In Dire Straights


A cry for help can come from the oddest places. We all need a little help at one time or another throughout our lives. I’m not just talking about people needing help, but I’m referring to dogs and cats and horses and all those creatures who sometimes can’t pull themselves of the circumstances they find themselves locked into. It might even be a pigeon needing assistance. And that pigeon might even return the favor of you saving its ass by shitting on your car. However, we don’t go out of our way to assist others for a reward or for the appreciation from another being. We do it because we see a fellow creature in desperate need. The award is the uplifting feeling that arises within when individuals act together or alone towards a selfless goal.

Last spring I worked a shutdown at a pulp mill, I wasn’t involved in welding fractured metal or replacing worn pipes or cracking on wrenches to fine-tune a motor. I was a tank watch person. I was assigned each morning to watch the door of a vessel that may or may not have previously contained chemicals and caustic substances. I was responsible for ensuring the gas test was kept current for the people that would be working inside, and I was responsible for signing people in and out of the tank as they came and went to ensure everyone got out of the vessel safely.

One unusually warm spring day when the upper levels of the plant hovered near thirty-two degree’s, I was posted on the eleventh floor of the recovery boiler. My morning was passing as slowly as an ice cube melts in a chilled drink. The vessel I watched contained only one welder creating the odd burst of fireworks. The steady rumble of engines below vibrated through my feet on the steel grating. A shadow flickered by in my peripheral vision. I turned my head to the disturbance of light. Nothing existed there. I refocused my attention on the hatchway mesmerized by the reflection of the tradesman’s sparks dancing on the shiny metal. Again a shadow swept into the edge of my sight. I twisted around in time to witness a pigeon land on a pipe suspended from the ceiling. I sighed. Its outcome wasn’t promising. A few hours earlier, Marty, the gas tester had pointed out a couple of dehydrated pigeon husks at the top of an elevated section on the eleventh floor. I felt terrible. What an awful way to die. Trapped up here in a manmade dust bowl hearing nothing but the roar of machinery in the absence of sun and water.

Over the next forty-five minutes, the bird renewed its cycle of fluttering around and then landing intermittently. If a bird could pant, I would have thought it was panting. At one point it settled on the steel grating twenty feet away from me. The pigeon was noticeably distressed.

When the welder went downstairs to the camp trailer for his coffee break, I marked my vessel closed and tried to steer the bird towards a fenced off open shaft leading down to the bottom floor of the building. Maybe I could get it to dive down to freedom. It was going  well, the bird hopped up onto the cement border surrounding the shaft and cocked its head eyeing me up. Maybe it sensed the cooler fresh air wafting up the shaft. Perhaps it would escape the fate of its fleshless relatives on the eleventh floor. I hoped with all the hope I had that the bird would soon be liberated. I watched the pigeon spread its broad wings and leap off the cement curb. I held my breath— It dropped down and then quickly flew upwards and landed on the nearest metal platform.  I shook my head. Of course, it wouldn’t go down, pigeons aren’t diving birds.

I heaved out an exasperated sigh and spoke to the bird. “You know, I said tipping my head to the side, “If you would frickin co-operate with me I could pick you up and carry you outside?” The greyish blue pigeon tilted its head and eyed me with a curious stare. It blinked, and then I blinked. Now we were communicating. I crept up the stairs on the metal platform towards it. It side-stepped around to watch me. I spoke in a soothing tone, “That’s right, ohhh, you’re such a pretty bird. Good job, you’re doing wonderfully.” I continued approaching with sneaky movements. My hand was four inches away from the creature. I saw the thin layer of dust on its plumage, and the way it puffed in and out with stressful breathes. It looked nervous. It was going to fly. I made my move. I snatched at the bird, and my fingers brushed past its feathers as it flew away. I wrinkled my nose and growled— So close.

I glanced at my white-banded wrist watch. The welder wouldn’t be back for another twenty minutes. That would give me enough time to go down and use the bathroom and go to the tank watch trailer to refill my water. I pressed the button for the elevator. I waited a minute, and then I decided to take the stairs. If I stayed I’d be delayed forever because the elevator was always backed up at coffee time. As I trotted down the cement stairs, I poked around in my brain trying to stir up an idea how to trap the pigeon. After I had emptied my bladder and filled up my water, I headed back to my post. I lucked out, there was no line-up at the elevator. I pressed the button and abracadabra the doors opened.

I stepped inside, “Hi Mike, the eleventh floor please.”

“Sure thing,” he answered merrily, Mike always seemed to be in a good mood. He did this shut-down work as a part-time gig to supplement his retirement income and add a bit of diversity to his life. He usually had a tank watching assignment like myself, but today he was giving the elevator lady a break from her tedious job.

He pressed the button, and asked, “How’s it going up there?”

“Pretty good,” I said straightening my hard hat. “A bit boring though with only one welder working in the tank . How about you? Good times in the elevator?”

He chuckled, and then leaned back on his stool regarding me with a curious expression, “Actually,” he drawled. “You wouldn’t believe it? When I went up to the eleventh floor earlier and the door opened there was no one there— And then—a bloody pigeon walked right into the elevator.

My mouth dropped open and relief flooded into my body, the little pigeon was rescued from his prison of heat and dust. “That’s great,” I exclaimed, ”Did you give him a ride down?”

He frowned and scratched his gray head, “Well no— I shooed him away.”

“Oh,” I said as my face lost all enthusiasm for life.

Mike couldn’t help but notice, “Well, maybe he’ll still be there?”

“Yeah, maybe, I replied glumly.

We arrive on the eleventh floor, and the door slid open.

Mike leaned forward and the jabbed a finger towards the opening, “There it is.”

My excitement returned, and my eyes shimmered with glee, “Ok,” I whispered to Mike. “You hold the door open. I’ll herd it in, and then you take it to the ground floor and shush it out. The big door to the outside is right there, I’m sure it’ll find it’s way out from there.”

I moved stealthily out of the elevator while Mike kept the door open. I crouched down so I wouldn’t be as intimidating to the bird. Then I gently waved the pigeon in the direction of the elevator. The worn out fowl strutted right into the confined space like a well-trained trooper. Mike pushed the button to close the door as the pigeon hovered against the far wall. I grinned widely at my accomplice, “Good luck Mike, it’s all yours now.”

He smiled hesitantly, “See you later.”

The door shut and I couldn’t help but wonder if Mike would have pigeon shit in his hair the next time I saw him. Or even worse, what if the bird freaked out with claws extended frantic to escape the tight space? My co-worker might have bleeding gashes on top of his silver-haired head the next time I saw him. What have I instigated now?

On my lunch break, I actively searched for Mike. I exhaled a weighty sigh of relief when I found him. There was no bloody rips in his skin or bird shit in his hair. I plopped down on the chair beside him and asked, “How did the pigeon transport go?”

He giggled a bit and then went on with breathy expression, “Well, it started out alright.  The bird was as calm and as cool as could be. Even when the elevator started moving it simply looked around like it was no big deal. But then when we stopped on the fourth floor and  people got on—” Mike sucked in a deep breath of air and puffed it out shaking his head,  “It went crazy. The bird started flapping all over the place, and people were ducking and squealing.” He chuckled and leaned in close to me, “I closed the door anyhow. Then the pigeon really went bonkers— I thought, oh no— but then out of the blue a welder reached up and plucked the bird right out of the air. He tucked it under his arm, and when we arrived at ground level, he walked the little critter outside and set him free.” Mike shook his head with amazement, “I just couldn’t believe how quickly that guy snatched the bird out of the air.”

“That’s awesome,” I laughed. Big bubbles joy rose up inside me. One less husk on the eleventh floor. I slapped Mike enthusiastically on the shoulder, “Good job man, but I have to say after the door closed upstairs, I was worried about you, I had visions of you being covered in bird shit and claw marks.”

He chuckled, “Nope, no pigeon poop. But it wasn’t all me, you coaxed the bird into the elevator. I couldn’t believe how you ushered it in. Boop, boop, boop.”

“That part was easy, I had plenty of practice shepherding chickens when I was younger.” I paused. “But that welder you mentioned? That was cool.” I pause trying to find the words to describe what we had done, “What’s that saying? It takes a village to raise a child? Well, apparently it takes a work crew to free a pigeon.”

That was a good day. It was such a brilliant feeling to help a creature that was in dire straits. I hope you have a pigeon rescuing kind of day.

Beware of the Ouija Board


Welcome to the final instalment of Beware of the Ouija Board.

It’s funny how we desire to see the mystical in our world, and the second it materializes we search for a logical reason to explain it away. Some scientists have studied the paranormal activity of the Ouija board, and have determined the movement of the pointer can be explained by the ideomotor effect.Which means a person may be using their muscles to react reflexively on ideas at an unconscious level. What it boils down to is that the scientists think a person has subconsciously decided to take action and is directing the pointer to the answer. Having had some experience with the Ouija board, I disagree. That reasoning does not explain the freezing cold rooms, or the weird behavior of the candle flames, or interference with the lights, or being watched by ghostly apparitions.

The morning after Giselle and I popped our Ouija cherry I woke to the sound of a blaring horn. I slam my hand down on my alarm button and silence the beastly noise. I leap out of bed to greet the day, relieved that no evil spirit had decided to take over my body for the night. I throw off my PJ’s and quickly throw on my underwear. I choose a pair of Levi jeans from the drawer beside the bed and then speedily shove my foot into my jeans. I halt for a moment. An intense sensation of being watched overwhelms me. The prickling impression crawls up along the back of my neck. I reach around trying to rub it away. My eyes search the room like indecisive butterflies not knowing where to land. There is nothing. An unbidden fear snatches at my breath—You can’t see spirits. I swiftly jerk my jeans up over my hips, and zip, and button with fumbling fingers. I snatch a t-shirt from my drawer. It’s an Olds College T-shirt from my hallway group in residence. It spells, Equine Ave. on the top and has a picture below of a cartoon horse splay legged with an ice pack on its head, and half a dozen empty beer bottles scattered around it’s feet. Underneath the picture, is written, Brewed Mares, Equine Studies, Olds College. Yeah, we were the classy hallway organization.

The phone rings at the other end of the trailer. Its brash tone calls out insistently.

I race down the hallway coming to a quick halt beside the phone hanging on the wall. I yank the phone receiver to my ear suspecting the worst. It’s far too early for good news phone calls. “Hello?”

“Morning Deb,” says my boss, Terry. “Listen, I know it’s early but, before any other blabbermouth spills the beans, I figured I’d better be the one to tell you that the bank foreclosed on Crossman’s stable and house. I found out late yesterday, but I had to haul some horses from Lake View Farms to the racetrack last night. Sorry, I didn’t have time to call.”

“Oh. It’s okay,” I answer numbly. A twang of shock rockets through my chest. Shit. Does that mean I’m unemployed? “Does—“ I begin my question and lean against the wall for support. I just started this job a couple months ago.

Terry silences my words by continuing to talk, “You’re not the only one affected. The bank foreclosed on everything. This place is foreclosed on too.” He pauses. I can hear dragging deeply on his cigarette. “The good news is that bank is keeping me on to manage your stable and mine. So in the short term, it’ll be business as usual. At least for a while— Of course the borders at your stable will need to find new homes for their horses. In the meantime, I don’t want you to go on a runaway to find a new job. I’m in negotiations with the bank, and I’ll be signing an agreement to rent Lake View Farms for a three-year term.” He hesitates, I hear him inhale from his smoke again, and then his raspy voice continues, “Shelley, my right-hand gal down here has decided to exercise thoroughbreds at the track full time, so when the dust settles— I’d like you to come to work here for me. How does that sound?”

