Excerpt: The Houseboat Veronica

She said things like “Everyone wants to belong to a witch,” and
“A name is a carnivorous animal.” Her penmanship lifted off and
vibrated. She had incredibly long toes and she’d killed a lot of

In this life (and perhaps others) she’d been called murderer
and pimp. She’d been called Freak-Witch and Hard Woman
and Candlestick and Mrs. Sometimes and Nancy-Witch and
Creepwitch and Cupcake, Tom-Witch and half and half and
Superwitch and Mistress Forobosco and Knife-Wife and the
Green Witch and Tiptoe Killer and White Witch and Girl-Unit
and Fish Doctor.

She’d been called bad names and all names and some names I won’t
repeat and names no one else had been called.

She’d been called too many names and she kept track of these
names, kept track of them with a scrupulousness.

For there on the houseboat Veronica, beneath the huge white bed
in the black-haired woman’s sleeping quarters, lurked a batwingbound
black book, a book into which she’d written every bad name
she’d been called in her life.

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