Season Of The Witch

by Solomon Tate

 

Things were getting weird. Something strange was going on with my wife. She’d been lighting candles.At first it was just one or two small candles at twilight which she believed was helping to keep the planet green, and as she explained, the candles  helped her to relax. But then it spiraled out of control. She was lighting so many candles that the house was lit up like Mass at St. Peter’s. We were awash with candles. There were tall ones and short ones. There were candles in glass jars and candles in pewter holders. There were holiday candles, tapered candles, and scented candles. They were everywhere. She was lighting them day and night, closing the curtains and turning off the lights in order to obtain just the right effect. And while she found it soothing, we were all concerned. She had become a candle junkie.

She developed a fondness for candle shopping, seeking them out where ever she went. She was finding them everywhere, bringing them home home from stores, and ordering them on line. She waited with anxious delight for the deliveries to arrive, and was overjoyed when the packages finally came. There was great anticipation wondering just which of the candles had arrived. She looked at them carefully, examining them methodically as she searched for any damage or flaw. Once certain that they were exactly what she wanted, she carried them to the bedroom and kit them, losing herself in the orange glow of their rather insignificant flames. I tried to warn her of the fire hazard but she  assured me that she was always extremely careful. She positioned them in very specific and precise arrangements, and made it clear to all of us that they were not to be moved.

One of my daughters began to question her mother’s motives for this new found interest in candle lighting. She suspected that my wife may be a witch. It was not a new supposition, but the multitude of candles being lit at any given time had only served to heighten the concern. “She could be practicing witchcraft.”, my daughter stated. “Sometimes I hear her mumbling in there.”

“Its not likely.”, I remind her. “You’re mother rarely feels the need to practice. anything. If she’s doing witch stuff, she’s probably already turned pro.”

She was particularly partial to those little tea candles which she purchased at Ikea, and the citrus scented ones that come in little glass jars that she said would be use to hold spices once the candles were spent. It was a well thought out scheme, although I did let her know that we could purchase small spice jars at Ikea as well. She balked at the idea, reminding me that she liked the candle light.

“Wasn’t there an aunt or someone who was a witch?”, my daughter asked. Indeed there was. A great aunt, who was believed to have put a curse on her husband and turned him into a zombie. There are numerous stories about curses and hexes she had placed on several people over the years that served to make her the scourge of the family and allowed her to wield great power over her mere mortal family. Everyone was afraid of her. Everyone, except my wife.  I had met this woman on two occasions, and for weeks after I regularly inspected my boxers just in case the story of her turning a neighbors genitals into a pretty useless sock puppet was true.

Aunt Layla was quite old when I first met her, and she also had a fondness for candles and had amassed a rather festive collection in her home. We visited her home just one time, and found her husband sitting in a chair, neither blinking nor talking, surrounded by an array of tapered candles of assorted sizes that appeared to have been used often. I had been warned by other family members  not to accept any food or drink Aunt Layla may offer as this was her preferred method of getting someone to ingest any one of hundreds of potions. They said her husband simply drank some mint tea, and within hours had become a zombie. He stayed that way for over thirty years. My kids, who know the stories of the family’s witches, have advised me to keep a close eye on my wife, and not to eat or drink anything she prepares.

And as the candle lighting continued flooding the house with the warm glow of yellow and orange, we all kept our eyes wide open. We sought out professional help, but my wife was unwilling to participate. We considered an intervention, but worried about the consequences if she really were a witch. If she was casting spells or reaching out to her long deceased Aunt Layla to increase her powers, we were all pretty much screwed already.

My daughter has pointed out that I appear significantly shorter than I once was, and while I thought it was due to aging, it could very well be my wife’s handy work. She was always resentful that she was so much shorter than I. My daughter continues to watch her mother like a hawk. She just can’t seem to relax and let it go. “Have you seen her stirring her cauldron in the morning?”, she asks.

“She’s making oatmeal.”, I reply.

“Really?”, she questions. “Are you sure?” I would like to believe that I am pretty sure. It’s unlikely that she’s cooking up eye of newt, and toe of frog. But in the meantime, the candles keep burning, my wife keeps chanting, and the rest of us, well, we regularly roam the house searching for wool of bat and tongue of dog and any signs of a pentagram drawn on the floor. So far, its all good.

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FIVE MINUTES

by  Solomon Tate

 

Farberman died on the table. It was just a routine appendectomy, but something went wrong. By the time they brought him back he had been dead for almost five minutes, well five minutes in this world. On the other side of the bright light there was no time. He said that he had met his maker. I wasn’t sure if I believed him at first, but he was convinced that he had spoken to God.

He said that he had floated down a long hallway into a white light and arriving on the other side, found himself standing in a conference room. There were four angels seated at a table mulling over the contents of a pile of file folders. “Name?”, one of them asked.

