A middle aged looking black man sat on the porch of a crudely designed yet well constructed cabin watching
a steamshovel dig a canal not very far from where he was while he slowly fanned himself with a battered green hat.
He turned not at all when a cadaverously thin and starkly white man whose head was tilted to the left at a 45 degree angle
stepped silently from with in the house through the screen door yet said,,"I still don't ken how you accomplish such silent
movements but since you are here anyway,,where is that parcel from Monseiur Hiram?Can you please bring it to me?"
With out a word the thin man melted back through the door inside the cabin as quietly as he had came out.
After the door had shut the man stuck his fedora on his head as though he simply couldn't decide to put it except there,leaned
forward in his chair and put his chin in his left hand to peer even more intently at the chugging machine steadily goughing
out huge chunks of dirt from the head of the ever growing trench stretching back to the east.
A look of consternation
affixed itself to his expressive face and he became still as the stump of the oak tree he used to sit under as the next bucket
full covered it and the fire pit he had cooked the majority of his food on since coming to this place a number of years back.
Two more loads were added to the pile over that formerly pleasant spot by the time the screen door opened
again to disgorge the pale man carrying a not large but very heavy looking trunk on his right shoulder.
he placed it gingerly down on the rough cypress planks of the porch next to the mans chair,straightened up and stood there
After another load dumped noisely the black man reached down to slide the trunk over in front
of him,,and just scooted it maybe four inches.He tugged on it for a moment,,looking up at the other man standing beside him,,then
quit with a slight chuckle.He then turned his chair in order to face the trunk square on while saying aloud,,"I sincerely
hope no one ever does that to me." and allmost fell off his chair when a voice,,much like blowing leaves and shifting sands
came from the mans unmoving barely parted lips said,,"I just wanted my hand and jewels back.And I knew nought at all about
that infernal construct the demon ridden woman used to trap me."
Shaking his head as if to
clear the stunning he just received the black man readjusted his skinny rear on the hardwood chair and began to chuckle as
he responded with,,"Look,,if you're going to speak,,do it frequently enough that it doesn't startle me out of my skin when
you do.Tarnation man,,you make me forget you got your id back so's I think of you as,," he paused,,faced the man with a sincere
look of compassionate and confusion on his face and asked,,"What would you like me to refer to you as?Do you by any chance
remember your name?"
After a moment,,the voice came,,softer and fainter than before but with a vibratto that
it did not have previously,,to say,,"Jonathan."
A moment or so passed with no other sound than the machines
engine on the far side of the mounded dirt now making a wall across the northern horizon untill it was followed by a very
faint,,"That's all I can remember."
"Well,,that's better than Fido or Spot now is it not?Would you like me
to call you by that from now on?"
"It matters not."
"Well,,now that I know,,how could I not
use such a fine Christian name from this moment forward,,fair enough,Jonathan?" and extended his hand toward the man now named
Jonathan who's eyes simply gazed unfocused and unblinkingly ahead as though no conversation of any sort had even occured or
any mental activity could occur for that matter.
"Ah,,and there's the rub,no?Lucidity waxes and wanes indeterminately
does it not,Jonathan?I wonder if something can be done to adjust that?"
Turning his attention back to the
trunk he pulled a key from his pocket and sat down to unlock the thick brass padlock securing the lid.
hinges squeeked as he levered the heavy lid up to let it lean into the brass chains that kept it at a slightly tilted backwards
angle and the draglines engine changed pitch and idled down.
Looking over at the machine,,he watched for a
few minutes as the operator moved it backwards to the west in order to get his machine in a position to extend the canal further.
After the bobbing boom wobbled westward untill the cab was where the operator wanted it and that fellow resumed his steady
work pace the black man sighed wistfully and reached into the trunk to extract a large book with a manilla colored envelope
tied to it.
Untying the string he set the book down,opened the envelope to pull out a several page letter
and began reading.
After reading through three of the pages,,front and back,,he laid them
down on the floor in order to lean over,lift out a seamless dark metal box with arcane looking designs all over it and set
it on his lap.
He then picked up the last page of the letter he had read and repeated certain words contained
there,,in a certain order,,after which,,a slight glowing effervescent spot grew into being at the right front corner,about
an inch and a half down and extended deceptively fast around the back to quickly dart across the front to meet the spot it
began in with a snicking,sucking sort of sound.
Placing his hand firmly on top of the box
he reread through that page of the letter then retrieved the rest in order to continue gleaning what they contained.
Laying the pages on top of the box to read them he flipped them over and dropped them to the floor in rapid succession until
he had the last one in his hand.
