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Have Witch, Will Travel

by Martin Green

The first time I set eyes on Veronica, at a cocktail party in mid-Manhattan, I was, you might say, bewitched. She was petite but with all the right curves, had blonde hair, sea-green eyes that glinted with mischief and a laugh like music. I won’t bore you with all the details but in a short time I had wooed and wed her.

About myself: I was 39, came from a good family (my father, John Hamilton, Sr., had been a state senator), was successful (I was a securities analyst in a large investment firm), lived in a spacious house in Connecticut, from which I commuted to Wall Street, but seemed to be fated to a life of loneliness.

I knew almost nothing about Veronica. She said she didn’t like to talk about herself. That didn’t matter to me. She had a faint accent of some kind, owned a large black cat and was delightful. That was enough.

The first hint I had that there might be something more to Veronica came at our wedding; it was a large one. My parents had taken over the arrangements and had gone all out. Veronica’s brother George attended; before this, I hadn’t known she had a brother. At one point in the reception, George weaved his way over to me and said, “You know you’re marrying a witch, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Veronica’s a witch. You know, she can make spells, put hexes on people, do magic. All the women in our family are witches. They can be a pain to live with.”

This was the year 2008. I was a securities analyst. This man was obviously drunk. “I don’t believe in witches,” I told him.

He laughed, not pleasantly. “I warned you. Just don’t do anything to make her mad at you.”

As if I would ever do anything to upset Veronica, I thought. I was madly in love with her.

* * *

My marriage, despite George’s warning, was everything I could ask for. My parents and all of my friends adored Veronica. When I returned from my office each day I always had a fine dinner prepared for me and I could talk to her about my work.

After a while, she became involved in a local election for a city council seat and spent a lot of time on that. Still, I couldn’t quite get George’s words out of my head. It was remarkable, I thought, how immaculate our home always was, how our fine meals always appeared seemingly without effort on her part, how she still had time for her political campaigning.

Then one day I found out that I was a candidate for head of my department at the investment firm; it came with a substantial raise and the title of vice-president. When I told Veronica, she said, “Do you really want it, John? I know you’re good at your job but we have enough money and I’ve been wondering if you might want to do something else, maybe public life. Don’t forget, your father was a state senator.”

“You’ve been hanging out with those politicians too much. No, I might consider that later, but right now I want that promotion.

“Then we’ll see that you get it.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about. At our wedding, your brother told me that, well, that you had certain powers. I know you want to help me, but I want to win that promotion fair and square. So promise me, no witchcraft or anything like that.”

Veronica smiled. “I’ll be a good girl.”

As always in a firm like mine, there was another candidate for the promotion. Harvey Smite was a few years older than I, had been with the firm a little longer, was competent at his job, had gone to all the right schools, had played football in college. What’s more, he was a big man, physically imposing, full of self-confidence.

The next weekend the firm’s CEO, Alexander Monroe, invited both Harvey and myself to a round of golf at his club. Monroe was very keen on golf. I knew this wasn’t just a golf match; it was a test. And Harvey was an excellent golfer. I wasn’t too bad myself and thought I could handle it.

At the first hole, Monroe said, “I’ve always thought golf told you a lot about a man. Shows how you could handle yourself under pressure.” Harvey teed off and drove the ball over 200 yards straight down the fairway. My drive wasn’t as long and was a little in the rough. Harvey continued to play an excellent game. I had to do some scrambling but when we reached the 18th hole we were all even.

We were both on the green in three strokes. Harvey had a a slightly longer putt; he tapped the ball and it went straight in. The pressure was on me. I lined up my putt and hit the ball. I was sure I would make it, but the ball stopped short by a foot. I looked up and saw Harvey making a choking gesture.

I don’t know if missing the putt was the decisive factor, but the next week Harvey got the promotion. I didn’t think I could stay at the firm and keep hearing about my choking on that putt so I resigned. Veronica was supportive. She said, “It’s all right, John. That might not be the right place for you. Remember what I told you about public life. I think you’d like it and you can really contribute something.”

* * *

Veronica’s candidate for city council was elected and he offered me a job on his staff. To my surprise, I did like public life and in a short time I was elected to my father’s old state senate seat. The reader knows about the financial crisis that gripped the country. Yes, my old investment firm, which was heavily into sub-prime mortgages, went under and I heard that Harvey Smite lost almost all of his own money.

I’d almost forgotten about Harvey when one day I had a call from him. He had joined a small lobbying firm and wondered if I might be able to help him. I invited him to a round of golf at my club. That night, when I told Veronica about it, I said, “You know, just this one time I’d like to relax my rule. I’d really like to win that golf game.” Veronica smiled and I went to bed knowing that this time I wouldn’t fail.

At the club, I could tell Harvey had been through some rough times. He’d lost weight but he still had some of his old cockiness. He actually had the lead after nine holes, but I knew I had Veronica’s help and eventually I prevailed. At the end I even felt a little sorry for Harvey and said I’d see if I could help him out. When I returned home, I told Veronica about my victory. “It felt good,” I said. “Thank you.”

“Oh, I didn’t do very much. It shows how well you can do when you have confidence.”

“Anyway, I was glad to get my revenge. You know, I was thinking, it was a good thing you didn’t help me out with that first golf match. If I’d won, I’d have gotten that promotion and gone under with the firm.”

“Oh, yes,” said Veronica, “that one.” She smiled. I knew that smile.

I remembered lining up that last putt and being sure it would go in. “Wait a minute, don’t tell me.”

“That was so long ago. It’s time for dinner. Now, about your running for Governor...”

Copyright © 2009 by Martin Green

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