by Lita Lepie
Called from the Wild
In the gentle clearing beside a muddy stream two figures worked out. The unkempt, dirt-stained four-year-old Dosandra was dressed in her “uniform”, patched jeans held up by a straw colored rope, patched jeans shirt, and sneakers so mud caked you couldn’t tell their original color.
Dressed identically was Bubba, a Chinese man of such evident antiquity he could not even be described as old. Spindly and frail with just a few tufts of white hair sticking straight up on his otherwise bald pate, at first glance his appearance was that of an invalid moments from death. However - and that was the curious thing - he moved like a young athlete with such natural grace and coordination that he seemed not to disturb the air.
Bubba instructed Dosandra by making a series of vertical and horizontal movements with his hands and arms in the air in front of him. They exchanged no words. Dosandra stared at him as if mesmerized, and then tried to repeat his movements. Her attempts were awkward and unsure, but Bubba nodded patiently and repeated the movements.
Behind a tree a short distance away the scene was being observed by Big Sister, an African American woman who looked like an African Queen from a Delacroix portrait. Bubba had explained to Big Sister he was training Dosandra in forms, specifically the making of a paqua, an eight sided geometrical shape in which to trap guis which he told Big Sister she knew as demons.
Big Sister reflected how she’d first heard about Bubba from her son, Sam, a detective who was out of the country on a long-term assignment and unreachable. “I met Bubba in Thailand after fighting in Vietnam. He’s going to look after Dosandra when I’m working.” Lost to drugs Dosandra’s mother had deserted the family years before. “He’s a Taoist Master.”
“You mean, like Red Foxx? He make toasts down to d’ Friars’ club?”
“Not toasts, ma. Taoist. Like Lao Tze.”
“Like Buddha. A holy man.”
But when the 5’ 2” Asian man finally appeared he was dressed in rags and looked like a bum, his grin exposing missing teeth. And he had a cockeyed seemingly silly smile. He looked like a little gnome, or some kooky lawn ornament. Big Sister didn’t trust him and protested his presence incessantly. But Sam was the girl’s father. And he’d inherited his mother’s stubborn streak.
Big Sister shook her head. Well, she couldn’t put it off any longer. She marched into the clearing.
On seeing her the little girl threw up her arms, screamed as if she’d just witnessed a bloody execution, and ran off into the woods.
“It’s time,” Big Sister announced.
Bubba grumbled in Chinese. Then translated into English. “I told you before. This school is not a good idea. I teach her what she need to know.”
“But how she live?”
“What do you mean?”
“How she make a livin’? She have to work.”
“I teach her. She’s special. Your school will only confuse her.”
“You a beggar my son took in. We been over dis before. I’m her guardian. What I say goes. Make her come back.”
Bubba called out in Chinese. Hesitantly, her large brown eyes downcast, Dosandra returned.
Big Sister announced proudly. “We got to get you cleaned up and ready to go to school tomorrow. I bought you new clothes!” Big Sister worked for a wealthy family who’d promised to pay for Dosandra’s education. The same education their own children had – elite, exclusive, privileged – white.
Dosandra burst into tears and grabbed Bubba’s leg as if it were the last tree on the edge of a descent straight into hell.
Big Sister shook her head. Until the old man had arrived, Dosandra seemed a normal little toddler, but she’d become his shadow, following him everywhere; Chinese had even replaced English as her default language.
Big Sister spoke in her most conciliatory tone which wasn’t really conciliatory at all. “Tell her to speak English to me, to her teacher, and the other children.”
Bubba said something to the little girl in Chinese. Dosandra stopped crying. She stared up at Big Sister with huge doleful brown eyes, eyes of exquisite, monumental sadness that seemed to contain everything she knew and loved and that she was sure was about to be taken away.
Dosandra squirmed and fidgeted in the matching yellow and pink pants and top outfit Big Sister had bought for her. She felt as if her entire body and soul were in a straight jacket. Even her free-spirited hair was restrained by four bright yellow barrettes.
As the two entered The Chatam Hill Day School, Big Sister realized she and Dosandra were the only nonwhites in the swarm of students and parents. In Dosandra’s classroom, the cabinet-sized Victrola played Olivia Newton-John crooning Magic from the sound track of the movie Xanadu. President Jimmy Carter beamed down from his portrait above the black board.
