The Acorn Witch

I was sitting on my couch, smoking a cigar, drinking beer, and watching Gunsmoke on television. On my TV screen, Matt Dillon had just gunned down another bad man of the old west, when my phone rings.

"Hello? Is this Mr. Race?"

"No, it's the fuckin' toothfairy. Of course, it's Mr. Race."

"Could you come to Oak Hill? I have need of your special talents."

"Who are you first, chum?"

"I'm Sheriff Stanley Cooper and we have a bit of a witch problem..."

"Damnit, man, just tie her to a stake, have a priest say some Latin, and burn the bitch. Oh and do it at high noon, a witch's powers are weaker at that time of day."

"I can't," whined the sheriff, "the witch has captured my son, the town's priest, a carpet salesman, and a Jehovah's Witness."

"And you want me to hunt this witch down and free the hostages, right?"

"Yeah."

"My fee is a thousand dollars per hostage."

"That's four grand. I'll pay for my son and I'm sure the Catholics will pay for the priest, but I'll have to call the other two's family first."

"Good enough," I answered.

I hung up the phone, stood up, clicked off the television set, threw my jacket on, and walked out the door. A witch, whose magic is able to overpower four grown men, is a force to be reckoned with. I felt my pockets and went over my weapons list. One copy of the Good Book, check. One derringer loaded with two silver bullets, check. One feather from a Thunderbird, check. My necklace with Thor's Hammer, the Star of David, the Christian Cross, and a red stone from Mars, check.

I had all the things needed to do battle with the witch of Oak Hill, so I got into my pick-up truck and set off for a three-hour drive. The drive was pleasant, except for a deer that ran out in front of me; I damn near crapped my pants, but luckily I didn't. My truck made it in one piece and my underwear was clean, so far so good. I walked into the sheriff's office, smoking my cigar. A mousy blonde told me to put it out and rambled on about the health code. I told her to clam up or I'd be forced to turn her over my knee. She grew quiet and in a sweet flirty voice asked, "Are you Mr. Race?"

"That's right, baby. Why don't you be a good girl and take me to your boss."

"I think I prefer the way that you treat bad girls."

I grinned as she stood up, and I had to say that she filled out her black uniform quite well. She led me to the sheriff's office and left, closing the door behind her. The sheriff was a thin man, not fat like I figured. He was prematurely old and his grey flint like eyes glared at my cigar, but he didn't say anything about it.

"I'm glad that you could come on such short notice."

"I didn't come out of the goodness of my heart; I did it for the dough."

The sheriff smiled. "I understand that you don't collect a cent until the witch is dead, is that correct?"

"Of course, when dealing with supernatural beings, one cannot always guarantee a satisfactory outcome. Things can go wrong."

A frown crossed the sheriff's face, but he lowered his voice and kept talking. "I want my son back and I don't give a shit about the rest, just my boy."

"Give me the witch's address and tomorrow morning I'll bring your boy and the others back, if possible."

"Why not tonight?"

"Like I told you a witch's powers are weaker at high noon. If I bring just your boy back, I still want four grand and I want it in cash – no checks."

"It will be done as you say if you produce my son safe and sound."

I walked out of the office and saw the mousy blonde pouring a cup of coffee.

"I got the job. Hey, I need a place to stay can I crash at your place?"

"Sure, if you give me that spanking that you promised me," smiled the mousy blonde.

That night I stayed at the blonde's house. I spanked her naughty white bottom, until it was beet red. We played adult games all night long. The morning came and I found myself to be tired as hell. I should have slept or, at least, watched Gunsmoke.

I kissed Maggie May on her cherry red lips and she rolled over and went back to sleep. I slipped on my jacket and drove to the address the sheriff gave me. This witch lived on a dirt road that seemed endless; well, it was a half an hour drive and on a dirt road a half an hour is endless! In my vision appeared a woman planting something in a concrete flowerpot. I could feel her magic; it was strange her magic did not feel evil. Still I had a job to do. She looked right into my eyes as I got out of the truck. Her eyes were the biggest and brownest I had ever seen, they reminded me of a puppy dogs. She looked to be in her forties, but her figure would make a twenty year old jealous. A thin smile cracked across her face. I smiled back and said, "Hello, ma'am. My name is Peter Race. I am a free agent licensed by the State of Ohio to hunt down and if needs be destroy any supernatural element that threatens the welfare of the general public."

Her smiled disappeared and a tear rolled out of her eye.

"I always knew someday that I would have to face someone like you. I know all about you and as great as my magic is, it's not enough to overpower you."

I rolled my eyes.

"I won't kill you if you release the hostages."

"I can't do that, Mr. Race."

I drew my derringer, pulled the hammer back, and spoke, "Then I'll kill you."

"Without even letting me say a word in my defense?"

I thought for a moment. If I allowed her to talk, it was possible that she might try something, witches are a tricky lot. If I didn't allow her to talk, I'd never be able to sleep at night knowing that I had been unjust to a living soul. I decided to let her say her piece, but I kept my gun pointed at her.

"Start talking, witch."

She was shaking and scared. Monsters are just a bunch of bullies, put a witch or a vampire up against a real man and they'll break down every time.

"Like you, I do humanity a service. I allow any man who wants to live for hundreds of years the chance to do so. Not only that, but they get to live in a world of their own making. I am Julia, the queen of the Human Oak Forest."

She broke off her little speech and started to reach into the concrete flowerpot.

"What are you doing, witch?"

"I am going to show you one of the hostages, Clovis Prescott."

"You move slow and easy. If you try any witch's tricks, I'll kill you."

Julia reached her hand into the flowerpot and produced an acorn covered with dark soil.

"This acorn is Clovis Prescott, the carpet salesman."

"What?"

The acorn looked like any other acorn, but I could sense that she was telling the truth.

"I turned him into an acorn, so he could live the rest of his life as an oak tree."

"That's the biggest pile of horseshit I ever heard. You degrade a man like that and you think I should let you live?"

"Mr. Prescott lived a degrading life before I turned him into an acorn. He made a few dollars more than minimum wage. He had no family, no friends, or anyone else to care about him."

"Yeah, but now he lives as a lifeless acorn and destined for hundreds of years to live life as a mindless oak tree."

"Not mindless, Mr. Race. Here, catch."

She tossed me the acorn, I didn't lower my derringer I kept it pointed at her head. Images flashed before my eyes in a split second. I saw a clown riding a unicycle on a tight wire, while juggling. The man looked happy and I could hear the crowds cheering as this clown continued to perform. The clown was Clovis Prescott and he was living in a dream world.

"He'll have friends and lovers. He'll never be alone and he will enjoy this dream for as long as an oak tree lives. Can you deprive a man of this blessed joy?"

"How about the others?"

She explained their miserable lives to me; each one was a pathetic story. The Catholic priest only became a priest to please his old man. The church members and the community made fun of him behind his back, calling the man all sorts of vile things. The Jehovah's Witness was being abused by his wife. Everyday when he came home from work, she would beat him with a bullwhip and not in a kinky playful way either. The sheriff's son was a homosexual and he knew that his old man would disown him when he found out.

"I can't kill you. If you die, then these oak trees will turn back into men."

"Thank-you, Mr. Race."

I tossed the acorn back to her and left. Not everyday can be a payday.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed reading this Peter Race story. If you are interested in the character, you can learn more about him by clicking on my stories and reading The Adventures of Peter Race.