“ Why choose me ?”
I read the biography you did for The Big Bad Wolf. Mesmerizing. Who knew he had such a troubled childhood?”
“Thank you, I’m flattered. Did you know him well?”
“Only in his later years, when he was just a shell of a canine. By that time his teeth had all fallen out. All bark but no bite by then.”
I had done the biographies of some scary characters in my time. It wasn’t easy being known as the biographer – not to the famous – but the infamous. Something about this woman was creepier than usual though, pushing the bounds of my usual steely resolve. I looked at my watch meaningfully.
“So, where do you want to go from here?”
“Career wise?” Wanda shrugged her boney shoulders. “I’m not sure. Might try my hand on the stage. Tell the story from my perspective, you know? It’s working for West.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, after that Child Protective Services report came out?”
“Hey, those flying monkeys are pretty scary but people are eating it up. I guess I see your point though. Intolerance now a days is brutal. Look what’s happening to Ogres.
“I hear the Billy Goat’s Gruff have dropped the charges. And you never know, Ogres ‘R’ Us might eventually catch on.”
“Well, that’s something, then. And witches are definitely making a come back – thanks to all the publicity West is getting. Did you know that Maleficent and Cruella went in together on a clothing line?”
“Have any of them contacted you since you’ve been out?”
“Well, Ursula –
“Wait a minute – wasn’t she stabbed through the heart and killed?”
“Off the record?”
Intrigued, I nodded. “Sure.”
“Her death was faked – for the insurance money, you know. Ursula was the mastermind and Gaston was the muscle.
“Wow.” I mulled it over. “Ursula and Gaston. They still together?”
Wanda shook her head. “Ursula was an old fool. As soon as the money ran out, so did he. But she’s definitely alive and well. Calls herself Debbie now. A while back she convinced me to be the spokesperson for her new perfume – she doesn’t quite have the figure for it, herself.”
“Really? What’s it called?”
“Poissons – French for fish, you know. We brewed it ourselves.”
“Any money in that?”
“Nah, I backed out. Still can’t get the odor out. Ruined a perfectly good cauldron.
“I thought there was something different about the coffee.” I could feel the contents of my stomach curdling.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Where was I? Oh, yeah – Snow’s step-mother, though, she’s got a line of candy apples I think I could market. A couple of her recipes really make a strong first impression.”
“And then of course there’s Gepeto.”
“Gepeto? I didn’t know you knew someone like Gepeto. I mean-
“I know what you meant.” Wanda’s intense stare unnerved me. Although it was chilly in the dingy apartment, she wiped beads of sweat off her wrinkled brow. “Did it ever occur to you that Gepeto might not be such a goody two shoes after all?”
“I guess I never thought about it. What’s he up to these days?”
“Sorry, I’m just a little overly sensitive lately.”
“He’s done alright for himself. Became a plastic surgeon.”
“Yeah, there’s not much market for puppets any more – even ones that come to life. Sims have replaced all that. But the demand for plastic surgery keeps growing. Not that I’ve ever needed it, of course.”
I tried to keep my eyes off the huge mole winking at me on the end of her pointy nose.
“Well, thanks for the interview Wanda. It’s been a… pleasure. Shame though that you couldn’t get the low blood sugar angle to stick.”
“Are you a handy kind of guy?”
“I beg your pardon?” The sudden shift in conversation caught me off guard.
“You know- fix things around the house?”
I wondered where this was going. Her apartment was a dump but that wasn’t my problem.
“Well, best of luck to you.” I backed toward the door.
“Hey, before you go, you wouldn’t mind having a look at my oven would you?”
Wanda licked dry cracked lips.
“I really don’t think…”
“It’ll just take a minute.”
The iron grip of her boney fingers belied her frail appearance as she dragged me into the kitchen.
“I think it’s a problem with the kindling….”
The Daily Herald
Journalist Missing ! Witch-hunt Forthcoming!