A 5’ 4” young white woman smelling of lavender held out her hand to Big Sister. “I’m the teacher, Megan Smith,” she said. Her ready smile was instantly engaging and Big Sister felt a comforting warmth flow into her from the teacher’s hand.
Natural blond bobbed hair framed Megan’s pure white skin. She wore no makeup, and her bright red casual slacks and pale red buttoned shirt suggested a young woman who enjoyed play as much as the kids. In short she exuded the kind of energy that people wanted to be around – warm, fun, young, carefree - the kind of woman Big Sister knew men fancied.
“Good to meet ya,” Big Sister said, glancing at her left hand. There was no ring.
“And you must be Dosandra,” Megan said as she held out her hand to the little girl.
Dosandra stared up at Megan. Big Sister had never seen such a serious look on the girl’s face. It was in total contradiction to the festive mood of the first day of class. It scared her.
Her attention directed at Megan, Dosandra began moving her hands in front of her body in a purposeful manner, the movements Bubba had been teaching her the day before in the clearing.
Startled, Megan pulled back her hand. “Does Dosandra know sign language?”
Big Sister shook her head. “No. She do dat. She know how to speak English good. Sometimes she pretend she don’t. She like Chinese better.”
“What an interesting child.” Megan smiled a smile of such infinite kindness that Big Sister relaxed. She felt certain Megan could win the girl over. “First day of school is always hard,” Megan said.
Dosandra ran off to the far corner of the room. Atop a rustic wooden table in a golden Pervue cage perched a pale yellow love bird named Sweetie. Big Sister and Megan watched as the little girl proceeded to have an animated three-way conversation, her gaze moving from the bird to the adjacent empty corner as if there were someone there.
“She do dat,” Big Sister explained. “She talks an’ talks. Ain’t no one dere.”
Megan laughed. “Why, it’s an invisible friend! Is your granddaughter shy?”
“I suppose,” Big Sister answered. “I work most days, and she all alone at home with a….” Big Sister paused. She didn’t know what to call Bubba. Finally she said, “….baby sitter.” If she couldn’t explain Bubba to herself, how could she hope to capture his mercurial, totally annoying essence to anyone else?
“Dosandra will adjust in no time,” Megan reassured her. “Really.”
Returning to Sam’s rambling eighteenth century wooden farmhouse, Dosandra dashed straight through the rustic kitchen and past her favorite treat, still-warm black brownies. In her small room she flung herself dramatically on her handmade bed quilt. “I don’t want to go to school!” she cried over and over.
Bubba tried to go to her, but Big Sister stopped him. “Keep out of dis,” she insisted. “If you try to interfere wit’ Dosandra’s schooling, I have you arrested. And you never see her for months, till my son come home.”
“Can’t you see she’s unhappy?”
“Yes. De teacher said dat was normal. She need time to adjust. Time away from you.”
The old man’s words were as ominous as an avalanche about to fall, “No good will come of this.”
Over the next few days when not in school Dosandra spent all her time in her room. Big Sister could hear her talking solemnly sometimes in English, but usually in Chinese, with an invisible friend she called Joe. Dosandra said he was a friend from school. Big Sister thought this was a good sign.
However, at the kitchen table she wouldn’t touch any of her food, though she did bring “Joe” chocolate cookies and black brownies that Big Sister had prepared to tempt her. Little bits were nibbled away.
Feeling the nonsense about the school had gone on long enough, Big Sister entered Dosandra’s room. “You playin’ wit’ your little friend Joe again?”
“He’s not little, Nana, can’t you see?”
Relieved Dosandra was at least speaking in English, Big Sister answered, “No, I can’t see ‘im. Tell me about ‘im.”
“He’s like Daddy.”
Big Sister blurted out, “A full grown man?”
The little girl nodded.
“A negro man?”
The little girl shook her head.
“A white man?”
“What a full grown white man want wit’ a little girl like you?”
“He’s sad, Nana.”
“I still don’t understand….”
“The demon made him drink the big lizard juice and he dieded.”
Big Sister rubbed her forehead. What was this! Just when she thought Dosandra was making progress in school. Now come a grown white man, a demon, and a big lizard drink. That old scoundrel must have been sneaking into her room. “Is that what Bubba told you?”
Dosandra shook her head. “No. He said to try to like school. I do try. But I don’t. The demon scares me.”
