Image © Mara Eastern (Used with Permission)
At the question from Trica, Maunchy stopped and looked at her.
“Follow me,” she said and disappeared behind a large tropical bush which if Trica wasn’t surprised, she should have been, as the bush drew back providing an opening for Maunchy to walk through. The opening then closed with what Trica could only describe as a theatrical flourish.
Trica approached, and the bush seemed impenetrable, and she pushed aside branches and fronds which she reckoned were fighting back and just as the task seemed impossible she heard Maunchy call out to the bush to “part” and the opening re-appeared.
Inside was a huge cave, fires burnt around the walls and it had a decided medieval look to it.
The witches from before were all seated in the middle as if there was a meeting to be had. Trica approached not sure what she was to do nor where she was to sit.
“Seat?” said a voice beside her.
“You’re Crazy Manzy Pansyheart aren’t you?” said Trica a little hesitant as she looked down into the face of the questioner.
“Could be,” replied Crazy Manzy Pansyheart.
It was then that Trica felt very uncomfortable as the little witch was with an inch of her face and Trica noticed that the woman’s eyes were of a different colour and more alarming of a different shape. One was round as it should be the other was square. Always a polite girl Trica was unsure as to which eye she should be looking into.
“Manzy get your crazy self over here and sit down,” called a witch Trica did not yet know. “Sorry about Manzy but we don’t get many visitors, and her manners are non-existent. I’m Dolores Eggstract. Keeper of the vat, the time and the breakfast menu. Sit here, Maunchy will start in a moment.”
Trica sat very nervously as the witches twittered among themselves occasionally giving Trica a curious glance.
“Ladies,” announced Maunchy stepping up, “I would like to welcome a visitor. Trica is a witch chaser, so she says and has come to interview me of people, can you imagine it? So, I suggest she follow us around for the day, be polite and answer any question she asks but reserve a 46 for anything you find too hard to answer.”
This seemed to have a settling effect on the witches who all sank down in their seats as if a huge relief had been cast upon them. In fact, some were now smiling and looking and nodding at Trica with the said same smiles.
“So off you go, you all have tasks to perform I am sure. Crazy Manzy Pansyheart, could you lead us in song to start out the day.”
At this Crazy Manzy Pansyheart leapt to her feet and waltzed out to the front. She opened her mouth, and the worst sound Trica had ever heard came from her lips. There were words in there she was sure, but they were struggling to let themselves be known above the raucous din that was her voice. Trica felt she needed to block her ears, turn her head away and suddenly wished for the comfort of her own living room complete with fire, rug and a hot brew.
When she stopped the witches, all applauded politely with Manzy bowing graciously.
“What was that?” asked Trica to Dolores who was beaming in Manzy’s direction.
“That my dear was a 46,” explained Dolores, “when Maunchy instructs us to use a 46 it refers to a spell we all possess whereby any outsider will be prevented from hearing and understanding what it is we do. Asking Manzy to sing was her way of demonstrating a 46.”
“Oh, I see and was she singing anything known?” asked Trica.
“Amazing Grace, one of her best pieces. Shame you heard what you heard but trust me it was beautiful. Manzy maybe the crazy she is, but she can sing to bring tears to your eyes.”
At that, the witches departed to various parts of the cave leaving Trica alone.
During the day Trica found it best to watch, every question was answered with a noise she knew was doing her ear-drums a power of damage. She thought Manzy’s singing was bad, but each witch had a 46 all of her own.
At lunch, Trica asked Maunchy two questions. The first one was why the number 46 was used?
Maunchy remarked it was just a number but came from her time with Miss Marble of 46 Grimace Street.
To this Trica said that her research had suggested that Miss Marble was a piece of fiction and therefore didn’t exist.
Maunchy looked sideways at Trica and fixed her with a gaze that held Trica spell bound.
“Amelia Marble exists my dear. She is very real as is 46 Grimace Street.”
“But no one has ever seen her, she exists in fantasy stories.”
“Just as a 46 protects us, Miss Marble has her own version of it such that she controls who lives on Grimace Street and who can know what, when and where.”
Trica was intrigued by this revelation. For her, this made her all the more curious. She was about to ask another question when Maunchy held up her hand and said it was time for her to go.
Trica thought of the tortured journey she had undertaken to get there, and her heart sank at the thought.
“Not to worry my dear follow me,” announced Maunchy.
Trica followed Maunchy out of the cave and stood before a door. “Go through there, you’ll find yourself back on the street beside the park.”
Trica turned the doorhandle and stepped through and did find herself in the street beside the park.
She looked around to secure the landmarks so she could get back in again when she needed to. Turning back, she saw that the door way was no longer there, but the wall of the Park covered as it was by climbing vegetation.
In her mind, she smiled knowing the Park was not a place to be taken for granted.