I twirl the phone cord around my finger. I tighten it to the point of being uncomfortable. “Good, I guess.” I feel a sudden affinity towards a calf in the calf roping competitions, my feet have been yanked out from under me, and I’ve been hogtied hand to foot.

Terry clears his throat loudly, and his voice becomes stronger, “There’s no easy way to say the rest, but here’s the bad news. You’ll have to keep your eyes open for a while. Crossman is spitting fire. I guess he went wild when the bank told him they were foreclosing on him and he was getting evicted from his home and property. He threatened to burn the stable down to the ground.”

“What? My stable?” I gasp. “The one I’m working at?” My finger turns purple as the phone cord restricts my blood circulation.

“Yup, and mine too. But don’t pay it any attention, the bank hired a security company to protect the farms— you’ll have a security guard patrolling the area twenty-four-seven.”

“A security guard? Really?” I rub my forehead feeling a ping of pain in my temple. “For how long?”

“As long as they need it.”

I picture the overweight, overbearing man who had lived in the fancy house just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the barn. “What a dick wad.”

“That’s a nice name for him,” remarks Terry with a chuckle. “He deserves worse. I’ll try to come up there later in the day, whether I actually do or not will depend on how everything goes here, and at the bank. The main thing is that you don’t worry about anything. Leave the worry to someone else— like me. Just remember, it’s business as usual. I’ll be the one breaking the news to the horse owners boarding at your stable.”

“Okay.” I agree, sounding utterly unconvinced. Leave the worry to someone else? That’s never been my style. He obviously doesn’t know me very well. I pop my head around the corner of the kitchen cabinets and check the clock on the stove. It‘s 7:00 a.m. “I gotta go, Terry, it’s time to feed.”

“You bet Deb. I better get going too. I’ll talk to you later. Goodbye,” says Terry.

I hang up the phone. Then I realize I didn’t say goodbye. That’s rude, I hope Terry doesn’t consider that rude. A flash of memory zips through my mind. My mouth drops open, while my heart thumps against my ribs. Shit! I didn’t say goodbye— We didn’t say goodbye. Giselle and I didn’t close the Ouija Board last night. I run a hand across my brow and wince. Dammit, I need this worry like a hole in the head. I have work to do. I have no time for Ouija bullshit. What a great start to the morning. Thanks, Giselle, now I might have nasty spirits and a firebug running around on the loose.

I stomp over to the cupboard grab a granola bar and stick it in my back pocket. I’ll eat it while I’m walking the horses out to the paddocks. I throw on my coat and boots and head outside to start my morning. I step outside and look down. The Ouija box is still there. Sadly no one had stolen it during the night. The top of the game box is covered with dew. I pick up the box and wipe the lid off with the sleeve of my plaid coat. I lift my gaze to the cloudy sky, and a raindrop plops into my eye. I release a weighted sigh and toss the box inside my porch. I can’t leave it outside— It’s not my property.

A few tiny specks of water soak into my coat as I traipse to the barn. It can’t even be called rain if you want to be technical. I’m being spit on. The clouds are spitting on me. It’s going to be a glorious day. I feel like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. I slide open the barn door, and I am greeted by a chorus of whinnies. Now there’s my happy thought for the day. My heart swells with affection, and I can’t help but grin at their dependableness. They know my routines as well as I do. I’m going to be just fine. I go about my schedule feeding and watering and then lead them out to their paddocks for the day. Then I coordinate my tools to clean stalls, I park the wheelbarrow at the entrance of the first stall and start forking the horseshit and wet straw into the cart. The radio is playing an upbeat song from the country band Alabama. The lights flicker, and the music cuts in and out. I poke my head out of the stall listening for thunder. There is none.  I peek down the alleyway. I see a man in the shadows wearing a cowboy hat. I blink, and he is gone. I narrow my eyes squinting at the place where he had been. I know there was someone there.

I cautiously wander down the alleyway. I come to a halt at the exact place where he had stood. I was standing directly opposite to the entrance of the hot walker area. I glance at the closed door almost expecting it to be open. It was shut. Of course, it was shut. I always kept it shut no one ever used it now. A thought bloomed my mind, what if Crossman carried out his threat and hired someone to burn the barn down? My nerves dance in my body, I’m responsible for this stable. I grasp the cool metal handle and pull. The door slides open. It groans like a dying animal. I peer inside the darkened space. I can’t see shit. I stretch my arm inside and to the left feeling for the light switch. I locate it and flick it on. The bony limbs of the hot walker are now dimly lit. I peer around, and my anxiety eases. I’m the only person in the space. The lights die momentarily and then spring to life. They continue in this irritating fashion. I step into the area to have a better look around. I stop. My hand automatically flies to my heart. In the corner of the cavernous room, deep in the shadows when the light flickers out, I see a shadowy man holding a pitchfork. I jolt backward and bang into the edge of the doorway. My body freezes. I stare with unblinking eyes at this ghostly apparition. It disappears when the light flashes on and returns when it’s dark.

And then it grins.

My throat aches to scream, but my mouth will not move. I cringe against the door. To my unspeakable relief, the lights steady and the ghostly figure is gone.

I want to run away from this place. I want to pack up my things and throw them in a vehicle and drive away. But I have no vehicle and no way out. What I do have is responsibilities. I rub at my chest trying to massage the fear away. I huff in and out and finally manage a deeper breath. My muscles relax slightly, and I retreat from the hot walker room and close the door. I shake my head. It has to be my imagination. Nothing is going on here. I need to believe that if I’m going to continue my day. I head back to cleaning stalls—a wooden marionette on strings.   I go back to my trailer for lunch. I traipse past the Ouija game lying on my porch floor. I ignore it as I do the catcalls from ill-mannered construction workers. I’m practiced at disregarding things I don’t want to see. I eat my grilled cheese while I watch an episode of the Flintstones. My gramps would have laughed at me— A grouchy sandwich was still my favourite lunch. Maybe I should call my grandpa up on the Ouija board. He would get rid of the badass spirit that’s been following me around?

The rest of the day I keep my focus on what’s in front of me. I refuse to use my peripheral vision. Terry never did show up that day, and neither did the security guard. I could have used the company.

By the end of my workday, I had come to the conclusion I needed to close the Ouija board. We didn’t do it last night. It had to be the reason I was seeing ghostly images.

I make a quick supper of chunky soup, grilled sirloin steak with vegetables. I force myself to eat, and then I wash the dishes feeling a mantle of dread laid across my shoulders. I didn’t want to touch the Ouija. But my desire to be rid of the unwelcome spirits was greater. I march into my porch like I’d been assigned a task from my dad. Show no fear, get the job done and there’s no sense whining— no one wants to listen anyhow. I pick up the box from the floor of my porch and carry the game into my living room. I may as well sit on a comfy seat while I’m being terrified. I unpack the game in a matter of fact way and light a candle. I keep the kitchen lights on, after all, there’s no one here to complain but me. I rub my hands together and put my fingertips on the pointer. I try to release some of my worry, heck, this may not even work with only one person.” Is there anybody here?” I ask. Sincerely hoping there was not.

The plastic is smooth under my fingertips, a simple inanimate object. There is not even a tingle of vibration happening. A clunking noise originates from the utility room, it sounds like a body falling to the floor. It’s just the furnace kicking on. My anxiety level rises. I think that is an appropriate state for anyone waiting to talk to the dead. I settle into a meditative state and bring my attention to the board. A tingling sensation begins to enter my fingertips.

“Bang, bang, bang!”

I jolt with a fright, and then swallow hard to dislodge my heart from my throat. I push myself to my feet and stomp towards my front porch. Who’s the lost soul knocking on my door at this time of night? It must be Terry, no one else would show up unannounced.

I flip the porch light on and fling open the door. “What—“ I begin. The question dies on my lips. A hulky male wearing a security guard outfit two sizes too small is perched on my front step. He has a high and tight military haircut accompanied by a thin-lipped uncertain grin.

“Hi,” he says. “I’m Paul, the security detail. I thought I should introduce myself and let you know Mr. Crossman is packed up and gone from the premises.”

Oh yeah… the security detail. I casually reach up and slide a hand across my face checking for remnants of dirt, or soup. I don’t even remember if I washed my face after work. I nod, “Great, I’m glad he’s gone. He was a douchebag.” I stick out my hand and introduce myself, “I’m Debby.”

He accepts my greeting and delivers a wet noodle handshake. “Yeah, I’m Paul— Oh, I said that already. Sorry.” He lowers his gaze and fiddles with his belt adjusting his flashlight.

“So you’re the security?” I say, a lame attempt at conversation. “Do you know how long you’re here for?”

He bobs his head happily. “Twelve hours, I do the night shift, and another guy will do the day shift.”

I laugh kind of obnoxiously, “No, I mean how many days?

He flushes and then shrugs, “I won’t know until my boss sends us somewhere else. It’s kind of a fly by the seat of my pants job.

I giggle weirdly, not knowing if that’s supposed to be funny or not. “Great— I mean it’s good you have a job.” My mind suddenly touches on the Ouija board sitting openon my table, and the shadowy form that I encountered during the day. “Hey,” I exclaim, “Where are you going to be tonight— in case I notice someone creeping around outside my place?”

He lifts his shoulders, and he looks more self-assured. He definitely appears more capable now. “I’ll be around, just holler, it’s a small area to patrol.”

I dip my head. “Deadly— Thanks Paul, and hey, thanks for checking in.”

He continues to linger on my top step.

I wasn’t sure what else he expected? I retreat further back into my porch and swing the door closed, so it’s hiding half my body. I hope he can take a hint. I smile and wave my hand towards the night. “I guess you probably need to get to work now?”

His body judders to life and heads down the steps.

“See you tomorrow,” I call out watching him disappear into the dark.

“Yeah,” he waves a hand. “That’s cool. Catcha tomorrow.”

I slam the door and lock it closing off the world outside. I return to the Ouija with breathless intent. Everything is positioned as I left it. The candle burns in a typical calming fashion, and the room is comfortably warm. I feel the tension in my body lessen. I flop on the couch and lean in closer to the board resting on the coffee table. I jump right in, “Are there any spirits here?” Within moments the weaker vibration from last night returns to the pointer.

It slides easily to the word, yes.

My chest puffs up with a glowing satisfaction and a cocky smile forms on my face. I didn’t need Giselle to make this work. The energy directing the cursor is swaying in a laissez-faire manner. It practically hovers over the board. I feel my ego swell with thoughts of being extra special.  After all, I must be unique if I can manage the Ouija board alone.

“Is my Grampa Walter there?” I ask. The candlelight in the room brightens momentarily, yet the pointer sails to “No.”

“Has he moved on?”

The Ouija responds, “Yes.”

I feel a combination of disappointment and relief well up within me. I would have loved to chat with my irreplaceable Gramps. On the positive side, this meant he had moved on to where he was supposed to go instead of clinging to the energy of the living. By this time I had forgotten all about closing the board. I was firmly interwoven with the power of the Ouija. When I became self-aware, I realize, I’m exhausted. I lift my fingers off the board and check the time. It’s well past midnight, and if you had been there to ask me what had taken place—I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. It was three days and two nights until Robbi, and Giselle would arrive to play, and my good intentions about reciting the Lord’s Prayer or having my cross necklace handy had faded away.

The next morning I complete my chores in a daze. All I thought about was interacting with the power of the Ouija again. I played whenever I could. My fingers were on the pointer in the morning before work, on my lunch break, and in the evening late into the night. I learned to set the timer to keep me on schedule during working hours. In those three days during my Ouija addiction I may have seen, or even talked to Terry, or to the security guards that patrolled the property day and night, but to be forthright, I couldn’t remember. I functioned like a robot on automatic. The only time I felt truly alive was when my fingers were connected with the board.

