Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eleventh piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s piece is a 984-worder entitled ‘The White Witch of England’ by Jane Risdon.
‘What the hell was that all about?’ David asked as we drove back from our meeting with The White Witch of England and her coven at the WI in Leighton Buzzard.
‘No idea,’ I said, ‘but she was spot on… How could she be? We’ve never given any her any personal information ’
‘Freaked me,’ said David, ‘How did she know about the black panther? I’ve never told anyone ever. I’ve always wanted one.’
‘Poseur,’ I laughed.
‘Shut up. Are we going to book them?’
We had interviewed our fair share of Clairvoyants, Mediums and various charlatans during the last year, vetting guests for our live show, but my co-producer and I had no I idea what to expect, neither having met a Witch before, Black or White.
A neat little woman in a two-piece suit with pearl necklace met us at the hall,
‘Dot will be out soon,’ directing us to our place of honour in front of a pair of high-backed wicker chairs.
Full of women, the hall fell silent. Everyone waited… I got my tape recorder ready.
The lights dimmed, someone began playing a harp. We exchanged amused glances when a large 50 something vision dressed from neck to toes in white tulle with flowers in her obviously dyed long black hair, took her seat in front of us, bowing and smiling.
I was about to speak when a small man appeared, impersonating Howard Keel in ‘The Thief of Baghdad’, with curly toed slippers, long drooping moustache: a little fez on his head. Feeling David’s shoulders shaking next to me I took a deep breath steadying myself, fighting laughter.
We gazed at the pair of them. The harpist played as Dot stood, hand held out to me. I stood, taking it.
‘Greetings, welcome to our coven,’ her grip like iron, her deep brown eyes gazed into mine.
‘Thank you,’ I said.
The coven clapped.
Turning to David, she did the same to him. He elbowed me and I nearly laughed. What the hell had we got into this time? Repeating her welcome, the coven clapped.
Turning, she introduced her consort ‘Merlin’.
I was fighting the good fight. David gulped suppressing his mirth. Merlin?
Merlin held our hands, then indicated we sit.
The harpist played on.
Before I could question her, Dot looked straight at me, saying I’d been a witch: burned at the stake on Pendle Hill in a past life, and I’d been a model for Gainsborough.
I opened my mouth but she raised her hand. ‘I’m a true Romany. I speak the truth’.
‘You fear water and fire. You love natural herbs and remedies.’
I nearly fell off my perch. How could she be right? Though Pendle Hill was news.
To David, ‘You have creative talents. I see you walking a black cat on a golden lead: a black Panther’.
David gaped. I wished our cameraman had come.
‘Don’t speak. I’m right.’ Everyone clapped.
We gawked. Merlin smiled, bowed, wiggling his curly toes as Dot placed her hands on our heads.
‘Both old souls,’ she said. ‘You’ve many lives to come, such old souls’.
Then she left. Floating away with Merlin shuffling behind
The harpist played, the coven clapped. We stopped laughing.
Never getting our interview, we were quickly ushered outside.
‘She’s right. I can’t go near Pendle Hill. I never knew why’.
Our Production team met later that day, deciding to book them for our first show. Everyone wanted to meet The White Witch and her Consort, Merlin, convinced they’d performed some sort of weird telepathy on us.
Of all the clairvoyants and mediums on our show they were the most consistently accurate with randomly chosen subjects.
We had to believe it really was Witchcraft. There wasn’t any other explanation. Was there?
I asked Jane what prompted this piece and she said…
Working in the International Music Business most of my life I have often been asked to get involved with new projects and experiences, such as the TV and Movie aspects of the Entertainment Industry.
For many years during the 1980’s and 1990’s my husband and I ran monthly Showcases at the London Hippodrome for new talent, mostly bands and solo artists. However, with the birth of satellite and the need to fill hours of programming in those early days, we were asked by a Production company to help source Clairvoyants, Mediums and other similarly ‘gifted’ people to take part in a live broadcast each month, from the club using randomly chosen members of the club audience.
This is the story of one such group of individuals we interviewed for the show, names changed of course.
In the end the show never aired. The information given by Dot was actually very accurate, but on the whole most of those we met were (we felt) either charlatans or very lucky.
Or knew how to steer to get the right information. Thank you Jane. My mum lives near Leighton Buzzard and something tells me I won’t be seeing it in the same light again. 🙂 The ‘WI’, in case any of our overseas visitors are wondering, is what we call the Women’s Institute.
For the last thirty years Jane Risdon has worked in the International Music Industry as an Artiste Manager, Producer and Music Publisher with her husband who was a professional musician when they met in their teens.
Together they have discovered, mentored and guided the careers of Singers, Bands, Songwriters and Producers all over Europe, the USA and SE Asia as well as the UK, resulting in Chart hits, TV and Movie Soundtracks and numerous other successes, including launching the very first Industry Showcases at the London Hippodrome in the mid 1980s.
She has lived and worked in Singapore, Taiwan, Germany, USA, as well as Europe and England – working with English, American, European and Chinese artists in all genres of music and in various languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.
Jane has been writing since childhood and has had articles published in the Music Press. Her main genre is Crime writing; mysteries and thrillers – usually with a twist in the tale. At the moment she is writing a crime story, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’, which features and ex-MI5 Officer and her new life in a rural Oxfordshire Village. This novel should be completed by early 2013.
In addition to this novel she has a series of stories which she describes as Character Based Gentle Humour, called ‘God’s Waiting Room’, which she hopes will be completed next year.
Jane is also co-writing a novel with an award-winning author of over 28 books. They hope they will complete their joint venture early in 2013.
With numerous Short Stories and several Flash Fiction pieces under her belt she is a prolific writer who is yet to publish a book in her own right. However, she has had several short stories published for Charity during the last year including her story, ‘The Look’, in ‘I am Woman Anthology Volume 1’, in aid of Breakthrough, Women for Women and Women’s Aid and two stories, ‘The Debt Collector’ and ‘The Ghost in the Privy’, published in the anthology, ‘Telling Tales’, in aid of The Norfolk Hospice.
Jane also has written a chapter for a new book project, which features several authors all writing a chapter each, without any idea of what the other has written. She found this great fun and looks forward to reading the finished book.
Jane Risdon (Author) Blog: http://janerisdon.wordpress.com
Jane Risdon (Author) Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with literary / crime author Avril Joy – the two hundred and sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.