Tuesday, December 20, 2011
continued from 12-19-11
The next evening the ritual repeated itself. Morris was waiting. Or at least he came through the Spirit Box once again. I asked a few more basic questions. I was amazed at the most mundane responses, responses that should not happen in any rational world. Morris was fifteen years old. No, he couldn’t see me. Could I see him? He knew what year it was. He knew who was president. The more mundane the question, the more aggravated he became. When aggravated he would end every answer with the word “ass”. When asked, “did you die when you were fifteen?” he answered “didn’t die, ass.” “Are you alive?” I followed up. “No, I’ve passed over… (static, click) … to here, ass.” Once the conversation went in this direction, I would say goodnight, sometimes followed by no response, sometimes followed by “don’t” or “sorry” or “tomorrow.” It had occurred to me to record the sessions. I didn’t have a recording device to do so, and no real funds to invest in one. Soon I forgot about the notion of recording the responses; I was too enthralled by the phenomenon, I suppose. I continued these sessions for the next few days.
Having spent too many early mornings conversing with Morris, I made the realization that I had been ignoring the few responsibilities I do have in this world. I put away the Spirit Box as not to be tempted, then took my first shower and shave in days, and got under way with my list of errands. Unchaining my three wheel bike (once mother’s), I went grocery shopping, paid the electric bill and made a trip to the Charlotte Home (“Gentle Assisted Living”) and visited with mother. Eighty seven years old and two hip surgeries later, no longer able to attend to herself, but as lucid as any of us, she was elated with my visit.
I. however, feigned enthusiasm. We chatted about my youth, as usual, when I was still her sweet Joey, before I became a black mark on the family. A few arrests for distributing cocaine and a short prison stint after jumping bail will do that. I made my peace with myself by visiting with her once a week. Pathetic. I realize now that she shouldn’t have been there. It was my selfishness, I know that now, or I always knew it but didn’t care. I don’t expect your forgiveness, or even your understanding, David. I know what I’ve done. It can’t be undone. God, it can’t. I can only offer this explanation.
After returning home with my meager purchases, I decided to use the box. “Decided” isn’t the right word; I was “obsessed” to use it, would be closer. Was it that I was a slave to my own addictive personality, or could it have been completely outside my control? Was I somehow influenced by the Spirit Box? A simple box of transistors and wires, sitting unplugged and dormant on the top shelf of my bedroom closet? I pray for the latter, if nothing more than to placate my guilt.
I didn’t wait until “dead time”. I knew it didn’t matter. I discarded the prayer. I knew it didn’t matter, either. I just knew it. There was a certainty to it that I cannot describe. I didn’t cover the window, nor did I light a candle. I simply took down the crude instrument and plugged it in. Immediately after switching on the box (now the red knob was permanently switched to the right), Morris spoke. “Where… haveyoubeen?”
“Errands,” I responded.
“Rude,” he said in a whisper.
“I visited my mother.”
“Your mum?” was the reply. “Your mum is close.” “Your mum is close to… us.” Close to us? Or maybe, closed to us? Why was Morris referring to us?
“She is closed to us? You mean as in you and me?” I inquired, with confused trepidation.
“No,” there came another faint whisper. Then, a different voice, a different spirit or entity or whatever it was, spoke clearly, “Mum is close to Morris and I.” I didn’t know how to reply. A high pitched squeal followed by dead silence shocked me from my trance. “Morris, are you there?” “I can’t,” was Morris’ response. “Why do you talk to me?” It was Morris’ voice, barely audible behind the hiss-tick and electronic fragments.
“I don’t… really know,” was all I could think of saying back. Who was that other voice?
“You don’t care” … (static, tick, static, tick) “you don’t care”… (static, tick, static, tick).
“Care about what?” I implored.
“Care about what they’re doing” (static, tick, static, tick) “to me,” was Morris’ final statement. I watched amazed and horrified as the toggle switch clicked to the off position by itself! The smell of ozone hung in the air. I sat stunned. I unplugged the box. Expecting the box to be hot from use, I was dismayed by the cold surface of the painted plastic as I placed it hastily back into the closet. It was cold, very cold.
I slogged through the day, attempting to push the afternoons experience from my mind. I felt lethargic and confused. I warmed over what was left of the packaged lasagna that I had eaten the night before. I ate in front of the glowing TV set, tasting nothing, hearing nothing, seeing nothing, feeling nothing. I retired for the evening at , an hour earlier than usual. I didn’t set my alarm. I slept fitfully, unremembered nightmares sliding through my subconscious. I awoke at three in the morning, listened intently for disembodied voices, then slipped back into a troubled sleep.
Waking in late morning, I showered and shaved. I ate breakfast. I followed my daily routine in hopes that the normalcy of it all would break my feelings of depression. I dressed, and decided to get some fresh air. I walked rather than taking the bike. My head wasn’t clear enough to deal with traffic. With no particular destination in mind, I ended up walking the three miles to the
. I realized that I had chain smoked all of the way, as I ground out my cigarette butt on the gravel drive. I hesitated before entering. What would mother think? Here unannounced, a day after my usual weekly visit? She would be happy to see me, of course. Wouldn’t she? I signed in and went down the pea green painted hallway; the lingering smells of antiseptic, floor cleaner and cafeteria food assaulting my nostrils. She lay in bed, staring out the window at the idle cars in the parking lot. A room with a view I thought. I couldn’t help but stand quietly as she stared, unaware of my presence. I was startled when she spoke softly, though urgently, seemingly to herself. Charlotte Home
“I won’t do it. You can’t. I’m safe here. Leave me alone!”
