I was watering the garden, getting the potted plants that the sprinkler didn’t reach and had just turned on the spigot when behind me came a voice as cold as death.
“That geranium has Scale. You better spray it with copper or it will migrate to the Pittosporum.”
“I know. Is that why you are here?” I knew it was not. Not by a long shot.
It had only been a few hours before when I had finally made my escape from Gypsy- hysterical screeching Gypsy with her over-the-top dramatic display; all over a dog, a small black dog. Well, maybe a little more than that. A small black dog
“Is that why you named her ‘Tripod’?” I had asked. “Because she only has three legs?” I had asked. “I’d like to buy her. She’s cute.”
“Why – who do you think you are coming in here all young and beautiful and trying to take my Familiars from me!” She had this look in her eyes, like my grandmother Alice, the one with the crazy rat eyes. The one who had caused me to constantly, it seemed, suffer from ‘Foot-In-Mouth Disease. Not just mildly pissing off people whose powers were scary, but significantly pissing them off to the point where I could only imagine spending all eternity with my head on backwards, literally.
“No! You don’t understand! I want to buy her!” I cried out, falling to my knees. Then, as usual, my Crazy Rat Eyed Grandma Alice ‘problem’ surfaced, “Did you fuck up a potion? Use the wrong spell? Is that what caused her leg to fall off? Did you try some fancy-schmancy new age Wiccan business? Some untested, unapproved by the FDPS? The Federal Department of Potions and Spells? Huh? Didja? Is that why your little dog is running around lacking a leg?” The whole time I circled her with my arms out to the sides, as if I could stop her from leaving, escaping my tirade. While internally, my little inner voice was desperately trying to drown out the words that were – apparently- spewing as a result of Crazy Rat Eyed Grandma Alice’s permanent, horrible and un-retractable spell.
The tall one with eyes of amber and that ubiquitous wart on her nose snorted. “You know my position here is to be certain that any witch who resides here is obedient to the Rules and Regulations as handed down through the ages by those whose wisdom gave us magic.” She shoved back her uniform cape and brought out a small book, which, when opened, expanded to nearly envelope the wrought iron table upon which she dropped it.
I waited patiently for her to continue. She ran a finger down a few pages, slowly. Apparently, she’d never taken the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course. I would have been halfway through the thing by now, using the old fashioned method, not even resorting to a spell.
Meanwhile I tried to focus on anything but the wise tall one. Internally I was doing la-la-la-la’s, hoping against hope she wouldn’t think I was ignoring her. It wouldn’t do to have Crazy Rat-eyed Grandma Alice’s curse rearing it’s horrific head. I’d be tossed out of the coven summarily. They’d probably not let me have time to pack, not that it took so long. I only had a few personal items, my dop kit containing my collection of potions, among which was the one I had developed all by myself. It had gone spinning through approvals by the Federal Department of Potions and Spells in time as thick as an eyelash. I called it ‘The Hare of the Dog What Bitya’, a play on words. I love words. My THoDWB was useful for any number of ailments, but most effectively used as a Morning After potion if you thought you might be carrying a ‘little bun in the coven’. Oh, I slay me, I really do! Sales had been brisk. I had been socking away the proceeds like a miserly old witch…. Much like my Crazy Rat-eyed Grandma Alice. Anyway, I was saving to get myself a fine Familiar. I wasn’t particular about looks, more interested in power, I was.
“Have I been disobedient? I didn’t mean to be,” I said meekly.
“It is customary, when one wishes to obtain a Familiar, to ensure that the Familiar is indeed for sale.”
The thought that Tripod wasn’t for sale never crossed my mind.” I bent to scratch at a mosquito bite. “I made an offer, at a fair price….”
“Please. Don’t try to dodge the issue. It’s not that simple. Tripod is the best Familiar Gypsy ever bred. She comes from a long line of Familiars who have been certified as Better Familiars by the FBA.”
“The Federal Breeding Association. They oversee all the Familiars. Not just the dogs, but the cats – and that is no small feat, what with everyone coming to believe all Familiars owned by witches are cats.”
I interrupted, “But everyone knows a witch can have anything from a spider to a horse as a Familiar.”
“Yes, I know. That is not the point and I would appreciate you not interrupting me.”
I struggled to think of pleasant things, puppies, kitties, the last time I got lucky… anything to prevent me from opening my mouth and spewing, well, you know….
“Now she’s in such a state… I don’t know how to get her to stop flittering around the balcony on her broom. That is where she was when I left her, and I tell you, Tallulah, it is no easy feat to speak to her when she is swishing around my head, ten feet off the ground.”
“How do I fix this?”
The tall wise one ranted on, arms waving, wart vibrating with every word, “She doesn’t go around willy-nilly allowing her breeding stock to go to just anyone, you know. She screen…” The tall woman stopped speaking abruptly. A man filled the doorway, with a diminutive female figure dressed all in black peering out from behind him.
“Gypsy would like you to have another Familiar. In the hopes that this ‘incident’ can be put behind us.” He pulled his black cloak back and crossed powerfully built arms across his broad chest.
Gypsy came out, smiling shyly. In her hand she held a leash. There, at her feet was a darling little Familiar, black with white spots, perfectly spaced white spots and a lovely expression.
I knelt down. The little dog came forward and sat before me. She licked my hand. I patted her soft little head. She winked at me, a knowing wink.
“Thank you. That’s very nice of you, Gypsy. I’m so sorry I upset you…”
At that moment, I felt it beginning to slip up from deep in my belly, rising into my throat and groaned out loud. “Listen, whatever you do, don’t listen to me. My Crazy Rat-Eyed Grandma Alice cast this awful spell…” I clapped my left hand over my mouth. My right hand scratched, clawed, pulled as hard as it could to get the words trapped inside my mouth into the atmosphere. Left hand had nothing to hang onto.
“Oh go fuck yourself, you impotent bastard! You green toothed bottom feeder! Better yet, why don’t you all go fuck yourselves!”
The Familiar – 1245 words (minimum 1200) using the following list of words. Customary X