Roxy set her purse in the backroom and got ready to face the raucous crowd at Yesterday’s Gone. She checked her look in the mirror and liked what she saw. She’d dyed her pixy haircut black for Halloween and was wearing black jeans and a black pullover, a gift from her friend. She smiled, reading the lettering on the front. Witches Rule. Monte was a warlock, so he thought it’d be just the thing for her to wear, it being All Hallows’ Eve and all. He especially thought it was perfect since he’d given it to her to help cast a spell on that jerk Big Ed who’d been hassling her for the last month. Even though the bar was packed with people dressed up in costumes and ready to party she’d seen him on the way in. He was trouble with a capital “T”. Well, she was ready for him now. She checked her purse to see if the magic wand Monte had given her was still there. It was. To her, it looked like a twig, like something out of Harry Potter, but Monte insisted on calling it a magic wand because that’s what it was.
“It came from up on the north shore of Lake Superior,” he’d told her. “It’s made from diamond willow, and it’s got a lot of mojo going for it.”
So if Monte wanted to call it a magic wand, great. The important thing was that he had taught her how to use it, how to cast a spell, so now she was all set if that big jerk wanted to hassle her. In fact, she felt better than she had in the month since he’d first shown up and started giving her a hard time.
Well, now I’m ready, she thought to herself. Bring it on.
Big Ed surveyed the crowd with interest, wondering how many people envied his good looks and his awesome build. Probably a lot. Man, he loved Yesterday’s Gone. As far as neighborhood bars went it would rate right up at the top of his book. If he kept a book, that is, which he didn’t. But the drinks were cheap and more importantly, they were big, and that’s what mattered. The sound system pumped out classic rock with Zeppelin and ZZ Top heavy in the rotation, plus, you could take an occasional hit in the bathroom and no one minded. So, yeah, what was not to like?
The waitresses weren’t bad either. Especially the cute little chick with the pixy hair cut. Roxy. Man, what he wouldn’t give…Well, she was all right, one of the main reasons he kept talking his buddies into coming back. Tonight, especially. Halloween. He’d dressed up as a professional wrestler in a form-fitting, light blue tank top and a pair of tight, purple shorts. He had the build for it – muscles on top of muscles from working out and a gut that wasn’t so bad as long as he remembers to suck it in. It was going to be a good night. As long as the beers and the shots of Jack were flowing. Speaking of…He spied Roxy. Time for more drinks.
“Hey there, darling,” he yelled, snapping his fingers. “How about another round for your boy over here?” He’d been spending the evening trying to chat-her-up but she was so busy she wasn’t able to spend any time with him. Like now. She just hurried over and dropped off their drinks and left quickly before he could give her a hug and a little kiss. Man, what he wouldn’t give…
Finally, around eleven he’d had enough. She had just dropped off another round when he motioned to her, “Aw, Roxy, come here little girl. Come and sit on Big Ed’s lap and let’s cuddle a bit.”
She scowled at him. “I’ve told you before. Back off. I’ve got work to do. Leave me alone.”
Big Ed was having none of it. “Come on, girly girl. Just one little kiss for your favorite customer.”
He grabbed for her but she slapped his hand away, dodging off to the side. He was able to get a hold of her arm for a moment, but she pulled away. “Stop it! God, you make me sick. Just leave me the hell alone.”
He grinned. He could tell she was just flirting with him. Just like every other girl. They all did. He loved it.
“Aw, sweetheart…” he was saying but stopped and watched as she ran off to the back room. Now, where’s she going? Maybe to freshen up a bit for him. He smiled. Good.
He took a sip of whiskey and was turning to his buddies when he noticed her coming back. He brightened and a smile formed on his face as she quickly made her way to his table. Changed her mind, I guess, is what he was thinking.
He stood up to greet her, wobbling and weaving to gain his balance as he opened arms, “Come back for a hug from Big Ed?”
He never got the chance. “Not on your life,” Roxy said, stopping in front of him.
He wasn’t used to being rejected by any woman, especially a tiny waitress like this one. He started to get angry. “Quit fooling around and come here. Now.”
“Never!” Roxy yelled and pulled her magic wand out of her back pocket.
Big Ed was startled for a moment. “What’s this, little girl? A toothpick for me. A toothpick for your daddy?”
He started to reach out but stopped when Roxy began waving the wand slowly, weaving it hypnotically back and forth, back and forth, in front of his eyes. He stopped and stood still, watching. What was going on?
Roxy took a deep breath and let it out watching as Big Ed’s eyes turned glassy. Then she began chanting in a soft, sing-songy kind of way, “Hut two three four. Hut two three four. Time for Big Ed to start matching around the floor.”
