Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moonlit Hamlet: Chapter One

By day the town of Hamlet was full of small town folk doing small town things. Three old men sat in front of Lucy’s Diner on rocking chairs embellishing town legends or watching for the hooligans to skateboard by so they could yell at them. Four ladies gossiped in Cherie’s Salon in curlers or aprons over magazines graced with Hollywood's finest. And at the high school, the mayor’s son got out of another day of detention.

As the evening draws the day to a close and all the children are called inside, some folk are just beginning to stir. Lady Violetta wraps herself in silk scarves and unlocks the back door of her massage parlor. Cloaked figures lurk in the shadows a block away, watching her door, and building up the courage to knock upon it.

Mark’s pub is lined with trucks around three sides and neon glows on their polished hoods and reflects off the chrome. Acoustic guitars wail from the open door, quieting to a thump of bass when the door closes on patrons dressed in denim and plaid.

But most interesting of all is Mama Maggie who prowls the deep forest with her pouch of bones tinkling from a string around her waist, her walking stick for protection and support of her stooped over body.

Two children have slipped out this night looking for the ‘witch’ of the dark forest. Their flashlights shake as they place their offering on a tombstone. Then they wait.

Yes, the world is a different place under the moon.

“You're sure this is how we see the witch, Cal?” whispered JoAnn.

“Yes, just leave a dead cat on the unmarked tombstone and at midnight and she will come after it.”

JoAnn shuddered. Cal took it to be a shiver and he put his arm around her shoulders. She shook him off. Cal was undeterred.

“Look, Cal, just because it’s dark, doesn’t mean you can put the moves on me.”

“I thought you were cold!”

“Yeah, right.”

“Are you scared?”



“Shut up! She’ll never come with you yappin!”

Cal shut up. They sat in the dark for a long time, jumped at every twig snap, and heard a lonesome coyote’s howl which sent shivers down their spines. They looked every which way into the dark, peering into the darkest shadows, which is why they never saw her coming.

Cal felt a hand grip his arm and he turned to see JoAnn staring intently at the tombstone. Behind it a dark stooped figure stood. The moonlight made her wrinkles deeper and her white hair glow.

She stood staring at the two quaking teens. Her posture may have been stooped, but her countenance demanded respect. The two teens stood up slowly, wide eyes riveted on her.

“You seek Mama Maggie.” It was a statement, not a question. JoAnn gulped and nodded. Cal reached for her hand.

“You have a big problem.” JoAnn’s eyes got wider, if that was possible, and she squeaked out a “Yes!”

“Hm.” The old woman beckoned them to follow her with a crooked hand. She led them into the woods. They stumbled after her, tripping over tree roots, ducking under low branches, and having twice as much trouble than the old woman who ghosted before them.

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