Speaking over his shoulder to his silent companion he said,,"I believe you
may have a familiarity with the occupant of this hold,Jonathan.You may leave my presence and await my summons in a not so
near location,,if you wish."
Not percieving any compliance or disagreement,,he glanced at the quiet man and
stated in an authoratative tone,,"Go stand under the tree on the other side of the cabin untill I call you." then waited while
the man left before turning back to the box on his lap.
Reaching into the trunk to grab a blue velvet bag
before closing the lid he set the box on it's top and shook the contents on the trunk lid next to the box while keeping his
other hand firmly situated.
Picking up the silver and black onyx rosary bead chain with a large sterling cross
on it he slipped it over his neck and layed it on his chest while muttering a quick yet fervent and sincere prayer to The
One that nothing amiss occurs.
Opening the box he takes out an item made from a small turtle of some kinds
shell with a hole in one end and feathers,string and hair tied through small holes lining it's edges.
the crude carved symbol covered shell up with both hands at eye level,,he peered into the neck opening on the carapace and
with a smile,said,,"Ahh,,bon jour,Schlomo Oculus.Lately,I have thought often of meeting you.",which he then quickly dropped
to continue with,,"But,,I have been informed to not ask any questions while you are out of the hold,,so do not expect me to
ask how you have been nor inquire as to whether or not your travel accomodations were comfortable enough for you during your
journey back to where you came into America."
"But,,I do have a task for you today." he said
as he set it down next to the box it came out of.
"It is not a question and it does not call for an answer
from you,,just an obediently performed deed."
Reaching into the trunk he lifts up a silver bowl wrapped in
crimson silk,unwraps the six deep ten inch across etched ancient looking metal thing and places it on the silk it was covered
Setting the turtle shell in the bowl he reaches for a box in the trunk from which he takes a small glass
vial and a tinbox container out of.
Sprinkling a portion of the contents from each over the shell in the
bowl on the silk while talking in odd sounding languages and making strange sounds unlike any language at all,he pulls an
ivory match box and an ebony one shaped exactly like it from the trunk and strikes one from the first and lets it burn while
picking up the second and shaking out a match from it.
After then waiting for the first to burn down into
the wood of the match proper he lit the second match from the flame which he then dropped on top of the shell in the bowl
where it went out and it's smoke vociferously spewed up to a point about four inches above the top of the bowls edges and
then curled back,down and around as though there was a totally invisible lid capping the silver potlike bowl.
Increasing the volume and rapidity of what he had been constantly intoning he stared at the second matches flame as it began
to creep into the wood shaft.
It began to sparkle and twinkle as though it was glitter yet it was coming out
as subtle and supple as a flame.
As soon as that began he passed his hand above the bowl,,whistled two notes
and made a clicking sound with his mouth,,touched the flame to the smoke over the bowl then sucked the glittery flame out
of existance with an inhalation.
He continued for as long as smoke came off of the stick which was as long
as the smoke in the bowl it's odd flame had ignited sizzled and glowingly pulsated an eerie blue greenish light with flashes
of red and yellow flameovers that popped rather a lot like stepped on june bugs.
With the last of the smoke
completely drawn into his lings he raised his hand,pointed his finger in the direction of the back of the cabin and whispered,"Come
Before he brought his arm down Jonathan was standing on the ground directly in front
of his position on the porch.
This placed Jonathans face in perfect alignment with the bowl in front of him
and in between each of their faces.
Leaning forward slightly he expelled the inhaled smoke across the bowl
and into Jonathans face while saying in a long held way,,"Breath." to Jonathan.
As an amazingly
thick vermillion colored column of smoke exited from his mouth and passed over that held by the bowl it seemed to become semi
opaque thick ropey tendrils resembling braided rope with bright orange wire bands spaced unevenly along their length.
Twisting and weaving their ends were all sucked into Jonathans now plainly visibly open mouth and both nostrils as he seemed
to breath in a lungful of air for the very first time in a decade based on the dry raspy sound that issued from his pallid
Once finished with blowing all the smoke out of his lungs he leaned over and picked
up an ornate jade box and took a small silver bell from it.
Watching Jonathan take in the last of the transformed
smoke he grabbed the crucifix around his neck in an unconscious seeming manner and intoned a few more rounds of the odd language
sounds then spoke clearly and authoratatively,,"Give Jonathan back the intellectual faculties he had before you met him the
first time.",,followed with a single ring of the bell by tapping it on the silver bowl which added it's own voice.
