New Salem, Witch Island
Willie the Gardener
At 96 years old, Willie is technically the oldest living resident of the Island. There are others but their ages cannot be publicly acknowledged.
He lives in a small apartment in the “economic” side of town and daily rides a bicycle to the work shed in the park across the street from City Hall. There he dons cover-alls and maintains the elaborate meditation garden at the park’s entrance. And he has done so for modest pay for more than half a century.
The unnamed garden has come to be called Willie’s Grove, and for good reason. When there is some difficulty, a minor blight among the bushes, Willie also takes ill, although not enough to keep him away for more than a day or two, even in winter. In spring when the garden is in full bloom, Willie is revivified and full of energy. Most believe that so long as the garden thrives, Willie simply cannot die.
He has a home-spun wisdom and will speak on any topic except certain points of his own past. It is very common for people to bring a lunch to Willie to ask advice or merely hear an interesting story during his mid-day break. The Mayor, the Sheriff and even Archibald Corvus (Willie can call him Archie) come to have lunch with Willie.