“Martin Farberman.”, he answered. A bell chimed, and the angels stood as the door opened. An older man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. He was dressed in a tie dyed tee shirt with a peace symbol emblazoned on it, faded blue jeans, and sandals. He sat at the head of the table.

“Martin Farberman, sir.”, one of the angels announced.

“Farberman, eh?”, the  man repeated as he flipped through a folder handed to him by one of the angels. “Sit down, Mr. Farberman.”

“Where am I?”, Farberman asked as he sat across from the old man.

“Funny story.”, the man began. “It seems there has been some sort of mix up on our end.”

“It was Julius’ mistake.”, one of the angels shouted out.

“Yes.”, the man continued. “A mistake has been made. Who made it is irrelevant. What is important is how we are going to correct it.”

“A mistake?”, Farberman asked.

“Yes.”, the old man repeated, “a mistake has been made. We were expecting Marvin Faberman, and well to our surprise, we got Martin Farberman. Pretty funny, don’t you think?”

“I’m not so sure.”, Farberman replied. “You still haven’t told me where I am.”

“Oh?”, the old man questioned. “Haven’t you figured that out?”

“I’m not sure.”, Farberman responded.

“Well, let’s see.”, the man said. “You came via the tunnel. There was a bright light. You’re in a room with angels, and then there’s me. Where do you think you are?”

“Who are you?”, Farberman asked.

“I am God.”, the old man said. “Now to our problem.”

“Hold on a minute.”, Farberman interjected. “God is supposed to be wearing a long, flowing white robe.”

“Says who?”, God asked.

“But it’s so 1960s!”, Farberman exclaimed.

“Ya”, God explained. “The 1960s. That was some of my best work. Peace, love, great music, and some wonderful drugs. Not a bad decade at all. I thought you would have kept it going, but you threw it away on discos balls and cocaine.”

“Am I dead, then.”, Farberman asked.

“Well”, God replied, “that’s precisely the problem. “You are, but you are not supposed to be. You’re not quite deceased. You’re preceased. A premature passing. Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes death arrives at the wrong address and sometimes an angel gets a little over zealous and poof, we have a problem. But I’m pretty sure we can correct it.”

“I hope so.”, Farberman said. “I didn’t know God made mistakes.”

“Really?”, God replied. “And why not? It gets pretty intense around here. The 1980s was a mistake. The banjo and kale, also mistakes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but we’ll have your problem fixed up in a jiffy. In the meantime”, God continued, “if you’re hungry the Ten Disciples Diner makes an exceptional spinach and feta omelet.”

“Aren’t there twelve disciples?”, Farberman commented.

“Well.”, God answered, “There was an incident some years ago, and we lost two. Bartholomew and Phillip, I think. We traded them to Asgard for Thor. We had to beef up our Rugby team for the playoffs.”

” And we needed an Allen key.”, Julius said.

“Right.”, God continued. “We had just received the new desks, and needed an Allen key to assemble them. There’s another mistake, the Allen key. Anyway, the two disciples are no longer with us.”

“Can I ask you something?”, Farberman queried.

“Of course.”, God answered. “Anything.”

“So many people are so unhappy.”, Farberman asked. “Is there some kind of secret to being happy?”

“You are a very confused species.”, God told him. “You spend so much time and energy moving around, looking for something that might make you happy, and all the while you just keep moving farther and farther away from it. You want to know the secret, its very simple. Do what makes you happy. Stop living your life with pretense and lies. Be the kind of person you want to be, but be kind and generous to others. And be nice to animals. All animals. And maybe get yourself a dog.”

“That’s it?”, Farberman asked. “That’s all there is to it?”

“Its never easy for your species to do. As simple as it is, you always seem to want to complicate everything. Its no wonder the other species want nothing to do with you?”

“Are there really other life forms out there?”, Farberman asked.

“Everywhere,”, God replied. “But you’re not ready for them.”

“Almost ready here, sir.”, Julius called out.

“Good. Good.”, God said. “Ok Martin, are you ready?”

“I guess so.”, Farberman said. “Is there anything I should do to make life better?”

“Listen to Motown and The Beatles.”, God said. “And spend time at the beach sitting in the sun and listening to the waves.”

The next thing Farberman saw were the faces of the surgical team leaning over him and looking quite relieved that he was back. He would tell that story over and over again, right up until the day he disappeared in the Portlands. I have no idea if he really saw what he said he saw, but I would like to believe it. Since he first told the story, I have consistently listened to Motown and The Beatles, and regularly headed down to the beach. I am hoping to prolong my trip to the other side of the bright light but when I do arrive I think I would like to try out for the rugby team.

