by Myles Abroad
Never cry "Wolf" too many times or you might lose your voice.
"What do you mean, there's no law against that? Well, there ought to be," Wendell shouted as he slammed the phone down in its cradle.
He glared out his window at his neighbors. He could hear the cackling of their laughter and the stench of whatever they were brewing floated in through the window.
He wrinkled his nose and looked down at his wife, sitting in her chair knitting, oblivious to the crisis at hand.
She put down her knitting needles and glared at him. "I can't believe you called the cops on poor ol' Mrs. Patterson. Since you retired you're getting so paranoid."
"Martha, can't you smell that? They're cooking up some sort of brew."
Martha rolled her eyes. "Really, Wendell! She and her friends just messed up whatever they were cookin'." She laughed. "Those poor ol' dears are so old, I don't find it surprising."
Wendell looked at her in disgust. "I don't know how you can take this so lightly. Didn't you see what all her friends looked like?"
"Yea, a bunch of grey haired old ladies. Why, some of them were so stooped over they needed help into her house."
"But they were all in black, weren't they?"
"They're probably widows, Wendell. Now get away from that window and make us some coffee."
Wendell stomped into the kitchen grumbling under his breath. He put on a pot of coffee and looked out the backyard and stared. Mrs. Patterson's cat, a black cat, was tearing the feathers off a crow.
"Martha. Come in here."
When she joined him at the window, he just pointed.
"Hmm. Mrs. Patterson's cat caught a bird, so what?"
He knew now he could convince her. This was proof.
"You know the muffins Mrs. Patterson gave us earlier?" She nodded and then looked at the counter searching for them.
He smiled. "Well, I threw them out in the yard. That's what that crow was eating."
Martha glared at him and put her hands on her hips.
"Martha, I just saved our bacon. We would have ended up like that crow if we had eaten them."
"I swear, Wendell, you need to get a hobby or go see a psychiatrist." She turned and marched back into the living room.
He sighed and looked out the window, watching the cat. The cat paused in his macabre endeavor and looked up at him... then winked.
Wendell swallowed and took a step back. He looked towards the living room and then thought better of saying it to Martha. She was already angry enough.
He jumped when the doorbell chimed.
"I'll get it."
When he opened the door, he smiled with the relief General Custer would have felt if reinforcements had arrived on time. It was Councilman Mike Humphries up for re-election.
"Well, well, well, Councilman!"
The smile slid from the councilman's face. He licked his lips and looked over his shoulder and then back at Wendell.
"Hi, Wendell... I was... Is Martha there?"
Wendell looked back in the house, stepped out on the porch and closed the door. "Don't worry about Martha. You got me to talk to."
"That's what I was afraid of."
Wendell nodded towards Mrs. Patterson's house. "We got a problem."
The councilman sighed.
"What is it now, Wendell?"
"There's a gathering of witches next door. Can't you smell their brew?"
The councilman sniffed and then pinched his nose. "Yea, but..."
"They're all in there cacklin' and chantin'... all dressed in black and she's got a black cat. We got to stop them before they start rainin' their curses on us."
"Look, Wendell, there ain't no law against any of that."
Wendell smiled and poked him in the chest. "Yea, but you can change that."
"This ain't the middle ages, Wendell. I ain't doin' nothin' about that."
"What do you mean you're not?"
"Look you got to stop bein' so paranoid."
"How am I paranoid?"
"Well, remember the flu outbreak and you caused a panic about the vaccine. You said they were tryin' to make everyone sick."
"Yea and everyone did."
"That's 'cause you caused such a raucous no one availed of it."
"Well, I didn't get sick."
"That's cause you're too mean. What about all that fuss about the fluoride in the water? You said it was to keep everyone from complainin'."
"Yup. They want to pacify us. I put in my own well and now I can see what's really goin' on."
The councilman put his hands up and retreated down the porch steps.
"I got to go, Wendell. Say 'hi' to Martha."
Wendell walked back into the house and slammed the door. He had just walked into the kitchen when the doorbell rang again.
He opened the door expecting the councilman had returned to beg for his vote. He was startled to see the bent figure of Mrs. Patterson all clad in black. She had a plate in her hand with a kitchen towel draped over it. She looked up at him when he answered.
"Hi Wendell, I brought you over something for being such a good neighbor."
He forced a smile. "You didn't have to do that..."
"Here let me show you." She removed the towel to reveal a doll lying on the plate.
Wendell was speechless as he examined the doll. It looked familiar. It was an old man, bald with a small paunch. He looked a bit closer at its face and then his heart skipped a beat. He stepped back.
It was him!
"Cat got your tongue, Wendell?" she said as she put the plate down, took out a ribbon and tied it around the doll's mouth. Wendell's tongue went numb.
"You won't be doin' anymore complainin' around here."
She picked up the plate and walked across the yard to her house holding tightly onto the doll.
"Wendell? Who was that?" Martha called.
Wendell swallowed and replied, "Mmmmphf, Mmmmphf."