Category Archives: novel

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 11

Canto Eleven – Clubhouse Craziness

Two days had passed since the magic cat had given Valerie the strange wooden statue.  Now, it sat on the crate that served as a table in the middle of the Ghost House.  The newly re-formed Pirates were all there.

“I think it’s called a Tiki idol,” said Pidney.

“How do you know that, Polack?” sneered Conrad Doble.

“It looks kinda like the ones in the Tiki Bird Show at Disneyland,” said Pidney sheepishly, “Mom and Dad took me there when I was twelve.”

“Didja like the show?” asked Doble.  “The singing birdies and everything?”

“Yeah,” said Pidney matter-of-factly, “I have always loved everything by Disney.”

Both Valerie and Mary Philips smiled at him.  Pidney was always gonna have a lot of the little boy he used to be in him.

“It reminds me of the book you were telling me about, Mary,” said Ray Zeffer.

“What book?” asked Pidney.

“Ray was there when I showed the book to Mr. Salcom.  He’s in my Modern Novel Class third period.  It’s the book about the last voyage to the South Seas.”

“The one your Uncle Noah gave you,” added Ray.

“Noah Dettbarn is NOT my uncle.  He’s just a family friend.”

“Did your Uncle come to visit you recently?” asked Danny Murphy.  “Since he came home again, I mean?”

“He’s NOT my…  Oh, never mind.   It came in the mail a month ago.  It’s where I got those stories I was telling you about, Pid.”

“Oh, yeah.   The stories that you’re gonna share with us to become the Merlin of the Pirates,” said Pidney.

Valerie admired the way Pidney’s eyes sparkled when he talked about stuff that excited him.  And Mary’s stories were always something that excited him, no matter where she got them from.  Mary’s eldest half-brother, Branch McMillan wrote lots of fantastic stories full of lies and jokes and other nonsense.  A lot of that had rubbed off on Mary.

“So, you have a magic book after all?  Like old Milt Morgan had?”  Conrad Doble looked at Mary with an accusing stare that made Val want to punch him in the ear.

“Well, it’s not a magic book.  It’s a ship’s log book.  It has latitudes and longitudes in it, sonar readings, and some stories about what Captain Noah Dettbarn has been up to that are either huge honking lies, or the most fantastic things that ever happened to someone from Iowa.”

“Cool.  You have the book with you?” asked Doble.

“Not yet.  I’ll bring it to the next meeting.  I have to read all the stories myself first,” Mary said.

Doble squinted at Mary.  Valerie thought that must either mean that old King Leer didn’t believe her, or that his tiny brain was being squeezed too tightly by all the information Mary had just given him.  Surely it was the latter thing.

“What are we gonna do with the Tiki-thing?” asked Pidney.

“You really got it from a magic cat?” Ray asked Valerie.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s a magic cat, exactly.  It’s that ugly white alley cat that lives behind the Main Street businesses, by the water tower.  Crazy old Miss Haire asked me to go talk to it.”

“And did it talk back?” sneered Conrad Doble.

Pidney and Ray both glared at Doble, apparently not liking the tone of voice he used with Valerie.   But it was pretty much the same ugly tone he used with everybody.

“Um… It talked to me… yes.”

“But I didn’t hear it,” said Danny.   “Only Val has the witch ears that crazy old Miss Haire was talking about.”

“Witch ears?” asked Mary.

“She calls it the knowing,” answered Valerie.  “She says it is using all your senses to tell you more than any one thing can tell you by itself.”

“That’s real dog poop!” growled Doble.

“Miss Haire is rather eccentric,” said Mary, “but I believe she’s a good person at heart.  Did she say anything about the Tiki idol?”

“We talked to her before we got the idol,” said Val.  “We didn’t see her or talk to her afterwards.”

“Well, I think we should look up more about it in the library,” said Mary.  “Val, isn’t your aunt the head librarian?”

“My Mom’s sister, Aunt Alice, yes.”

“Can you, Pidney, and I meet in the library tomorrow afternoon?”

“You bet!”  Val liked the idea of looking stuff up with Pidney.  Using his football muscles to pull books off shelves and turn encyclopedia pages really appealed to a girl who liked to see football muscles in use and up close.

So, it was settled.  The Captain’s log book would be the magic book that sealed the New Norwall Pirates, and Valerie would get to do research with two of her favorite people on Earth all because of a silly little wooden-headed man in a grass skirt and a very ugly mask.

