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The International Writers Magazine
Put a Spell on You

Uncle Pringle and the Witch’s Curse
Martin Green

My friend and fellow sci-fi writer Al Abrams had been distracted all during dinner and now, when my wife Ellen had served coffee, he knocked over his cup, spilling coffee on the table and over his pants.  Ellen quickly mopped up the table and gave Al a kitchen towel, with which he dabbed at his pants.  “Are you all right?” she asked.
“Yeah, just another little accident. They’ve been happening all this month. It’s because I’ve been cursed.”

Deviant Art by Cry Baby
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Just that. You remember that girl I was seeing, Wanda? I broke up with here a few weeks ago. She paid much more attention to her cat than to me. She told me she was a witch and she put a curse on me.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said.
“That’s what I thought.  You know I don’t believe in that stuff. But the next day somebody rammed my car in a parking lot. I slipped on a piece of soap in the shower. A brick fell off a building and hit me in the head.   All the stories I’ve sent out have been rejected.”
“That doesn’t mean you’ve been cursed. You’ve just had a string of bad luck.”
“No, something new happens every day. You saw just now with the coffee.”
“Have you tried talking with Wanda?” asked Ellen.
  “Yes, I called her a week ago. She just laughed. Look at me, I’ve lost weight, I can’t sleep, my hair is falling out. I don’t know what to do.”
I looked at Ellen. “Do you think your Uncle Pringle can help?”
“Maybe. You can try him”
  “Who’s Uncle Pringle?” asked Al, curious.
 “My uncle, Claude Pringle. He’s kind of a problem-solver. He worked for years in some top-secret government agency.   Now he’s retired but still does consulting work.” 
“He helped me with a bad work situation I was in a while ago,” I said.  “He probably saved my job.”.
“Do you think you can call him? I’m desperate. I’m ready to try anything.”


“We’re meeting him in this park?” asked Al.
“Yes, he says he likes to work here.   It gives him a chance to observe people.”
Uncle Pringle was on his usual bench, talking to a plump, gray-haired woman.   As we approached, the woman stood up and Uncle Pringle said, “You’ll remember?”
“Yes.   I’ll tell my grandson I love him, but he shouldn’t expect any more money from me.”
“Good.   If there’s any trouble, you have my card.”
Uncle Pringle turned to us and I made the introductions.   After Al had described the situation, he said, “Mmm, interesting.   So you ascribe your series of misfortunes to the curse this young woman has put on you?”
“I told him it could all be coincidence,” I said.
“That’s what I thought at first,” said Al.   “I thought it was all mumbo-jumbo.   But then the bad things started happening every day, one after another.”
“Well, sometimes it’s hard to tell,” said Uncle Pringle.   “So it’s best to be on the safe side.   How old is this ex-girl friend of yours?”
“I’d say 27 or 28.”
“Yes, rather young.   So she can’t have obtained any great power yet.   The solution is simple.   We’ll counter her with an older, far more experienced sorcerer, a wizard I happen to know.”
“You know a wizard?” I said.
“Oh, I know many interesting people.”
At this point, Uncle Pringle’s cell phone rang.   “Yes,” he said.   “Ah, good to hear from you, Barack.”   He listened for a few minutes, then said, “I understand. That is a tricky point. I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
“Was that …?”  I said.
“Just a young friend of mine. Now, where were we? Ah, yes, the wizard.  I’ll make some calls and let you know.”


It was a rainy night. Al and I stood before the door of a basement apartment. “I guess this is it,” he said, ringing the bell.
“This is the address Uncle Pringle gave me.”
“Thanks for coming with me. This is kind of spooky.”
The door opened and a large man with white hair and a neatly trimmed white beard regarded us.  “Come in,” he said. “I was expecting you.”

The apartment was dark, the only light coming from an occasional candle.   He led us into what looked like a study, at least the walls were lined with books.   I noticed that many of them were plays, including a complete set of Shakespeare.The wizard put on a blue cloak, then sat behind a small round table and we sat across from him. “Now then,” he said, “I understand your ex-girl friend, a witch,  has put a curse on you.   Are you sure about this?”
 “Yes,” said Al, and he described the bad things that had happened since the break-up.   The latest was that his tailor had lost his best suit, his car keys had disappeared and a contract he thought he had with a publisher had been rescinded.
“Publishers are susceptible to bad vibes,” the wizard said.   “Well, Let’s see what we can do.   Did you bring a picture of Wanda as I told you?”  
“I found this one,” said Al. The wizard put it on the table. “Pretty girl,” he remarked.   He reached out and picked out a large book from one of his shelves.   I tried to see what was on the page but couldn’t decipher it. He began to read.   I had no idea what he was saying, but, in his sonorous voice, it sounded impressive.Then he reached somewhere into the folds of his cloak, pulled out a wand and touched it to Wanda’s picture, which disappeared in a puff of smoke.
“Well, that should do it,” said the wizard. “The curse should now be nullified.”
“Are you sure?” said Al.
“Time will tell.”

 When we left the basement apartment the rain had stopped and stars shone in the clear sky overhead.   I took that as a good omen, not that I believed in omens, of course.


Al called me a week later. He sounded elated. Nothing bad had happened since we’d seen the wizard.  He was convinced he was no longer cursed. That morning he’d received a new contract from his publisher, with a letter saying it had been rescinded by mistake.
I met Uncle Pringle in the park a few days later and told him the good news.  “Okay,” I said. “That guy’s not really a wizard, is he?”
“You and I know there’s no such thing as witchery or wizardry. Of course, there may be some exceptions. At any rate, strange things have happened.   A witch doctor puts a spell on a native and he wastes away.   It’s all a matter of belief. Your friend Al said he didn’t believe, but bad things started to happen to him.   This meant that beneath his skeptical veneer was a little core of belief. If he believed a witch had put a curse on him, then he’d belief that a more powerful sorcerer, our wizard, could remove it.   That’s what happened.”
“So who’s this wizard?”
“He’s an old Shakespearian actor I know.   He was quite good as Prospero in “The Tempest.”
“Well, he was pretty convincing as the wizard in the basement, especially when he made Wanda’s picture disappear. How’d he do that?”
“You know,” said Uncle Pringle, “ I’ve never been able to figure that out.

© Martin Green March 2007
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