The crops fail, a two-headed calf is born, Daisy Mae can’t get pregnant (no matter how many times Jethro plows her field), the black death comes, giant birds lay waste to Manhattan…it’s always easiest to blame some women who like incense.
The Malleus Maleficarum was written by Heinrich Kramer, and it was first published in 1487. Kramer was actually a failure when it came to persecuting witches. Kramer was ousted from the European region of Tyrol after he horrified the local bishops with his graphically sexual questioning of accused witches and witnesses. The bishops declared Kramer to be a senile old man.
Senile or not, Kramer’s capacity to hold a grudge was only exceeded by his proficiency at saying, “I Told You So.” He published the Malleus three years after his embarrassment in Tyrol, and he changed history. Kramer lent his work legitimacy by associating it with James Sprenger, a mucho heap big famous and powerful Inquisitor.
Kramer also managed to get a Papal Bull, supposedly. Whether or not the Bull was legitimate, whether or not the Bull was really meant to apply to the Malleus, the Pope’s supposed OK was what made people think that the Malleus was the be-all and end-all of how-to knowledge when it came to witch control. Anybody who doesn’t think that the written word is powerful should read a little witch hunting history. Kramer’s book played a large part in centuries of witch killing hysteria, and here it was again. I wondered if it would end up on the best sellers lists, right next to the latest barf-up by Anne Rice.
The latter day witch hunter stalked back and forth in front of Kat and Kate, staring at them and shaking his book at them like he was casting a spell of his own . Kate raised her eyes to look back at him, and he shrieked, “Take your eyes off me, Slattern Bride of Satan!” Moira laughed and I elbowed her.
Finally done with his tour of Kat and Kate, he turned and said to the crowd, “Brothers and sisters, I’ve personally examined the evidence against these witches, and I don’t need to share it all with you today. It’s better that you don’t know. It might stain your souls. I can assure you that they’ve danced naked before God and man. They’ve done more than dance for their own Dark Lord. They’ve actually led groups of witches. That’s right, LED innocents down their Personal Path of Damnation. They bewitched Brother Bob over there, and he told me that his manhood has withered to almost nothing.”
The preacher pointed and every eye in the crowd went to Bob, who was standing off to the side of the platform. It was OUR Bob. Manhattan Plaza Bob. Bob slowly took his cigar out of his mouth and glared at the preacher. It was suddenly no mystery to us how Kat and Kate had ended up where they were. The preacher realized he’d gone somewhere he shouldn’t have gone, realized that Bob didn’t really want to talk about his little dick, and he hastily resumed his speech.
“Now, these witches weren’t alone in bringing the birds. Saying they did would be giving them way too much credit. They are a symptom of a disease, and we are here today to start wiping it out. Unfortunately, we are just men. We are fallible. So, we’ll leave the real judgment to The Judge of Judges. What we are going to do is stake these women out in the middle of this meadow and leave them there through the day. If they survive the birds, they are surely witches, and we’ll meet their fates in the Burning Pit tomorrow night, purifying their souls with the smoke of the Innocent Dead.”
“That’s a shitty deal, isn’t it?,” whispered Moira.