Karl Boyd, Author & Storyteller



This is a true story a good friend told me, and with her permission, I have embellished to fit my wife, Carol. Enjoy!

I was born on March 16, 1938, in the small town of Urbana, Illinois.  For the most part, my youth was similar to my peers.  I had a normal childhood and enjoyed life, unafraid of anything until I was nine years old.

That year I went to the movies with my older sister.  We were anxious to see the tale of Dorothy and Toto – “The Wizard of Oz”.  I was fine until the wicked witch of the west arrived on the screen.  She was the most frightening thing I had ever seen.

Every time she was featured, I hid my eyes and curled into a ball in my seat.  I was happy when she received her just deserts near the end of the movie, but could only peek at the proceedings through half-open eyes partly covered by tiny fingers.

When the movie ended with Dorothy and her dog safely back in the arms of her family, I was pleased and didn’t believe I had been affected by the wicked old witch.

My sister and I returned home and told mother of the fright I had experienced.  We all laughed at my foolishness.  I gathered my large collection of dolls around me and my younger sister, Linda, and we played happily for the remainder of the day.

When it came time to retire for the night, I was worn out.  My mother helped me arrange all my dolls on my bed.  After saying my prayers, she kissed my cheek and I drifted off to slumber.

That night, I suffered the first of many episodes that my doctor referred to as “fear dreams”.  In each of them, the wicked witch was chasing me while attempting to steal my babies. Through the open window and into my bedroom, she flew on her broom, screeching, “I’ll get you, my pretties.”

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I woke screaming and crying, with a terrible taste in my mouth.  Mother hurried to my side and attempted to calm my fears, but an hour or more passed before I could erase that terrible vision from my mind.

I didn’t want my mother to leave my side.  Finally, she reluctantly agreed to lie down with me until I drifted off once more.  She said for the remainder of the night I tossed and turned.

Before long the dream became a recurring nightmare.  Not every night, but enough to test my parents’ endurance.  I wasn’t getting any sleep; and neither were they.

My mother was at her wits end.  No matter how many times she said the wicked witch was only a figment of my imagination and there were no such things, I still had the dream and resulting nightmare.

Finally, my mother decided to call upon my grandmother Callahan to see if she could rid me of the wicked witch.

I loved my grandparents, who lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town.  Their nearest neighbor was more than a mile away, so my sisters and I could run and shout and never bother anyone.  After being told to keep our noise down so often at home, it was a joy to be set free at their farm.

My mother told my grandmother of my recent nightmares, and she listened attentively.

As she combed my hair that evening, she said knowingly, “We’ll see what we can do to get rid of that old witch.”

“But, Grandma, Mom says there aren’t any witches.”

“That’s true, but you seem to think this one is real, don’t you?”

“She sure seems real to me,” I replied.

“Well, don’t worry.  If any old witch dares to show her face on the farm, Old Granny will take care of her.”

That night in an upstairs bedroom, Grandma helped me tuck in my dolls in a huge double bed.  It was a warm evening and there was no air conditioning on the farm, so the bedroom windows were raised to let in what little cool air was stirring.

“I don’t like the windows open,” I sobbed.  “That’s how the witch gets in.”

“Don’t worry,” my grandmother repeated.  “I told you I would take care of any witch that shows up on this farm.  You get some rest, little one.  Everything will be all rright, just wait and see.”

I had a tough time getting to sleep, but eventually I managed to drift off.  But there came that old witch, flying in the window.

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I woke screaming and crying.

Suddenly, the door to my bedroom was flung open.

My grandmother stood there in her nightgown.  A lit cigarette was dangling from the right side of her mouth and smoke swirled slowly around her head like a lazy halo.

In her right hand, she held a double-barreled, .12 gauge shotgun.
For a moment she paused in the doorway long enough to take a large drag of her cigarette and allowed the smoke to pour from both nostrils.

Then without a word, she walked swiftly to the window, stuck the shotgun over the sill and let go with both barrels:  BAM!  BAM!

As she turned back to me, she said, “No stupid witch can stand up to a fire breathing dragon of a grandmother.”

Not another word was spoken as she walked out the door into the hallway.

From the living room downstairs I heard my grandfather call out, “What’s going on up there?”

“Hush, Harold, I just killed Carol’s witch.  Sit down and finish reading your newspaper.”

My ears were ringing and the smell of cordite hung heavy in the air, but I didn’t notice.  All I could think was:  “MY GRANDMOTHER SMOKED!”

I had never seen her do that before.  Sweet little old ladies didn’t use cigarettes in 1948.  I never sensed smoke on her breath or clothes.  She always smelled like lilacs and peppermint.

I couldn’t believe it – she smoked!

All thoughts of the wicked witch were erased from my mind.  Without even thinking about it, I tucked in several of my dolls that had been disturbed by the noise and we drifted off to sleep.

From that day forward, I was never been bothered by witches.

In the future, if ever I or my children are disturbed by such creatures, I know a gun totting, fire breathing woman who will make short work of them.

Thank you, Grandmother.

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Short Story Collection

True Competitor
Ballad of Billy Bob & Bubba
Grandmother & the Wicked Witch
To Kill or Not to Kill; That is The Question
Frank's New Boat
My Island in the Sun
George and the "Thunderbolt"
Honesty is the Best Policy!


Award Winner for
"The Nearly Perfect Plan"


Member of the Military Writers Society of America

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