Repeating this two more times while looking back and forth from Jonathans face to the smoke still held by the bowl he then
put the bell down into the smoke to set it on top of the shell.
Immediately as he did so,,a shrill,,yet barely
audible keening began and the smoke in the bowl began to shift colors from a pale blue to a dark,allmost black green and back
untill a series of sharp reports ended the keening and the smoke began to vanish slowly.
Peering intently into the thin faces deep set eyes he spoke to their owner,,"Well,Jonathan,,I didn't expect you to launch
into an oration of the Gettysberg Address or anything like that,,but,,do you feel any changes within you?"
"What do you feel,Jonathan?"
in his chair with his hands on the top of his batterd green felt fedora he ruminated with his eyes closed before opening them
up and saying to no one in particular,"Well,,perhaps there is another Eye.But,,Schlomo was said to have only did the deed
to one of his eyes."
"Jonathan,,have you met what's in that silver bowl before?"
"Was it the same thing used to make you as you are now?"
"And now,,an enigma wrapped
in a conundrum."
With that,,he began to put away the items arrayed around in front of him
untill they were all removed and placed back into the trunk.He then took out a writing set,shut the lid back and began to
write a letter.
"When I get finished with this,,I want you to keep it safe and give it to Master Hiram when
he returns.It's about what just happened,,or rather what did not happen.Perhaps he knows why that might not work like it should."
Adding a few more lines to his missive he paused again and said to the still motionless Jonathan,,"If you could think in a
consistantly lucid fashion,,would you tell me?"
And back to writing with a low,,'hmmm'
Finishing up a few minutes later he suddenly exclaimed,,"Oh!" and opened the trunk
back up rather hurridly,,pulled out the box with the turtle shell in it,,tapped it with two fingers and said a few words in
that strange tongue which precipitated a meteoric flash around the split in the box by a bright blue white dot of light that
made a sound much like a zipper untill it got to the front right corner where it went out and a ding sounded.
After placing that back in the trunk,,and his writing paraphanalia he shut the lid and then secured it once again with the
heavy brass padlock before turning to Jonathan and handing him the letter.
"Keep this safe and secure untill
Master Hiram returns then give it to him at a convenient time."
Taking the offered paper
from his hand Jonathan slid it down the front of his pants which caused a mirthful look to cross the black face and the words,,"You
better not let Hiram see where you put that if you want him to touch it." to proceed a hearty guffaw and a subsequent,"Now,,take
and put the trunk back where you got it from then get my truck ready for me,I have to go into Oslo and conduct some business."
interspersed with chuckles.
A while later,,as he wended down the dirt road headed east his
expressive face literally twitched back and forth from concerned to forced optimism over the consequences that may come from
the box not being sealed when he asked Jonathan that set of questions.
Melissas face showed an utter lack of comprehension over what I had just told her and she allmost stuttered when she asked,,"But,,where
did it go?I don't get it."
Sitting down on the bed I muttered,,"The door was locked." while fingering the
keys still in my pocket."And there really wasn't enough time."
Melissa walked through the gnarly hand which
was poking it's thunm at the door as she came around to sit down to my left while asking,,"Should you go ask right now?He's
with her in her room isn't he?"
Getting up and stepping to the door I opened it to look down the hall in
time to see Dale close his door,turn and head for the arch to the living room then stop with a start as he spotted me standing
there with the door half open looking at him.
Pulling the door allmost shut before walking
swiftly to him I asked very quietly,,"Where's Amanda?"
"She's allready in the van.",was his initial reply,,in
a very normal and sedate fashion,,then right before I could utter a sylabble regarding the board his demeanor became a virtual
copy of that fellows in the old black and white reefer madness movie,,except he wasn't even giggling a bit,,as he said,"The
board was waiting for us when we came to her room!"
He raised his arm and pointed a
trembling extended index finger at the bottom of my bedroom door
"It was waiting under your door,,half in,,half
out,,laying right there!"
Unconsciously looking at where he pointed,I noticed Melissa looking out wide eyed
out the small gap in the open door frame as he went on,,"She picked it up like it was a baby or something,dude!"
I waved my hand in front of his face and snapped my fingers to break his attention and asked him rather urgently,,"Where'd
she put it,Dale?"
Looking at me in that way that I had seen too much of from him in the last day,,he answered
in a voice totally opposite of the one he had just used,,allmost childlike,,with,,"She grabbed the turtle shell thing from
the room and went to the van.I asked her if she was going to take a shower or not and she said,,'we're going to this sluts
mothers house you toad,,come along."
