Chapter 4 – The Wonderful Gizzards of Oz
With a shake of my head I left William to graze. William clearly needed an attitude adjustment. I wondered if part of her attitude came from her name…William! As I trotted toward Dorothy, a hushed conversation was taking place.
“...Oz h?? the ??izard’s great…helping," whispered the witch as she looked about warily. "More…than all the others and none better. There…, in the City of Emeralds."
Hunger will do strange things to a dog, and I was especially hungry for gizzards. I heard the word izzard and I was certain that with the missing letter was “g”. It was not until sometime later that what I thought I heard whispered was not at all what was being said. What I misunderstood them to say was …great helpings of gizzards in the City of Emeralds…. Naturally, with my favorite food awaiting me, I was anxious to be on my way. Whatever road would lead us to Kansas would first lead us through the Emerald City.
While I salivated and fidgeted to get going, they talked like they were being paid for each spoken word. I became increasingly irritated when they would not be quiet. When I tried to interrupt, I got interrupted.
Pointing excitedly to the corner of the house where the Wicked Witch been crushed, one of the Munchkins cried, “There be magic in the mak’n!”
The little old witch laughed hideously and slapped her knees. “The feet of the Wicked Witch are disappearing leaving only her silver shoes. She was so old; she looked like a raisin before she passed on. Now that she’s dried up in the sun, she’s toast, raisin toast!”
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” cried a Munchkin.
“All that comes from the Earth, belongs to the Earth,” said another.
“No tortoise, no porpoise, no habeas corpus,” William offered as she threw me a toothy grin and wink.
Those platitudes continued for some until the Good Witch interrupted them. “That’s the end of her. But the silver shoes are yours, and you shall have them to wear."
Partly pinned by the cabin, she yanked upon them with a vicious tug, turned them over, shook them free of their dusty remains, and handed them to Dorothy.
Between her forefinger and thumb, with the slightest curtsey, Dorothy took them from Dilibus.
Shaking them again and holding them as far from her nose as her little arm would allow, Dorothy scrunched her lips, pinched her nose with her other hand, and in a nasal tone said , “Nasty…this gives new meaning to foot powder.”
"The Witch of the East was proud of those silver shoes," said the crusty old bag of bones, "and though there’s some charm connected with them, apparently it was not enough to save her."
Then it dawned on me. William was right. No Habeas Corpus meant no dead body. Without a dead body, one can not be blamed for the death of another. So without the witch’s dead body, there was no proof that she died or that she was killed. My worries about others blaming us for the death of the old shrew disappeared along with my concerns about bag of bones blaming Dorothy – poof!
Dorothy carried the shoes into the house and placed them in a far corner. When she returned, I said to the Munchkins, “I am anxious to get Dorothy back home to her aunt and uncle. Can you help us find our way?"
With wide eyes, the Munchkins and the Witch exchanged glances and shrugged.
"East of us, far, but still in the Land of the Munchkins," said one, "is the dow’nunder.”
“The dow’nunder,” Dorothy said with a twist of her head. “You mean a gorge?”
“No,” the Munchkin shook his head briskly. “There the Maker lifted the skin of the world. Like a shaved peel that rests upon its apple, the everyday world remains atop that peel and continues on as always. The land beneath the skin o’ the world follows the curve of the earth past the burgs of Twi Night, Gloam, and Darksville. Further east, is Shadowland. The whole of this, M’lady, is the dow’nunder."
"It’s equally challenging at the South," said another, "for I’ve been there and seen where the earth ceases as an endless ridge that overlooks the desolation of the Outlands, a foreboding land of dust devils, ochre grit, and desert sands.”
The first Munchkin chimed in. “Beyond the southern Outlands and west for thousands of leagues is the Dreadful Wilds. Where those “Wilds” come to an end, if indeed they do end, do so at the Mountains of Madness, home and House of the Black Witch of the West.”
“The Madness, as they’re often called,” added the Good Northern Witch, “surrounds the House of West…”
Another Munchkin gave the witch a smug look and knowing smile as he finished her sentence. “…and it be these mountains that keep the claws of the West off the throat of the North.”
The old bent bucket of bung gave the man a witchy evil eye. He bowed quickly three times and licked his lips as he retreated.
“My House isn’t threatened by the House of the West,” she replied with a purple-gummed smile. However, it’s their great snow-capped peaks that kiss the heavens and separate us the Commonwealth of the West, the bastion of the Old Ones, and the Vortex.”
“Unless we need to know this,” I cut in.
“Hush Toto,” Dorothy glared at me. “This is important.”
