"Where are the witches buried?" asked Rande Wilkes, standing near the cash register of her stepmother's pet store.
"The bodies had to be pried out like rotten teeth," whispered Mrs. Quinn, craning her short, pudgy neck over the counter.
"Pried out from where?" asked Rande, trying to follow what the elderly woman was saying. She hated it when Mrs. Quinn jumped from one subject to the next. "Weren't the witches put into graves?"
"The ones who weren't left in the trees with their necks stretched like ostriches were thrown in between the rocks," continued Mrs. Quinn. "Good thing there were a lot of good thieves around."
"Good thieves?" repeated Rande, shaking her head in confusion. "Why would anyone want to steal a dead witch or warlock's body?"
"Dead body," repeated Crystal from the back of the store. The blue and gold macaw was the store's mascot and Rande's favorite.
"The dead person's family had to steal the body," answered the elderly woman, ignoring the bird. "That was the only way to get it."
"Why couldn't they just pick up the bodies in the daytime and bury them in the cemetery?" asked Rande, staring at the large wart on the left side of Mrs. Quinn's nose. No matter how hard she tried, whenever they spoke, Rande's eyes insisted on fastening themselves on Mrs. Quinn's wart.
"Just like a plague, it was," Mrs. Quinn said, nodding her head so hard that the brim of her white pilgrim's cap fell over her watery blue eyes. The elderly woman pushed the cap back on her head and smoothed down the black apron that covered her long white costume. "Lies multiplied like rabbits."
"Plague, rabbits?" asked Rande, getting more confused by the minute. "Did the witch's have some sort of a disease?"
"A witch in the family could mean there were more devil worshippers in the same house," said Mrs. Quinn. "There were so many lies and people accused of witchcraft in Salem that the townsfolk were beginning to think a plague had hit the town."
"Have any of the bodies been found?" asked Rande. A sharp pain in the back of her mouth pulled Rande back to the present. Since getting the upper and lower braces, Rande had tried not to run her tongue near the hooks that held the metal contraptions in place. But when she got excited or angry, her tongue seemed to have a mind of its own.
"No," answered Mrs. Quinn. "None of the witches or warlocks' graves have ever been found."
"What started the witch hunt?" asked Rande.
"It was the barking that did it," continued Mrs. Quinn.
"Dogs started the witch hunt?" asked Rande.
"Elizabeth was the one who barked," answered Mrs. Quinn. "The Reverend's nine-year-old daughter started crawling around the house barking and going into trances. Eleven-year-old Abigail Williams and several other girls in Salem started imitating her. The doctor said they were bewitched."
"I'm glad people are a lot smarter these days," said Rande, shivering. "Nobody living in Salem now would believe that witches and warlocks were the cause of their problems."
"I'm not so sure about that," whispered Mrs. Quinn, looking fearfully around the store.