“Megan. Megan made Joe dieded. Maybe she wants me to dieded too. Please let me stay home with Bubba, Nana! Please!”
Big Sister marched to Bubba’s old log cabin on her son’s land a few minutes from the big house. There he sat cross-legged on the grass, contemplating a scarecrow he’d made in his own image. At a quick glance it was almost impossible to tell the two apart. Except that Bubba was sitting on the ground and the scarecrow was standing. A large blue bird perched atop the crow’s head. Staring down at Bubba, the blue bird’s head was cocked to one side as if waiting for Bubba to talk.
Big Sister had grown up working in her family’s vegetable garden. Now she supervised a huge kitchen garden at her boss’s estate. She could identify the most obscure varietal plants by their common names, yet she was of a mind that all blue birds looked alike. That she often saw Bubba and Dosandra in the company of a bluebird did not convince her that there was indeed one blue bird with whom Bubba had a special relationship. Yes, he called the bluebird Ming. And he insisted she had been his wife in China. But Big Sister simply would not entertain the possibility that this could be the case.
With her back to the scarecrow and the bluebird Big Sister told Bubba about her talk with Dosandra about Joe, the demon, and the big lizard juice. She concluded by exclaiming, “Dis all your fault.”
Bubba scrunched up the skin around his eyes. “My fault? You insisted she go to that school. I warned you no good would come of it.”
Moving closer so she towered over him, Big Sister’s highest dudgeon surfaced. “You blamin’ me?”
“She’s safe here on the land. I can protect her.”
“For heaven’s sake. She a four-year-old girl. Protect her from what?”
“Killers? What killers?”
“She makin' all dis up ‘cause she just want to stay home from school. Can’t you see dat?”
“No. I believe her. Why don’t you?”
“You stay away from her. I’m going to talk to Megan and try to put….”
Suddenly Bubba leaped at least two feet into the air. The bluebird squawked loudly and flew at Big Sister and began pecking at her.
“Get away! Get away!” Big Sister cried as she twisted and ducked to avoid the bird.
Bubba hit the ground at a run, grabbed Big Sister’s arm, and said something in Chinese. The bird stopped shrieking and returned to the top of the scarecrow’s head. But her eyes remained fixed on Big Sister, her beak slightly agape, and her wings fully spread out and minutely quivering, as if ready to launch another all-out attack.
“Leggo of me. Leggo of me!” Big Sister cried, jerking to free herself from Bubba’s grasp.
His grip was much stronger than the most virile, hulking man she had ever known. And though she out weighed him by some fifty pounds, no matter how hard she pushed and pulled, she could not budge him. It was as if he were rooted to the earth’s core.
His voice broke over her like a tsunami. “Don’t talk to that teacher. If Megan finds out Dosandra knows she killed Joe, Dosandra’s in horrible danger.”
Entering the schoolroom, Big Sister found Megan filling the lovebird’s white plastic seed cup. “You’re such a good girl, Sweetie,” Megan’s melodious voice sang.
Seeing Big Sister Megan smiled broadly. “Welcome, Mrs. Williams.”
“Your granddaughter seems fascinated with Sweetie. She spends a lot of time with her. She’s very fond of animals, isn’t she?”
At that moment all Big Sister could think about was the sinister blue bird that had just attacked her. “Well, maybe she like birds.”
“Mrs. Williams, you sounded very concerned on the phone. What seems to be the trouble?”
Megan walked to her desk in the front of the room and motioned Big Sister to sit in her chair. But Big Sister shook her head.
“I don’t want to sit down.”
“Okay. Please, go on.”
“Is you ever been married?”
Megan smiled. “Let me put it this way, I fish a lot. But I haven’t impaled the right one.”
“Was one of dose fishes name a Joe?”
Megan brought her finger to her lips, and tilted her head back slightly as if trying to remember. “Maybe. But I don’t remember any Joe’s. Mrs. Williams, why are you asking these questions?”
“It’s Dosandra. She play at de house wit’ a grown white man name a Joe, only dre ain’t no one dere.”
Raising her hand as if brushing something away, Megan said, “That’s nothing, Mrs. Williams. As I told you before, children have invisible friends who can be grownups. It’s perfectly normal.”
“No, it ain’t. Not dis time.”
