WHICH is WITCH?
New in town, sir?
Oh. Sorry - I saw you looking at that travel guide and um …
It’s new to me …is there a YWCA in this city?
Yes - a Battered Women’s Shelter on Barton St. behind The Olde Bakery on Elm.
Who said anything about ‘battered women’? Nevermind. I’m looking for my sister.
She’s been missing eleven months.
I never introduced myself. I’m Billy Ray Barton. I’m in the Chamber of Commerce. We try to help strangers and – I thought maybe -
Go away, Billy Ray. You obviously can’t help me.
You’re upset. Here’s a thought. There’s a Psychic Reader across the street, Madame Lenya Kasparian. What have you got to lose? She found my cat for me. I can see from your expression I’d better run along now.
Best of Luck to you!
Don’t let the door hit you on your way out
I’m Madame Kasparian. I am here to help you.
Be seated. You must relax. Remove your shoes if you like.
I don’t want you to pay me anything.
Not unless I help you find your cat.
That will cost you $200 dollars. Understood?
I’m not looking for a damned cat. My sister is missing.
If you help me find her - I’ll pay you a thousand dollars cash! Understood?
Of course. Of course. I sense that now. I feel it deeply.
A strong aura of pain - of despair - hanging over you following you everywhere you go.
Shall we begin?
Before we begin - I have two questions for you.
First: Do you steal people’s pets and charge them money to return them?
Second: Did Billy Bob just call you to say I’m a referral?
(Sigh) My husband steals neighborhood animals. And yes - I kick back $25 to Billy Ray
if you pay me. Straight up. Now shall we begin?
But your confession leaves me without any confidence at all that you have mysterious powers that can return my sister - unless, of course - you kidnapped her.
Did you do that, Madame Lenya?
Certainly not. It is my husband who runs that side of things.
My powers are very real. I told you the truth because I would be cursed if I lied about this.
My mother was a famous Reader in the Old Country. Her mother before her. I’m the seventh daughter of a seventh son. My powers are real.
Now tell me everything or get out.
I’m not gullible. I am desperate.
Yes. Let’s begin. Here is a photograph of Frances. She is 32 years old.
I last saw her almost a year ago. The police do nothing without a corpse to inspire them, I suppose. A detective cheated me out of his retainer and I refused to pay him his fee when he couldn’t prove he’d not been sitting on his ass and stringing me along.
Now - how do we do this?
If you were gullible - and you claim you are not - I’d turn the lights down and use my crystal ball. I’d light incense. I’d go into a trance. But none of that is necessary. Not with an agnostic person. Why waste my acting talents on non-belief? Place your hands on the table, palms down, and look straight into my eyes. I’m going to hypnotize you.
It may be possible - but - okay. I’m exhausted. I will go along and follow your suggestions.
Tell me your name, sir.
Your sister’s name?
Frances. Spelled differently, of course.
Look into my eyes and do your best NOT to BLINK. Repeat after me…
“Isten zaklatott gyermeke vagyok, és a nővéremet keresem”
I don’t know what the hell you are saying!
Repeat the sounds. The meaning is unimportant.
The message isn’t for you.
It is for …them. The spirits.
Oh - well, sure. If it’s for “the spirits”.
“Isten zaklatott gyermeke vagyok, és a nővéremet keresem”
Oh - Mr. Francis! You’re back. Was Lenya able to help you?
Outstanding! That’s great to hear.
That’s why I’m back. I told her I’d pay your referral fee. Here it is.
Oh? Well - I’m embarrassed. But not so embarrassed that I won’t accept the cash, of course.
Of course. Here’s your money. How is your cat?
Clementine is just fine. I had given up searching till …well -
Madame Lenya really knows what she’s doing. Glad she was able to help you.
I bet you are. But - well... Nevermind.
No - tell me. What is it?
I shouldn’t say.
Go ahead. What is it?
Clementine wasn’t really lost at all. That’s a fact.
Lenya’s husband stole your cat.
I ought to turn her in...to the police.
