The Magic Quill #21: Bewitched “Bewitched”

By Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Misheal

Someone was drumming invisible fingers on the table.

Sadie, the veiled witch, sighed. “Either the lad has a bladder the size of a football,” she said in a gruff voice, “or he’s been held up by those muggers again.”

“The devil take them,” groused the voice of Merlin, also invisible. “Muggers. Don’t even have the sense to restrict themselves to law-abiding victims. There ought to be honor among thieves, but I tell you–I’ve been robbed twice in the past year of things that I nicked fair and square.”

“What is the world comin’ to?” snorted the invisible witch–Endora by name–beside him.

“And I’ll tell you somethin’ else,” Merlin declared, getting into his stride. “I was hoverin’ on my broom outside the bedroom window of a Muggle couple, thinkin’ of rescuin’ their dog that they hadn’t noticed was a krup; but I took an interest in the box they had that showed them moving, talking pictures.”

“Ah, those Muggles,” Sadie said wistfully. “They’ll put magic out of business, yet.”

“Be that as it may,” said Merlin testily, “they was watchin’ something calledBewitched. It was supposed to be about our kind.”

“Huh! How would they know?” Endora sneered.

“Well, they don’t know much, that was clear,” said Merlin. “It was the most absurd thing I ever saw. They showed several short dramas in a row. I think they called it a marathon. Spanky’s story about the dueling marathon is what brought it to mind. Well, it was so silly. They actually meant to show the same witch and her Muggle husband in episode after episode, doing gross magic by wiggling their noses and trying to hide it from the neighbors. The witches and wizards in that serial didn’t have a clue! Whistling up storms, making historical people appear and disappear…pointless! And then, wonder of wonders, the Muggle husband changed to a different man, yet he had the same name and nobody commented on it.

“I had had enough. I decided to throw a little real magic on the situation, to liven things up. I pointed my wand at the picture machine, said a few well-chosen words, and sat back to watch what happened. The husband in the drama was getting dressed, and when he looked in the mirror to see how his cravat was coming along, he screamed. His wife ran into the room and asked what was the matter and the man sobbed, ‘Why didn’t someone tell me? I didn’t even know!’ The wife asked what he was talking about, and the man pointed at himself and said, ‘Can’t you see? They’ve got a different actor playing me!’

“Well, that was starting to make it interesting. Then, when it looked like the witch was going to do something totally out of character, I pointed my wand again, and the witch said, ‘I don’t care what those lousy writers say, I’m not going to do it. It just isn’t me.’ By now the Muggle couple watching the play were on their feet, using the talky-phone thing to tell their neighbors about what was going on, so I decided to leave things alone for a while. But another stupid moment came up, where an elderly witch appeared out of nowhere to make everything all right. And I had all the characters grab her and hoist her out of the picture, saying, ‘Madam, you’re not even a character. You’re a plot device, and a thin one at that!’

“By then, of course, my plans to rescue the poor krup were spoiled. That couple wasn’t about to go to sleep for the rest of the night. So I just enjoyed myself, improving the storyline of their picture-play now and then. The show had this cheesy device that played a recording of an audience laughing, and for one entire episode I had them hissing and throwing fruit instead. The actors took to wearing slickers and holding open umbrellas over their heads whenever they came to a punchline. Then I decided to spice up the adverts that came on between acts of the programme. I invented a toothpaste that turns teeth green, a hair gel that turns your hair into feathers, a mouthwash that causes you to squawk like a chicken, and a drug for people who see silly things on late-night picture shows, only its side effect is that it causes the user’s dog to grow a second tail. I was still thinkin’ about that krup, you see.

“At last,” Merlin said, picking up the pace as Spanky resumed his seat at the end of the table, “I had to leave, because some of the people the couple had called had called some other people, and a fair number of individuals with butterfly nets had assembled in the square in front of the house. As I was flyin’ away on me broom, I heard the lady of the house screaming to her husband, ‘Alfred! It’s true! The dog has two tails! But we haven’t had any of that medicine…’ I believe the krup escaped in the confusion, bless it. So, lad, what event was next? The Team duel?”

“No,” said Spanky, pouring another goblet of firewhisky from the tip of his wand. “I haven’t finished with the Relay yet. You see, when Shmedly beat me, it was only the quarter-final. And as his team had already been defeated once, and that was our team’s first defeat, we weren’t put out of the running. In the semi-final, Crinkle and Ruff put paid to the American team in only two rounds, so I didn’t even have to compete again until the final. Meanwhile, the Romanian team–that is, Shmedly and his cronies–squeaked past Japan by a very narrow margin. Shmedly’s lightning curse seemed to have no reliable defense; it ensured his victory for a third round in a row. So I knew I would have to face Shmedly a second time in one event, battling for the Relay Galleon…”

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