Megan’s brown eyes intensified their gaze. “What do you mean?”
“She say Joe was your husband and you poisoned him with big lizard juice and he dieded. She say you a demon.”
Megan’s ready laugh seemed to dance about the room as if it had a life of its own. “What an imagination! Perhaps she’ll grow up to be a writer. This is most wonderful news!”
Big Sister shook her head vehemently. “No, it ain’t. I’m worried she not right.” And Mrs. Williams pointed to her head.
“Let me assure you, Mrs. Williams, this is perfectly normal. Children often have adjustment problems, as we discussed before, and if they’re creative, they find creative ways to cope. If having these….illusions makes Dosandra feel better, why that’s great.”
“Megan, I helped raised up my nine brothers and sisters, and I had my own. Ain’t none of ‘em acted dis way.”
“Yes, yes, and that’s precisely the point. Don’t you see?”
“Dosandra’s special. It’s really very exciting.”
Big Sister recalled Bubba had said the girl was special too. So Big Sister was totally confused about what being special meant. Still, before he’d come the girl had seemed to her like any other toddler.
“Megan, she insist Joe be real.”
“Yes. And he is to her. In her vivid imagination. But that’s all. As she gets older and learns to harness it, it will turn out to be a blessing.”
“But what if she don’t?”
“Don’t learn to control it?”
Megan put her hand on Big Sister’s shoulder. Her touch was affectionate and kind. “Mrs. Williams, I’ve been here four years. I’ve taught quite a few children. Really, there’s nothing to worry about. But thank you for telling me. It will help me to better understand your granddaughter.”
Big Sister’s whole body relaxed.
The middle-aged principal Mrs. Karen Arthur followed Megan down the corridor. Mrs. Arthur always wore a riding habit and no one knew precisely why, though it gave her an official appearance as if she served in the United States Cavalry, a cavalry long since disbanded, but to which her allegiance would never waver.
Inside the empty classroom the two found Dosandra holding the remains of the love bird Sweetie. Her tiny lifeless yellow body in one hand, and her tinier detached cranium in the other. The blood of the creature colored Dosandra’s brown hands red.
As if there’d been a struggle, the open bird cage lay on the floor and seeds and water soiled the linoleum floor. Inside the cage was one of Dosandra’s bright yellow barrettes.
On sighting the two adults with the bird’s remains still in her hands, a grim-faced Dosandra tried to run out the door. But the two teachers blocked her.
Megan had tears in her eyes.
Mrs. Arthur said, “You little savage, what have you done.” And she shook her head and pursed her thin lips as if the bird’s decapitation was not entirely unexpected.
But the child was mute.
Shaking her head, Mrs. Arthur whispered to Megan, “This is what happens when you start to let….all kinds of people into this school.”
Megan’s body stiffened and she stared at Mrs. Arthur with disgust.
Doctor in the House
Child psychologist Felix Schiller was a 5’ 10” man in a brown wool sports jacket that no longer buttoned since he’d grown too fat for it, and baggy brown slacks. He had reddish blotched skin created by his gastronomic overindulgences and sedentary ways.
“Hello, hello, Dosandra. How are you today?” he inquired with a broad smile on his doughy face. His manner was that of exaggerated affability. He had a reputation among colleagues of being gifted with children.
Dosandra babbled in Chinese.
“I’m sorry, Dosandra, but I don’t speak that language,” he said in his most gentle voice.
Dr. Schiller’s office was chock-a-block with children’s toys and books and dolls and play areas.
Dosandra ignored the child bait, and pulled out his desk chair and sat down.
“Wouldn’t you rather sit on the floor and play with some toys?”
Dosandra shook her head.
He brought over an aluminum folding chair, and set it up in front of his desk, and sat down. Because Dosandra was so little all Dr. Schiller could see across the desk was her head which he found disconcerting.
Dosandra stared at him. Her expression fixed and serious, her eyes troubled.
“Dosandra, do you know why you’re here?”
She shook her head.
“Well, I understand you don’t like school. And you and I are going to try to find out why.”
Quickly and darkly Dosandra said, “The demon killeded Sweetie and my friend Joe. I think she’s going to killeded me.”
“I see,” said Schiller as he made notes on a yellow legal tablet with a fountain pen as big as a cigar. “That certainly is very, very scary. Let’s try to work this out. First who is Joe?”
