by Hugh Wesley
Newcomers can really spice up an old town.
|One thing about the children of Pumpkin, Oklahoma, was for sure — they were creative.
Maybe it was bred into them … after all, Pumpkin blossomed out of the dirt fields when Tyler Monson found a gold nugget in Casper Creek and disappeared a few months later when no one else found anything.
Overnight, Pumpkin turned into a pumpkin … and finally got a name.
Not everybody left, though, and those who stayed were weary of newcomers. So, when Ms. Foster took ill and headed back east, folks welcomed young Ms. Moll as the new schoolmaster with a dose of suspicion.
Before long, the children had woven Ms. Moll’s residence on the far edge of town into a story that included a hellcat monster she kept as a pet and a kitchen full of strange herbs and bubbling cauldrons.
The woman was a witch.
Marshal Thomas James was none too eager to perpetuate such nonsense when a group of locals asked him to investigate, but he was also happy to meet one of the few single young ladies Pumpkin had ever seen.
An initial conversation led to a dinner invitation at Mary Moll’s cottage, and Tom hardly even noticed the black cat skitter in front of him as he approached the front door.
There was nothing in their conversation to make Tom feel anyway but warm and flushed. Mary was a delightful lady, and Tom hoped they might take more dinners together.
It wasn’t until Mary dropped a hunk of bread on the floor that Tom had his first misgiving.
That’s when a broom standing in one corner sprang to life, danced across the room, swept away the crumbs.
Something roared in the blackness of the kitchen. A door lock clicked.
And Tom realized his second misgiving had come altogether too late.