Thursday evening arrives. I have a vague memory of talking to Robbi, but I don’t know for sure. The real world is like participating in a waking dream, and the Ouija was my actual life. I almost didn’t want Robbi to come, and that little fact was bizarre.  Robbi was my most excellent friend from college. Have you ever experienced meeting someone for the first time, but the minute they walk away you can’t recall the color of their eyes or the shape of their smile? Well, it wasn’t that way when I met Robbi. I remember her eyes were blue, but not merely blue because they’d shift color like the shades of salty water along the ocean shore. She had a hint of a smile at our first meeting, and it was a small sarcastic grin to be sure. However, once I got to know her, she’d lower her guard, and her smile would sweep across her face— a sunrise lighting the sky on fire. Her most noticeable feature though was her shining mane of strawberry blonde hair which cascaded down to her ankles. She usually kept it in a braid, and it earned her the nickname, Punz— short for Rapunzel of course.

I prepare for my guests in a trancelike state. I set up the Ouija board with reverent care. I place the candles in position. Although I had found in the recent days that candles aren’t needed, the spirits will converse under any condition. As my mind lands on that thought, an underlying uneasiness expands inside my chest. I vaguely wonder if something is wrong with me. I try to focus on the feeling… but then as if I were an old woman saddled by dementia the thought I held is whisked away, and I can’t quite grasp why it had been so important in the first place.

At 5:30 I hear Robbi’s truck pull up beside the trailer. I move to greet her at the door. She bounces into my porch carrying a take-out bag from Arby’s. She raises it toward me. “Hi Honey, I’m home.”

I laugh. My stomach growls as I accept her offering.  “Oh man, you’re the bomb, Rob. How’d you know it’s feeding time at the zoo?”

She draws in her brows and gives me an odd look, “Probably because the zookeeper called me,” she says following me inside.

I stop in my tracks and turn lifting my chin towards her. “Get real, Robbi, you’re messing with me— I didn’t call.”

She jerks back with a look of confusion on her face. “You did Deb. You called me at noon.”

I frown. “That’s strange. I don’t remember calling you.” I set the bag on the counter in a daze trying to remember the phone call. Grease spots seep through where the French fries have pushed up against the paper.

Robbi steps up beside me and gives her head a slow shake. Her braid bounces against the front of her shoulder. “I always knew this day would come.”

I set a plate on the counter and open the bag. “What day are you talking about?” I pause looking inside the bag. “And where’s your food?”

“I ate mine on the way,” she says. “And I’m talking about the day you lose your mind. All those times you’ve tumbled off the horses and smoked your head on the ground have finally caught up to you, huh?”

I nudge her with my shoulder, “Shut up… You’re such a loser.” I transfer my Beef and Cheddar bun, and French fries to a plate. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“You called me earlier.”

I think back through my day again — nothing seems clear. I glance at the Ouija board. My insides tremble. “Yeah, you’re right Rob. I probably just forgot.” I carry my plate to the table and sit down. “Do you want a drink?”

She grabs a glass from the cupboard, “ I’ll have water—do you want one? Maybe you need to hydrate your brain since it’s going to mush.”

I nod, chewing on a ridiculously large bite of my sandwich.

She brings our water to the table and settles into the chair across from me. Her eyes examine my face.

I try to wiggle out from under her stare shifting my head from side to side. I swallow hard. “What?” I ask. “Stop looking at me. You’re freaking me out.”

She slants forward and rests her arms on the table with a concerned expression. “Why do you look so terrible?” she asks in a caring tone. Then trying to lighten the mood she adds, “Have you been bar hopping without me?”

I cringe inside. Robbi is trying to figure out my secret. I scowl. “I’m so sure— Yes. I’ve been cruising the bars on my pedal bike.” I snap picking up a french fry and waving it around. “No, of course, I haven’t been to the bar.  I’ve been here waiting for Crossman to burn the place down.”

“Someone’s testy,” she comments with scepticism in her eyes. “Yeah, you told me about the Crossman thing—“ Robbi narrows her eyes as she watches my face. “Do you remember telling me that?”

I didn’t remember that at all. “Yeah,” I lie. “Of course.” My face flushes.

“Yeah, right,” she says sarcastically. “Come on, spit it out. What’s going on with you?”

I chew on a few French fries. My eyes dart towards the game on the table. My friend is like a dog with a meaty bone. “I’ve been playing Ouija by myself,” I confess.

Her eyes widen, “What? I didn’t think that was possible.”

I shrug, “Apparently it is,” I say. The words are coated with haughtiness.

She wags her head in denial, and confusion clouds her eyes. “Why would you play it by yourself. You told me something took over the board when you played with Giselle.”

I shrug my shoulders again letting her words slip away, “I’ve been fine on my own.”

Her brow furrows and anger sparks in her voice, “Are you for real? You’re notfine. You’re losing your memory, and you look like a burnout who’s been living on the street.”

I giggle and reach across the table with an open palm,  “Do you have a fix for a desperate burnout?”

She smacks my hand away. “There’s no fix for the hopeless.” Her attention shifts to the game on the table. “I’ve always wondered about the Ouija board— But considering what it’s done to you, I’m freakin scared now.” She wraps her arms around herself and shivers.

I frown. Robbi’s words wake me. I analyse her eyes, they’ve transformed to the color of the deep blue sea. It’s an honest concern. It’s not like my friend to admit to her fear. Maybe there is something wrong with me. I instigate an internal investigation into myself. At first, there is nothing because I’m checking for sections of discourse in separate parts of myself. Then I do a scan of my entire body. I discover I am swathed in an invisible shell of energy that connects me to the Ouija. The connection looks like an umbilical cord to the game. I recoil in horror. I mentally slash at the woven sheath. Thank God it’s easily torn. As I shred it into bits, it disintegrates like steam from a kettle. I suck in a gasp of air like a newborn infant. My surroundings crystalize into focus, and I am alive once more. I feel my blood coursing through my veins and warming my body. I am aware. I can feel again. My hand shakes uncontrollably on my lap. What was walking around in me for the last few days?

Robbi’s stares at me, amazement flashes through her face, “If I hadn’t have seen it myself I never would have believed it. You have color in your face. You look like yourself again— like the pain in the ass I’ve always known.”

My vision is obscured by a sudden swell of tears. I’m free. I didn’t even know I was captive. I glance at the board and wipe away my tears. A swift hatred forms in my heart. “I think it got its hooks into me because I didn’t close the board.”

The sound of tires on the gravel overrides my revelation. Giselle has arrived.

My face creases and I almost sob.

Robbi touches my shoulder. “We don’t have to play— We can hang out and watch a movie instead. Or we could try to sneak Giselle into the bar and check out all the hunks?”

I force a laugh.

An insistent rapping explodes on my front door.

Punz jumps to her feet. “I’ll get it.” Then she delays, “What’s your decision?”

I bite my lip. I really don’t want to touch that thing ever again, but often what we want doesn’t matter. “We have to play,” I say in a hard voice. “The board needs to be closed, or the door is open to the spirits to come and go as they please. “I’m fine now. You’re here, and Giselle is here I’ll be okay.”

Robbi leaves the room to answer the door, and I stay on my chair enjoying the sensation of solidness under my body. It’s vivid and real. The spontaneous memory of the ghostly figure in the barn invades my mind. I crush my lips together and my cheeks color. I was so stupid, I was playing with forces I couldn’t understand, and those forces knew how to play the game better than I.

I hear Robbi and Giselle exchanging names at the door. My furnace kicks in noisily. I flinch, and I feel as though I will be flinching for the rest of my life.

Giselle strolls into the room, her hair is wild and free, she’s wearing a black hoodie and a black pair of sweats. Her eyeliner is dark and thick. She sets a can of Coke down on the end of the table. Her gaze is fixed on the game. She squeezes her hands together with excitement. “Oohh man, I’ve been looking forward to this all week.”

Her enthusiasm is nauseating. I exchange a glance with Robbi.

My young friend notices our exchange and flicks her attention back and forth between Robbi and I. “What,” she says collapsing into her chair.

I tilt my head and sigh.

Her face stiffens. “Don’t play me for a loser. I can tell when something’s going on. What happened?”

Emotion wells up in me, and I press my lips together holding it in check. I cover my mouth with a hand.

“What?” she demands of me.

My hand drops away, I shake my head wearily wishing I could shake off my idiocy over the last couple of days. I raise my eyes to Giselle’s. “I’ve been playing the Ouija board by myself for the past three days.” I tuck my head into my chest and shiver. “Weird things started to happen to me.”

Giselle presses back into her chair. “Weird things like what?”

My nostrils flare. I fight to keep my terror under control. ”Like I started to see things—figures— a dark shadowy man.”

“You didn’t tell me that,” burst out Robbi.

I glance at my old friend and drop my head. Shame fills me.

“Where?” asks Giselle scratching her neck nervously, and red lines come alive on her skin.

I stare into nothingness. “In the barn a couple times— And— I didn’t see him in the house, but I could feel him here.” I rub my forehead with a shaky hand. “That’s when I realised we forgot to close the Ouija board. I thought I could close it by myself and then one thing led to another. I ended up playing Ouija all the time— I was obsessed. And then maybe partially possessed. I’ve been very confused over the last couple of days.”

“What do you mean confused?” questions Giselle suspiciously.

Robbi pivots around to the younger girl beside her, “She can’t remember things—she’s been all fucked up the last few days.” My good friend shoots me a hefty dose of pity. “It’s like she’s been in a trance or something— she was still trippin when I got here tonight.”

An unexpected anger bursts inside me. I jerk forward to defend myself, and glare at my two guests, “Hang on a minute— I’m still here you know, I can tell my own story.”

Robbi sniffs loudly, and gestures to me, “Be my guest, darling.”

Giselle scrutinizes me like I was a search and find puzzle, “ You look alright— maybe tired but alright.”

I grit my teeth. A sudden rage bubbles up inside me. Who are they to judge what I’ve been through? I leap to my feet and snatch a pen and paper from the drawer. I toss the writing tools on the table ignoring their stunned expressions. I close my eyes and press my fingers to my temples. I inhale and exhale deeply. I remind myself I’m okay. The unexpected hostility ebbs away. I drop my arms to my side, and they dangle loosely. I want this to be over. I capture Giselle with serious look and say, “Listen, the Ouija board is not a plaything. You need to understand that the only reason I’m okay right now, is that Robbi came earlier and started asking me the right questions.  Something from the board wormed it’s way inside me and what was worse is that I had no idea it had influence over me.” This board is dangerous, Giselle. The face is, we need to say goodbye on the board tonight and shut it down for good.” I look from Giselle to Robbi. “Agreed?”

They both bob their heads in harmony.

We begin our session with the Ouija; the light in the room wavers with the sway of the candle flames. We are three strong. We have our symbols of positive power set on the table between Robbi and myself— a silver cross pendant, and the Lord’s Prayer written out on a piece of paper.

We place our fingers on the pointer and almost immediately there is the bristly feeling like that of static electricity in the room and under our fingertips. The object circles the board.

“What is your name?” asks Robbi in a pleasant voice.

The indicator moves across the letters and pauses on each selection before it continues on. It spells, “D-A-V-I-D.”

Robbi’s breath catches. Her eyes are bright as she watches the ever-flowing movement of the pointer. She throws me a glance, “Now what?”

“I think it’s the same low-level energy as the first time— keep going.”

Her shoulder slants toward me as though we’re in a conspiracy. “Can I ask anything?”

I nod impatiently.

Giselle just grins.

