Brimstone
By Harry Buschman
Published: January 4, 2009
Updated: January 4, 2009

Brimstone

Harry Buschman


Sadie Devons was declared to be a witch, but in an age when witches were burned at the stake, she enjoyed a long and comfortable life. She owed it all to her one eyed cat “Brimstone,” she said.

It was a handsome cat. Jet black except for her left front paw ... which was white as snow.

Sadie claimed Brimstone was enchanted and had learned the secrets of the occult, (such as they existed late in the seventeenth century). Without Brimstone by her side, Sadie was the first to admit that she, too, would have shared the same fate as her sister witches in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Though Sadie and her one-eyed cat were in league with the devil, and could lay a hex on the citizens of Salem, she declined to do so, for Sadie was a good witch.

There is not much difference in the outward appearance of a good witch and that of a bad witch. Sadie had a wart on the side of her nose, there were bats in her cellar and unlike the good women of Salem, she never swept her front walk. But Sadie, with input from her one-eyed Brimstone, only told people what was best for them. She offered helpful suggestions to lovelorn spinsters and tongue tied swains, helpful hints to harried housewives and valuable counsel to gamblers on the odds of drawing to an inside straight.

“Tell the widow McCullough she’ll never get a man that way,” the one eyed cat whispered in Sadie’s ear, “black silk underwear is what the men are looking for. Tell the widow to take off those burlap potato sacks and get into some Victoria’s secrets, they’re having a sale in downtown Salem.”

She told George Washington to get the carpenter to make him a set of wooden teeth. “It’ll improve your digestion no end,” she said, “and furthermore you’ll be able to smile at public functions. And take off that stupid wig,” she added, “you’re only wearing it to hide your bald spot.” She promised Benjamin Franklin the shock of his life if he went outdoors and flew a kite in a thunderstorm ... and what happened? Franklin discovered electricity!

To hungry families in Salem, Sadie pointed out the unsung qualities of the wild turkey. She reminded them that, “It may be the ugliest bird on the face of the earth, but remove the head and the feet, stick it in a moderate oven for four hours or so and it’ll feed a family of eight for a week.”

When her cat, “Brimstone” closed its only eye and breathed its last, Sadie closed up shop. She was a wealthy women by then, lived in a fine brick house and hired other women to cook and clean for her. She may have consorted with the devil ... but hell, nobody’s perfect!