"One of Macbeth's Witches Fails at a Solo Career"
John Willum Waterworks

The accolades poured upon the three witches of the heath after their successful predictions of the fate of the pretender to the throne and Mrs Macbeth were well-deserved. The praise mattered little to Ghastlia and Damndelina, who were satisfied with their simple country life and their modest witchcraft business, "Hecate's Hex Hacienda." The third witch, Mabel, let fame go to her head, insisting that the triad jack up their fees, soak the tourists and hire a PR agency to ride the publicity wave for greater profit and glory.

The other two, staunch traditionalists, were horrified by Mabel's fantasies of fame. After months of fruitless persuasion, the latter told them she was going out on her own, like it or not, and she did so, hiring a fast-talking city slicker for a manager, learning to walk on high heels and name-dropping whenever she could. 

The residue of fame got her a couple of gigs in Glasgow, where she soon learned the difference between respectable witchcraft and a stage act. Unbeknownst to her, the fine print in Satan's contract assigned magic powers to the group, with a clause specifically forbidding individual activities. Hence Mabel's career was short and unpleasant, as she had no control over what a standard spell would call up. After the aardvark stampede at Geordie's Chinese Theatre she was blacklisted as a performer and fell back on two-bit love potions, charms and lowbrow séances to keep a roof over her head.

The Depressionist painter John Willum Waterworks, known to his peers by the unfortunate sobriquet Willy's Water Works, was naturally drawn to Mabel's struggles to keep her street cred, documenting her travails as shown here. The scene shows one of Mabel's worst moments ever, a Halloween séance at Rocky Park, so called because of its rocks. The rented costume and effects were strictly for verisimilitude.

Instead of calling up the wraith of Widow Perkins' late husband Milton, she was aghast to see the character that appeared in the cauldron's fumes. Never in the history of necromancy had anyone called up a happy extrovert of a spook who tried to get the séance participants to join him in the chorus of "Don't Fear the Reaper."

That was it for Mabel's solo career. Almost dead of shame she crawled back to the family cottage in the woods begging forgiveness à la the Prodigal Son. Waterworks's last painting in this series is Mabel living in the pig sty as a virtual house slave until she could persuade the sisters and Satan that she had reformed so the contract could be reinstated. That painting, Mabel's Cabal Connection Craving, was lost during the War of the Rendered Flounce. Not even a sketch remains.

 

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