Monday, March 5, 2012
Starting Today: The Witch of Cooper, Arizona
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Reverend David Martin looked out the open window of his study. The sun was loosening its hold and allowing a breeze to stir the trees. October was the month when people once again began to fill the streets of the town in the late afternoon.
Martin chuckled to himself. During the summer, members of his congregation often asked why the Good Lord gave Cooper, Arizona afternoons with temperatures that matched those in Hell. Was God sending them a message?
The sound of the church door banging open shattered Martin’s private musings. Loud, desperate footsteps pounded toward his office. Someone was very anxious to see him.
David Martin sprang from his desk, hastily opened the office door and saw Lamar Burke almost running down the middle aisle of the church. “I need your help, Preacher!”
Lamar Burke was a large man and muscular, but a hard life was making him old beyond his forty-two years. The ranch he owned outside of town was a struggling operation. Or, at least, that is what the pastor had surmised from his visits there. Lamar’s wife had been an invalid since an accident three years back. Reverend Martin had planned to visit her frequently, but the Burkes were very private people and Lamar had asked him to restrict his visits to the first Monday of the month. Lamar Burke occasionally came to church with his niece, but arrived late and left early.
“What’s the problem, Lamar?”
“Vicky, that fool niece of mine! She came into town with me and now she’s vanished. Can’t find her nowheres.”
“I’ll ring the bell!” Reverend Martin bolted back to his office and retrieved the key to the church steeple. Both men hurried out the front door of the small wooden building and ran around to the side. The door to the steeple was kept locked to prevent the bell from being rung by playful boys and drunken men.
“Don’t worry, Lamar,” David spoke as he entered the small enclosure and grabbed the bell’s rope. “We’ll find Vicky, soon. There are a lot of good people in this town who will join the search.”
Lamar looked uncertain. “Yeah, and there are some very bad men in this town.”
David understood the point. Vicky Burke was fifteen. She had recently transitioned from a gawky kid to a beautiful young lady. But Vicky had problems that no one could completely understand. The more polite citizens of Cooper called Vicky “slow.” Others referred to her as “loco”, “touched in the head”, and there were even some who claimed she was possessed by a demon.
Everyone knew that Vicky Burke liked people and was far too trusting. And, yes, Lamar was right. There were some very bad men in the town.
Reverend Martin pulled hard on the rope.
Tomorrow: Episode Two of The Witch of Cooper, Arizona