Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The Witch and the Demon ((or. “The Brown Jacket and the Tiger”) (1986))
I remember my cousin with his nervous fingers and his expressionless face, his arms held tight and his legs drawn in and he looked a little like a spy; not too much, you know, but enough. To be frank he didn’t look all that human, he reminded me of a possessed, half frozen scarecrow trying to listen to what my mother and I were saying as if to report back to someone.
I told my mother, “I see a man with a brown coat hiding outside our door, in the corner, he looks familiar, and the one you gave to Greg I think.”
“What’s he doing there?” she asked.
“Just listening, actually it looks a little more like Greg.”
This did not please my mother one bit.
I knew to a certain degree, heard anyhow, mostly gossip, that Greg’s wife was playing with witchcraft, of which it was already fairly known, so I suppose the gossip wasn’t really all that much gossip—I mean her reputation preceded her.
“What kind of nonsense is this,” asked my mother, “what would he be doing out there?”
“I’m serious,” I said, knowing it was odd at best, if not a little interesting: by and large, I had no solid reasoning what he would be doing out there other than, spying on us, if indeed that is what he was doing—so I told myself.
“Alright,” I said to my mother, “maybe a devil’s got him spying.”
It was kind of a joke, but there might be some reality to it I figured.
“Really!” my mother pondered, “is he still there?” Then there was a long pause, we looked at one another, “Call him up, he only lives in the next apartment building over, and simply ask him.” She confirmed. Actually, if you looked out our kitchen window you could see through his bedroom window, which had a drawn shade—although there was a parking lot separating both buildings.
“O.K.” I said, “I’ll call.”
“Poor fellow,” she remarked.
“Yes,” said my cousin, “I was there but it’s just a misunderstanding on your part, I wasn’t spying, I wanted to ask you a favor, then I just went back home figured hick with it.”
“You were wearing the brown coat my mother gave you, weren’t you?” I asked for confirmation.
“Yes,” said my cousin, “but how did you see me you were in the apartment talking to your mother, I heard you both?”
“Yes,” I replied, “that’s correct.”
“What did you say?”
“Greg, why did you spy on us?”
“How could you see me through a wall?” he questioned.
“Yes,” I remarked, “that is rare isn’t it.”
“There is a demon in our apartment, can you find him and drive him out, I mean I really need your help, my wife’s bed is shaking and being lifted up as if in thin air: two, no three feet off the floor,” he exclaimed.
Somehow I believed Greg, in that it was more truth than fiction, knowing his wife’s reputation.
“All right,” I said “Sure.” But how do you evict a demon? I pondered as I walked over to his apartment, it was midwinter, and it was cold in St. Paul, Minnesota, and when I got in his hallway, it was warm, and when he opened the door for me to come in, I stepped right into his living room. I looked about, it was cold in the living room, and warm towards the bathroom and bedroom and kitchen. I walked back to the living room, looked at a picture on the wall, it was of a tiger, I stood in front of it, it was a dim cheerless evening, the place was cold, arctic to the bones, and the furnace was on full blast. The eyes of the tiger followed me, sank into my fiber.
“Take the picture down, put it in the hallway,” I told Greg, and he followed my instructions. And the place warmed up—that quick, the dim eeriness had faded also, Greg was for the most part pleased with the results.
“Dear, he’s gone!” Greg yelled to his wife, “my cousin got rid of him, found where he was hiding in the picture on the wall in the living room; we’ll have to get rid of the picture tomorrow,” he told her.
His wife simply said, “Well, that’s good news…” and hid in the bedroom, for whatever reasons.
I thought as I left, the demon found an ideal home, he’ll return soon, they often do—and she’d go back to her witchcraft soon as witches often do, and Greg, well, who’s to say.
Originally named: “Thrown Out”