 

Don’t Say A Word

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

My first marriage didn’t fare very well. I didn’t think it was anybody’s fault really, but like candles on a birthday cake, it just sort of burnt out and died. I entered into it with the best of intentions, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that its demise rests solely on my shoulders. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I found myself being suffocated by the dull, beige hue of boredom, and suddenly I was rolling around in the hay of much brighter and  greener pastures. Her name was Lori, and she was considerably younger, and profoundly sexually adventurous. While I tried to convince myself that it was love, it was really nothing more than a perverse diversion that rivaled 9 1/2 weeks, and lasted just over a year. After the proverbial shit hit the fan and I confessed my sins and took the verbal beating I suppose she felt I deserved, my ex wife wanted to know how I managed to carry on this sleazy affair right in front of her eyes. I never told her, but it wasn’t difficult, really, I mean there was always a plan. Lori would wake up early, unlock her door and go back to bed. I would arrive at a prescribed time, let myself in and bang her to Brazil and back. She was insatiable, and it was exhausting, but at no time did I ever think of lodging a complaint, although  she did like to talk. Sometimes it was all you could do not to reach over and shove a cannoli in her mouth. She talked a lot. The only time she wasn’t talking was when she was down on her knees. She was all blue jeans and leather jackets, and always seemed to be up for an afternoon of peyote and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, despite being freaked out by the flying monkeys and believing that the cowardly lion was, in fact, her spirit animal.

I met Lori at some seedy dive in Whitby where she worked as a stripper. I saw her performing there one  Saturday afternoon and as she removed what little clothing she had on amid the hoots and hollers of six or seven drunken wankers with hands entrenched down the front of their pants, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was insanely beautiful. We talked for hours well, she talked for hours while I sat there thinking about the things I wanted to do to her body. The voice in my head that kept reminding me that I was married was becoming annoying, but it was quickly silenced when Lori leaned over and kissed me. I kissed her back, all the while remembering what she looked like naked.

Surprisingly, I felt no guilt. I thought I would, I mean even though it was just a kiss I really thought that I should have felt something. When I got home, life went on just as it did before. There were the usual events with family and friends, although I began making up excuses to avoid them in order to spend time with Lori. It was usually a double shift or some other crisis at work that I had to attend to, but any excuse would have done just as well. A simple phone call home from work allowed me hours and hours of some of the most incredible sex I had ever had. There was a time during all of this madness that I wished that I had that with my wife, but I just don’t think that it was in her. Or maybe I just didn’t feel that way about her, I mean I had pretty much lost all interest in having sex with her. I don’t know. It was like that through most of the affair though well, at least until I got caught.

About three or four months or so into the dalliance it occurred to me that I was being brutally unfair. I felt that I needed to let my wife know. I felt like I owed her the truth. The trouble was I had no idea how to tell her and there was no one I could turn to for advice. I had been living a secret life and lying about so much for so long, that I felt as if I need a program to figure out which players were on which team. And, I suppose that with all of the deceit, I couldn’t really be sure what the truth was anymore.

By this time Lori and I had become very close. We were buying each other gifts, and she had taken to writing me notes that described in sordid detail what she wanted me to do to her. We were spending all of our free time together, taking road trips out of town, checking into hotels and living as if we were a couple. It was all becoming too much to deal with and something had to give. I was not prepared to stop seeing Lori, so the only viable option then was to end the marriage. I convinced myself that it was the honorable thing to do. One Saturday evening when my wife returned home from work, she confronted me with some notes from Lori she had found in my briefcase. She was irate, and set out on a journey of name calling, threats and finally the news that I needed to pack up my shit and be out within the hour. I thought that I would have felt the relief that I had been so certain would come once the truth was told, but it wasn’t there. At no time did I ever imagine that I could have hurt her so much, but then at no time did I ever think about anyone other than myself. I moved in with a friend, and shortly after secured an apartment close to work, and Lori.

My divorce was quick and while not painless, I mean she got everything except the tv and stereo which were mine to begin with, at least it was over.  Everything seemed to be working out. Lori was always coming over and the sexcapades were as excitingly prolific as ever. For the first time in a long time I felt free and unencumbered, and perhaps even a little contented. A few months later, Lori informed me that she didn’t think we should see each other anymore. While she was attracted to me and cared for me, the fact that I was married, forbidden fruit so to speak, had made it all so damn exciting for her. She enjoyed the rush of being the other woman, the mistress, and now that she had been relegated to the position of girlfriend, the whole thing just seemed monotonous and tame. We parted ways and with cursory let’s still be friends crap. I didn’t see her again for almost 20 years, when she showed up at a meeting I was attending. We only spoke for a few minutes, the standard how are you and the like, and that was the end of that.

My ex wife moved to California at some point, married and seemed to enjoy her new life. I suppose that there was just too much water still rising up over the bridge for us to even be able to talk, which is okay, I mean, I don’t really have much to say to her anymore. I screwed up. I cheated on my wife with Lori, who couldn’t see me anymore because we divorced due to my infidelity with her. It was sad really, I mean I never set out to hurt anyone, but that’s just the way these things always seem to work out. I stayed on my own for a while, trying to sort through all of the drama and I realized that Its all really cosmically karmic. Eliot was right when he wrote ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper’.