“He married Megan. Then she made him drink big lizard juice and he dieded.”
Dr. Schiller knew Megan very well. He’d been consulting at the school for years. Megan was a delightful young woman whom the students and parents alike adored. He knew she was unmarried since he’d asked because he would have loved to date her. Of course, beyond the matter of his age, there was the matter of first his wife, second his looks, and third well, this was not on track.
“What about the bird….” Dr. Schiller referred to his yellow legal note pad, “….Sweetie?”
“The demon brokeded her head off. She dieded too.”
“But why would Megan do that?”
Her excited eyes were so wide they looked as if they might break through their sockets. “She’s a demon!” Dosandra exclaimed.
“What exactly is a demon?”
Circular reasoning to be sure. But the girl was four years old. He couldn’t expect much. “I see. Okay. Let’s get back to Joe. Is he here right now?”
Dosandra shook her head.
“Could you ask him to come here?”
“I already askeded him. He didn’t want to.”
“He said it was his fault.”
“What did he mean?”
“He said it was because he was my friend and he tolded me things that the demon killeded Sweetie.”
“But what did he mean that it was all his fault?”
“I don’t know.”
“Dosandra, Joe’s not a real man. You made him up in your mind. Do you know that?”
Dosandra pointed to her eyes. “I see him.” Then her ears. “I hear him.”
The doctor spoke slowly and as clearly as possible. “Yes, I know that. But you only think he’s a real person. Can you un-der-stan-d that?”
Staring directly at Dr. Schiller, Dosandra sighed and shook her head. She told him, “You’re stupid.” And refused to speak any more.
Later that afternoon sitting at his office desk Dr. Schiller reflected on Dosandra Williams. He well knew that young sociopaths began with killing animals and, as they grew older, often moved on to people. Also children naturally blamed others for anything they did that an authority figure did not like. Still this case was totally unique. The child did not want to go to school so she made up an entire narrative to label her teacher a killer, essentially framing her for the bird’s execution. Four year olds were not known to be capable of such complex reasoning. Yet this one was. How utterly diabolical!
It made Dr. Schiller shudder, his body fat undulating, to realize how dangerous this child would be when she got older. Yes he would inform Mrs. Arthur directly of his fear. And he would monitor Dosandra’s behavior as she developed into a full-blown sociopath. He would write up his initial consultation and observations for the journals. Dosandra Williams would be by far the youngest known sociopath in the entire annals of psychoanalytic literature. It would make his international reputation!
Big Sister sat with Megan in straight-backed wooden chairs in Mrs. Arthur’s Spartan office. Mrs. Arthur spoke with military formality. “The news isn’t good, Mrs. Williams. According to Dr. Schiller, your granddaughter could be a danger to the other students. I’m sorry. But we can’t have her here any longer.”
Standing Megan insisted, “Look here, Karen, she’s four years old. I want her to stay. I’ll keep an eye on her.”
The principal shook her head. “I appreciate your dedication, Megan, but the decision has been made. I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams.” Mrs. Arthur stood up.
Clearly the meeting was over.
Megan accompanied Big Sister out of the office.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Williams.” Megan’s words were heartfelt.
“Dere, dere, dear,” Mrs. Williams comforted her. “It’s not your fault. I appreciate all you done.”
“But what will you do with Dosandra now?”
“I don’t know. I speak to the man I work for.”
“Please let me know if there’s anything, anything at all I can do. And I’d like to be kept posted.”
“You so kind,” Big Sister said as she embraced her.
From the refrigerator door in her son’s kitchen Big Sister removed the notice of the next night’s 6-8 pm Parent-Teacher Conference at The Chatam Hill Day School. She had been looking forward to attending; instead she was about to throw it out.
Bubba walked in from outside.
Big Sister held up the paper and rattled it in the air. “Dis is your fault.” Her voice was alive with the fury of a hurricane-force wind.
He took the notice from her hand and glanced at it.
“The doctor say she dangerous. She can’t go to dat school no more.”
Bubba held up his hand. “Why do you listen to what anyone says about Dosandra? She’s not dangerous. You’re her grandmother. You know her.”
“Since you got here, old man, I don’t know her no more.”
“Yes, you do.”