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 10

Canto Ten – Cat Magic, and It Isn’t Even a Black Cat

Valerie and Danny walked back towards Main Street unsure of what to do next in spying on Billy’s weird family.  How do you find out if someone is being hurt or tortured by their own family?  And what was old Witch Haire talking about?  Didn’t she know how scary she was?  And couldn’t she just come out and tell them what she knew?  Did she have to make kids discover stuff for themselves?

“Are you gonna try to do what she said?” asked Danny, kicking a stone down the street ahead of them.

“Do you even understand what she wants me to do?”

“Do I understand what a witch wants?”

“Yeah, that.”

“I have no frapping idea.”

“Frapping?”

“Hey, I have to go home and face Mom later.  She’ll know.”

Val grinned at him.  “Yeah, I suppose she would.”

“Look there, Val, it’s that damned cat she was talking about.”

It was indeed the cat the witch had mentioned.  It was a whitish color, about the color of muddied milk.  It had an ugly, misshapen head that was as flat as the flight deck of an aircraft carrier on top.  Valerie imagined little flying flea squadrons taking off from it in formation.  Its cat’s eyes were unusually large, expressive, and somewhat scary.  It had one light blue eye and one sickly green-colored eye.  And scariest of all, it was looking back at her like it was waiting for her to say something.  It just sat there in the alley behind the fire station, looking at her as if it wanted her to speak.

“Gawd, you are one ugly cat,” she finally said.  It blinked.

“You are pretty for a human.   But aren’t you supposed to talk to me about something else?”

Val was startled.  “Danny, did you hear that cat say something just now?  Without moving its lips, I mean?”

“Um, well, no…  Why?”

“What makes you think the stupid tail-yanker could hear me?  Did you know he once tied firecrackers to a cat’s tail and it wasn’t even the Fourth of July?”

“Danny?  That cat is talking to me.”  The cat seemed to be frowning, not something Val had ever considered a cat to be doing before.

“Val?  Are you feeling all right?”

“My name is Scraggles.  I don’t know if Mistress Haire told you that.”

“No, she didn’t,” Valerie said to the cat.

“Who didn’t what?” asked Danny, confused completely.

“Mazie Haire didn’t tell me that cat’s name, did she?”

“Sure she did.  She said it was called Scraggles.”

“If you are capable of learning the knowing, girl,” the cat hissed, “you’re gonna have ta pay a lot better attention than that.”

“Scraggles,” was all that Valerie said.

“You need to follow me down this alley,” said Scraggles in his spooky cat-voice.

“Okay,” Val answered.

The cat leisurely stood up and turned about, showing his somewhat scuffed-up hindquarters to Valerie and Danny.  It sauntered in an unhurried manner down the alley.  It passed between the fire station and the water tower.  Then it went behind the Post Office.  When they got to the garbage barrels in the alley behind Martin’s Bar and Grill, it sat down in the middle of the alley.

“Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark… BARK!”

Valerie and Danny both nearly jumped out of their skins.  It was Barky Bill, the dog the Martin family kept to keep the rats away from the trash barrels.   It shot out towards the cat who continued to sit with total unconcern.  Then, reaching the end of its chain, the dog nearly strangled itself and flipped on its back in a cloud of gravel, inches from the cat.

“I think the stupid dog knows he can’t get me,” said the cat, licking its right front paw disdainfully.  “It always nearly pulls it own head off to get me.  It is a beast with very little wit.  You’ll never hear any talking from him, no matter how much knowing you actually learn.”

“I think it’s cruel of you to torture the poor dog like that,” Valerie said.

“Are you talking to me or to the damned cat?” asked Danny.

“To the cat.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t you have some important questions to ask me?” the cat said.

“Yeah.  How does a cat talk like this?  You don’t seem to be moving your mouth.  Is it telepathy?  Mind to mind?”

“You are using the knowing.  You see what I do.  You look at the movements I make and the expressions I have on my face, and knowing what you know about cat behavior, you can actually infer what I have to say to you.  It is a matter of your brain figuring out what your eyes are actually seeing.”

“Why can’t Danny hear you?”

Scraggles looked at Danny, making Val turn towards him too.  She noticed the confused look of stupefaction on Danny’s face.

“He’s a boy.  Not even a very smart example of the species.”

