I grew up at time when superstition was rife within our town.
In was in the dark days when Bloody Mary had been exposed and we walked in abject terror of meeting her on any dark night we were silly enough to venture out.
But a greater fear was Jimmy Vindon.
Jimmy was a walking skeleton of a man.
Not only that but he had a contorted face the result my mother told me of pulling faces in the mirror. As a result we never looked into our mirrors for any longer than was necessary. You just didn’t want to take any chances.
We’d see Jimmy, a tall thin man, unhealthy thin it was said, strutting around the town, never once acknowledging anyone in his path.
His face told the tale of his own misery.
He lived alone on the edge of town and was the talk of every superstition you could imagine.
Mothers blamed him for looking in their windows and causing their cats to go crazy, their children to not sleep and their husband’s disagreeableness.
Husbands swore they saw him in their vegetable gardens, not taking anything but stunting the growth of their produce. Horace Smith the towns fireman was adamant that Jimmy was the cause of his hoses leaking and the lady at the garden centre was sure her silver bangs were the result of meeting eye to eye with Jimmy in front of the lilacs one Tuesday afternoon.
As in any small community, talk was rife. Talk turned to threats, threats turned to calls for action, calls for action went to various town committees who referred them to the council who then sent them back and so the roundabout went on.
Then a call went out to arms and a group was gathered.
Armed with whips, garden implements and as much malice as could mustered they approached Jimmy’s house.
No one had ever been to Jimmy’s house before. It was place everyone avoided.
They burst through the door to be confronted with a mirror.
The whip man looked at the mirror and froze, as did the man who thought he possessed the most malice.
In the mirror was Mary. Looking her malevolent best.
Each man gulped. Felt his bowels suddenly do the opposite of what he wanted them to do at that moment; uttered expletives, which made Mary, smile a smile of blacked teeth and saliva.
She held them a second longer taking in their distress and glance across at her brother who was sitting by the far wall picking his teeth. Jimmy stood, wandered over to the men who were all riveted to the spot.
To the whip man he tweaked his nose, to the garden implement men he ruffled their hair, and to the malice man he saw into his soul and thrust him out his front door where he lay for a second before feeling the weight of his companions land on him.
Quickly they gathered themselves and fled to their homes where for the life of them they could not remember anything preferring to say Jimmy was a perfect host.
Back at Jimmy’s Mary looked at her brother from her mirrored home’
‘You’ll have to be more careful Jimmy dear, ‘she said. ‘The next time they will be better prepared.’
He looked at his sister, fully aware that she spoke a truth.
Jimmy wasn’t seen much after that. Some said he left town. Some said he’d retreated into his cabin and now shunned the town.
But some nights I know he walked past our place, his distinctive boots told me he was there even if there was not much more than a shadow of evidence.