Excerpted from Spooky New England
My friend Liverpool Jarge was a small man, wiry and tough, but soft-spoken. Jarge had one glass eye that was an ugly shade of blue which clashed something terrible with his real eye, which was brown. Then one day Jarge met up with a glassblower, a real artist, who make him a special red eye with a star. After that he started collecting glass eyes. They were the fanciest things you ever did see, with stars and pretty stripes and more colors than any real eyes could ever have.
I went with Jarge when he placed his next order. By that time, he had so many glass eyes that he was hard to please. So I kidded Jarge that he should get an evil eye. Right away the glassblower said he could make a glass eye that was hollow so it could be filled with deadly poison. Jarge was as pleased as punch, sayin’ that a man never knew when he might get to the place where he’d want to commit suicide, and what could be easier than to pop the eye into his mouth and bite down?
Well, me and Jarge signed onto the same ship, and Jarge’s new eye was delivered the day before we set sail. What a creepy eye it was, too—the perfect evil eye. It was made up of rings of color that narrowed into a single red spot. If you looked at it just right, the colors ran together and the red spot popped out and would scare the life outta you. It was hollow, too, like the man promised, and filled with a white liquid.
Jarge tried that evil eye on everyone on board ship—includin’ me. Scared the bejesus outta me, and I’d already seen the blasted thing. ’Course, all of us told him to lay off or we’d brain him. All of us ’cept a little Cockney feller name of Bell.
Everyone called Bell “Ding Dong” on account of his name. Bell nearly shriveled up with fright each time Jarge appeared with the glass eye. Jarge was tickled to death by Ding Dong Bell’s reaction and took to plaguing the life outta him, putting the “evil eye” on him whenever he passed until Ding Dong truly thought he was bewitched.
So the other men told Ding Dong Bell that he had to steal the evil eye. ’Course, Jarge overheard them and he kept the eye hidden from Ding Dong. Turned out that the harder the eye was to steal, the more Ding Dong believed that stealing it was the only way to lift his “curse”. Finally, Jarge started wearing the evil eye all the time—to protect it, he claimed, though in truth it was to torment Ding Dong.
One day while we was docked in Port Said, Jarge went aloft on a footrope to scrape a spar. Well, something musta fetched loose, ’cause suddenly I heard a yell, and when I turned around, Jarge was plummeting forty feet headfirst onto the deck. Cracked his skull open like an eggshell and his evil eye came rolling out.
This was Ding Dong Bell’s chance. He darted out from a corner and grabbed up the eye. When he saw the mate running toward us, he popped the eye into his mouth to hide it from the mate. In less than a minute, ol’ Ding Dong Bell started shivering and fell dead on the deck, right beside poor Jarge. He’d accidentally bit into the eye and swallowed the poison hidden inside.
What with Jarge and Ding Dong both being dead, I figured maybe there was something in that evil eye business after all, and I was real glad it was gone.