“Hmm,” said Valerie.  She didn’t like the way this was going.

“So what…?”  Valerie stopped mid-thought.  What was the misty purple smoke that was suddenly filling the alley?   “What else am I supposed to learn from you?”

“Follow me.”   The cat continued down the alley, behind the Hardware Store and into the smoke.

Valerie followed.  Danny followed her.

Lurking at the far end of the alley was a dark, cloaked figure that seemed to be wearing a yachting cap, or a cap like the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island wore… a white one.

“Who’s there?” Val asked.

“I see him too,” Danny remarked.

In that instant someone seemed to whip off the cloak and cap… and then no one was there.  The alley was empty, except for a small wooden man carved from a block of wood and wearing only a skirt of grass and a super-ugly mask.

“Good Gawd!” gasped Danny.  “Did the cat do that?”                                                                                                

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 9

Canto Nine – What a Witch Wants

The house was called the Gingerbread House by all Norwall kids because back in the days of the original Pirates, the old German Lady, Grandma Gretel had lived there.  She had been a survivor of Bergen Belsen concentration camp during World War II, and was so full of life as a result that she baked endless piles of gingerbread to feed to the local kids.  She had treated them like her own grandchildren, the grandchildren that she would never have otherwise, thanks to the dragons of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany.

Mazie Haire had bought the Gingerbread House in an estate sale after the old German Lady had passed away with no heirs.  Not only did the mysterious Ms. Haire move in, but she totally changed the fundamental nature of the place.  It still looked like a gingerbread house on the outside, except for the horrible face on the door knocker, but the inside was like a Gothic horror novel.   The walls were now bare gray brick, like the inside of a medieval dungeon.  The wall that once separated the living room from the kitchen had been knocked out, leaving only a support pillar in the center of the big room.  The fireplace had been expanded into a considerable hearth, all of gray stone.  In the center of the hearth was a massive black cauldron where she apparently did all her cooking.  In fact, Val knew that she would only use specific kinds of wood under that cauldron because Daddy Kyle had made the mistake of offering to sell her wood for her fireplace a couple of years ago.  She had made him search all over Iowa for the amount of dogwood she needed and for sweetbriar that turned out not even to be from a tree.  She wanted the apple-scented flowering plants with hooked thorns to burn in her fireplace, but the ones she planted in the yard of the Gingerbread House wouldn’t be ready to harvest for two years.  After he finished that difficult job for her, he never volunteered to do such a thing again… even though she always seemed to have plenty of money and offered to make it worth his while.

“Hold that ice pack on the lump, girl,” Mazie said when Valerie accidentally let it slide a little to one side.

“Thanks for helping us,” mumbled Danny, “but if Val is better, shouldn’t we be going?  I mean… err… you are going to let us go, right?”

Danny glanced nervously at the silent black cauldron on the hearth.

“Afraid I’m gonna cook ya and eat ya, are ya?”  Mazie cackled softly.

“No, um… “

“Don’t you worry none, Danny Murphy,” Mazie said.  “I don’t need your pushy old mommy meddling in my business any more than she already does, so I believe I won’t eat you and give her reason to fret.  I have baby-sat for your little sisters and brothers.  I didn’t eat them, did I?  Cooking don’t make Murphy’s taste any better than they do uncooked.  I’m likely to get food poisoning.”

“You don’t really eat people do you?” asked Valerie, nervously.

“I might eat you, sweet girl.  Especially if you go around committing sins like spying through people’s windows.”

“You’re one to talk!” growled Danny, “with that telescope of yours in the attic room.”

“Oh, for goodness sakes, child.  Get yourself up to the attic and see for yourself.”

Mazie pulled the folding ladder down from the ceiling.  She forced both kids to go up, at the same time forcing Val to press the cold pack against the aching lump on the side of her head.  She followed them up.

The telescope itself was fairly large.  It sat on its tripod in the middle of the single upstairs room.  It was pointed out of the dormer window.  It was pointed up at the sky.

“That is not a spy telescope.  It’s a stargazer.”

Valerie looked all around her at the many pictures on the walls.  Most of them were fanciful drawings of constellations done in colored marker, and using both five and six-pointed stars.

“Well, you could point it at windows in people’s houses, couldn’t you?”

“Sure I could.  Try it young Murphy.  Find a window to point it at.”