“What the hell…” he started to say, but then stopped. As she kept her wand weaving back and forth, back and forth, Roxy watched as a perplexed look came over Big Ed’s face. Then his feet started moving, shuffling forward and backward, forward and backward. He tried to stop them but couldn’t. Then out of nowhere words started coming out of his mouth, spilling forth like water from a spigot. He put his hand up and tried to stop them but couldn’t. Quietly at first, the words forced their way out from between his fingers. “Hut two three four. Hut two three four.” And then louder, “HUT TWO THREE FOUR! HUT TWO THREE FOUR!”
Roxy could barely contain her laughter. It was working! She spoke up, loud and clear, so the entire bar could hear. “START MARCHING!” she commanded. Big Ed stared at her, pleading, but she had no sympathy and gave him a devilish look in return. “NOW!”
So he did. He started marching around the bar in time to his chant, “HUT TWO THREE FOUR! HUT TWO THREE FOUR!” Bumping into patrons and tables and chairs, stumbling and falling on occasion, only to arise and begin marching again, chanting, “HUT TWO THREE FOUR! HUT TWO THREE FOUR!”
Roxy stood back and watched, eye wide with wonder. She was ecstatic. Thank goodness for Monte. He’d said, “Let’s teach that jerk a lesson. Let’s make him pay.”
He’d given her the wand, told her about it coming from a special place on the north shore and taught her the chant. All of this, however, only after she’d held the wand, and, as Monte had said, bonded with it. She’d felt its heat emanate into hand and fingers, finally feeling its power flowing into her entire body, filling her with not only warmth, but a measure of confidence she’d never felt before. It was a good feeling, kind of like curling up under a warm comforter on a cold night.
Now she watched as that jerk Big Ed marched around the bar in time to, “HUT TWO THREE FOUR! HUT TWO THREE FOUR!” while the place erupted with laughter and cat-calls from not only the customers but Big Ed’s friends as well. It was apparent to Roxy: The magic wand had worked.
Later that night on her way home from work she stopped to see Monte and thank him.
“How’d it go,” he asked pouring her a cup of coffee. They were sitting in the small living room of the apartment he lived in.
“Fabulous,” Roxy smiled and told him all about it; the hut two three fours, and the marching and how everyone laughed at Big Ed. When she was finished, she took a sip from her mug and turned serious, “I have a question, though.”
“What’s that?” Monte asked. He was in a really good mood. He was happy things had gone well for his friend. Guys like Big Ed needed to be put in their place and he was glad to have played a small part in helping out. But it was really all Roxy’s doing. The wand had uncovered something deep inside of her that she didn’t know she had – the power of magic. From now on she didn’t have to take crap from anyone anymore.
“Toward the end, the boss came out and told the jerk and his friends to leave and never come back. On his way out the creep called me a witch. I just grinned and tipped my wand at him and didn’t bother telling him the spell would wear off in another hour.” She laughed, “Let him think he’s going to march around saying ‘Hut two three four’ for the rest of his life.” Her smile faded, though, as she took Monte’s hand and asked, “But, I’m not really a witch, am I? Just because I could chant the words you told me and make him do weird stuff, that doesn’t automatically make me a witch, right?”
Monte was quiet, thinking about how to answer. “Well, look at what happened tonight. What do you think? Do you think you’re a witch?”
Roxy thought for a moment, forehead furled. Finally, she said, “No. I doubt it. I’m just a girl who was sick of getting pushed around and you helped me. You and that magic twig, I mean, wand,” she corrected herself and smiled. Then she took the wand out of her purse and handed it to him. “Here. I guess you’ll want this back.”
Monte held up his hands, “No. No way. I want you to have it. You’ll never know when you might need it again.”
Roxy looked skeptical. Then she grinned, “You sure?”
“I am. In fact, from now on we’ll call it your magic twig. It’s all yours. You keep your magic twig handy and you’ll never be pushed around again. I guarantee it.”
“All right!” she said, enthusiastically. Then she paused, thinking, and added, “But will you give me more lessons? You know, teach me how to use it to do more magic stuff?”
Monte was glad Roxy wanted to learn more. Deep down he knew the truth – she really was a witch at heart, she just didn’t know it yet. She was going to make a great one.
“Absolutely. If you want to learn I’ll be happy to teach you.”
Roxy smiled and sipped her coffee. She felt good. The best she’d felt in a long time and if it had to do with the twig and its magic, so be it. “Great,” she said. “When should we get started?”
He set his mug down, stood up and took her hand, “How about now?”
DECEMBER 2019 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared online in CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Nailpolish Stories, Ariel Chart, Potato Soup Journal, Literary Yard, Spillwords, The Drabble and World of Myth Magazine, and in print publications: A Million Ways, Mused Literary Journal, Gleam Flash Fiction Anthology #2, The Best of CafeLit8, Nativity Anthology by Bridge House Publishing and Gold Dust Magazine. You can also check out his blog to see more: THE VIEW FROM LONG LAKE.