The Witch of the Route 34 Gas-N-Go

I met the Witch of the Route 34 Gas-N-Go at three a.m. on a Tuesday in a particularly dusty part of Pennsylvania. I didn’t quite need gas, but there was a big hand-painted sign by the side of the highway that said Come See the Witch: Gas, Diesel, Coffee, Spells. My thermos was stone cold, so I thought I could refresh it, and that would be as good an excuse as any to see the Witch.

She was about twenty years younger than I thought she’d be, sitting in the gas station right next to the coffee bar, so close there were little splashes of flavor syrup on the edge of her table. It was a little folding table and she sat in a little folding chair. She looked me in the eyes as I turned away from the dark roast and said, “You missed your turn off five exits ago.”

And I said, “Shit.”

She said, “Go pay for your coffee.”

“Can I come back after?”


I grabbed a sleeve of powdered donuts too, because it would be breakfast soon and I wouldn’t be stopping again.

“Do you want cards, or can I just tell you?” said the Witch as I sat down in the second little folding chair in front of her table.

“You can just tell me. How much?”

“Free. Who has time to care about money these days?” She had a paper cup with a cardboard sleeve and no lid by her elbow. She took a sip from it. I wondered if the Gas-N-Go gave her free coffee for being their witch, since I guess they weren’t paying her. “I used to be one of those Wiccany influencer types online, you know. Did tarot streams. The money was okay, but now I just don’t have the time to worry about it. I just don’t have the time.”

“I’m glad you’re still open,” I said.

“Lots of places are still open,” she said.

“I guess that’s true.”

“You’re heading in the right direction, but you don’t have enough time to get there.”

“Oh,” I said, disappointed. “Do you know a quicker route?”

She tapped her finger in the center of her bottom lip thoughtfully. “No.”

“Right. Can you tell me something useful?”

“Not really,” she said, and she sounded honestly sorry for it. “There isn’t such a thing as useful anymore. It’s all just little distractions. Coffee and fortune tellers. I can give you a charm, though, hang on.” She leaned over sideways, reaching into her bag where it was squished up against the coffee bar. She handed me a length of blue yarn with two soda tabs and some kind of bone tied at the end. “Hang this on your mirror, if you want.”

“Will it do anything?”

“It’ll make you think of me before you die. I’ll think of you too. It’s free, obviously.”

“Thanks.” It wasn’t a bad deal, all said. I was glad I’d stopped for coffee.