"She said that?"
"Just like that?"
"Dale,,listen,," he cut me off by grabbing my wrist and leaning in close to whisper maniacally,,"Her
voice sounded exactly like the turtle shells did when it told me no!What should I do?What should I do,man?"
Frantically,,I ground the gears of my mind to come up with an answer for my friend who was visibly on the verge of an utter
"Uh,,well,,seriously,,,go tell her to get the hell out of your van and go away if you don't
want to put up with this stuff from her."
As he looked at me like I was the one that was going insane,,and
said very firmly,,"I can't do that now."
Even though I wanted to scream at him,,'why the hell not?!",,I went
on in a calm tone,,"But,,," He started to speak and I cut him off,barging ahead with,"I bet that IF,,IF you make sure she
goes to the beach with us,,that this stuff will end sooner rather than later,,God willing."
He sort of froze.
"Do I have to?" came out of his face without his lips moving more than just a tiny bit.That
perfectly matched the tiny baby type tone of his very small voiced reply but not the previous firm refusal to disassociate
with the apparently possessed girl.
"Well,,no,Dale,,you do NOT!You could probally live with for a while."
That made him look like he might cry,,but,,she had to go to the beach.
"But,dude.I have it on rather good
authority that it will get worse.Perhaps fatal for some people around her.We have to get her to the beach to stop whatever
the hell is happening to her."
He just stared like he hadn't a clue as to why I would say what I was saying,,and
said,rather robotically,,"I can't deny her anything she wants."
"Even if she wants to hurt you,,or others,Dale?"
"Are you worried that she will do that?"
"I love her."
"You do?Since when?"
"I allways have?"
"Why are you asking me,Dale?Don't
you know the answer yourself?"
"Dale,,I don't think there's anything wrong with anyone that
a nice trip to The Pines won't help cure at least a little." Melissa said as she stepped out from behind the door and strode
to confront him.
"Look,,just make sure she gets to the beach,okay?We all need a little fun,,don't you think?"
Turning from me to face her,,his face cracked a small smile as she continued with,,"A little wind,,waves,,",and started a
little hip waggling dance,,raising her arms like a hula dancer,,",,some fun in the sun,,and a nice night under the stars and
At this point my nagger chimed in with,,'help her out,,blue moon,dude!" which prompted me into a rendition
of just that in two part,,to me,,harmony with it,,untill Melissa caught the second round while doing her little hula in a
romantic way,,batting her eyes like a kabuki dancer inviting the 'heros' advances.
Happy was I when she stopped
doing that,,since I was melting at the idea of me sharing with her the pleasures of what she was conjuring for Dale.
And that was not something I wanted to mix mentally with the idea of what Amanda may like to do on such a night,,like maybe
dig up corpses to rob them of items that are connected to such vile things as what I had recently come to accept as very real,,and
But,,it worked,,Dale apparently forgot all the reservations he had showed.His unnatural seeming
adoration for and devotion to Amanda bubbled up and over into a broad really cheerful smile and he exclaimed,,"That would
be so great!She's waiting in the van now,,I better go,,huh?"
"Does she still want to go?"
"Let me go make sure,,I really hope so!"
As he bolted off,,I bumped into Melissa who took
a step after him and said at the same time as I did likewise,,"Holler from the door,Dale,,so we can hear you!"
She looked at me and giggled before saying,,"Go get finished getting ready,,I'll make sure she says yes."
The sudden visual of Melissa being face to face,,alone,,with Amanda filled me with a gut wrenching dread that was allmost
a physical pain."Just be careful,,I believe she's possessed,,as crazy as that sounds."
Her response was a
light sounding,,"Shoot,man,,I'll run from her!" then became very serious snd somber,,but her eyes were still twinkling,,"I
believe you are right and I believe we have to do whatever you think is best to stop what's happening to her,,someone has
to free her and stop the,,that,,whatever it is that's behind all this!And she,,it,,they,,,even think it's going to be you
from how she acted."
Dale's voice,,coming from the door as he hollered to Amnda sitting in his van,,interupted
us,,"They want to know if you still want to go to the beach,Amanda."
A pause,,then,,"What?" and the sound
of the door shutting galvinized Amanda into taking off with an 'uh-ho' left behind and my low 'please be careful' chasing
after her and that heavy weight of concern settling into the pit of my stomach for an unwelcome yet hopefully brief stay.
Turning to head into my room to get my stuff together I and my nagger both prayed she would be and the weight seemed a bit
more bearable yet very much still oppressively present.