Friday, May 16, 2014

Babs is Out of the Office

I am out of the office.
If you require immediate assistance, I can be summoned but it requires some work.
You will need:
• a container of salt
• chalk
• a live chicken
• a small dagger
• a silver chalice
• matches or a lighter
• a working knowledge of correct Latin pronunciation
Step 1: Draw a pentagram on the floor with the chalk.
Step 2: Stand in the center of the pentagram.
Step 3: Make a ring of salt around the perimeter of the pentagram
Step 4: Cut the throat of the chicken with the dagger.
Step 5: Fill the chalice with the blood of the chicken.
Step 6: Repeat this incantation: “Boden excitant iratus sum, et meam impleat crimine voluntatis.”;
Step 7: Set alight the blood in the chalice, holding the chalice in your RIGHT hand and the flame in your LEFT.
I will then appear, but I will not be happy.
Caution: Boden-conjuring is a dangerous enterprise, and is not recommended unless the problem is urgent.
Please note that I will require a boon for any tasks completed once I have been summoned. This may be Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, a large Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee (with skim milk and three packs of Equal), an icy-cold can of Diet Coke...or your little finger. Be sure to have all of these items and/or a small, sharp knife on hand prior to beginning the rite.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


He sealed the box with packing tape and left it on the table before he dragged the blade across his throat. I think it might have snakes in it, or a Hurst shifter rebuild kit for a '76 Nova, or a stack of old letters, a rain-swollen photo album, and some old Tupperware (no lids.)
If it's snakes, they're probably dead by now.

If I look at the box, which I try to avoid, I see snakes. Hooded, black, and angry. When I'm not looking, I can hear them sliding against the cardboard and butting the seam of the flaps with their angular heads, their searching tongues sometimes sticking to the underside of the tape.
I hope there are no snakes in the box. I would really like to open the box and find the Hurst shifter in the same way that I half-heartedly hope that someone will call out of the blue to offer up contents of the unknown-to-me U-Stor unit  he had somewhere that holds the '76 Nova to put that shifter in, along with pictures and letters and his favorite chair, plus a box of record albums so that I could frame "Houses of the Holy" to hang on my wall and say to people, "Oh, that - it belonged to my brother."

It's probably snakes. In August and November and at my birthday they thrash insistently like the time we had to take the cat to the vet in a cardboard box we taped shut because we didn't have a carrier, and the cat thrashed and yowled and pissed in the box, finally loosening the tape enough to push his head through the top and hiss at us. The snakes will do that, someday.
There might be something nicer, something that I would like to have. A vintage Molly Hatchet or Foghat or Uriah Heep t-shirt, for example. Baby pictures and wedding rings. A pressed prom corsage with Budweiser bottlecaps stuck between the brown and wizened petals of the orchids.

At the time the box was sealed, I thought he was ancient but he was younger than I am right now, and I'm not that old. When you're in your twenties, you think everyone over the age of thirty needs to give away all their possessions, wrap themselves up in a bedsheet, and climb to the top of the mountain to wait for the eagles to carry them off. Then some time goes, and you realize that people in their twenties are very, very stupid.
Now that I am an age he never reached, I think I hear the snakes around my birthday and not just the anniversaries.

Why you would box up some snakes and leave it on the table is beyond me. Thinking about it logically, rationally, there probably aren't snakes in that box. Probably it's unpaid electric bills and expired pizza coupons, a stack of Hardees' Moose cups and a half-eaten carton of Whoppers. Of course, it might be that stuff PLUS the snakes; they ate the Whoppers.

What I would like to have, instead of snakes, is a set of hand-written instructions for car detailing, because I can remember some of the things he used to tell me about that but not all of them. Plus a recording of him telling his best Polack jokes, and another of his imitation of our mother which sounded like something off Monty Python.
What I have, however, is a whole lot of nothing. There is nothing because all the material things were in the possession of the woman he lived with at the time, and none of us can remember her name to call her up and ask her for something. There aren't really any snakes, but figments of my imagination; visceral representations of my guilt, anger, and grief. Plus more guilt. There is not even really a box, just a wish to have something material with which to remember, over which to grieve, and a wish to be able to rewinde and do things differently. It's a misguided belief that, if given a chance, I could go back and fix things. This lurks in my peripheral vision as a box on a table.