For an instant Big Sister didn’t know what to think. She gazed out the window and saw Dosandra in her jeans “uniform” playing contentedly in the garden. The bluebird Ming perched on a branch overhead. Big Sister could not admit that perhaps, just perhaps the bluebird was Bubba’s wife from China. For if she did was certain she’d be locked up in some state asylum. But if it never came to that, she could swear the bluebird seemed to be staring reproachfully at her.
Magic v Stone
Booms of thunder roused Big Sister. In the darkening autumnal evening she found herself standing next to Bubba outside a simple white wooden cottage, on the well-packed dirt road.
Turning around, she tried to get her bearings. “Where we at?”
“How we get here?”
Bubba pointed to her Ford sedan parked a short way up the road.
“I drove?” Big Sister asked in a startled tone.
“What about Dosandra?”
“You called the babysitter.”
“I did? But what we doin’ here. Megan won’t be home. D’arent/eacher conference tonight, ain’t it?”
“Yes,” he agreed.
Big Sister reflected for a moment as the reality of Bubba’s intention exploded in her brain. “She a white woman! We go to jail and never get out!”
“Those school people and that big doctor have you believing your granddaughter is dangerous. Usually I ignore demons. There are too many of them. But this one, to cover her murder of Joe, framed Dosandra for killing an innocent bird.” Bubba shook his head. “That I will not tolerate. Also killers should not teach nursery school, except to train children as assassins.” He said with a grin.
Big Sister had no idea what he was talking about; she wasn’t really listening anyway. She was still trying to figure out how she’d gotten to Megan’s house.
“Come on,” she heard Bubba say.
Big Sister followed him around the house while he tried all the windows and both doors. But everything was locked. Next he moved to the side of the house. Looking through a large picture window Big Sister saw the mantle clock and heard it chime six times. The parent/teachers’ conference would be starting. “What you gonna do now, old man? Use magic to get in?”
“Magic is good.” Bubba picked up a huge grey stone and heaved it through the picture window. “But sometimes magic take too long.”
Bubba giggled. Coming from a man of his years with his looks, his high-pitched giggle could have convinced anyone he was totally deranged.
The quaint, one bedroom single-floored home was the picture of quiet domesticity.
“What we lookin’ for?”
“What you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“They keep those things.”
“Mortal demons. They like things, to have things, to get things, to keep things, to hoard things.”
“Mortal? We all mortal. Even you, old man.”
Bubba ignored her. He began his search of the cottage.
Big Sister glanced about her. The living room and kitchen were in total disarray as if ransacked by a herd of monkeys high on methamphetamine. The clock chimed eight times and as it did Big Sister couldn’t catch her breath; she felt the jail door clanking permanently closed on her.
“Ain’t nothin’ here, old man. We leavin’, now!”
He looked at her, his grey eyes blazing. Feeling his gaze Big Sister sensed she was falling helplessly into a pitch black, bottomless well. She was terrified, but then something inside of her suddenly gave way. She wasn’t falling into a well, but into utter, endless bliss. The realization made her feel both helpless and ecstatic and she burst into tears.
Big Sister had no idea how long she’s been in the bliss when something tugged on her arm. She opened her eyes and was overcome by sadness as she realized she was in Megan’s bedroom. She wanted to remain in the bliss forever.
Bubba had moved the heavy wooden headboard from the peach colored wall and revealed a dark red 8 1/2” x 11” envelope taped to the back.
“What the fuck is going on here!” Megan screamed from the door as she drew from her canvas purse a Smith and Wesson lady’s revolver. Her body was tight and stiff.
Bubba nodded toward the headboard.
Megan shrugged. “Go ahead. You might as well know everything before I kill you. You broke in here and trashed my place. Why the powers that be will probably give me a medal.”
With Big Sister next to him, Bubba stripped the unsealed envelop from the headboard. Inside was an 8 ½” x 11” photograph and a newspaper clipping. Dressed in running clothes with race numbers pinned on their front, Megan and a tall handsome young dark haired man beamed. The man held a huge bottle of Gatorade.
Bubba pointed to the sports drink. “Gator is alligator, big lizard,” he explained to Big Sister.
“Goes nicely with ethylene glycol, auto engine antifreeze. Colorless and sweet tasting,” Megan added.
Bubba pointed to the photograph. “Joe?”
“My late husband.”
Bubba and Big Sister read the news clip.
