As I slipped out the screen door, Granny caught me by the shirt collar.
“I gotta job for you, boy,” she said.
She marched me around the house on the upward slope of the hillside; the kudzu was thick, and my feet tangled as she hurried me along.
“Not so rough, Gran!” I pleaded. “You’re ‘bout to choke me plumb to death.”
Climbing the back steps, she said,
“There’s the brush and paint. The door needs a good coat of blue.”
Granny always said that a door painted blue keeps witches away. I don’t know why she was so riled up about the door needing paint today.
I knew witches could enter the house through an unpainted door, but the door still had a dull coat of blue on it. Besides, there’s a silver dollar in the butter churn sitting by the door jamb, just in case a body left the door open. You didn’t want a witch waltzing right in your house. Before you knew it, the devil’s bride’s knocking on your door.
As we finished supper, Granny told me that three women had broken out of the penitentiary over in London this morning. She said one of ‘em was real bad; wanted for murder with an ice pick. Gran said she had Jezebel’s spirit but Lilith’s heart. I was certain Gran had seen something, but I knowed better’n to ask. The entire holler knowed Granny had the sight, that she could see things that others couldn’t; births and deaths, the happenings of others’ lives.
Even as a child, she would see ghosts in the trees and hear the siren sound of a mountain dulcimer calling her out of the corn. Everybody respected her too much to say anything, but every soul on the creek understood she knowed more’n a mortal should.
The ground fog was thick, and the dew was cool. The rooster crowed to greet a body of a morning as I walked out the door, being sure to close it like Gran insisted. I shuddered in the cool of the morning as I ventured out to tote wood for the stove. A body needs a cup of coffee of a morning, especially with the unnatural cold I felt this morning. As I hauled my cord wood up the steps, I saw it. Staring me right in the eye was Gran’s blue door covered in deep, pock-marked splinters and tears. I reached out and ran my hand over the cool blue door, and I could feel that the succubus was stopped by that fresh coat of blue. I smiled a knowing smile as I walked in the house, lit the stove, and called out,
“Coffee’s on, Gran.”
Rocky Kidd is the child of Appalachian parents who moved north looking for work during the Great Migration. Rocky was raised on the Stanley Brothers, the Old Regular Baptist Church, and John L. Lewis. He lives and writes on the Indiana side of Chicago. Rocky is currently working on his debut novel about postwar Eastern Kentucky.
**Featured image by Pawel Litwin from Pixabay