I could see them clear as day, but it wasn’t his eyes. It wasn’t one feature. While menacing, his eyes weren’t what caused me to not look to my right. Or to my left. Or down the ladder. Or in my child’s room. His eyes weren’t what caused me to turn on the lights in the bathroom, which I never did at this early hour.
The thing you must fully internalize about my relation to my family members is that I have worn them down over the years. They used to put up a fight, but beginning as early as high school, their resolve weakened.
“Sure. Whatever you say. Can we just not argue about it?” had become their standard response.
On this night, I wanted to play with the Ouiji Board. That’s not quite true. I could care less about the Ouiji Board, it’s foolish. What I wanted was to make my mom, dad, older sister and younger brother uncomfortable. I wanted to see them squirm.
My brother had that same bone in his body, so we went first. The joy of playing a Ouiji Board with others comes from the fact that everyone wants to believe that you’re telling the truth when you convincingly declare that you’re not moving the planchette.
“Oh, come on. I saw your fingers extend!” could be heard from the peanut gallery.
“I swear I did not move it!” I responded. “What you saw was me trying to not break contact with it. It’s the difference between action and reaction.”
“Fine,” my sister conceded with a voice that betrayed her hope I was telling the truth.
Upon turning down the lights in the basement, the general mood in the room began to shift in my favor. My brother and I made sure that we offered no more than a good tease. Soon my sister wanted a turn.
I didn’t lose ground, but I didn’t gain much either. As a neutral participant, she proved a difficult partner. She lacked the intention of causing our parents fright, but her skepticism wasn’t perfect either.
My mom, never one to turn down a challenge, now wanted a turn. Despite bringing me in to this world, she had a capacity to revert to childlike wonder in a moment. I was in full control now. We asked our questions, the board answered them. My brother even flashed me a questioning look as if to ask, “You’re still just playing with us, right?”
My lying eyes bedded down his fear. My own fear, on the other hand was growing.
The truth was, I was no longer controlling the game. When I am afraid I usually want to cry. Right then, I had to muster all my energy to not begin to cry. Out of nowhere, a remarkable thought came to me, “Is my mom cool enough to turn the tables and fool me?”
I wanted the answer to be true. The thought was at least intriguing enough to hold back my tears. But there was still one more player.
You must understand that my father was literally an altar boy as a child. Only people who have a first-degree connection to an altar boy can really understand what this means. No matter what books he’s read, no matter what life experiences he’s had, no matter how hard he may try to convince you otherwise, he is a believer through and through. And believers don’t fuck with evil. Suffice it to say, he didn’t want to play.
Fear became an ancient memory; I couldn’t even remember tears as my resolve to accomplish my mission was renewed.
“Dad. For real. It’s just a game. What are you afraid of? If you really get scared…I don’t know… just call on Jesus to help you. Isn’t he supposed to rush down in your defense?”
I could tell that I pushed just hard enough, so I stopped. Just because he was a believer, didn’t mean he wasn’t still a man.
Mano y Mano. Father v. Son. I couldn’t help but feel pride. Yet again, I got everyone to do what they didn’t want to do. I had wore them down. They were so weak. Discreetly, as the board spoke to us, I gave my brother a quick smile which he replied in kind.
It was a singular feeling. A light pressure against my fingertips. I figured my dad must be moving it towards me. I released any tension in my fingers. The feeling did not go away. The planchette would not release my fingers any more than the board would release the planchette. My brother’s expression released my tears. My dad’s terrifying scream is what woke me.
Awake, I did not want to open my eyes. Exhilarated, I had to. Moments like these did not give themselves to me very often. Moments where I was awake only in the strictest medical sense. Darkness and fear still remained. A chance to test my manhood. Laying motionless, I hoped to ally the windows dim predawn light to my purpose. I turned my head to the right and opened my eyes. Shuddering with fear, I saw him beside me.
“This can’t be,” I thought.
Hoping that evil can only see motion, I laid perfectly still except for my widening eyes. Finally more light. Looking back now, I can’t blame the stuffed pink penguin my daughter had left in the bed yesterday morning for shedding a tear. I doubt poor Pingu had ever imagined the depth to which a man’s vocabulary would dive upon realizing he’s a fool.