I retreated from the room, my heart pounding. My mind raced back to my last Spirit Box session. What was happening? I strode quickly back down the hallway, passing a resident nurse who had an expression of alarm on her face as our eyes met. I didn’t stop or look back until I was half a block up the street. As I caught my breath, I began to giggle uncontrollably. Get a grip, baby, I thought to myself. Go back. She was obviously talking in her sleep. What other explanation was there? But I couldn’t go back. Ashamed at my own fear, I started back home, at a very quick pace. What would the RN think? Would she mention this to mother? I caught myself, sickened by my callous selfishness. But not bothered enough to go back. Not bothered that much, not bothered enough. God forgive me.
The brisk walk home had tired me. Fatigue set in from the nearly non-stop six mile trek. I took two aspirin, drank half of s bottled water and soon fell asleep on the couch. I awoke to a darkened room. Gazing confusedly at the glowing digital clock on the stove through the kitchen doorway, I came to the realization that I had slept through the afternoon and evening, and it was now three the following morning. As my head cleared, I could hear the familiar hiss-tick of the Spirit Box coming from the bedroom. Did I wake up sometime during the evening and plug that thing in? I couldn’t recall. I approached the darkened room. There, in the center of the bedroom floor, sat the box, its LED lights slithering back and forth. “Hiss-tick, hiss-tick”. The random words and syllables idiotically droning, snippets of melodies sliding together in hideous discord. Then the voice. The voice I recognized; the voice that wasn’t Morris.
“Hello, Joseph.” There was no way I was going to respond to that deep guttural voice. How did it know my name? I’d never mentioned my name, even to Morris.
“Yes, I know your name,” it said in a sing song childish timbre.
“Where is Morris?” I demanded, although rather weakly. (Static, tick, tick, tick), “…e’s being punished,” followed by laughter so demented that it made me feel faint.
“Who are you?” no longer a demand from me, but a statement of disgust and confusion.
“…go by many names… you will… some … know me well…” a sound of blatant indifference in its voice.
“What do you want?” I screamed, startling myself with the absurdity of it all. (Static, tick, static, tick) “In todays… war is inev…” more radio transmissions…
“It’s not what I want; it’s what you’ve brought…” the voice stronger now, “… your mother will know… she’ll know what you’ve brought…”
With that, I snatched the cord from the box, pulling the plug from the wall so violently that the ground prong broke off in the outlet. The plug wire was so cold that my palm was frost bitten. I ran outside and practically threw myself onto the bicycle, pedaling with fierce abandon as I headed the long three miles to the Charlotte Home. Nearly overcome with fatigue, I pushed myself harder. Sliding into the gravel drive, I overturned the bike, driving sharp stones into my palms and elbows. I felt none of it. I ran to the side of the building that faced the main parking lot, there wasn’t any possibility of getting in through the main entrance. I took off my jacket and wrapped my hand in it, punching through the glass window to mother’s dark room. The security system alarm sounded. I crawled through the window, shards of glass on the sill piercing the flesh of my shin. I tried, David. I know this was all my fault, but I tried the best I could. She lay on the floor, a dull blue aura surrounding her frail body, and then to my horror I realized that I could not see her legs! Somehow, I know this sounds mad, somehow she was being drawn into the floor, or consumed by the earth below. Our eyes met as her body jerked another six inches lower, the fear in her eyes burning into mine. She pleaded with me to make them stop. I was totally helpless. I grabbed her wrists, but the pull was incredibly strong. Her gaze turned from fear to accusation, to a realization that I had brought this upon her. I pulled harder, so hard I felt her wrist snap. I gazed in sheer horror as her head was yanked from sight, a blue glow emanating from the surface of the floor where her head had been. I could hear her muffled cries, calling my name, screaming my name! In a last attempt to save her, I pulled so hard that her left arm separated from the floor. It now dangled freely in my grasp as I watched through tearing eyes as her right hand clawed at the air, then the linoleum floor, her nails digging into the yellowed waxed tiles, then disappearing into the depths below. The blue glow dissipated. I was once again in the physical world. My body convulsing, my mind overwhelmed from fear and remorse.
The screech of the security system alarm was assailing my ears, and as I crawled out the window, I could hear the blare of approaching sirens. I stumbled into the neighboring forest with mother’s arm still in my hand. I ran through the brambles, ran for miles deep into the forest. I hid well. It was days before I was found, still clutching her arm, delirious and suffering from near hypothermia. Of course you know the rest. I was arrested and convicted of her murder. As you know, they’re still looking for her remains. They won’t find any.
David, I did not murder our mother. I am at fault, but I did not murder her. I wish I had. It would make things so much easier. Please destroy the Spirit Box, if you haven’t already. It is very important that you destroy it. I don’t need the box anymore to hear the voices. They tell me about mother. And what they are doing to her.