Robbi’s voice fills the room. “How did you die?” Her question sends a spasm of apprehension through my body.

I close my eyes briefly. I can’t believe my friend asked that question. It’s like asking a teenage girl if she’s having sex. Well, it’s kind of like that. We barely even know this spirit. We should have at least discovered its favourite color.

Robbi focuses on the board, one hand on the planchette while the other hand holds the pen poised over the paper.

The planchette moves swiftly over the alphabet hesitating on each letter, “M-A-G-I-K.”

“Magik,” I say, “It’s spelled wrong.”

“Maybe it doesn’t know how to spell?” suggests Giselle, “Maybe it’s too young?

“How old were you when you died?” inquires Robbi.


“Hmm,” hums Robbi. “Was it a long time ago?”

Not sure,” it spells.

“Do you guys have any questions?” she whispers.

I shrug, and I wonder why we’re whispering. I’m certain the spirits can hear the blood running through our veins never mind a whisper.

“Is anyone else with you?” asks Giselle in a hurried voice.

The planchette speeds up and spells, “A-L-I-C-I-A.” It swings around in excited circles.

“Who’s she?” asks Robbi leaning in closer to the board.

The pointer slowly selects the letters, “She lived near here.”

“How did she die?” blurts Giselle.

It moves with quiet deliberation, “Car crash,” and then rotates in slow circles.

A wave of sadness overcomes me. “I’m so sorry. God— you both died so young.”

Robbi, and Giselle murmur in agreement.

“How old was she?” inquires Robbi in a caring tone.


“Why are you here?” I probe. “Why haven’t you moved on?”

Blocked.”It spells out in an agitated manner.

Robbi frowns. “What do you mean blocked?”

Bad thing.” The pointer instantly travels around the board like a deer running from a vehicle— in long linear paths, halting, and restarting, not sure of where to go.

Giselle slides her chair closer to the table. The legs drag with a noisy protest. She leans in bringing her face nearer to the board and breathes,  “What do you mean bad thing?”

It whips along the letters going back and forth picking them out in swift defined motions. It spells, “U Know.” Then the cursor flies across the board, and its pointer settles on me.

My throat closes. I fall back against my seat. I whisper, “Me?” And all at once understanding crashes in on me. My chest tightens until it aches, and with great effort, I manage to give voice to my words, “You mean the shadowy figure I saw in the barn?” A nervous tic erupts in my right eye, and I try to blink it away. “Are you talking about the powerful energy that took over the board on the first night we spoke?”

The pointer pivots and swiftly slides into the word Yes, like a professional ball player sliding into home plate.

I close my eyes as I ask my next question. “Is it there now?”


The tightness in my chest eases, and I sigh with relief.

“Is there any way we can help?” asks Giselle. She is smiling, almost glowing with a sense of happiness.

I shoot her a quick look of disbelief. What the hell? Is she some kind of overage Girl Guide, this isn’t going to be like helping some old lady across the street.

Keep it busy” spelled the pointer moving with gleeful energy.

Bang— Bang— Bang.”

I jerk involuntarily. It takes me a second to figure out someone is knocking on my door— My real live Earthy door.

The two girls look at me.

I raise my eyebrows. “I don’t know who it is.” I say, “But let’s close the board for now,”

Robbi nods in agreement, “David,” she says in a syrupy tone, “We have to go for a minute. Can you say goodbye?”

It spells, “U come back?”

“Yes,“ she replies.

The cursor moves to Goodbye and then stops. The energy is gone.

I pull my hands away. I feel a smile on my face. We could call it quits now. I bound out of my seat and head to the door.

“Bang— Bang.”

“Hold on a minute,” I yell.

Robbi and Giselle hover behind me in the doorway to the kitchen.

I yank the front door open. A gust a wind sweeps into the room. It’s Paul, the security guard. His cheeks are rosy from the night air. The bulky coat, and the Elmer Fudd hat he’s wearing made him look like a St. Bernard. He shakes his head and the flaps on his Elmer Fudd hat flop. Yup, a St. Bernard. “Whew! It’s a breezy one tonight,” he announces as he adjusts the sides of his hat.

I nod in agreement, “Not surprising though— We live in the land of Chinooks.” I smile stiffly and search for more to say. “So, how’s it going out there? Is it all quiet on the home front?” I grimace internally— Home front? What the hell do you mean by a home front? Sure thing, Captain St. Bernard. We got it locked down here. No evil spirits are roaming free around my place.

Paul doesn’t seem to notice my awkward behaviour. “It’s going good, nothing happening out there. You are firebug free as far as I can tell.” He glances at the girls behind me and then continues on, “I thought I’d let you know the bank is only keeping security around for another week— You said you wanted to know?”

I blink. Did I say that? I can’t remember. “Oh, sure— Great.” I take a step back. “Umm, did you want to come in and get out of the wind?”

“Yes, that’d be excellent.“ He enters my porch and instantly dwarfs me. I feel like a child. He looks past me again at Robbi and Giselle.

“Oh. Sorry, I should introduce you.” I twist around and point, “This is Robbi and Giselle.” I rotate back to Captain St. Bernard and add, “This is Paul ladies. He’s the night guard keeping us safe from all evil.” I try to chuckle. It sounds like I’m choking on a chicken bone.

Giselle’s eyes light up, “That’s wicked, everyone needs protecting sometimes.”

I contemplate Giselle, and then merely wag my head, my brownish blond curls bounce against my shoulders.

Paul shuffles his feet in a lumbering motion and asks, “So what are you girls playing at tonight? It looked really dark inside when I walked past.”

I press my lips together.

Giselle blurts, “We’re playing with a Ouija board.”

His eyes widen slightly, “Really? Are you actually talking to the spirits?”

Giselle nods and her wild hair flutters about her face, “Yeah, we’re talking to a boy, he was just telling us about a girl who died in a car crash.”

The blood drains from Paul’s face. His head drops to his chest, and it wavers to and fro. It appears our friendly St. Bernard might spew.

I reach out and touch his arm. “Are you alright Paul?”

He raises his eyes to meet mine. “ Do you know the girls’ name?” he asks.

My intuition challenges me to turn the question back on him, “What do you think her name is?”

He waves his head for a moment and then finally answers,  “I don’t want to know, but I need to know— Was her name Alicia?”

My hand falls away from his arm. “ How did you—?” I begin, and then I pause to reword my question. He needs to provide the information. “How old was she when it happened?”

His voice cracks, “She was twelve.” His eyes are haunted. “Too young, she was too damn young. Bloody freezing rain— My poor Uncle.”

“She’s moved on,” blurted Robbi.

I glance at my friend. Her face glows with compassion as she continues to speak, “She’s in the light. The boy said she’s moved on to heaven.”

I pivot back to Paul observing the pain on his face. This needs to be a healing story. “Yes, that’s right.” I agree.

Giselle alternates her gaze from Robbi to me and chooses silence.

Awkwardness fills the room, and this time I shuffle my feet.

Paul rolls his shoulders inside his coat and yanks down on his sleeves. He lifts his chin and offers us an earnest stare. “You girls stay sharp. The Ouija board can get people in deep shit.” He turns on his heel and grasps the doorknob refusing to look our way. “ I gotta go back to work girls,” he says in a muffled voice. Then he turns his head enough to see us out of the corner of his eye, “If anything happens just holler.”

He conquers the steps down in a hurry, and never looks back.

I shut the door and press my head against the wood. “Holy crap.” I say aloud. Not expecting any kind of response.

“Is it too late to go home?” asks Robbi in a light tone.

I swivel around. “It’s way too late.”

Giselle beams, “Holy frick, was that for real? He knew Alicia. Crazy balls,” she exclaims. Then she buzzes back into the kitchen shouting, “Come on girls, we better talk to David.”

Robbi and I are subdued. We meander back to our places at the table.

I’m unwilling to touch the board again. It’s the first time the boards been properly closed in days. The kitchen is a cozy space and the furnace blows lovely warm heat up under the table. I don’t want to talk with the spirit world anymore. I sink into my seat and catch Robbi’s eye. I see my thoughts mirrored there.

“Come on girls, get in the game,” gushes Giselle planting her fingers on the pointer. “We have to help David and Alicia.”

I’m feeling resistant. “How do we know that David is telling the truth?” I ask. “What if it’s the evil spirit pretending?”

Giselle stares at me like I’ve poked her with a sharp stick. “You’re being ridiculous.  What about Paul knowing Alicia?”

I suck in a breath and find myself filled with emotion. “I don’t know?” I spit, “Maybe that thing can read minds.” My face flushes crimson. “All I know is that something had its hooks into me for the last three days and I’m fucking terrified.“ I stand and lean over the table. I glower at Giselle with hard eyes. My hands tremble as I continue on, “You wouldn’t take your game home. You’re the one that left it here. Something was watching me— and then when I went back to the board to close it—it sucked me in.” I close my eyes fleetingly and my emotions drain away. I slump down into my chair unable to stand a moment longer. “ Giselle—“ I say softly, “I didn’t knowI was being influenced. And If that’s not terrifying I don’t know what is?”

The young girl surveys me with her arms folded securely against her chest. “It’s because you played it alone,” she accused.  “There are three of us now. Look at how friggin awesome it was before Paul showed up.” She eyeballs both of us with a determined look. “ We need to help those young spirits out.”

I feel myself sag inside. I turn my head and search Robbi’s face, “What do you think? It’s not like you to be so quiet.”

Her expression is thoughtful. “Have you ever gotten into a car and had the feeling there’s someone in the back seat, but you were afraid to turn around? I think we should turn around— We need to carry on.”

“Are you possessed?” I gasp.

She offers me a generous grin. “No.”

My ally is gone. She’s gone to the dark side. I need a lightsaber. I cover my face with my hands and groan.

Robbi pats my arm reassuringly, “Oh come now precious, just put your hand on the pointer and it’ll all be fine.”

And so we begin again.

The pointer leaps to life before anyone even speaks.

“ David?” questions Robbi.


“Are you ready for us to help you?”


I bite my lip. Once again I am connected to an energetic level which exists in a dimension alongside us. Most people will not willing break the barrier between worlds. They are wise. My guts churn and an ominous foreboding grows inside of me.

Robbi presses forward. “How do we keep we keep it busy David?”

Ask questions distract” The spirit spells and then the energy disappears. The pointer is still.

I examine the words Robbi wrote on the paper. Her normally neat script is wobbly and nearly unreadable. She feels the weight of what has David asked.

“What did he spell Robbi?” asks Giselle. “I couldn’t keep track of the letters.”

Robbi takes a sip of water before she speaks. “David said—” she falters, and then briefly touches her lips with her hand to gather her composure. “He said to— ask questions distract.”

I shut my eyes. In other words, David is requesting that we become the bait. A shiver crawls up the side of my neck. I draw my shoulders up to my ears. I can almost hear the deep reverberating laughter of the dark spirit.

Giselle rocks uneasily in her chair. It seems the sensibility of fear has finally edged its way into her heart.

Robbi makes the conscious attempt to sit tall and strong preparing herself for what will come. “Is there any other spirit willing to speak to us?” she asks in a firm tone.

A noticeable chill invades the room.  The fire of our candles dwindle. Worry is etched into Robbi’s face. She bends toward me. “Why is it so cold in here?” she whispers.

“Because it’s here,” I answer in a dreadful tone.

The fret in her face intensifies. I drop my gaze to the silver cross and the Lord’s Prayer beside my elbow.

My fingers tingle as I sensed the returning energy of the spirit world. It builds. I sense the wretched power within. Its gripping energy snatches control of the pointer and begins aggressive actions on the board.

I swallow at my fear. It goes down like a rock, and I push on, “Who are you?” I demand.