She parted her grey cracked lips with a smile before she continued.“The vortex is said to be an ancient well, the birthmother of all arcane form of mysticism, sorcery, and such. However, none in Oz knows what lies therein the Madness or beyond…except perhaps, The Wizard.
Dorothy cocked her head and put her hands to her hips, "Why are they called the Mountains of Madness?"
The first Munchkin looked at Dorothy like she was the dumbest person in the world. "Why for?" he replied. “I reckon its cause the Mountains make folk mad that they can’t get across them."
My surprise at his idiotic reply was interrupted by the snorting, heaving, choked-chicken chuckle of William's laughter.
"Sick cow?" said the Witch as she moved her hands with a hocus around her pocus to protect herself from whatever ailed William.
Dorothy walked over to where William had collapsed into a sit-dog-sit position, rubbed on ear, and softly said, "William...are you OK?"
"She probably swallowed a bug," I said and with that she took up to choking again.
The Witch issued a sigh, with a curious glance toward Dorothy, and a look of disgust at William, she said, "The North is my home and my boundaries are also impassible.. I'm afraid, my dear, you’ll have to live with us."
“Is there a way to call our family or send a letter,” I asked.
“That’s it,” Dorothy said with a clap of her hands. “There’s a telephone and a telegraph at the post office. If we can get word there, they’ll pass it along to Aunt Em.”
“I’m not knowledgeable about the tele…things. However, we’ve no means to communicate with those living outside of Oz.” said the gritty hag earnestly. Thenshe took Dorothy’s shoulders gently and looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Which way is the City of Gizzards,” I blurted – enough was enough…why must they keep talking?
That little old witch stepped back and looked at me like I was a fool, “Oz…, are you asking which way to go to find Oz the Great?”
“Yes. How do we find the city where this man resides?" I asked. Despite Dorothy’s sadness, all I could think about was the only useful thing this ancient bag of bones said, a big helping of those great gizzards.”
"He lives in the Emerald City which is the center of Oz,” replied the witch. “Once he was a man, but he ventured into the Mountains of Madness, and claims the knowledge of the Knowing. Whether he remains a man, I can’t say, but it’s likely that he’s much more …"
"How can we get there?" I asked.
"You must travel a long way through our country.” With a mysterious narrowing of her eyes, she added, “some find it pleasant while others, dark, and terrible. However, for your protection, I shall call upon a charm not of this earth…and not of this time.”
“Please come with us to the Emerald City,” Dorothy clenched her hands as she begged the old bone sack.
"No, I can’t come as I’ve pressing matters within my House. However, the protection that I place upon you shall be my kiss, and no one…will dare cross a person who carries the Kiss of the good,Good Northern Witch.”
“You can kiss my tail and hope I do not move it,” I said beneath my breath, but Dorothy heard me, as did the witch.
“Toto, bad dog! Bad,” said Dorothy as she poked my nose harshly. “Any more of that and the first bar of soap I find will be used to clean the soot from your tongue!”
I was glad when the witch refused to come with us, and I did not care who bad-dogged me.
“Dogs will be dogs, my dear,” said the witch with a knowing smile and shake of her ancient head. “I know little of them as they’re rare in Oz, but it’s said that they’re long on bark and short on brains and that they spend too much time licking places where polite society won’t go.”
That comment really twisted my tail. Before I could reply, a terrible irritation demanded my attention and my words were suffocated as I chewed to relieve the itch on the underside of my back leg.
The Witch turned to Dorothy, held her cheeks gently, and kissed my little girl lightly on the forehead. I caught the scent of burning flesh and where her lips landed, a perfect red lipstick-like imprint of her kiss remained.
“Ow-w-w…,” Dorothy exclaimed. She jerked her head from the hands of the Witch and gingerly poked at the spot that the witch kissed.
William looked up when Dorothy howled and said, “…it’s red…and pulsing.”
“Such is the price you must pay for my protection. Your safety is worth more than your vanity, my dear. All will know by Kiss of the good Good Northern Witch that I stand beside you. Like a beacon in the night, by its radiant charm you shall know friend from foe and be safe beneath its umbrella of protection.…. Now you asked how to get to Oz.” Hot Lips continued, "The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick. When you come before Oz, don’t be afraid of him, but tell your story and ask him to help you."
Dorothy held her bangs aside and rubbed her head gingerly. With a frown she said, “I’ve no idea how your…your…kiss will help me.”
“You will in time,” replied Dilibus with narrowed eyes and a toothy smile. “You will in time!” She gave Dorothy a friendly little nod, whirled about like a dust devil, and disappeared.
“Good riddance,” I whispered…in case she was still in earshot. “Now, let us get some gizzards.”