Raw head and bloody bones.

is is kinda scary

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Way back in the deep woods there lived a scrawny old woman who had a reputation for being the best conjuring woman in the Ozarks. With her bedraggled black-and-gray hair, funny eyes - one yellow and one green - and her crooked nose, Old Betty was not a pretty picture, but she was the best there was at fixing what ailed a man, and that was all that counted.

Old Betty's house was full of herbs and roots and bottles filled with conjuring medicine. The walls were lined with strange books brimming with magical spells. Old Betty was the only one living in the Hollow who knew how to read; her granny, who was also a conjurer, had taught her the skill as part of her magical training.

Just about the only friend Old Betty had was a tough, mean, ugly old razorback hog that ran wild around her place. It rooted so much in her kitchen garbage that all the leftover spells started affecting it. Some folks swore up and down that the old razorback hog sometimes walked upright like man. One fellow claimed he'd seen the pig sitting in the rocker on Old Betty's porch, chattering away to her while she stewed up some potions in the kitchen, but everyone discounted that story on account of the fellow who told it was a little too fond of moonshine.

"Raw Head" was the name Old Betty gave the razorback, referring maybe to the way the ugly creature looked a bit like some of the dead pigs come butchering time down in Hog-Scald Hollow. The razorback didn't mind the funny name. Raw Head kept following Old Betty around her little cabin and rooting up the kitchen leftovers. He'd even walk to town with her when she came to the local mercantile to sell her home remedies.

Well, folks in town got so used to seeing Raw Head and Old Betty around the town that it looked mighty strange one day around hog-driving time when Old Betty came to the mercantile without him.

"Where's Raw Head?" the owner asked as he accepted her basket full of home-remedy potions. The liquid in the bottles swished in an agitate manner as Old Betty said: "I ain't seen him around today, and I'm mighty worried. You seen him here in town?"

"Nobody's seen him around today. They would've told me if they did," the mercantile owner said. "We'll keep a lookout fer you."

"That's mighty kind of you. If you see him, tell him to come home straightaway," Old Betty said. The mercantile owner nodded agreement as he handed over her weekly pay.

Old Betty fussed to herself all the way home. It wasn't like Raw Head to disappear, especially not the day they went to town. The man at the mercantile always saved the best scraps for the mean old razorback, and Raw Head never missed a visit. When the old conjuring woman got home, she mixed up a potion and poured it onto a flat plate.

"Where's that old hog got to?" she asked the liquid. It clouded over and then a series of pictures formed. First, Old Betty saw the good-for-nothing hunter that lived on the next ridge sneaking around the forest, rounding up razorback hogs that didn't belong to him. One of the hogs was Raw Head. Then she saw him taking the hogs down to Hog-Scald Hollow, where folks from the next town were slaughtering their razorbacks. Then she saw her hog, Raw Head, slaughtered with the rest of the pigs and hung up for gutting. The final picture in the liquid was the pile of bloody bones that had once been her hog, and his scraped-clean head lying with the other hogsheads in a pile.

Old Betty was infuriated by the death of her only friend. It was murder to her, plain and simple. Everyone in three counties knew that Raw Head was her friend, and that lazy, hog-stealing, good-for-nothing hunter on the ridge was going to pay for slaughtering him.

 
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