It snatches at the letters in a frenzy feeding, like a wolf gorging on a fresh kill. It spells, “U know.”

I puff for air. I breathlessly force the next question from my mouth, “Are you the shadow man I saw in the barn?”

The cursor flies to the word, “Yes.“

A tiny squeak of fright escapes my lips. I squeeze my eyes shut and then open them wide. “What do you want?” I demand.

The wind rises with my question. The kitchen creaks around us. The air outside reaches a crescendo. It slams into my trailer and we all jump. The windowpanes rattle in their frames. It’s as though something wants inside, but it’s too late something is already here. The pointer rips along the alphabet settling on each letter with a quick halt. It spells, ”You.”

The electricity in the cursor is magnetic. Our hands are held fast. It proceeds to dance in endless figure-eights.

Giselle shivers.

My lips tremble. I push words reluctantly from my mouth. What do you mean?”

The pointer digs into the board with inexplicable power. It carves a trail to each letter spelling, “Need Body.”

Robbi didn’t need to write it down.

The pointer’s action is hostile. It swishes across the board drawing figure eights, and then returning to the letters to spell,  “Need body,” over and over again.

My fingers are bonded to the cursor, and the energy is radiating up my arm. The room is freezing. I gasp in terror as my breath plumes from my mouth.

Robbi darts a frantic glance my way, “My hands are stuck.”

I turn my attention to Giselle. Her face is ashen and empty.

The air in the room grows heavy. It’s difficult to breathe. The flames of the candles shrink into the wax until they are nearly nonexistent. I see shades of the unknown coming to life. That which was once dead was now grasping for a return to life. The smell of our fear is ripe in the room. I watch Giselle’s empty eyes begin to fill with something else. I have to hope David and Alicia have escaped.

I reach over with my foot and tap Robbi on the ankle. She tears her eyes from Giselle to meet my own. “The Lords Prayer,” I hiss, “Say it together. “

She nods, her eyes feral with fright

We begin, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

The planchette sparks.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done—“

Giselle groans. The spirits hold on her is weakening.

I rip a hand from the pointer. I stand and lean across the table. I grab Giselle’s shoulder and squeeze. A bolt of electricity travels up my arm and knocks me back to my seat. I wince. My shoulder throbs.  I lift my gaze to Giselle— she is present.

Robbi and I continue our chant with power and focus in our words,  “On Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses,”

Giselle joins our prayer, “ As we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil.“

The raging cursor slows, and the vibration fades. The candlelight brightens.

“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

The pointer circles the board weakly.

“Whew,” sighs Robbi. “Well, wasn’t he just a friggin ray of sunshine?”

I can’t help but chuckle. And then I find I can’t stop.

Robbi joins in, and our laughter warms the room.

Giselle scowls at both of us. “What happened?” she asks.

Robbi and I exchange glances.

“I’ll tell you in a minute,” I answer. “Let’s say goodbye to the Ouija board first.”


This story combines all the experiences I’ve had using the Ouija board. The night I was zapped by an entity trying to bring a friend out of a trance was the last time I ever touched a board. Believe me, there are elements of our world that the living would be wise to leave alone. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Beware of the Ouija Board


Welcome to Part Two of Beware of the Ouija.

First of all, my apologies for the delay on the continuation of the story. I was working twelve-hour days at the local mill, and quickly found I had little time to write. The part-time work is over now, so I’m back on track. Let us begin…

Our fingers-tips keep light contact with the planchette. I glare at the pointer willing it to move, and I feel ridiculous. Nothing is happening. Across the table, Giselle’s face is that of a sleeping Buddha. The coyotes are howling in their eerie mourful tone, and I check the window expecting to see a pack of red glowing eyes staring back at me, but all I see is a  disembodied reflection of the unsettled flame of the candle and our hands poised above the game board.

“Are there any spirits that would like to communicate with us?” asks Giselle in a timid voice. She concentrates even hard, she clamps her eyes tighter, and her brow furrows deeper as she waits for something to happen. In all truthfulness, she looks like a toddler attempting a bowel movement. Maybe I should tell her? It would lighten the mood.

I glance at my pop can and wonder if I can sneak a sip of Pepsi. All the chips I had devoured earlier has now created a monster of thirst in me. She probably wouldn’t notice if I took one hand off of the pointer to have a drink?

Giselle’s voice booms, “Are there any spirits here willing to talk to us?”

I jerk in my chair startled by the forcefulness of her tone. She’s really trying. Now I feel like a loser. Giselle’s all in, and I’m fiddling around, staring out the window, and thinking about Pepsi. I’m a loser with a capital L on my forehead. I decide to get in the game. This time I’m calling the dead— using my inside voice. I shut my eyes and focus. At first, there is nothing but the smooth plastic beneath my fingertips, and then it changes. There is a hint of vibration. It’s softer than the buzz of clippers tidying up a bridle path on a horse’s mane. In the next second the pointer creeps across the board. It progresses weakly at first and then strengthens. It sails to the word ‘Yes’and then stops dead.

My mouth dries like the bottom of a rain barrel in a drought. And then my momentary fear is replaced by doubt. My brow knits, and I stare across the oddly cavernous space into Giselle’s wide-eyed shock. “You pushed it— didn’t you?” I hiss. I had entirely forgotten that I was planning on allowing Giselle to have her fun directing the pointer around the board.

Her head wags defiantly. A few of her curls flip free.

The pointer begins moving again, it carries our hands around the board in a happy-go-lucky way.

“It’s not me,” Giselle snaps back. “You’re the one pushing it?”

I stare at her with cursory disbelief. “What? No! Get real! I’m not pushing it— or I wouldn’t be accusing you of pushing it.” I say in a harsh voice. My heart pumps buckets of blood through the juicy carotid arteries in my neck. “Now what?” I huff, still not knowing what to think. Did she control the pointer? Is she that good of an actress?

“I guess we ask more questions,” Giselle says in a faraway voice. Her concentration is on  the object sweeping our hands around the board. Her eyes gleam. “I don’t know what the hell is going on. But this is the most wickedly cool thing I’ve ever done.”

An unbidden thought materializes in my mind. The suggestion pops out of my mouth before I can stop it, “Why don’t we ask if it’s friendly?” My heart skips a beat. Did I say that aloud? The planchette is swaying around and around on the board like a child skipping circles in a schoolyard.

“Are you a friendly spirit?” she asks leaning forward with anticipation.

The pointer makes three circles and lands at ‘Yes’. I’m watching Giselle’s limbs closely; it doesn’t seem like she is controlling the movement. The energy thrums through the plastic piece— flowing and buoyant

Giselle blurts out a command, “What is your name?”

The planchette glides over the alphabet to pick out letters. D-A-V.

The flame of the candle on the kitchen counter flickers wildly. It’s as though someone has walked swiftly into the room. But no one is here.

The hairs on my arms stand up. I attempt to swallow away my fright.

Impulsively the pointer shoots to the word NO. The energy in the plastic piece shifts from a mild vibration to intense drumming. The planchette rips to the left and then swings around the board with a violent change. It runs the shape of a figure eight over and over again. The force controlling the board is unlike the energy we experienced at the start— the softness is gone replaced by aggression.

A cold sweat forms on my forehead. It’s a game. Why do I sense we are in danger? None of this is logical. Are we the clueless idiots in the horror movie? You know, the ones that hop and skip merrily into the house of horrors on a dare— and then they die? Is someone we can’t see screaming at us to stop?

Giselle’s entire face is blank. “What’s your name?” she asks in an inhuman voice.

I didn’t want to know.  I want to put a stop to this terrifying game, but my fingertips are glued to the pointer. The temperature in the room falls. The light of the candle flutters, and then dims as though someone or something is attempting to gut it. With great effort, I wrench my hands from the planchette. My shoulders sag with relief as I watch Giselle’s eyes return to normal.

She lifts a hand to her temple and blinks. “Man, that was trippy.”

“Trippy?” I gasp. I leap for the light. I flick the switch, and the room is flooded with normality. My gaze drifts to the board as I recall the entities contact. “That was terrifying Giselle,” I rub my forehead trying to erase a sudden headache. “I— I didn’t think anything would happen, never mind this— I thought I would keep my mouth shut while you secretly moved the pointer all over the board getting all the answers you wanted—” My heart pounds with anxiety. “I didn’t think it would be real.” My hand remains firm on the light switch protecting the brightness in the room.  I gesture to the table. “We were not prepared for that— Whatever that was.”

With her next breath, it became apparent she didn’t hear anything I said. “Do you want to do it again?”

I gape at her.

Her cheeks redden, and she drops her head to avoid my eyes.

I reflect on the strange force that gripped us at the end, and how it gathered power under our fingertips. It was a wild experience. I thought I never wanted to do it again, yet I totally understood Giselle’s desire to play again. I could physically feel an undeniable yearning rising up inside me that said, “Yes, let’s play again.” And with all honesty, I couldn’t tell if that inner desire was mine, or something elses.

Giselle hops to her feet and stretches her arms wide. She glimpses at the watch on her wrist, “That’s sick!  Where did the time go?”

I swing my head to inspect at the clock on the stove. We’d been playing for two hours? How could that be? We didn’t even do anything.

Giselle steps up beside me and pats my arm, “Chill out Deb— Why are you uptight? You have to admit that was the bomb.” Her eyes shine like she just smoked a doobie. “It was like— like—the proof of an afterlife. “She pats my arm again. “If it freaked you out we can take precautions next time. We could put a copy of the Lord Prayer on the table beside a crucifix, and a bible. What do you think? That should chase away anything with negative vibes— Right?”

The fear in me shrieks “No. Don’t do it,” but the lure of gaining knowledge on the unknown was intense. “Maybe,” I say hesitantly. “I don’t know— Maybe?” I’m torn between the desire to know more and the fact I feel like a chicken with my head on the chopping block. I gently usher Giselle towards the doorway feeling eager to have her and her game out of my home. My heart clutches— the game. I turn my attention back to the Ouija board. It’s open on my table pulsating with an unseen alluring call. I swing my focus back to Giselle and grab her by the shoulder, “You need to take your game home.” I squeeze her shoulder with more force than I intend to.

Her face falls, and she steps away from me. “No way Man— I can’t. My mom would have a freak out if she knew I had a Ouija board in the house.”

My stomach is a crater of insects crawling over one another. I don’t want it in my home either, but I feel myself giving way— being helpful. I’m such a spineless dweeb. “Fine.” I say in a voice that sounds exactly like a wife speaking to a husband when things are far from fine.

“Does that mean we can play again?” She searches my face with a glowing expression of hope and presses her hands together in a prayer pose. “Please Deb, it’s a brand new game. I don’t know of anyone else that would be down to play this.”

I purse my lips together considering her question and then reply, “I’m not sure Giselle— I need to think about it for a sec.” I shiver and wrap my arms around myself, “Man, it’s mega cold in here. I’m gonna grab a sweater from the bedroom. I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

I meander down the dimly lit hallway towards my bedroom contemplating the situation. What I need is an ally with a calmer mind. Giselle would jump right in and follow the Devil all the way to hell with a smile on her face. I need someone else on the Ouija board besides me that didn’t want to go. I walk into my room and slide the closet door open. I pick a hoodie off a hanger and then pause. I almost change my mind about wearing it because it’s toasty warm back here. It’s strange— this is usually the cold room in my home. My insides twist with unease. I head back to the kitchen pondering the idea of an ally, within seconds my thoughts land on Robbi. I was certain she’d play the game. She had a considerable curiosity about the supernatural as well. Now I have both, my ally and my answer for my young friend. I feel my stress slip away. My face relaxes, and my lips curve into an easy smile. I enter the kitchen refusing to look at the calling board to the dead. Instead, I zone in on Giselle standing by the doorway, her expression emanates one of hope.

