When Friendly Pranks Go Too Far: A Conversation with a Victim of the Salem Witch Trials

Bridget Bishop, a one-time resident of Salem Town, has the unfortunate distinction of being the first convicted and executed “witch” during the Salem Witch Trials. She was executed on June 10th, 1692 by hanging after being accused. Stated during her deposition, however, Bridget claimed to have “never [seen]” her accusers, nor “was [she] in [that] place before.” Nevertheless, she was hanged.


I was honored to be able to speak with her during a visit to a medium on the Atlantic City Boardwalk last summer. I’m only just reporting on it now because I’m both lazy and a skeptic as to the legitimacy of psychics, mediums, and all other purveyors of the supernatural. What follows, however, is true. Of course, so were the “accusations” of her being a witch and look where believing that got us.



You were the first victim of the historic Salem Witch Trials. How does that feel? Being the first? Is it like Neil Armstrong being the first to step foot on the moon? Is it like being first in line for the new iPhone?

The moon? Man walked on the moon? Wow! That’s shocking. Were they murdered for practicing witchcraft like I was? Because that sounds like some serious witchcraft stuff. And what in the damn is an iPhone?


He was not accused of witchcraft. We’ve evolved.

But you’re still trying to converse with the dead?


I’m here because I lost a bet.

You have evolved. I lost a bet and then my neck. I wish I could have consorted with the dead instead of becoming one.


Are you saying that your death is the consequence of a lost wager?

Sort of. It’s a long story.


I’m sorry. I don’t want to keep you if have other things—

I’ve been dead for over three hundred years, you idiot. You’re not keeping me from anything better. Yes, a lost wager, so to speak. My friend—of course she had me killed, so I’m using “friend” rather liberally. We’d played a game of shuffle board. I won. When there’s a winner, there’s a loser. And she didn’t take kindly to being a loser. Real spitfire that one.


And then she accused you of witchcraft and had you killed?

You don’t interview much, do you? Let me finish. Christ, a real addle-plot this one. As I was saying, she lost at shuffle board and hated losing. She asked for a rematch, but I was tired. Because I was tired and didn’t want to play her again, she called me a hag and the Devil’s mistress. Just some menial friendly teasing. But, of course, that was the very moment a bunch of ninnies walked into the tavern. They overheard it and reported it to the mayor. He was up for reelection, so when people began begging for the crackdown on impiety, he had no choice but to concede to his constituency and ask for trials. Obviously proving an impossibility is impossible, so…


Editor’s note: At this moment, Bridget pantomimed placing a noose over her head, around her neck, tightening it, and choking for life.


That’s truly tragic. I can’t imagine. I bet you’d like to talk about it with someone sometime. You probably need to talk with someone about that. You’re—pardon the pun—dying to talk with someone. Until you find that person… what’s death like?

It’s been hellish. Not actual Hell. None of that exists. At least as far as I’ve experienced. Never saw any pearly gates. No horned demons. I’ve seen my share of horny demons though. And then some. But that’s a tale for tomorrow.


I’m sure we’d all like to hear about those. Those sound interesting.

I’m sure, pervert. Who are you, by the way?


Oh, I’m a writer and will be transcribing this for others to read.

For what purpose?


Entertainment.

My plight is entertaining to you? Am I just a freak to put in your show for other people to gawk and laugh at? Feel better about their insignificance. Make their miserable existence tolerable. If only for a few seconds. Convince them that they wouldn’t just be better off drowning themselves in a river.


Maybe we should move on—Is Elvis really dead? Or is he off vacationing somewhere in South America?

Elvis? The guy with the weird wardrobe who’s always telling people how light he feels while pointing to his stomach? Yeah, he’s dead.


What’s he like?

He’s constantly talking about how happy he is to no longer be constipated. What do you think he’s like?


Fair point. But there must be something else about him you could divulge. I bet my readers would really like to read about that.

Readers? How many readers do you have? You’re not very impressive or interesting. I can’t imagine people actually read your stuff.


Editor’s note: Bridget pressed this Readership issue until Trevor admitted his mother was his only reader and proceeded to cry for nearly ten minutes. Bridget was unimpressed but felt bad for him, so she agreed to continue.


Anyway. Moving on. And backtracking a bit—if there’s no hell or heaven, where do we go when we die? What happens the moment your flame’s snuffed to smoke?

You don’t go anywhere. When we die, we just sorta fade into the infinite invisible. And when you’re there… I don’t know, you do whatever you were doing before.


Before you died, you were being accused of being a witch. Does that type of tragedy exist even in the afterlife?

Oh yeah, I’m accused of being a witch on a near daily basis. Once they killed me for being one, I assumed the identity. But there’s nothing they can do to me now, with us being dead and all. I call them on their bullshit. Occasionally, they bring up charges. I laugh and incant some hex, which freaks them out. Then, we both just go on our way. After all, what are they going to tie a noose to… the place I used to have a solid neck?


You’re all just living in the infinite invisible as the identities you possessed when you passed?

Yes, the infinite invisible. My ex-boyfriend calls it the Grand Lands of Laughter. But he’s an moron. And a cheat. A real lubberwort, that one. So do with that what you will.


I like that, ‘Grand Lands of Laughter.’

You like that, but you can take or leave the Infinite Invisible? Not much of a poetry fan, are you?


I like poetry, sure, but Grand Lands of Laughter makes dying more appealing.

It should. My ex worked for an advertising firm before he kicked it.


And how does he feel about your story? That you were the first witch killed during the famed Witch Trials?

He doesn’t care one way or another. He wanted a quiet life after living in the NYC for forty years.


Not a fan of New York City?

He got hit by a bus, that’s all. Wants to avoid the heavy traffic areas.


Funny how that stuff works. The saying, death becomes you, really rings true. At least, it did with you and your ex.

I suppose so.


Well… I think I’m out of questions, so—

Really? There’s nothing else you want to ask me?


Like what?

I don’t know, but it seems like you should be more interested in the impossibility of this moment. One, you’re communicating with the dead and sound quite nonplussed about it. And two, I myself am no ordinary dead person. I died a rather extraordinary death after all.


Sure, but what’s there to be surprised about this? The shop front had séances advertised with a neon sign. It was either this or just call it a night. This sounded less lonely than going back to my hotel room and watching reruns of The King of Queens.

Less lonely? You only called me from the dead for the company. Christ, no wonder why everyone warned me not to answer this. What a waste of time. Let alone demeaning.


I said we could talk about the horny demons, but you didn’t want to.

Is that all you Living still think about? Horniness and depravity?


Pretty much.

What a disgrace. I’m leaving now.


Okay, bye.

Okay, bye.


You go first.

No, you go first.


No, you go first.

On three.


One.

Two.


Three.

You didn’t go.


Neither did you.

Again. On three.


One.

Two.


Three.

What the hell!?


Editor’s note: This “you hang up. no, you hang up.” lasted too long to print. For conciseness, we’ve edited it down to two. You don’t want to know how many times they went back and forth. Let’s just say that the three hundred years Bridget’s been dead felt shorter.

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