But - she could curse you!
So, let’s just chalk it up to a learning experience. Both of us.
Curses are bullshit. She should be in jail - for stealing pets for ransom!
Some curses are real - if - if you want to hear about them.
Sit down and listen.
Last year I decided I would kill myself. I was deeply depressed.
Therapists were no help. Pills were their idea of problem-solving.
Nothing solves a problem like pills - right?
A big handful solves big problems.
What was the cause of your…? I mean - if you don’t mind saying?
A feeling of Alienation. That’s a psychiatric word.
I never fit in. Not in school. Not among friends. I had a dark secret I couldn’t share.
I mentioned suicide to my therapist - I got locked up. All for ‘my own good’.
So they said.
That’s awful. I’m sorry.
I wised up. The only way out was to convince my doctors I was feeling better.
I’d seen the light. Fit as a fiddle. Fake it till you make it, right?
Not really. No. Not in my experience.
I was released and given a nice prescription for a week’s worth of - what else?
Powerful pills. I was able to assure them I’d call a hotline if I ever had dark thoughts again. I headed home to do the deed. I passed a Fortune Teller sign like the one Madame Lenya has across the street.
Interesting…a family franchise, perhaps.
It was strictly Halloween. Phony baloney. So I thought.
The Madame or Witch - asked me curious questions and then concluded
I was under a curse!
The curse could only be cured if I wrote my darkest secrets on a slip of paper - and then - Madame the Witch would babble incantations and burn the slip of paper.
That’s when I’d be cured - if - I PAID for the ritual in cash.
Sounds familiar, did it work?
I wrote my secrets and she burned them.
Don’t ask me why but I laughed at her and then I ran out.
She must have sent her husband or brother - whatever - over to my apartment
but he found me sprawled on the floor with the empty bottle of pills.
What a tragic story!
I woke up in the Emergency Room.
I don’t understand - the Fortune Tellers’ husband saved your life? Why would he?
I thought about that.
After I left, she had obviously read the slip of paper (having burnt a fake one). Half of my secret was suicide. You know how police are - suspicious. Right?
After the Emergency Ward…
I wasn’t let out of lock-up (for my own good) for almost half a year after that second attempt.
And - the curse is what?
I figure it was the fact I woke up extremely confused.
I had a terrible feeling.
About my sister. I couldn’t shake it off…the dread!
You thought those awful people had -what? Kidnapped her?
I’ve said too much already. Why tempt fate now?
Of course, you’re scared. If they kidnapped her what else are they capable of doing?
Don’t let your imagination run away with you! I said none of that.
I feel responsible for referring you to that - that Witch.
I’m terribly sorry.
(Sigh) You are a stranger. It’s all out in the open now.
Why shouldn’t I unburden myself?
You see - my sister never went missing.
Say what? Did you murder her? Did they murder her?
Slow down. You don’t know me…
I came from a fundamentalist family. Strict upbringing.
I lived as an outsider inside my family.
pretended I had a sister, privately.
I needed a confidante and I told "her" my true feelings.
It’s not all that crazy, really.
Don't all kids talk to their Teddy bears or dolls - or imaginary friends?
Eventually, I actually believed she was real.
It wasn’t me who was lost - oh no -
It was my imaginary sister instead!
It gave me a purpose - a noble quest - a reason to live!
What are you telling me?
Madame Lenya hypnotized you and you realized there is no sister?
Something more shocking. I suddenly faced a startling moment of self-revelation:
I AM my sister!
I was never a Brother. Not really. Inside my soul - I AM her.
I had run away from everything -
Even myself. My curse was in ever thinking I was ME.
I’m no doctor but - it sounds like your curse has been removed
and - oh I don't know, I'm out of my depth.
I may not know who I am exactly - but I do know who I am not.
Great things have small beginnings, don't they?
Think of it as simply …the beginning of…FREEDOM.
It's like that song, isn't it? Me and Bobby McGee...
"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
A mixed blessing.
We’ll split the difference and say -
a cursed blessing ...which Witch is which?