“You win,” I say in an upbeat voice. “I’ll play again.” I watch her face bloom with joy. “But— I want my friend Robbi to join us.”

Her expression falls.

“It’ll be cool,” I say trying to reassure her. “Robbi’s the best. You’ll see. She has strong instincts about these things— You know? The supernatural.”

Giselle shrugs. “Sure, whatever you think— I gotta motor, “ she mumbles as she quickly ducks into the porch.

I follow her into the small space and lean on the doorway.

She’s bent over holding the edges of her boots. She wiggles a foot inside one roper with an exasperated sigh and then puts her other boot on.

“Can you come back on Thursday evening?” I ask. “We could play then? Robbi, and I usually get together that night—“

“Any night is fine,” interrupts Giselle as she ties her laces on her boots. “I’m free to come and go as long as I’m home by 10:30.” She throws me a glance. “Are you sure your friend will want to play?”

I laugh. “Are you freakin kidding? After I tell her about tonight’s outrageous shit— she’ll be game on to experience the Ouija.”

Giselle stands and stomps her feet twice checking the tightness of her footwear.  She gives me with a grin realizing she got her way, “Awesome. I’ll see you Thursday. “

“Yeah, it’s gonna be deadly,” I say trying to match her enthusiasm and swiftly reconsider my choice of words. “I mean radical. It’s going to be radical.”

The curly haired girl heads out the door, and turns back momentarily, “Thanks man, you‘re one hip chick,” she shouts seconds before the door slams.

Don’t believe her. I wasn’t one hip chick. I stood in my doorway afraid to turn around forever. The chill in the kitchen persists. What if the hostile entity that took control of the board never left? In the dark reaches of my mind I can nearly hear its presence taunting me, “Come and play,” it chuckles deeply, “I have so much more to share with you,’And what’s worse, is that I want to play. I want to feel the thrum of the energy transfer into me through my fingertips. I want to feel the sway of the pointer beneath my fingers again. A shiver traces down my spine. I inhale sharply, and a squeak of fear escapes with my exhalation. I bow my head and clench my fists. I will not be undone by a game. I rein in my runaway courage and turn around to face the invisible forces. I stalk to the table and shove the game back in the box. After I finish packing it up, I stamp to the front door and yank it open. The crisp night air is a welcome touch of reality. I set the box down on the top step. Once I’m back inside I lock the door, and silently pray someone steals the game.

When I finally get into bed for the night, I pull the covers up over my head, and I bury myself in the blankets until my nose nearly touches my toes. I feel fear tuck itself under my arm like a well-worn teddy.

Looking back on it now, and knowing what happened in the coming days I had good reason to be afraid. I didn’t understand what we had done. And you are probably asking— What did you do?

In our ignorance, we unlocked a door we couldn’t see— And we left it wide open.

To be continued— The last days with the Ouija.

Beware of the Ouija Board



In the spirit of the Halloween season, for your spooky fall delight, I give you a torrid tale of supernatural happenings. This accounting transpired thirty-years ago, and it comes with a warning that if you are ever invited to play the Ouija board—run! Run away as fast as your powerful legs will carry you. As a reader you have the choice to believe this story or not, but whatever you decide this will be a story that will scratch your Halloween itch for a good old-fashioned spiel of horror.  Do you know what happens when you unlock the door between the realm of the living and the dead? I do. I can tell you from experience that earthbound souls look for every opportunity to latch onto the world of the breathing. My experience with these mysterious forces took place when I was twenty-years-old in the mid-1980’s, when hair was big, and the Edmonton Oilers were even bigger. At that time I thought I understood the order of life and death. I assumed the Ouija board was merely a game. Wasn’t it a silly pastime created to scare a gaggle of teenage girls into giggling mess of hormones? That had been my belief. I was mistaken. I suppose you could out and out, say I was wrong to expect that playing with the spirit world was no more serious than a game of tiddlywinks. I found out swiftly enough that communing with the spirits is no game. They will draw you in by the temptations of your curious mind, and then devour as much of your energy as you are willing to give to them. When I finally broke free of their addictive power I swore I would never touch the Ouija board again.

My chronicle of the paranormal began when I was working outside Calgary as a stable hand. I lived by myself on the property where I worked in a three-bedroom trailer. Nice right? I had a spacious home to myself. You’re probably thinking I must have been a heck of a stable hand to earn the privilege of having an entire trailer to myself. No, that wasn’t it, you’d be wrong in thinking that. I mean, I was passable, and maybe even an above average stable hand, but the fact of the matter was, the whole horse boarding business was on a downhill slide. The farm itself edged closer into receivership every day. The operation was in a state of disrepair; the fences were in need of new boards and a coat of paint, and the barn itself demanded a facelift too.  The stable was a forty-stall barn accessing an attached indoor riding arena with an elevated viewing area behind glass. On the opposite side of the barn was another large building which contained a mechanical hot-walker, for those of you that don’t know, a hot walker is much like a merry-go-round, it has a central pivot point with metal arms that extend outwards like the spokes on a wheel. The horses are hooked up to the end of the arms and they walk around at a slow pace for twenty minutes or so to cool down after a tough workout. It’s a labor-saving device if you are a bustling horse establishment. This hot-walker had been neglected for years, thick layers of dust caked the machine, a skeleton in a long forgotten cave. The echoes of busier times in this cavernous space had faded away long ago. It was sad. I could see the stable had been magnificent in its prime, but today there were only ten stalls rented out of forty, hardly a money-making proposition. Isn’t it disturbing how most things in life end up that way? In the beginning, everything is shiny and bright, and appealing to the eye, and then the years take a toll causing a fading and scarring. Then suddenly that which was once perfect is wanted no more.

I found that my three-bedroom trailer was an empty space for one person. My boss suggested I get a kitten, he said it would be good for me, and it would help with the mice. I didn’t think I had any mice. He convinced me further by bringing me to his truck and retrieving a black fuzzy kitten with a pink heart-shaped nose. He placed the bundle of cuteness in my arms along with a bag of kitty food. My boss didn’t take no for an answer. A quick review of my social life told me I was well on my way to becoming a cat lady anyhow so I may as well get an early start. The mirror told me every morning that I already had crazy hair. My new goal of becoming an up and coming cat lady was short lived. One moment my feisty kitty named Bella was pouncing on fallen leaves at the bottom of the porch steps, and the next she was gone. I was so enthralled by Bella’s pouncing play that I didn’t notice the German Shepard come down from the owner’s house. The dog must have been watching Bella from a distance. I heard the thrumming of his feet in the grass. I looked up. He was streaking towards us focused on Bella. I moved to grab my kitten, but he was already there. I felt the brush of his hair as he snatched Bella out from under my fingertips. He continued to run with my kitten mewling in his mouth. He stopped under a shelterbelt of trees. I raced after him screaming for him to stop. I wasn’t his master. He didn’t listen. My kitten was a plaything. I see the bright flash of scarlet on the dog’s snout. The predator dropped his nose into the long grass, and I heard an unearthly yowl, the tone almost brought me to my knees. The resulting silence is heavy. I stepped into the dog’s space and see Bella is no more. There are some pictures and sounds from life experience which never leave your brain. I wasn’t going to be a cat lady. That particular incident happened two weeks before the Ouija board came into my world.

The truth was I was lonely. The majority of my weeknights were spent reading or watching the boob tube. I worked alone, and the only time I saw people was when the horse owners came to the stable to spend time with their horses. My saving grace was my former college roommate and friend Robbi, she would pick me up a couple times a week to rescue me from my hermit-hood. We’d hit up the country bar scene in Calgary, either at the Ranchman’s or the Longhorn’s. The rest of the week I was a recluse. So when Giselle, a teenage girl who boarded a horse at the stable asked me to play Ouija with her after work one day, I joyfully consented. Yes please, let’s invite the spirits of the dead into my home so I can have someone to talk to. I was always up for a new experience. Maybe I could apologise to my cat for not looking after her better.

My workday ends. Giselle, and I stroll towards the trailer speculating on the newest rumors about the bank taking ownership of the farm. It is supposed to be business as usual for a while.

I step up into my tiny porch and wave Giselle into the tight space. The ever-present smell of horse vents from my various work coats dangling off a six hanger rack. We kick our boots onto an old wooden shelf, and then I open the main door into my trailer. We step into the kitchen; on my left is a small table with three chairs tucked under its edges. The table is pushed up against the wall, and a wide window allows a generous amount of dimming daylight into the open room. Gingham curtains frame the window, and the view displays the long side of the riding arena. On my right is the cooking area of the kitchen with the standard appliances. The faux oak cupboards are set up in the shape of the letter U. The maroon counter-top is edged with a stainless steel strip displaying the screws which hold it in place. The linoleum on the floor has a complicated design that would have won awards for disguising a pile of puke. A bank of cabinets and a six-foot-long set of cupboards hanging from the roof separated the kitchen from the living area. If you ducked down, you could interact with the people in the living room. I never ducked down.

“Do you want a Pepsi? I ask Giselle awkwardly, realizing I don’t really know this person very well. My run and hide tendencies kick in, but I had nowhere to go.

She clutches the board game under her arm and taps her feet uneasily before answering. “Yes please, a Pepsi would be perfect.” She smiles, it was a smile that barely separated her lips

I snatch two Pepsi’s from the fridge and stroll back to the table. “Have a seat, Giselle, they are all equally uncomfortable,” I say with a laugh handing her the pop.

She chooses the chair nearest to the door.

Good choice I thought, easy escape if the demons come out of the board tonight.

I sit down on the opposite side of the table and pop the tab on my can. Air hisses out. I study Giselle’s face as she sets the board between us. She’s a gem in the rough, a token amount of polishing would be all she needed, and then she would have shone. Her abundant glossy brown hair is tied into a high ponytail, and perfect spirals spring forth from every direction. Her nose seems a tad too sharp for her face, and the extra weight she carries shows on her cheeks, but who cares. The integrity, which glimmers from her eyes, exhibits her good heart.

My attention switches to the box on the table. I note the organization that manufactures the Ouija game, it is a time-honored American company labeled Parker Brothers. This is the same company that markets and sells Scrabble, Parcheesi and umpteen other family-friendly games. You must admit it’s a bit peculiar, I mean, this is the Parker Brothers.Who knew this upstanding organization is selling people a tool to talk to the dead. Bizarre right? It’s almost too wacky to be true. The game has to be a hoax. How wrong I was.

Now before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what took place that first night, I must confess I was an open mind, ripe for the picking. The only judgment I had was against judgment itself, and maybe brussel sprouts, I had judged brussel sprouts to be unworthy to enter my mouth at any time. Plus, I must confess to having solid presumptions about the afterlife.  When I was barely old enough to be pulling the blanket up over my head, my Dad intermittently brainwashed me with a tale of a creepy family haunting when he lived with his grandmother. The spirit in his story had died too young in the Second World War, in a land far from home. If you have a hankering to read that story it’s called  The Haunting.