Joseph Adair, twenty, of West Hollywood succumbed late yesterday afternoon to complications
from an intestinal disease. Mr. Adair, an actor, appeared in such television shows as Hawaii Five-O,
Gunsmoke, Love American Style, and others. He is survived by his bride of eight months, Megan Smith,
a student. Donations may be made in his memory to The Actors Fund.
“Why you done dat?” Big Sister asked.
Megan shrugged. Her face was tight; her lips sneered. “He bored me. I’d never killed before, so I thought it might be amusing. But no such luck. It was just, I don’t know, nothing. I never had ‘normal’ feelings. I’ve watched other people and learned how to act like they do. It’s easy to pass; normals have so little insight, so much self involvement. I’m relieved I’m not like they are. How they seem to suffer over most every little thing. I wouldn’t want to live that way. The key is not getting caught. I cremated Joe’s body. There’s no evidence.”
A regular church goer Big Sister asked, “But ain’t you worried about what come after dis?”
Megan laughed. But instead of dancing about, her laugh thudded to the floor. “There’s nothing beyond this.”
Bubba didn’t want Big Sister to see what was going on. He touched her neck and arm, and she lost consciousness. As she fell he caught the statuesque woman as if she were weightless. He lifted her effortlessly and placed her carefully on the bed.
“What did you do to her?” Megan asked.
“Who are you anyway?”
On hearing that he was a teacher, Megan softened. “Look, it wasn’t my proudest moment framing Dosandra for killing Sweetie. But I had no choice. She knew what happened. I mean, big lizard juice? That’s close. I had to discredit her before anyone started asking serious questions. Or before she got any older.
How could she speak to Joe? He’s dead.”
“He’s a shen. A friendly ghost. I’ve taught her to see them, but right now she can’t really tell them from normal humans.”
“If that’s true, it wasn’t a good idea.” Taking aim at Bubba, Megan squeezed the revolver’s trigger.
Only the gun did not fire.
She tried again, but the trigger was stuck. As she ran toward the phone by the side of the bed, she hurled the gun at Bubba.
He dodged it and got to the phone before she did. “No police.” His voice was calm as if nothing unusual was going on.
She stared at him, not knowing what to make of him. Her gun had worked perfectly that afternoon when she’d taken target practice in the woods. Unlike automatics, cleaned revolvers virtually did not jam. She felt certain he had done something to it, but it had not been out of her sight all day. He’d had no access. She realized that with him she was playing on an entirely different level where she didn’t even know the rudiments of the game. She said without emotion, “What do you want?”
“Write that you killed the bird, then disappear.”
“But what about the ghost? Will anyone else see him?”
“A few. Most won’t care.”
“Can you get rid of him?”
He lied. “No.”
Megan considered. “But suppose I go along with you. How can I ever explain killing the bird? It’s totally deranged. I mean, I know I’m a sociopath; but I’m far from psychotic. ”
Bubba’s smile was as easy to explain as the Mona Lisa’s.
Sitting at the kitchen table, Big Sister read Megan Smith’s confession.
I killed the bird Sweetie. I don’t really like niggers and didn’t want Dosandra Williams in my class.
So this was the way I thought I could get her out. I realize what I’ve done is horrible and despicable.
I’ve gone away to get help. Please do not try to find me.
I am truly sorry. Megan Smith
“I don’t like what you done,” Big Sister said.
Bubba was eating one of her black brownies and crumbs covered his lips and shirt. “I did it for Dosandra. I want her to have peace to learn in.”
“But Megan killed Joe.”
“She cremated the body. There’s no evidence except what a ghost said to a four-year-old girl. You and I broke into her house. That could get us in jail. Guis are everywhere, all around us. If they’re dead, they try to steal human energy to materialize. If they’re alive, they’re like Megan, pure evil, unlike a shen like Joe, the husband she killed. He’s a harmless spirit who just wants to warn people about Megan. Dosandra hasn’t learned enough yet. When she does, the guis won’t be able to bother her. Then you can send her to school.”
“But Megan’ll do bad things again.”
“As will countless others. It’s human nature. You can’t change the flow of the sea. You find a quiet place away from the shore. That is how to live.”
Dressed in her messed-up jeans outfit, her hair wilder than ever, Dosandra danced into the room over to the kitchen window. “Ming’s here,” she shouted and dashed outside to play.