Danny took hold of the telescope and pointed it more towards the buildings that faced the Gingerbread House on that side.  There was the back side of the Fire Station.  There was also the back side of the Post Office, Kingman’s Grocery, the old Brenton Bank, Victor Martin’s Bar and Grille, and Stewart’s Hardware store.  He could also see the ground under the water tower and the front corner of old Cecily Dettbarn’s front porch.

“Not much to see, huh?”

“Well…  If the windows were open…”

“How many windows do you count, boy?”

“Not counting the windows on the Dettbarns’ porch?” asked Danny.

“Not counting them…”

“Two.”

“One is the window in the back room of the fire station, and the other is on the back side of the Hardware Store.  And, as you can plainly see, that one got broken a few years back and is covered from the inside with wood and cardboard.”

“Yeah, um…”

“There’s no x-ray vision knob on there anywhere, is there?”

“No, ma’am.”

“There most certainly is not.  I do not use that thing for spying on people.”

“But my dad says you are always up here watching everything with this during the day.”

“I don’t generally watch people.  Here, look at these.”  Mazie opened a drawer in the sideboard and pulled out a sketchbook.  It was filled with pictures of dogs and cats.  Mostly different pictures of one dog and one cat… one very ugly cat.

“That’s Billy Martin’s dog,” said Danny.  “That’s Barky Bill.  I don’t know the cat, though.  It’s a really ugly cat!”

“The cat’s true name is Scraggles,” said Mazie.

“True name?” Valerie asked, “what’s a true name?”

“It is said, mostly by me, that if you know a cat’s true name, the name he calls himself, then you can divine that cat’s thoughts and personality.  Scraggles is what you might call a devil cat.  He is somewhat evil and works to further the causes of Chaos.”

Danny looked knowingly at Val as she continued to hold the ice against the throbbing half of her head.  “A witch, right?” he whispered.

“You may call me a witch,” Mazie said as if she heard Danny clearly in spite of the whisper, “but people who have the knowing are important to the community.  They can steer you down the road where your destiny lies.”

“Erm, sorry, Miss Haire,” muttered Danny.  “I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“Yep,” said Mazie, almost to herself, “If there is one admirable quality about that Mary Murphy with her great big personality and loud ways, it’s that she is good at teaching her children to be sorry about the wicked things they do.  Now, if only she could do the same for that vile old grandpa of yours.”

Danny frowned at that.  Val almost laughed at the change in emotion on his face… flustered embarrassment to confusion to indignation to almost speaking out, and back to flustered again.

“So you don’t spy on people with the telescope,” said Valerie.  “How is it that you seem to know so much about the people in this town, then?”

“It’s the knowing.  You are a clever young girl and could have it too if you just paid more attention to what you are seeing.  Try it.  Use it to solve the mystery of Billy Martin.  He needs you two, you know… just not in the way you believe now because of what you thought you saw.”

“How do I use it?” asked Valerie, wrinkling her nose in disgust.  “I don’t know how it works.  I don’t even know what it is, or what you mean when you say it.”

“Try it on the cat.  On the way home.  Look old Scraggles in the two mismatched eyes.  Try to figure out what he’s trying to tell you.  If you can do that, you can begin to use the knowing as a force for good in the world.”

Val nodded as if she were agreeing, though, in reality, she was merely anxious to get away from this strange old lady.  She didn’t even care anymore if she ever found out the answer to what a witch wants.                                                                               

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Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2 adding page 15)

If you would like to see the complete Chapter One again, here is the link; https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 8

Canto Eight – Strange Sounds from the Martin House

The Martin house on Elizabeth Avenue was a very square and Republican sort of Victorian-style house.  It was Methodist plain and practical.  Yet, there was a very unfortunate aura of trouble hanging over it now.  It had been super respectable in the old days as the Campbell house, but now it seemed more like the brooding sort of place where murderers might live.  Val and Danny watched it from the safety of the hollyhock stand in the neighbors’ yard.

“Do ya think anybody is in there?” Valerie whispered.

“Yeah.  The car is out back by the shed, and it’s too early in the day for the bar to be doing much business.  The old Vicar ain’t there.  But Billy’s dad and aunt will both be there.”  The Vicar was what everybody at the bar called Victor Martin.  A vicar was a British preacher or something, and everybody told their troubles to Victor Martin at the bar… that explained the name as far as Valerie knew.  And the names sounded almost the same.  Iowans weren’t really that clever about nicknames.

