Trickery, by James Moran
“It’s the trickery!” the man in the crowd yelled at the witch with the noose around her neck.
She was to be hung once the cardinal and his entourage finished making their way through the dense crush of spectators and hecklers and reached the platform to say a few words of condemnation.
“It’s the trickery!” repeated the frenzied onlooker.
The witch broke the dignified silence she had until then bore and shouted, “Oh put a pie in it!”
“Go on then. What trickery?” asked the witch. “Have it out.”
“All this! Dark pageantry. Even the cardinal in those red robes is your puppet!” Upon the word “puppet” the man spat. “You plan for us to see you hanging from the end of that rope so that we’ll stop assuming you’re about, up to your trickery!”
“Aye,” proclaimed the witch “Sure as deed and stitch I’m all about this place. Though you do have it wrong, toad. When I swing from the end of this rope all of you pathetic souls are coming with me. See the sky above and the Earth below? This is my house. The table you sup at is my table. The victuals you pray over come from me. He’s correct the cardinal is under my spell. I make the rules in my home, and one rule is: if the guests set fire to the home, everyone has got to burn, including the mistress of the house. And here is the cardinal rushing now, his red robes licking about like a flame dancing at the end of a little match.”
The man’s voice broke into a high register. “Trickery!”
“What now, fool? Wish you that I hang or not?”
“This is a mockery of a hanging! She’ll pull tricks to set her tricksy self free. She’ll turn a bat and fly.”
“Wish you that I hang or not?”
“I wish you remain under the watchful eye of the magistrate and the cardinal, and I wish you to behave!”
“Wish you that this rope is lifted from my neck then?”
“Oh but the cardinal arrives with a different belief written over him. I’m condemned by a guest in my own home. For one final trick I shall take you with me to the end of this rope.” She surveyed her audience and fixed her gaze upon the man in the crowd. “Where I go, you go.”
Upon climbing the stairs to the platform the cardinal paused with a hand upon his familiar to catch his breath.
“My love!” called the witch to the man in the crowd. “You’ve tried your best to save me! You tried with cunning and craft to protect me and keep me safe. You love me so. Never was a truer word spoke. And I love you, too. The world now is a witness to our love. Let yours be a final act at the end of life to make this abomination worthy of having been lived through.”
Now standing on his own and taking special interest in the man in the crowd, the cardinal charged two familiars and the magistrate with apprehending him.
“As we are together in life,” called the witch to the man, “so we shall be together in death. Let this be the law upheld on this day!”
James Moran is a professional astrologer who regularly publishes articles, fiction, and poetry. His published works can be found at https://jamesmoran.org/the-creation-playpen
4/4/2023 06:57:11 pm
Brilliant and chilling.
5/11/2023 05:28:04 am
Thank you very much, Emily!
5/12/2023 03:18:51 pm
Fabulous story! Thank you.
5/14/2023 10:18:56 am
Thank you so much, Kleomichele!
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