Seldom is a second human needed. Even perfect love doesn’t require two. A half-orphan girl may argue with herself, a widow take her own counsel. A husband, who is also a father, may kill both men and himself, without involving another, and leave one body behind. But the Ouija board can’t be consulted alone. Not that she hasn’t tried, but when Mother’s left hand bullies Mother’s right hand, Mother feels less than authentic. To talk with Dad, she needs to talk with me. I bring the board, and lay the pointer down. As it magnifies his initial, we catch in each other’s eyes a glimpse of shadow. Right-handed mother and left-handed daughter, separated by what joins us, finger the devil’s toy. I’m modern, of course, enlightened by advanced education, sophisticated, elegant and contemporary to the minute. Mother, it goes without saying, is born of a brutal time when human flesh was prey to spirits who battled for its domination over game boards trademarked by the Parker Brothers Corporation. Either that, or Dad’s red bath has made me cynical. “How are you?” Mother has asked out loud. “Are you getting enough to eat?” And letter by letter Dad is spelling “Still no Haagen-Dasz here,” misspelling Haagen-Dasz just as Mother always has. Of course I want to believe, for her, for me, but how can I believe when the devil can’t spell and doesn’t cover his tracks. “Should I marry the mailman?” Mother has asked, and now with my eyes closed I feel the pointer move left, further left, right and down, up and left, he’s spelling goodbye but he never goes. He’s the gameboard where the father repeatedly vanquishes the husband, the slain rise up to murder the murderer. Forever fingering himself in the lineup, he’s in it forever alone.

Copyright © 1999 David Hodges

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