The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 21

Weakened by intoxication with devastating effect, Oona was convinced that Thankful’s dabbling had threatened Gran Liv. What exactly is happening? “What has been happening?” she asked. As Oona twisted through the back roads of Cambridge, and managed to meander her way back to the Expressway, she sensed trouble. Oona conceded her judgment of late had been clouded and confused. Tonight was no better and even worse with all the partying. She could not think straight! She ought to have known to better protect Gran Liv. Something is wrong. She had only intended to keep the great book in the chest until she could secure another, permanent space for it. How irresponsible! The book is at great risk! That chest was hardly the vault she had for Gran Liv in Virginia, and with the presence of another witch in the house – Thankful – no matter how young or inexperienced she was – Oona had invited disaster with such carelessness.

Oona’s powers were diluted with drink, lust, and libido. Also impaired by the normal and abnormal stresses of a person with so much on her mind, the diversions of drink and other entertainments had blown her well off course and into unfamiliar territory, none of which Oona dared recount at the moment. Something was wrong at home, and Oona could not put a finger on what exactly it was. Thankful was at the source of it; she knew that. And the Great Book is the source. Oona’s body rippled with a sense of evil.

“Something is not right.” she stammered. “I know something is not right!” I must get home. Something is in the house!” Oona kept her eyes on the road as best as she could. Then she remembered. She felt fear. Oona Neeci felt fear. She proceeded south on the Expressway and drove on toward home. Oona made the Roman Catholic sign of the cross; she prayed to God to get home quickly. There was light traffic heading south, and she easily topped 90 miles an hour in her prized Porsche, and sailed past the landmarks, toward the Route 128 Split.

“It was the best I could do,” she lamented. “It was the best place I could find until a better place was found.” Oona felt increasingly helpless to influence events in Westbridge, and worked herself into a (barely) controlled frenzy. “I could have put Gran Liv in a bank vault or a safety deposit box or even left it in Virginia,” she wailed. Oona sped up further and raced now in the direction of Route 24 South and then, eventually, home. “I should have known better! I should have known this would happen!” She always wished she could fly home when she was drunk…on a broom. That would seem faster. “My guard was down. I was intoxicated with the lust for relocated pleasure. I would have put my life…anywhere for her.” Oona knew she should not be driving. “Oh KC. You…bitch! What you have done to me! May Erzulie have mercy on you, Kathryn Cleona…and on me.”

Oona prepared to take the right fork onto 128 when she heard the sudden blast of a car’s horn. Uncaring and unyielding the witch continued on her way, and ranted on, undeterred. “And my precious Gran Liv, it is you who are in terrible danger.” She was a bit squinty. “How could I not know this? How could I not know?” Oona suddenly swerved the Porsche and regained control of the car just as quickly. She needed to slow down; she took a breath and reached for the radio controls. Oona was tired and in a careless state. It seemed the white lines of the highway would not stay straight for her any longer. She closed and reopened her eyes a few times and hoped her vision would set things right. “I know I must guard you, and I will Gran Liv. I promise you this if you give me the chance.” For years since Mamie passed the Great Book to her, no threat to it had ever arisen. “I am so, so sorry, Mamie. Please forgive me. And Pi Gran Liv Maji, as with the Guardians before me for 500 years, I swear I shall keep you safe for as long as I am worthy. Please forgive me for this incaution. Your vulnerability is beyond reproach.” You belong to me, Gran Liv. You belong with me, always! “Please! No temporary stewardship should allow threats from those who are drawn to you and from you by them.” Oona cried profusely. “Gran Liv: I shall protect and love thee always. Three things are certain.” Oona swerved again and again recovered the steering. “I shall guard you and savor your powers until my life on Earth ends and you are passed on peacefully to the next Guardian. Yes, yes, yes, as peacefully as when Mamie passed you to me, when she was a frail and helpless invalid who could no longer protect you, my most beloved Book. But I shall protect you always, Gran Liv, and employ our powers wisely, with the greatest of care and caution. I know thee, only as others have known thee, and as a Guardian who would never be.” The head lights of northbound traffic annoyed her, as were the increased volume of cars’ horns. “My great and powerful book of spells and magic, have mercy on me and on those like me who shall follow, and one day serve you and consult you so that they may always handle you as you so deserve, my great treasure.”

I am getting very warm.

Pi Gran Liv: you have a mind of your own. You may pass unhindered into a church or may preside in a Black Mass. Gran Liv sometimes I do not know whether you are more good than not good. I am but one humble inheritor. And as the Catholic Pope has a Swiss Guard, I serve Pi Gran Liv Maji. I am neither your owner nor your Mistress. Neither was my Mamie.” Maybe I should pull over. “You serve me, Gran Liv, by custom and by tradition, and not by dedication.” I am getting warm. “You are surely of an intense attraction to others, for your spells and powers. But few are worthy to serve you as a custodian, no, a Guardian,” Oona asserted mockingly. “Gran Liv: you may stir great mischief and intensely attract those witches who are worthy to serve and be served by you, but I shall love you always. Always I shall love you.”

Oona’s mind gently drifted. Gran Liv was the all-enduring compendium of different languages and cultures to her, all woven onto the pages of that single five hundred year old sanctified book of magic and instructions. Many were written and explained in the early Haitian Creole. Others were drawn in ways far different than typically written western languages. Passages were sometimes written backwards for readings by reflection; there were strange codes and messages with unfamiliar characters. A missive could be twisted in purpose while others were written for the conveyance of simple spells.

Oona had just passed Quincy and continued her race home when she noticed the fluttering blue lights of a police cruiser behind her. After an initial burst of acceleration, Oona slowed down and found her way safely to the side of the highway. There she took a deep breath of regret. I shall have to use some good magic to get out of this one.

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