White wax candles lit Kim’s bedroom in a soft flickering glow. With her eyes open wide as communion hosts she shivered beneath a soft pink blanket. Ruby stood by Kim’s bed.
“What an excellent day for an exorcism,” said Tara, one half of Kim’s split personality.
“You would like that?” Ruby asked.
“Intensely,” saidShannon, the other half.
“But wouldn’t that drive you out of Kim?” Ruby asked.
“It would bring us together,” Tara said.
“You and Kim?”
“You and us,” said Shannon.
Not showing surprise but stunned by how Kim and the demons knew lines from the The Exorcist movie, Ruby fought a tinge of fear. What if the devils won? Could they win? What if light lost to darkness? Where was Santa Muerte when she needed her most?
Tara growled in her Dublin gutter brogue.
“You mother’s with us in Hell,” she said.
Ruby stepped back from the bed.
“So is your father and his girlfriends and your mother’s sexy girlfriends, too. You and your girlfriends will one day join us in eternity’s hottest hot tub,” Shannon said. “Welcome to the naked city.”
Bold, loud and seemingly in control, the dark spirits filled the room with tension unlike any Ruby ever felt. Satanic strategy involved sowing seeds of doubt about her parents. Ruby tried to tune out the message of the Beast, to invoke the power of Santa Muerte in her battle to free Kim when an uncommonly forceful gust of wind blew through the open window and lifted the curtain against the table that shook off the lit candle that dropped to the floor.
Ruby knew she was in trouble. Burning wax stuck to the hem of the curtain, quickly catching the fabric on fire. Within seconds flames crawled up the wallpaper. Ruby rushed to grab a blanket and pound out the fire. Sam, Marty Durkin, RayRay and Randall rushed into the room.
Kim lay motionless with her eyes open staring at the ceiling.
Durkin turned and ran from the room, returning 20 seconds later carrying a red kitchen fire extinguisher. Pulling the pin like a battlefield hero wielding a grenade, he released a thick cloud of white foam against the growing wall inferno. Within 30 seconds he had the blaze under control.
Everyone breathed heavily except the devils.
“The power of Christ compels you,” Tara said.
“The power of Christ compels you,” said Shannon.
More lines from the movie.
At least Kim still kept her head screwed on straight.
“I’ll sit with her if you want,” said Randall, taking the lead and offering to walk point through this treacherous mind field.
“He reminds me of Sammy Davis Jr.,” said Tara.
“Soul man,” Shannon said as she began singing the 60s Sam and Dave song.
Randall swallowed a tinge of fear he hadn’t felt since he faced the cold combat of Afghanistan .
RayRay turned and left the room without a word. If this faceoff were a hockey game, the demons would be the enforcers. RayRay felt out of his league. That night after closing the bar RayRay stood alone, feeding Dillon crackers with fish spread doused in the house hot sauce.
Durkin had volunteered to sit with Randall and watch Kim. RayRay worried the two men might still kill each other like the samurai fights of old Japan, where only three outcomes existed once warriors drew swords from scabbards.
I win and you die.
You win and I die.
We both die.
Two in three chances of dying make for bad odds.
Kim might die, too.
The devils might throw her and Durkin and Randall out the window unless help arrived and cleansed her mind with medicine, therapy, even hospitalization and continuing medical care. RayRay believed in science. Kim’s soul needed saved if you believed the priest in the exorcist movie. RayRay didn’t believe in souls and did not suffer religion kindly. The cosmos mattered most because the spacious sky went on forever and ever, bigger than Bible stories or other manmade fantasies designed to simplify the story of existence. That’s why RayRay hated religion. Myth trivialized the sweet mysteries of life, offering explanation where none existed. Even now with the benefit of the best science ever we don’t even know how the brain really works. Nor do we know why everything equals nothing and nothing equals everything. Yes, the cosmos is real. Science proves it every day with new telescopes that show us what the mind cannot grasp. Where did life originate? Why here? We came from nothing and returned to nothing.
Now Dillon screeched as loud as his favorite Doobie Brothers song played full blast on the jukebox.
“Jesus Christ. Polly want a cracker!”
The parrot only shut up when somebody started pounding so loud on the door the glass rattled.
“Open Up! Girls just want to have fun! Let us in!”
At first RayRay thought Kim had escaped and the twisted twins from Hell were again on the loose. When he opened the door, though, two women stood reeling drunk in six-inch electric red, white and blue stiletto heels and calf leather hot pants with matching stars and striped halter tops looking like ripped Republican refugees fresh from a right-wing political rally. Wearing a red wig with dreadlocks, Jenna DeShifty, the Governor’s wife, pointed to her loaded friend and winked a drunken wink so slowly her eyelid almost didn’t reopen.
“I’d like you to meet Mrs. X,” she said. “We have to protect her identity.”
Dollar bill green mascara smeared the woman’s cheeks as she leaned on Jenna DeShifty for support. She had fallen out of one high heel and stood swaying as the bangs of her long green wig slipped forward into her eyes so far she looked like an unshorn sheep dog. The woman wore pointed silver tassels on the two most strategic points of her halter top. She started to weep.
“I can’t take living with that tyrant anymore,” Mrs. X said. “I want a divorce.”
“Tell me about it,” said Jenna DeShifty.
Mrs. X blubbered.
“My swine husband says Gov. DeShifty is worse than sand in the crotch of your bikini,” she said.
“Who knows better than me?” Jenna DeShifty said. “My little madman says God told him he’s the chosen one.”
“My dictator talks to Satan,” Mrs. X said. “Dough boy made a deal with the devil.”
Perking up, RayRay put his arm around Jenna DeShifty.
“I know two fallen angels named Tara and Shannon I’d like to introduce him to,” he said.
Mrs. X rallied.
She shook her booty.
“Girls’ night out!” she said.
“Girls’ night out!” said Jenna DeShifty.
Immediately recognizing these two famous political wives RayRay offered his best smile and stood aside with a bow.
“Please, ladies, come in,” RayRay said. “We’re open all night. Let us watch the tequila sunrise together. The booze is on the house.”
So in they came, swinging their hips and licking glossed loose lips like a couple of raunchy can-can dancers trolling the French Riviera. Blaring his best wolf whistle, Dillon topped off the fevered pitch with an imitation he learned from watching vaudeville legend Jimmy Durante on Retro TV.
“Ha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Chaaaaa!” Dillon said.