Do You Have a Head I Could Borrow?
Part VI (of VII)
By Sara Dobie Bauer
She felt herself waking up. She could hear voices, smell the scent of an old, old house. There was Jonathan, shouting about the skull—the skull wasn’t there, he said. Where was the skull?
She moaned in an effort to respond, and his hand was in hers immediately. “Angie?”
She moaned again.
“Please wake up.”
For him, she would. She opened her eyes. His skin was paler than usual, covered in a thin sheen of sweat. She reached up and de-wrinkled the wrinkle between his eyes.
He kissed her hand. “Thank God you’re all right.”
“Are you all right?”
He glanced down at his chest, covered by, she noticed, a replacement forest green sweater. “Thanks to you.”
“Where’s my locket?”
He reached behind her head to the table by the living room couch. The piece of silver fell into her hand, still covered in his blood.
“Very Halloween-y.” She let go of his hand long enough to clasp the bloody piece of jewelry behind her neck. With the cold metal against her skin, she felt stronger again. “It was my mother’s. She died when I was a kid.”
“My dad died a few years ago.” He kissed her hand again, and Angie finally noticed the rest of the Crane family, curled together in a tight circle in the corner.
“What’s Brom Bones up to?”
“Circling the house.”
The phone rang, making them all jump a mile.
Ellis sighed. “I’ll get it.” She left the quiet circle and answered a phone that looked older than she was. “Happy Halloween! … Yes, officer, we’re aware. … I wouldn’t worry your head over it.” She gasped and covered her mouth. “I just meant …. Well, he’s at the house now, so the town has nothing to worry about. We’re dealing with it.” She hung up the phone. “Our undead friend killed seven students, it would seem.”
Angie sat up suddenly. She would have fallen over onto the floor if Jonathan hadn’t caught her. “Oops,” she muttered before standing up with Jonathan’s help.
Bernadette was on her in a flash. “Thank you!” She wrapped Angie in a hug that managed to cut off her supply of oxygen. “Thank you.” She kissed Angie on the cheek.
“Hey, no biggie. I like the guy, too.” She nodded at Jonathan. “So. Who else knew about the skull in your backyard?”
This brought a noticeable air of tension to the room.
Ellis glanced at each member of her family in turn. “Only the people in this room, dear.”
“So which one of you dug it up?”
“Ange …” Jonathan put his hand on her arm.
“What? You’re thinking it, too. I know Grandma is.”
Angie noticed despite the circumstances, Ellis smiled at her friendly epithet.
“How dare you come into our house and start pointing fingers?”
“I don’t like you, Rupert. I think you’re a little weasel, with your weasley moustache.”
“Watch your mouth, witch.” Marie stepped forward, and even Jonathan seemed surprised by the ice in his aunt’s voice.
“Okay, everyone calm down.” The authority in Jonathan’s voice made them all shut up. “I guess it’s worth asking. Does anyone in this room know where to find the horseman’s skull?”
In the silence, they heard horse hooves and the sound of a sword on tree-trunk. Apparently, Brom Bones was bored and sharpening his weapon.
Jonathan sighed. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You do?” Ellis seemed hopeful from her seated position.
She noticed her spell book on a nearby empty chair. She picked it up. “I need to use your kitchen.”
“What for?” Rupert demanded.
Angie hugged her book to her chest. “A truth serum. Ellis?”
The old woman pushed herself up from her seat. Angie noticed she was looking older already, after the near loss of her grandson and the basic unraveling of her big, happy family. Nevertheless, she guided Angie to the kitchen, followed closely by Jonathan.
“A truth serum?”
Angie threw the book down on an updated black marble island and began turning pages. “Mmhmm.”
“How long does it last?”
She started digging through cabinets for cooking spices, along with wine and a sharp knife. “I’ll make one that only lasts a couple minutes, although some of them have been known to last weeks.”
“That would suck.”
“Telling lies lately, Jonathan Crane?” She raised her eyebrow at him.
“No, but it’s nice to have a filter, especially with you around.”
“Oh, really?” She leaned her elbows on the counter, knowingly flaunting her breasts. “And what would you tell me if you didn’t have a filter?”
“I guess we’ll find out in a few minutes …”
Angie was a speed demon at potions, always had been, thanks to the teachings of her aunts, who were masters of the ancient art. Thankfully, Ellis had a well-stocked kitchen, although Jonathan looked away when Angie cut her own flesh and added a drop of blood to the mix. “Don’t tell anyone about the blood,” Angie said. “People get weird about that.”
Jonathan didn’t have words to respond.
Angie carefully poured the completed potion into six rocks glasses, if only to be fair. She felt that if she was making the Crane family take the potion, she might as well, too, in case they suspected the witch of some evil intent. She used a fancy silver tray to carry the glasses into the living room, where everyone waited, none too excited at the prospect of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“Okay, everyone, take a glass.”
“I refuse to drink some witch’s brew,” said Rupert, twirling his moustache with a finely manicured finger.
“Then, I suspect you, Rupe.” Angie smiled.
He indelicately snatched a glass.
The rest of the room followed suit, and Angie lifted her glass in a toast. “Okay, bottoms up. Question and answer begins as soon as you swallow.” She closed her eyes and took her shot down first; it tasted like Italian food gone bad—real bad.
Everyone was wincing when she opened her eyes, and she immediately pointed at Ellis.
“Ellis Crane, do you know where the skull of Brom Bones rests?”
Her eyes were slightly dreamy as she said, “No, dear, but I once spit in a casserole dish for the Rotary Club because a woman on the potluck committee slept with my husband.” She gasped and covered her mouth.
“Guess it’s working.” Jonathan rubbed his forehead.
Angie was on the move. “Bernadette Crane, do you know where the skull of Brom Bones rests?”
“No.” She appeared to be biting the inside of her lip to hold something back. Angie moved on to Marie just as Bernadette blurted out, “I’m not a natural blond!”
Angie pet her on the shoulder, but before she could ask Marie much of anything, the black-haired broad had her in a headlock with a gun against her head. “Stupid, meddling witch!” she shouted.
Jonathan took a step forward, and Angie felt Marie’s arm tighten around her throat.
“You take another step, nephew, and I’ll throw her outside.”
He stopped moving.
“Marie?” Ellis stood, frozen to the spot. “What are you doing, Marie?”
“Everyone, just back up, or ding dong, the witch is dead.”
(THE FINAL INSTALLMENT GOES UP FRIDAY!!! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Halloween romp! I know I enjoyed writing it! Cheers!)