Now before you, poo-poo on the possibility of spirits communicating through the Ouija board hear me out— What gives life to our lights, and our appliances, and our computers? It’s energy. And what is energy? It’s that invisible source that aids in animating objects that would otherwise be dead. It is the mysterious spark responsible for giving all of us life and maintaining the existence of our bodies. It is that which enables our laughter and our tears, our faithfulness and our infidelities, and yes, even our terrors. This energy of life is in every breath and every step we take. It is there, whether for the benefit, or the detriment of mankind. This energetic life force has been called our spirit, our essence, our soul, and many other names by a multitude of cultures and religious beliefs.  For the simplification of this story, I will call this internal powerhouse a spirit or soul. Now, if you are happily following me down this rabbit trail of thought, you might even agree that upon death our soul is released to attend an ongoing, all passes included, forever continuing disco party in the sky. Now, consider the idea that some souls don’t want to disco, or party on under the bright lights. Consider the idea some souls that don’t want to leave the quiet and comforting energy field we call Earth. Maybe those lingering souls are confused or reluctant to attend the infinite celebration in the afterlife. Perhaps it is due to their unexpected death. We won’t know the answers until it happens to us. But for the love of Halloween, and horror movies, and a good old-fashioned spooky tale let’s believe that an earthbound soul is always searching for a way to connect with the tactile world again. And let’s face it, there is no better way than the Ouija board to communicate with the spirits. Maybe the Parker Brothers company had it right all along?

Giselle tears the plastic off the brand new box.

I lean forward with my arms on the table and chuckle nervously. “Wow, I had no idea they still sold those in the stores. I thought the only place you’d find the Ouija board would be in a dusty old attic, or stashed away in the steamer trunk in great-grandma Bertha’s basement. ” I watch her fingers crumple the plastic wrap into a ball. I stand up and open my hand,  “Here give me the garbage I’ll throw it away.” I toss it into the can under the sink. (Way before recycling) My nerves are a runaway horse. Nothing is going to happen, I reassure myself. I try to believe the whole game will be Giselle stealthily shoving the plastic pointer around the game board— which means I’ll have to pretend I don’t see her doing it. Fun times— yay, my sarcasm is back.

I plop back into my seat.

Giselle is unfolding the game board from the box.

“So what do we need to do?” I ask.

She lays the Ouija board open on the table and wipes her hand across the surface, she pauses and lifts her eyes to mine. “I’ll tell you in a minute. Do you have any candles? I think we’re supposed to have the lights off.”

I raise my eyebrows, “Really? All the lights?” A flickering chill runs through me.

She nods, “Yes, and how about a writing pad and a pen? Do you have that?”


She points to the lettering on the board, “In case they spell a message.”

“They?” I say, “How many do you think we’re going to talk to?” I sweep into the living room and grab two scented candles from the coffee table. I bring them into the kitchen.

My young guest is positioning the plastic pointer on the board.

“I hope you like the smell of pine,” I say, “they’re the only ones I have.”

“Sure,” she replies not bothering to look up. She runs the pointer in a circle on the board, like a witch stirring her brew with loving care.

I place one candle between us on the table, and consign the other to the kitchen counter nearest to us. I open the kitchen junk drawer below and rummage through the disorderly contents. I finally extract a book of matches, a small notebook, and a pencil. I set it down on the table closer to my chair. “Alright, I’ve got everything we need. Now it’s your turn.  What are the rules? Or does it even have rules?” I asked. My stomach bubbles and then rumbles loudly reminding me it’s feeding time. I hold my hand against my tummy hoping to silence the noise. “Can we have snacks while we play? I’ll warn you now— if I don’t eat, I’ll become pretty miserable. And then you aren’t going to know the difference between me being possessed and frothing at the mouth, or me being hungry and frothing at the mouth. True confession time—I have little to no control when I’m hungry— and fair warning— I have knives in this kitchen, and even though they are dull they would still get the job done.  So in a long winded way, what I’m saying is— I don’t care if we can snack or not, I’m having something to eat now— for your safety of course.”

Giselle laughs. It’s a forced laugh with a hint of insincerity. ”Eat— eat away. I never said you couldn’t eat. “ She tilts her head and narrows her eyes examining me, “You’re a little weird, aren’t you? Humph, maybe, that’s why I like you.”

“Yeah,” I say agreeing with a toothy grin. “That’s why the aliens like me too.”

She groans and shakes her head. “Too far.” She seems more relaxed. “I’ll read the rules while you eat.” She glances at the box and then flips it over.

I pour a bag of salt and vinegar chips into a bowl and bring it to the table munching as I go. I can already feel my body settling into the happiness of carbs.

Giselle is scanning the bottom of the box. “There aren’t many rules. Do you want me to read them aloud?”

I pause holding a handful of chips in front of my mouth, “Yes,” I answer shortly, and then shove all the chips from my hand into my mouth. I crunch loudly.

Giselle assigns me an irritated glance.

I shove the chip bowl towards her, “Have some,” I garble through my mouth full of chips. Then I blush as I covering the lower half of my face while I chew quickly and swallow. “Sorry— It’s just that I’m so hungry, Terry, my boss, had me exercise an extra horse today, so I had no time to eat. “

“It’s fine,” said Giselle tossing her head. “Number one says, set the board either on the player’s lap, or on a table between two players. Number two says if there are additional player’s they can take notes and act as scribes.” She glances up at me, “I suppose I can just keep one hand on the pointer and write with the other?”

“Sure, why not. What else?”

“Number three, put the planchette on the board  (letter side up),” she scoffs. “Letter side up? What are we? Retarded?” She shot a quick look at me again, “Well, maybe you are—“ she says with a giggle.

Good, she’s become comfortable enough to start putting me down. We are going to be pals for sure. I shrug. “Mmmm.” My cheeks bulge with chips.

She continues on, “Both players place fingertips lightly on the planchette—”

“Hang on, “ I interrupt wiping the salt from my mouth with the sleeve of my shirt. (I know— classy right? The full-time position of cat lady hangs in the balance.) “Is the planchette that little plastic pointer thingy,” I ask gesturing to the board, “Or is there some other elegant looking piece of equipment that you have hidden away?”

“Of course the planchette is the pointer,” she says frowning at me. A sudden flash of impatience travels through her gaze. “Now, let me finish. Number four says everyone should concentrate— Obviously. Number five says, take turns asking questions, but everyone needs to agree and focus on the question. Speak slowly and clearly— And number six says, wait for the Ouija board to answer.” Giselle lays the empty box down on the floor out of the way. She inhales a long breath and then exhales sharply. “Are you ready?”

I shift uncomfortably in my seat, and I feel my nerves accelerate. “That’s it? That’s all we get?”

“Mmmhmm,” she nods.

“I raise my eyebrows, “There’s no troubleshooting guide in case we end up possessed, or if the planchette springs off the board and smacks us in the face?”

“Nope,” she replies grinning slightly. “No troubleshooting, we’re on our own from here on in.  Are you ready?”

“I guess,” I say scrutinizing the chip bowl, “Did you want any chips—“ I wait a moment and then hold my hand up wiggling my fingers in the air. I cackle with ill intent and then utter in a deep voice, “More importantly, do you think the spirits want any chips?”

She presses her lips together and shakes her head at me yet again, “No. No chips for me or the earthbound souls.”

“Fine,” I sigh,” it’s all your losses then. And don’t get hangry with me later on, I offered.” I deposit the chip bowl on the counter beside the sink. Then I light the candles with the matches and turn off the lights.  Instantly shadows spring up. Giselle and I are distorted silhouettes on the wall.

I rub my hands on my jeans wiping off the potato chip grease and realize I should have washed my hands. Oh well, maybe the spirits like the flavor of salt and vinegar. I hesitate and then place my fingers on the pointer.

Giselle follows suit.

We remain silent. We stare at the pointer.

“Well?” I say, “Come on Giselle, rock and roll— this was your idea. You’re going to have to step it up. What do you want to ask?”

“Let’s ask if there are any spirits in this room?” she says with a gleam in her eyes.

“Great,” I say, “go ahead.” But now I’m thinking I don’t want to know if there are any spirits in this room. I live here for God sakes. Jeepers creepers maybe I should get a crucifix.”

To be continued on tomorrow—

Farewell Valentines Day

September 2009 to March 2010-18

It’s one day after the love fest of February 14. My better half was away at work this week. It was for the best. My peri-menopausal hell decided to torture me with a wakeful sleep, so I was up at 4:00 am making heart-shaped gingerbread cookies. Later that morning I dropped off cookie care packages for the neighbors, and my sister and her family. My last stop was my daughter’s house to see the grand-girls. It was the highlight of my day. Kids can always make a person feel special. It’s the way their faces light up when they see you. It’s how their little legs sprint forward to greet you. It’s the best moment in the world when they complete their connection to you and leap into your arms squeezing so tight. Wow! That moment in time is an exploding firecracker of joy in the heart.

After partaking in a great deal of playing horsey and talking figurines, I went home. The rest of my Valentines Day was an orgy of leftovers by the light of my computer watching a romantic movie. I trusted the movie’s rating of 71% inspiring to view by rotten tomatoes. It was a 99-cent movie. I didn’t want to rent a full priced movie for only one set of eyes. My tendency to be frugal has recently been intensified due to the tax burden. After watching it, I decided 99 cents is how much it cost to produce it. The show was a total dud. I found myself wishing for a spring house fly to hatch, so I had something more entertaining to watch. There was more drama in my morning bowel movement than there was in the entire movie. I know, I shouldn’t complain. At least I have a computer. I could have shut it off. But I spent a whole .99 cents on that movie and I needed to see it through. IT’s money. I could have bought a can of vegetables, or can of tomato paste with those 99 cents. I suppose I could have purchased something else at the dollar store, but since I boycotted China, I don’t shop there anymore.

Anyway, I hope your Valentines Day consisted of at least one exploding firecracker moment in the heart. And I trust it wasn’t a heart attack, and it’s love.

Fresh Start

September 2009 to March 2010-76

Welcome 2018

Screech! I hope this isn’t a sound you hear this year, with the exception of driving of course. You want to hear a healthy screech when you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a pet, or a child, or three adolescent lynxes running across the road. Oh, and maybe an adult human, I guess you might want to brake for an adult  human too. Unless you’re an asshole, and then all bets are off. What I am trying to say in a rambling sort of way is stop hitting the brake pedal on your dreams. Ignore the hesitation within yourself. Smash the desire to toss those bright and shiny dreams in the garbage just because they might be hard to accomplish.

Seriously though, this is your fresh start. Begin. Make your wishes a priority. Do you want to travel? Maybe you can’t do it today, but you can start by planning for it today. Is it the cost of travelling which is stopping you? Begin by budgeting your money, read blogs and articles on how to save money, buy stuff at a second hand store, shop the deals in a grocery flyer, and cook your own meals. There are infinite ways to tighten ye ole purse strings.

Maybe this year is the year to lose the extra jiggle on your middle? It’s probably the number one New Years promise (lie). And do you know why people fail? It’s because they cut out everything they enjoy doing and eating on January 1 and replace it with gut wrenching gym programs, and tasteless food you need to chew for an hour before swallowing. The reason people can’t make it past week three of the program is because they are pure misery and still have the jiggle. Not only that, but they are feeling unsupported because their significant other is MIA. What they don’t realize is their significant other is probably hiding in the closet or under the couch. They are avoiding the swoosh of the fun Dracula which sweeps in when you enter the room. Please, for the happiness of those people around you, go slowly into the big life changes. The only thing shock starts are good for, are for jolting your heart when it stops beating. Begin your get fit program with a fifteen minute work out and build up to an hour. Change your diet a little at a time. Wean yourself slowly off the sugars, fats, and breads and gently incorporate healthier food choices. Have one food cheat day, and one exercise free day once a week. Be nice to yourself, changing your body takes time, tiny steps evolve into going the distance with less discomfort. And lets be honest, most people don’t enjoy discomfort.

Maybe this year you are dreaming of a gershnoskel upgrade? Maybe you have one of those snot collectors which have begun to look a little lumpy in a mushroomy sort of way, or it sweeps everything off a shelf when you turn around. If it bothers you fix it. There are people who are trained to deal with the genetic whoopsies in our personal form. Maybe this is the year of the nose job?