“And Billy?”

“Yeah, he would be there.  I don’t know where in the house, though.  I’m not ready to go knock on the windows anywhere.”

“Knock on the windows?  Really?”

“We aren’t going to the front door and knocking, are we?  That’s what the old witch wants.”

“Do you think you could lift me up high enough to look in the side windows on the West side?”

“Yeah, maybe.  But that would be like spying or something.”

“Well, isn’t that the kind of thing Pirates do?”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

They walked over to the window on the West side of the house.  Both of them were hunched over when they walked and extremely careful about being quiet, as if walking in that silly manner somehow made them harder to see or hear as they trampled the lawn in broad daylight.

“Okay,” said Danny, “You sit on my shoulders and I’ll lift you up so you can see.”  Danny got down on all fours and Valerie put one leg on each side of his head.  He wobbled like a scarecrow in the wind as he strained to lift her up.  His hands gripped her thighs tightly, but if he had wobbled too far in one direction, then he would’ve merely succeeded in dropping her to the ground head-first.

“Careful, there, Buckaroo.  You’re gonna drop me.”

“I got you, Val.  I will never let you fall.”

After almost falling at least two more times, Val finally got a look into the first-story sitting room.   Richard Martin, in all his raggedy glory, was lying on the couch watching TV.  He had on a stained and dirty-looking T-shirt, boxer shorts, and he had an open can of beer balanced on his ample stomach.   He was a blonde man with a very ugly face, and he looked rather drowsy as he watched what seemed to be the Phil Donahue Show.

Suddenly there was a loud banging sound coming from somewhere below, possibly in the basement.

“Damn that stupid brat!” Richard cried out suddenly.  “He’s beating up the damn house again!   Kelly!  Stop that kid from breaking stuff!”

“He’s your bratty kid.  You stop him, stoopid!”

“I locked him up in the basement again to keep him outta our hair!  But maybe you gotta go down there with your old broom and swat him around a little.”

“Well, if he’s in the basement, he can’t hurt much.  Everything in the basement belongs to either Billy or Vic.”

“You have a point.  We don’t care that much about Victor’s stuff, do we?”

“I don’t.  But he’s your son.  You can do the explaining later.”

Then they all heard a power saw grinding through wood, both the residents who were supposed to be there and the Pirates who were spying.

“Good gawd, Richard.  That little creep might be gonna cut us all up and eat us some night.”

“I know he ain’t supposed to use that saw, but it belongs to Vic.  So, we’ll let him get it away from the brat.”

The sounds of a hammer and nails came next.  Valerie looked down near Danny’s feet and noticed the grimy cellar window was open a crack.

“What’s going on?” asked Danny in a hoarse whisper.

“Billy is locked in the basement, and he is building something to take revenge on his family.”  Valerie almost didn’t believe it herself.  Billy was the kind of kid who would curl up in a ball and mew like a kitten if you just looked at him too long at a time.  Valerie never took him for an ax murderer before.  But you never knew about those quiet and meek ones.  You never knew what they were really thinking.

“I see you didn’t take my advice.”

Valerie fell on her head and briefly saw stars.  It was possible Danny had dropped her.

“Oh, no!  You made me kill the most beautiful little girl ever born in Norwall!” Danny cried.

“Pick her up and bring her with you.  Follow me.”

As Valerie shook her head to shake the cobwebs and sand out of her ears, Danny fumbled around picking her up from the ground and soon had her on her feet.

“Quickly now, before those two horrible harpies come out to see about all the ruckus in their yard.  You are both trespassing.”

To Valerie’s utter horror, Danny was following the old witch Mazie Haire, and dragging her, wobbly-legged, toward the witch’s own Gingerbread House.

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When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 7

Canto Seven – Of Witches in Little Iowa Townships

Old Missus Rubelmacher was most definitely a witch in Valerie’s estimation.  Miss Rubelmacher had been teaching Science forever at Belle City.  She taught it in both the Elementary and the Junior High.  Valerie had the extreme bad luck to have her for the one and only fifth-grade class she taught.  And single old maid teachers who taught Science were definitely witches when they made you learn the scientific names of ten butterflies and recite them by memory.  Ten Lepidoptera!  Who in their right minds was ever going to need to know that a Danaus Plexippus was a Monarch Butterfly?  She ought to get an F on purpose just to let the old witch know how stupid that was.   Homework on a holiday weekend on top of it all.

