Hello Darkness, my old friend echoes through my mind as I lay on satin cushions. The air touching my exposed skin, utterly still, and the silence surrounding me, suffocating. No hope, no means of reconciliation. Here was my new home, until all is no more. Had I’d known where I would ultimately end up, I never would have gotten mixed up with the Amanda, whom the locals nicknamed the Witch of Hamilton.
Amanda was a beautiful young woman who’d recently moved to town. Though her looks were alluring, something deeper, dark, lingered in her soul. Instinctively, people would do all means to avoid her, and when they had no chance but to pass her or for her to pass by someone, these encounters were cut short to the bone.
As for me, I was thirteen years of age when it all began. One day, on a dare from a friend, I knocked on the witch’s door and readied myself to run away as soon as she answered it. Impatiently, I waited for the doorknob to turn, but to my dismay, it remained motionless. Again, I knocked on the door and was greeted by the sound of silence. Disappointed as well as relieved, I turned my back to the door and began to walk away. But before I could take a second step, the door suddenly flew wide open and the most beautiful voice fluttered in my ears saying, “Stop.”
As if by magic, my feet refused to leave the surface of her porch, leaving me at Amanda’s mercy. Desperately I tried to flee, but all my efforts were in vain.
Slowly she approached until I could feel her breath brush across my neck. Then the witch whispered in my ear, “If you’ve come to visit me, why are to leaving so quickly? Come inside and stay for a while.” As if my feet had a mind of their own, they began to follow the witch to the door. From there, they continued to guide me into her house and didn’t stop until we entered her living room. “Sit down, Harold, while I bring you something to drink.”
It was I found out it more than my feet that followed her commands, for I sat down in that chair and sunk in it cushion. As my body relaxed in the chair furry comfort, Amanda returned with a tray bearing a crystal goblet and a decanter of red wine. She placed the tray on a table next to me and asked, “Are you comfortable?”
My first impulse was to say, “Let me go, bitch, and I’ll never cross paths with you again.” But instead, my lips replied, “Yes, I am.”
Amanda continued, “I’ve been watching you for a long time, Harold and I’ve chosen you to receive a special gift.” She fell to her knees next to where I was sitting and asked, “How would you like to have all this world has to offer? Riches and power, all yours at your fingertips. I can give this to you if you wish. What do you say?”
My whole life, I’ve lived on the poor side of town. If a train ran through Hamilton, I would have lived on the farthest side of the tracks. There were only a few days I could remember having two quarters I could rub together. A pipe dream, I thought. She’s bull crapping me. How could she deliver on such a ridiculous claim?
But through all my doubts and reservations, greed roared to the surface and overtaken them all. Then I asked, “What do I have to do?”
Amanda’s eyes gleamed with delight. “Only two things, Harold. Drink a glass of the wine I offer you and promise to worship me above all others, including your so said God.”
I was expecting to hear hints of a human sacrifice and was relieved to find the process simple. It wasn’t like I went to church or anything, who wouldn’t pass on a glass of wine? In the end I had nothing to lose, but time itself.
As I turned my head towards her, I found myself in full control of my faculties, free to run or stay. I stood facing towards the door, then turned back to Amanda. Falling on my knees, I took her hand and kissed it. Then I uttered, “I pledge my life to you.”
Amanda lifted the decanter from the tray and filled the cup to the brim. Tenderly she handed me the cup and said, “This cup, I offer to you.”
I pressed the brim of the cup to my lips and greedily swallowed the elixir. Though it looked like red wine, it had the taste of bitter vinegar. Still, I emptied the cup and returned it to the witch. As she returned the cup to the tray, she whispered, “Go. Your future awaits you.”
As soon as I stepped outside, my doubts began to return. It was good for a laugh, I thought. And as I continued walking down the street, a fluttering piece of paper wedged in a fence caught my eye. When I rescued it from its trap, I was surprised to find it was a lottery ticket, which numbers were drawn the night before. What were the chances? I took that ticket to the convenience store and checked the numbers. I nearly passed out when I found out the ticket was worth a million dollars. Knowing how poorly I lived most of my life, I knew it wasn’t God who blessed me, but it was the Witch of Hamilton who did. I promised myself when I got home, I would pray to her and give her thanks.
That was only the beginning. From that day on, I would find money lying in the aisles of shopping malls, Casinos became money giving games, and even one of those million-dollar inheritance scams actually paid me the money.
Life became easy and I quickly learned how powerful money could make you. As I grew older, the women I would sleep with became younger and the line of them waiting to pleasure me became longer. Soon I was dining with world leaders and bedding their daughters as well. Their greed matched mine and soon we became dependent on each other.
Life was beautiful, until the day I felt as if a sledgehammer struck my chest. I laid on the floor motionless until the ambulance came. Paramedics swarmed over me until I heard one of them say, “call the time of death.”
“No!” I tried to shout. But my words were frozen in my mouth. The paramedics placed me on a gurney and covered me with a sheet. There, I laid in darkness until the sheet was pulled back and I found myself on an operating table. A doctor stood alone in a surgical room staring at me. He turned on a recording device and said, “I am performing an autopsy on Harold Smith, a portly fifty-seven-year-old white male…”
As he pressed the bone saw against my sternum I desperately tried to scream. But it was no use. The saw did its work, and I witnessed the doctor slowly remove my organs. If there was any upside to my dilemma, I felt no pain. The doctor performed his duties quickly and placed me in a freezer. There I stayed until the funeral director retrieved my body.
Time passed before I found myself put on display for viewing. With all the people I knew from around the world, I was shocked to see not one of them had come to see me, that is except for Amanda. How long has it been since I’ve seen her? Strangely, she looked as young as she did those so many years ago.
She looked down on me and began to speak. “I know you can hear me, Harold. You may be wondering how this is possible. You see, when you turned your back on God, you gave up all chances of eternal life. So, what happens to your soul after that? Simple. Nothing. Your soul remains in your body, even after death. You had a good life, Harold. Now it’s over. Goodbye, Harold. Enjoy your future.”
Without a further word, the Witch of Hamilton walked away, leaving me to my doom. The funeral came and went and now my body lies in a cold damp grave, slowly ever rotting, with my soul trapped within it. Someday, somehow, somebody may discover what happened to me, but as long as greed lives in this world, nothing will ever change.