As you endeavour to change yourself this year don’t forget you have the ability to change the world as well. Recycle, buy local when you can, and if you can’t purchase something you need locally then please consider what type of country you are supporting with your money. Continuing to purchase “Made in China” products supports human rights violations, suppression of human expression, and death sentences for those people who dare to challenge the injustices in their country. I am so grateful to live in a country where I am free.

Whatever you choose for yourself in 2018, I wish you the most honest effort. I wish you foot off the brakes oodles of dedication. I wish you the simplicity of kindness towards yourself and then towards others. It is an important practice as you’ll soon discover travelling to your dream destination. On the plane they will inform you it is necessary to put on your own oxygen mask first before you are able to help others. This is often the case in life. Your dreams are personal. If you are focused — Anything is possible. All you have to do is to commit.

Have a blow your mind, bloody amazing New Year!

Your Christmas Wake Up Call


I slapped her hard across the face.

The sound echoed with a satisfying smack.

I wanted to see the fog lift from her, to see her sunlit eyes glisten with awareness once more.

Her eyes watered,

I don’t know exactly what I was hoping for— I did it out of desperation.

Maybe it was clarity?

I needed to see a realization that she understood without participation we are all doomed to die.

Not just one, but all— all the picture perfect babies with their soft sweet features, each shielded by their own skin of different shades of color.

Born into our arms of care.

Doomed to die,

All the children, our most beloved representation of affection and celebration of life.

All of our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandmas and grandpas.

We, as supposed civilized beings sit busily clicking on our computers and phones consumed by consumerism, ignoring the Earths signs of distress.

Who can see that the complete and utter extinction of a species has begun?

Click, buy a second TV, click purchase another piece of clothing, click, click, click,

The sounds of humans eating up the Earth

People— complex organisms torn between love and hate, creation and destruction, greed and generosity, sickness and health, fear and security, war and peace, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain,

An unwittingly apathetic mortal too self focused to see the unraveling.

I’m not sorry I slapped you,

Give your head a shake, wake up.

We cannot afford to pretend anymore.

Just because we had yesterday and today doesn’t mean we automatically get tomorrow,

Our lives are far from a Hallmark movie,

We need to think beyond the sparkle and shine of our lives, and really understand who we are supporting with our existence.

To whom does our money go?

And what are we supporting with that buying choice?

If we don’t change the way we purchase and consume, soon—

Click, click, click,

Sorry kids

We are close to our expiration date.

I’m usually such a jolly elf, but there comes a time for serious action, and that time is now. Please read, How Humans Are Driving The Sixth Mass Extinction.

Best Road Ever


Right or Left?

Fasten your seatbelts and take a moment to tumble into this line from Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—“

In the past I have finished this sentence by cavorting along the path of life tossing confetti into the air and watching it fall around me. I confess to chasing small forest creatures into the bush and losing my way. Today I realize I am at a fork in my road. And I really hope I don’t fork this up. This year I decided to forgo flitting down the trail and becoming distracted by things such as the light filtering through the trees. I decided I am picking my path with purpose. No more darting off into the trees to chase squirrels for me. I think I may have been a Canadian cur in a previous life.

How about you? Do you have insight as to why you choose the road you’re currently on? Do you stay focused on your route ahead? Do you believe the choices before you are vast and open? I hope you can recognize your potential and brilliance.

You are unlimited.

Continue moving forward, one foot in front of the other, pause to catch your breath, do a little cha cha cha, and keep going. A sure fire strategy to fulfilling your aspirations is to keep travelling. Maybe there will be more forks in your road? No worries take a break consider your options and go. Refuse to halt your progress, balk at becoming a stagnant pool of decomposing sludge. Sometimes fear will whisper in your ear, “Stop, you’re making a fool of yourself. The only thing ahead of you is ridicule and failure. Don’t listen, return your focus to your goals. Move! Dance along the road of existence with a smile on your face. You know where you are going. Simply wrap yourself in the clothing of possibility for the journey. As you continue forward, you will soon find the momentum of your decision will carry you into your future with ease.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—”

Purchase With Your Heart


It’s stunning; a human being has such a grand capacity to love, and yet a grand capacity to turn a blind eye when it’s uncomfortable. Human organ trafficking in China is one of those things. Despite all of our world’s brilliant technological advances it has done little to foster love and respect for our fellow mankind. In China, it seems supplying organs for a price is a convenient way to get rid of troublemakers and make a quick buck on the side. Maybe it sounds like I’m taking this lightly, but believe me I am physically ill and emotionally beside myself with disgust and sadness. How can this happen?

When this issue first came to light years ago, China denied it happened, and then when an overwhelming amount of facts supporting the claims surfaced they admitted it does happen, and then China quickly promised it would be handled. Recently more evidence has come to light that nothing has changed. The answers from China flow from yes to no depending on the amount of corroboration that exists to prove the organ transplants from unwilling donors continue. For all intensive purposes, bloody money isn’t something the Chinese government would voluntarily announce to the world. They are a savvy business people. They have their fingers in the business pies of most every country in the world.

When I first read the article The Reality Of Organ Harvesting in China , I felt nauseated. How can slaughtering people for their organs go on in this day and age? Most of the organs are harvested from prisoners of conscience, the Falun Gong , Tibetan, Uyghur, and select House Christians. Can you imagine being slaughtered for body parts simply because you hold different religious and political views than your government? I’d be dead by now. This sounds like something out of a science fiction horror novel. Yet it is happening.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, but what can we do? Well, I finally decided to stop buying products made in China. I’d seen the boycott China logo elsewhere, and I had already been humming and hawing about no longer purchasing from China due to their low quality items with the big ticket pollution tag. Did you know China tops WHO list for deadly outdoor air pollution, and 70% of their own companies break their own environmental standards. It’s not a place I want to support, but I’ll tell you, it’s tough not to buy from China. They have their fingerprint on almost everything. However, I will persist and find alternatives, learning of the forced organ donations is enough of an incentive for me to give China the middle finger. You get no more money from me— Sorry kids no more toys for you.

Let your dollars speak for you, pay for quality, pay to ensure people are treated with respect, and pay for the knowledge that factories are up to environmental standards regarding industrial waste and emissions. Don’t you want to know your product came from a country that had the Earths and peoples best interests at heart? We cannot regulate factories owned by another country halfway across the world but we can at home.

At this point I ask — Where are all these wealthy people who were protesting North American pollution? Why don’t they put their money where their mouth is and invest in caring for people with positive, well-paid work environments, and Earth friendly factories instead of protesting? You have the financial means to really make a difference. You will never be remembered by the amount of money you have— You will be remembered by what you did. Go make a difference, and then you can have verbal diarrhea about dirty polluting North American companies.

North Americans are magnificently practiced at having dramatic rant and raves about injustice. Now is a great time to put your money where your mouth is, and I’m not asking you to give it away. I am simply asking you to consider where your money is going. Is it going to a country which abuses it’s people, or empowers people? We can be the difference. Just think, one voice is a whisper, but many are a scream. Our voice is our purchasing power—Boycott made in China.

Consider Your Inner Monster


We are each unwittingly our own rendition of Frankenstein. Maybe not physically, as the lumbering beast created with a multitude of mismatched body parts, but more so on the inside. Right from our tender beginnings, we are tailored into following, and adopting a mad scientists dogma and an Igor’s opinion as a guidebook for our lives. If we could only look in a mirror and see our inner selves we would acknowledge we are looking at scraps of philosophies and pieces of beliefs taken from this body and that body until we are nothing but a collection of others. We are without a doubt, a psychological representation of Frankenstein. The question I ask is, how do we redesign ourselves into a happier Frankenstein?

As Frankensteins, our personal patterns for functioning began from the first moment we were sparked to life. The bright light of the new world overwhelmed us, and we cried or howled aloud. Our first thoughts were tailored by our creators, parents, or caregivers. Then in a dreamlike state our friends, school, social media, co-workers, partners and news clips inserted little slivers and snippets of dogma into our internal structure. These soundbites either strengthened or loosened our stitching that bound our core beliefs. We were oblivious. While we were chained down upon our sleeping racks our subconscious wielded filaments of questionable knowledge like threadzilla. Sharp points ripped in and out of our patchwork of understanding inserting abstract information. Suddenly a thunderbolt cracked and our eyes jerked open. We were shocked to learn a positive change in ourselves could only happen when we were awake. Now we can view our  hodgepodge mess clearly chose the pieces we’d like to stitch into our Frankenstein self and those we’d like to tear out. This is our time. This is when we create our monstrously magnificent destiny— Mwah,ha,ha,ha.

The first giant step in a monster overhaul is to cut the crap and figure out what sort of beast we truly are and how it all transpired. We begin searching our past with microscopic detail. We ruminate on the origin of our fragmented parts and dissect the impact they had on our capabilities. The next step is to examine those parts of ourselves containing warning labels. Do not trundle close to other Frankensteins, they might smell your right elbow that’s starting to go off. Do not tryout for the Catch the Sheep team, you arise from a long line of lumbering creatures and your knees are an unmatched set. Or worse yet you may have been told by your parent, “Frankie, your teacher, Mrs. Lightning Bolt informed me that you’ve been playing with the werewolf pack. Is that true? You must stay with your own kind. They are freakin trouble, they are always ripping out other creatures stitches.” Or maybe you were instructed to shove everyone else out of your way on the trek to the voltage meter so you would be the first to arrive.  Or perhaps you were mistakenly told nobody was going to give you an eyeball, so you’d better damn well snatch one for yourself. Seriously monsters— To become the Frankenstein we want to be we must study the raising up we received.

So, who are we? Maybe we feel weighed down by an inappropriate choice of feet even though they came highly recommended. How about we simply use the instruments we have on hand to exchange them? Easy peasy, it’s called active-thinking my Frankenstein friends. And how are we progressing on a social level? Are we playing well with others, like vampires, werewolves and transfrankensteins? Recognizing that we are not responsible for capturing and fixing anyone else will go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships. Changing the way we operate in life won’t be an evening stroll in the moonlight, expect growing pains. The discomfort might even give new meaning to the phrase, it’s no skin off my back. Because in all truthfullness, transforming might require just that. It’s essential to recognize our built-in tendencies, and for us to triumph adjustments will have to be made. Be prepared to snip out a putrid patch of dogma in one place and sew a new plot in its place. Make no mistake, the whole process will be exhausting, possibly even backbreaking. But let’s face it, our backbones can be the most limiting factor in our ability to move through our current circumstances. Leave the fear to the villagers fellow Frankie— cut and sew baby— cut and sew.

After completing the final nips and tucks of our new design, we need to survey our stitching and check our extremities. Do we feel complete? Have we given Igor, and all the mad scientists in our lives their walking papers? Now allwe need is a few cosmic pointers to keep our heads held high in their proper place, well, besides the bolts of course. There are only a few rules to follow. Number one is — a seam ripper is a tool for our fingers only, don’t overindulge in spirits and loosely hand it off to somebody else for a try. We all know sharing is caring but not in this instance. We need to be our own best mad scientist. Rule number two is that our stitching is quality. We don’t need fancy pants sewing, ours does the same job as everyone else’s— stop comparing. And the third rule is, for the Mother of Pete we must attach a smile on our faces, pull our shoulders back and limber up our joints, nobody wants to meet a dark lumbering presence on the walk of life. Have some confidence, remember we are one of a kind. And if is is screaming like a banshee for confirmation on our successful transformation into a joyful Frankenstein all we need to do is observe how others respond to us. Are they moving towards us with a smile?— Or with a pitchfork?