Black Magic

April has been a tough month in this wind-swept land. Just when you think you have turned a corner to a sunny springtime, a frigid windy stench emanates from the seat of the Liberal government and in the words of poet, Robert Frost, you are two months back in the middle of March. 

     The month started with two significant stories making Canadian headlines on the CBC National at 9.30 pm, just as spouse and I were ready to retire to our straw mattresses for the night. I had just finished my third nightcap of bog rosemary tea with a liberal splash of Raspberry Screech when we were transfixed by the breaking news.

     The first story, out of St. John's and Twillingate, Newfoundland, posed a personal and immediate shock to my system and a dire threat to my psychological well-being. The Auk Island Winery, a thriving small business in Twillingate, had been advised by Dear Leader Duh-wite that henceforth the fee for harvesting iceberg ice for use in wine and liquor production would increase by 2500% over the previous year. The new levy would be retroactive to 2016. Famous brands like my Raspberry Screech would be discontinued, as a result, said the owner.

     The danger dawned like a dark demon. I had hoarded just two bottles of the stuff, confident of a never-ending supply at the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation store over on Kelsey Boulevard. "Get my snowshoes and my caribou skin parka," I shouted at spouse. "I must get to the liquor store immediately."

     "Don't be a fool," she said, in her soothing voice. "The store is closed for the night and there's a raging blizzard outside. And another thing, you made soup out of your caribou skin parka. Lord protect us," she intoned, looking towards the heavens. "The man's going bonkers."

     I immediately understood her logic and whipped out my mobile device. "2500% tax on iceberg ice," I tweeted. "The balls of the man. A disgrace. Sad!!!"

     Peter Mansbridge followed up with a more riveting report--a disturbing story in all the major papers that a psychic operating out of Toronto, Master Raghav, had been arrested for "pretending" to practice witchcraft. He had allegedly conned a father of four out of $101,000 in return for promising to free the family from the clutches of an evil spirit. The criminal code is quite clear on this: Anyone who pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration, is guilty of an offense punishable by up to six months in prison.

     Spouse wondered how anyone could fall for such a swindler. She searched my face looking for unqualified support for her opinion. I tried to look away with a casual air of nonchalance but she has this curious ability to read my mind. She must have sensed the wheels spinning inside my brain.

     "Don't even think about it," she said. "There will be no witchcraft in this house."

     As most people are aware, I come from a long line of conjurers, sorcerers, wizards, witches, and enchanters. My grandmother and her sister, Lucy-Mae, were both on friendly terms with the fairies and subsequently were both granted the gift of second sight by these magical creatures. Second sight, of course, is the ability to foresee the future, and alter events as necessary, a rare talent indeed, especially if you wish to cast spells on politicians.

     Most people are likely unaware that I, too, have this ability and that I possess The Black Arts Book, a unique treasure which mysteriously came into my possession several years ago whilst wandering through the forest on the island (an island which shall remain nameless out of consideration for my relatives and ancestors). Less anyone be skeptical, I am including a picture of said book. It's a little mud-stained as a result of being in the ground for many decades.


     Anyway, I promised spouse that I would not resort to such tactics unless forced into it by Dear Leader and his dark legions in the castle on the hill here in St. John's.

     My first priority was to secure my stash of Raspberry Screech at a reasonable price before the 2500% tax came into effect. At ten next morning, I donned three pairs of Long John's thermal underwear and a fleece-lined arctic parka donated by the Salvation Army and I set out on my fateful journey to the NLC store up on Kelsey.

     Imagine my chagrin when I walked in and proceeded directly to the aisle where my favorite libation was always on display. Nothing. The shelf was bare. I carried my protest directly to the manager. "We are sorry, sir, but that particular line is now sold out," he said. "Big Eddie has just been in and bought the whole lot."

     He directed me to a sampling table where a young lady was dispensing shot glasses of various drinks. She offered me a sample. "This one is Fifty Shades of Bay," she said. "The bouquet hints at the melodious blooms of our marshlands with whiffs of the wild wilderness of our pine clad hills."

     She suggested I should purchase several bottles, rush home to collect spouse, and then spend the afternoon carousing under the leaden gray skies over Middle Cove Beach, watching the great ice sheet flow past on its journey from the northern seas. I knew spouse had not yet purchased a suitable bikini so that plan was out the window.

     "Then, you may be interested in this one," she said, offering me another sample. "Appropriately, it is named Witches Brew, concocted from 100 different berries and weeds, native to our fair isle. Its floral characteristics are reminiscent of stinging nettle and burr thistle, with an aftertaste of pigweed."

     I recognized all the ingredients as key to a true witches brew. "You may have something, there," I said.

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