The Witch in the Corner House
By: Peggy Gerber

The witch's house was as creepy as a bag full of eyeballs. Nestled amongst the well-manicured, middle class homes on Bernice St, the witch's house was a rickety old, converted barn with dark gray paint peeling off in chunks and a dirt brown lawn overgrown with weeds. The smell of rotting meat wafted out her bedroom window and was so strong at times, people swore they could taste it. Nobody on the block had seen the witch's husband in years, and we all speculated that she killed him and was keeping his rotted, decomposing body in the house.

When you first meet Ellis, you would never suspect she's a witch. With her diminutive size, short gray curly hair and large brown age spots, she looks like any ordinary older woman. But there are a few giveaways. Her voice sounds just like the wicked witch of the west, she never ages, and her main purpose in life is to cause pain and misery to anyone that crosses her path. She is a genius at pushing people's buttons.

Every morning at the crack of dawn Ellis takes a seat in the creaky old rocking chair on her front porch and begins her daily assaults. The first person she verbally attacks is usually me, I live right next door. Despite the fact that I power walk past her house, I'm never fast enough. I can always hear her tossing out her juicy little nuggets like "Hey Maggie, I see you haven't lost the baby weight yet. How old is your kid now? Like twenty?"

To my neighbor Ben she says things like, "Hey Ben, nice set of boobs you've got there. Do you want to borrow a bra?"

Every time I think she can't possibly get any meaner she proves me wrong. Just the other day I heard her say, "Hey Jack, if your nose gets any bigger, we'll be able to land a plane on it." Nobody is immune. She has an insult for everybody, and everybody hates her. You may wonder why people still walk past her house, and the answer is simple, the bus stop is right around the corner, and the only way to avoid her house is to walk around the whole block. It is a very long block.

Over the years, a few of the neighbors have called the police to complain about Ellis. The police always say the same thing. She's not breaking any laws so there is nothing they can do. That's probably not the truth. I think the police are just sick of her too. She calls them at least once a week to complain, "Jack's dog is barking too loud, Bill's music is hurting my ears, Maggie's kids are making a racket."

I reached my breaking point the day I was walking to the supermarket, and she called out, "Hey Maggie, are you pregnant again?"

She knew full well that I wasn't. I stormed up to her and bellowed in her face, spit flying out of my mouth, "Ellis, what is wrong with you? Why do you always have to be so mean?" Her answer surprised me.

She said, "You are the mean one. You never invite me to your house or to any of your parties." Then she started screeching, "Meanie, meanie, meanie, meanie meanie."

I didn't know what to think, so I hatched a plan. I arranged a block party for that Saturday night, complete with a barbecue and a bouncy house for the kids. All of the neighbors were invited. I thought if Ellis is telling the truth and she really is just lonely, maybe when she sees how nice everyone is she'll stop her insults. But if she begins berating people at the party, well, then I'll know it's just another one of her witchy tricks.

When I confessed to my neighbors that Ellis was coming, they almost didn't accept my invitation. I had to promise I would kick her out immediately if there was any trouble.

Saturday night arrived and my backyard was bursting with activity. Kids were jumping in the bouncy house; the dads were gathered at the barbecue drinking beer and grilling burgers and the women were chatting and setting up the tables. Things were going very smoothly, and everyone was having a great time.

And then it happened. Ellis' lips curled up into an evil smile and she hissed, "Maggie, is that your second hamburger or your third? Ben, did you ever get that bra we talked about?" Then she turned to Jack's twelve-year-old daughter she said, "Hey Sarah, look how much you've grown. Your nose is almost as big as your father's."

Well, when Jack heard that he exploded with rage, waving his fists around and yelling, "Go home Ellis, and don't ever come back or I'll kill you." It took three men to hold him down.

After that little exchange, my husband jumped up and escorted the witch home in a neighborly attempt to keep her safe, while the rest of gathered in a circle to discuss what had just happened. I chuckled, "I may have put a bit of laxative from my last colonoscopy in Ellis' burger. Nothing that will kill her, just enough to make her a bit uncomfortable tonight."

Ben gasped, "Oh no, I put a laxative in her drink. Yikes."

Sarah's mother's eyes flew open wide as her face contorted in horror, "Oh no, I sprinkled Ex-lax shavings on the slice of cake I brought her."

We all sat in stunned silence for what seemed like ages, until Ben blurted out, "Holy crap! Literally."

All of a sudden Jack began laughing, then Ben joined in and pretty soon we were all laughing. We laughed so hard tears were streaming down our faces. When we heard the ambulance pull up, we laughed even harder.



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