But Valerie always made A’s in Science.  That wasn’t about to change.

Still, after hating the old witch all the way home on Milo’s bus, she rode on into town with Danny Murphy.  Milo, the crotchety old bus driver, never seemed to mind carrying her on into town when he stopped at the end of her family’s lane… as long as she told him she was going with Danny.  Milo probably thought she was Danny’s girlfriend, the way he always smirked when she told him about going into town.  But that was no never-mind…  She had no interest in Danny as a boy.  Only as a friend.  Only as the one person in the world that she could really tell secrets to because she had seen him naked and could embarrass him royally if he ever told anyone else.

“Why are you coming into town today, Val?” Danny asked.  They were sharing a seat in the middle of the bus, as they often did.  Val waited until they were both off the bus to answer.  They walked past the Post Office together.

“Well, I’m a Norwall Pirate, now.  I have responsibilities.  We are going to try to get Billy Martin into the gang, right?”

“Yeah.  Billy needs some friends.  He has a sorta tough life.”

Valerie nodded.  Church ladies were always tutting their tongues about the horrible, sinful Martin family.  Victor Martin, the head of the family, owned the bar that was once the Uptown Café in the middle of Norwall’s Main Street.    Sinful things happened there.  There was drinking beer, playing pool, a lot of bad language, drinking beer, women who couldn’t be trusted around other peoples’ husbands, and did drinking beer come up already?  In the middle of it all was a long-haired, mostly unwashed boy who was made of spindly sticks and always looked like a lost puppy that someone had recently kicked.  Billy was the son of Richard Martin, the extra-lazy brother of Victor.  The sister of the two Martin brothers, Kelly Martin, was the closest thing that Billy had to a mother in the house, though Valerie was pretty sure that she was not the boy’s real mother.

“We need to do some research about Billy,” Val said like an expert.  “We need to find out more about him.  He doesn’t talk to you much, does he?”

“I don’t think he talks much to anybody.”

“How do we ask him to be a Pirate, then?” Valerie asked.

“You go right up to him, introduce yourself politely, and just ask,” said a grating voice from behind Valerie.  The girl immediately turned to catch the amused glint in the glittering eyes of the dreaded Mazie Haire.

“You were listening to our conversation?” Valerie asked as a sort of justified accusation.

“Of course I was,” said the gray-haired, gimlet-eyed hag.  Truth be told, Valerie was deathly afraid of the old Haire woman.  She was as scary as Dracula’s coffin on Halloween.    Of course, everyone had her pegged as a real witch… a thing that Mazie Haire took no trouble to deny.

“What business is it of yours?”

The old woman bored holes in both kids’ souls with her eyes.  She was a scary and formidable woman.

“I am an old woman who doesn’t tell lies.  I have a lot of knowing.  I see things, and I don’t forget.  This boy you are talking about does indeed need your help.  But it’s not for the reasons you think.  You need to forget about these stupid little kids’ games you and these other little Pirates keep playing.  You need to actually see what you are looking at.”

Valerie was completely at a loss for what to say.  She just nodded at the old crone stupidly, like she agreed to whatever was being asked of her.

Apparently that satisfied old witch Mazie Haire.  She nodded.  Smiled a tight-lipped and thoroughly scary smile, and walked away.

“What was that about?” Valerie asked Danny.

“She’s mysterious,” Danny said.  “It is hard to know what she is really up to.  They say she spends most of her waking hours in the attic room of that gingerbread house of hers and looks out the window at us all through her little telescope.  She watches people.  She creeps me out.”

“Do you suppose she’s right about just going up to Billy and introducing ourselves… and say what we want?”

“Well… she has a good point about the direct approach… but she’s a witch, you know.  Do you really want to do what a witch wants?  Especially if she’s a wicked witch.  Do you want to do what a wicked witch wants?”

Valerie grinned at her awkward, silly-sounding friend.  “What a witch wants?   You sound silly when you say that.”

“Yeah.  I guess I do.”

“But silly or not… I think you are right.”

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Love Potion Number Nine

I now hold in my hands my author’s copy of Sing Sad Songs, my ninth young adult novel. It is a romantic tragedy filled with love and death, magic, clowns, and angels. It is meant to make you laugh, cry, and fall in love. It is not the first novel in my hometown series, but it is one of the best.

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