Far back from any means of transportation, hidden by trees and thickets sat a log cabin. There were very few real log cabins in society because people are now choosing new and improved homes with all the conveniences of life. This particular log cabin had stood for many years in the lonely area of these woods. Few people knew that there was any such cabin and fewer had actually seen its meager existence.
Trees surrounded the small area and only a path led to an opening to the dirt road which led to a small community of people. Most were farmers who tended their crops, made a poor living and did not meddle in anyone else’s business. There was only one small store that provided postal service, gasoline and food supplies. One could call it an old fashioned general store that happened to be plentiful back in the day. Mr. Taylor and his wife had been keeping people supplied for over thirty five years. They knew what the people needed and kept a notebook with handwritten request. It was rural to the maximum but the people loved their privacy and put their trust in the old couple’s honesty.
Blackberry vines grew as thick as rolled twine and the women folk made sure they picked as many as possible each year. They planted and canned most of their edibles each and every year which lowered the amount of money they had to spend. Blackberry cobblers were a delight to all in the cold winter months as were peaches, pears, figs and persimmons.
Glass jars adorned the limbs of what was left of a tree. They had been washed and placed there to dry until the next batch of foods were ready to be canned. It gave the appearance of an unusual sort of Christmas tree except without color.
The log cabin was in great need of sod patching. The cracks between the logs had been patched many times in its life but were in great need once more. This allowed light and air ventilation naturally. It was fine during the warmer months but would have to be mended before the next winter arrived.
A tall thin woman sat in an aged rocking chair humming a tune while her crippled hands fashioned the long dried pieces of straw into a broom. The Taylor’s called the old woman Manerva Tadlock or Manny Tee for short. Her dark hair swung down to her waist and her eyes were as dark as coal freshly plucked from a mine. Her face mirrored the harsh life she had lived and deep wrinkles took from her other wise perfect complexion.
Manny was an only child. Her father and mother had passed away over ten years ago. Manny had been on her own even before their passing. She had been taught well by her mother and made the little cabin quite liveable. Manny had never known the company of a man and kept to herself most of the time. The exception was when she visited the Taylor’s store and when she attended yearly rituals with the witches of the south.
Everyone including the farmers and their families knew Manny had a special gift to do magical things. They just didn’t know about the magical cloak her grandmother had fashioned for her. The cloak was very rare and fashioned from animal’s hair. It kept her warm in the winter months and was very useful during travel. Manny wore the cloak often but no one had ever understood the words she mumbled just before her magic manifested itself. Manny kept those words that fell from her lips very much a secret never allowing anyone to get too close to her when she was doing her magic.
When God created the world He spoke the words from His mouth and they became a literal force. That force created the world and all that is in it. Witches create things by doing the same thing. They use words to create a force to accomplish their magic. People and witches can use the words from their lips as a blessing or a curse. Once set into motion the words spoken accomplish was they are set out to do. They can be a very powerful and deadly force. So it was with Manny and the secret words she mumbled so quietly that no one could hear.
Manny’s mother had worn the cloak before her. All her mother had told her about the cloak was that her grandmother was a very famous witch and had spoken words over each thread as she was making the cloak. Who ever wore the cloak would possess special powers. Manny and her mother had been very careful in cleaning the cloak and in wearing it. Neither had ever used it to harm anyone and this was how Manny wished it to continue to be.
One day as Manny was picking herbs she noticed a burley man dressed in overalls hiding behind some trees.
“What are you doing out here on my land?” She questioned sharply.
“I just need something to ease the pain in my back and I heard that you could do things like that.” The man replied stepping out from behind the tree trunk. He lowered his head trying to avoid staring at Manny.
“Then why must you hide? Come out if your intentions are of no harm.” Manny answered as her eyes captured every feature of her unwelcome guest.
“It’s my back. I fell off the roof of my house and have been in pain for days on end. I thought perhaps you could mix me up a batch of your potent pain medicines.” The deep voice answered.
Manny was as cunning as a fox and she suspected something was not quite right. Why would a burley man such as this one be hiding behind a tree watching her? Why had he not just come right up to her door?
Things just did not make sense to her and it appeared he had not bathed in weeks. His hair was long and tangled. So was the beard that fell from his chin down to his chest.
“My name is Randolph Cutter and I’m very happy to make your acquaintance.” The burley man said in a very deep and chilling voice. He reached out his long hairy arm to shake Manny’s hand and as he did so, he grabbed Manny’s arm pulling her towards him. It was apparent he was not suffering from a bad back. Manny knew she had to think quickly or her very life could be in danger.
“Mr. Cutter please let go of me. If I can be of any help to you we must go inside the cabin.” Manny winced as she tried to free herself from the man’s grip.
“Fine! Go inside the cabin. I am one step behind you and I can break your neck with one little snap of my wrist.” He growled
Once inside the cabin Manny reached for the cloak. She knew it was her only hope to get herself free from his awful man.
“What do you need a cloak for? It is hot as the devil in here.” Cutter asked as his eyes surveyed the small cabin.
“I need it to do this!” Manny screamed loudly. Wrapping the cloak tightly around her shoulders she began mumbling words Cutter could not understand. His eyes grew wide with surprise.
Manny began to spin like a top. Around and around she went until all that could be seen was bluish color lighting up the room. In an instance she was gone!
The old man was so shocked he ran from the cabin as fast as his feet could carry him. As he made his way through the woods there came a loud growling sound. Before Cutter could react his head was in the jaws of a huge black bear. Screams could be heard for miles then faded away completely.
As the sun began to set in the sky, Manny stepped up onto her porch. The cloak hung loosely from her shoulders. As she sat down in the rocking chair she began brushing the black animal hair from her precious cloak. No one ever knew what happened to Randolph Cutter but the black cat that sat stately upon Manny’s porch knew but cats do not tell!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted June 2011
Question: What happened to the person who wore the cloak?