Cooking with Wildfire. Where the Ghost Grass Grows

Cooking with Wildfire. Where the Ghost Grass Grows

She cursed me that morning, my gypsy wife, Hazel Wildfire. I only heard a part of it going out the door. Something about a new cooker and as I walked off she shouted,

‘I’ll never let you rest, even when you’re dead.’

I’ve heard it all before, it’s never ending, what with the want, want, want and curse, curse, curse until I give in for a bit of peace and quiet.

All this started a while back, a couple of months really but it feels like a life time of rant, rant, rant. I’d come across these gypsy boys who were selling a horse, I didn’t need one but there was this absolute beaut, a piebald with patterns that danced, hypnotic in the eyes. I just had to have it. So I asked,

‘how much?’

They mumbled together in a language that only a gypsy can understand and said a long speech to me that ended with,

‘then we’ll be brothers, so give me a hundred and shake on it.’

I thought ‘deal’ and followed his lead and spat in my hand then we gripped hard and he held tight and said,

‘ you better look after her well.’ And he stared hard into my eyes to show he was serious.

I paid the money and took the horse and walked on along the road, past the old church, towards my place. I could hear all this muttering behind me and foot stamping like a child’s. I turned and looked to see this wild looking, red headed girl, well woman, stomping along, skirts flying, boots scraping, carrying a bundle. I didn’t think more about it and carried on, turned up the track and onto the moor where the house was. I went round to the stable, put the horse in, fed it some oats, filled a bucket of water and gave it a big kiss on the nose. It laughed like only a horse can and nodded it’s head. Then I went to the house and that girl was standing there hands on hips, a furious look on her face. She began to curse me….

I’ll cut a long story short here and save your ears and cultured sensibilities from that foul mouth. The fact of the matter was that she was found by the gypsy’s at the side of the road when she was a toddler, they took her in and raised her as one of theirs. Well she had the gypsy gift too and had cursed them until they didn’t want her anymore, she was bad luck. The sale of the horse wasn’t a sale of the horse at all but the sale of her and the horse, their very best, was a gift, a dowry if you like.

With her non stop shouting at me, I open the door and hold it for her to come in. She looks at me and shuts up, looks duty bound and steps in, throws her bundle down and closes the door.

‘You paid the money?’ She asks.

I nod.

‘That’s only half a marriage, it’s like an engagement. Now we marry for real.’

She lifts off the skirt and flips off the boots and shakes out her hair. A goddess under all that and mesmerised I stand and she pushes me down,  unbuckles my troswers and before I know what’s going on, it’s all over. She gets up, opens the door and jumps in the trough outside. She come back as I’m fixing my things up and she just stares and says,

‘now it’s done, the deal is sealed, you are my husband and what’s yours is mine. I will love you till your dying day and you will never touch me again.’

With that she gathers her things and walks up the stairs, goes into the bedroom and shouts down,

‘ the bedroom is mine you can sleep down there, husband.’

I didn’t see her till the next day, I was sure I heard her crying in the night but left her to it. Then it started the nagging, on and on and on. I want this, I want that. I bought her this and bought her that just to keep the peace and have a quiet life. It was never enough and then one day she said,

‘I want one of those new gas cookers.’

There wasn’t any gas supply so I refused.

‘No! There’s nothing wrong with the range and it heats the house.’

But no, it wouldn’t do, she had to have it and that brings this back to the start where I’ve been cursed again and I’m storming out of the house.

I goes down the track round the bend and into the church yard for some quiet. There I fall asleep in the warm sun among the gravestones. That damn cooker comes into my dreams and begins to haunt me. Damn cooker, damn cooker, it begins to weigh me down deep into a pit. I hear voices and a bit of singing and the organ is playing like they are rehearsing. Then it stops and the cooker comes back and goes on and on and on like eternity in my dream, there’s no peace but I can’t wake out of the dream.

There’s this rumble and loud cracking noise and after a little while I hear voices in the distance.

‘That’s worth a fortune, it’s all lead, I’m gonna get it down the scrapie’s, com’mon giz a and.’

‘It’s bad luck, shud’nt do it. And there’s all those gypsy knots engraved in the casket, me da’ told me ov them, said there was the red gypsy witch down ere a whilst ago till they run er off.’

‘Don’t talk wet will ya, giz a and, we’ll weigh it in and go for beers, get a rite skin full tonight, and there’s those birds, the fit wans.’

‘Oh yea, come on then get yor ass in gear.’

So I’m awake at last, those boys been robbing lead off the church, that’s wrong but you got to make a living somehow. I get’s up and walks out by the gate and there’s a scream from these kids who run into the church shouting mama, mama there’s a ghost. They must have been the ones practicing for the service earlier, I walk out and head home.

I’m going to give that Wildfire a bit of my mind when I get there. Enough is enough and I’m going to put my foot down, no more this, that or the other. It’s time to have it out and get this settled. Maybe that’s what she’s waiting for, for me to stand up and be a man, be a husband, be strong and stand my ground. She may thank me, she may respect me for standing up and not taking anymore of that nonsense. She may be a real wife to me too and show me again what Wildfire is like. Yes that’s it, the time has come to…… A cat shrieks on the track in front and jumps three foot into the air then bolts into the bushes. Crazy thing, now here we are coming to the house.

I slow and look then walk on slowly,

‘What on earth have you done woman?’

There’s a big hole in the roof where slates had come off, the front door is hanging off it’s hinges, the stable has tumbled down, the place is over grown with ghost grass and litter is spread everywhere, the windows are all broken. I walk closer, there’s a warning sign that reads ‘CONDEMNED. KEEP OUT.’

What was happening. I squeeze through a gap in the door, the ceilings had fallen in, a rat ran for cover, the furniture had rotted, everything else lay scattered and broken. I go into the kitchen and on the wall is painted a sign, ‘YOU WILL NEVER REST.’ I turn and there behind the door, standing at an odd angle was one of those new fangled gas cookers.





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