. And when the first shovel of dirt fell, that dog began to howl, eerie and ghostly. That howl was said to have been heard for miles up and down the hollers.

That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard scoffed David, “you said there weren’t no headstone.”

That’s the scary part said Stick. You see, a number of years later, a gravestone mysteriously appeared, almost outta nowhere. No writtin’, no drawin’, no nothin’, just a blank head-stone.

Many a folk have tried to knock it down, but the next day, it’s always back up. The best anyone could do was punch a hole in the back of it, that’s right, its holler, holler as yer head. And that hole is said to go down, way down. To what? Nobody knows.

A lot of folk think it was the child and dog what put that stone up. If so, they’d have to be as old and gnarled as the ol’ witch was by now.  It’s said, they keep it up to this day, nobody knows fer sure.

Rumor is; if you go there, just at the stroke of midnight, the witchin’ hour and drop a dead animal into the hole, she’ll answer a question for you. But you might not like the answer. If you ask a question, and not give her payment, they say the one-eyed dog will come fer you and yer soul.

Published by The Tin Cup Clan

Mike had never considered himself an author until in his fifties an advanced cancer diagnosis for him to worry about the legacy he would leave for his children and grandchildren. Once the treatments began he needless to say, found himself with plenty of time to put pen to paper. The result was a culmination of stories soon to be named The Tin Cup Clan. A simpler time but not necessarily the greatest of times. The story of a group of young boys trying to survive the harsh reality of coal country, poverty, and just simply growing up. Along the way friendships are formed, old town mysteries are solved, and lessons are learned that will last a life time.

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