It was Wednesday night, the twenty-seventh of October, and in a few days there’d be plenty of trick-or-treating. Thankful was downstairs again, all by herself. Halloween was fast approaching, and this year she was not afraid! Her brothers were upstairs and Charley was in charge there. Neither brother could see her now as she dabbled in the former family room which had become the séance room. And the child-witch wondered if they’d ever find her Daddy in Heaven.
Now Dad was a territorial creature of habit, and so was his first son, Charley. On the cusp of manhood, the thirteen year old was poised to assume the mantle of patrimony and in some ways was already the undisputed patriarch of the family. Charley would ascend its many household thrones, and oddly enough he found himself competing with Stinkly for the rights to his dad’s chairs in the kitchen, the dining room, and even in the living room. These places traditionally and functionally had always been Dad’s. Now, almost three weeks into it, the boys were still saddened by the loss of their father, but over the last few days Charley also felt greatly empowered.
Downstairs the little girl talked to herself to keep up her courage in the low light of Oona’s apartment. “Mary was visited by angels,” she said softly. “And angels have to be real.” She sauntered into Oona’s bedroom and passed through the French doors which were left wide open. At the foot of Oona’s bed was a large cedar chest. Thankful sensed a strange and beautiful object deep within it. She approached the coffer and, as expected, she found it was locked. This chest was just a piece of furniture, but something was alive inside, which was still unseen, well concealed, and obviously protected. Already the girl had no doubt she had made a very big discovery. And whatever it was, or whoever it was, Thankful was certain it was what had caused that wrapped up box to glow the other night.
“Disembodied.” She said the word slowly to make sure she got it right. “Angels are ‘dis-em-bod-ied’ spirits who get tired and worn down. Angels get hungry and weak, and need humans like me to feed them. I’ll bet with some food, the angels can get out of that coffin. They don’t need animals to eat.” The young girl suddenly and vividly imagined a dark and beautiful woman – beautiful as a goddess – dressed in a costume with all the colors of the Caribbean. The girl’s senses were overcome by the rhythm of the woman who now waved a dead chicken over her head, surrounded by many chanting people in various states of consciousness. “They just need…something…to transfer energy,” the child-witch deliberately stated. “You don’t have to kill little animals to sacrifice.”
Thankful rose out of her daze and ascended to the kitchen. She checked on the boys who were quite busy video-gaming belligerently in the TV room and study. A few minutes later she returned to Oona’s room with a variety of green herbs, some sandwich bread, and a small paper plate from the kitchen. Stinkly followed the girl downstairs and sat respectfully by her side, fully aware of the food on the floor where the girl sat herself and faced the hope chest. She opened the bread. Thankful needed something to drink, and she remembered the small bottle of holy water among Oona’s personal items that were stored in her armoire. The girl fetched the holy water and then, as if guided by some invisible force, also snatched a cigarette lighter and jasmine fragrance from Oona’s inventory that were left beside her silver and gold censer. Then she set the fragrance alight and placed the smoking incense carefully inside the vessel.
Oona’s gonna kill me!
Still, the girl had little fear and then began to eat the bread in small pieces. She swayed gently and with great purpose. She ate six pieces, then six more, and finally six more pieces of the bread. After each interval Thankful swallowed a few sips of the salty holy water and she murmured strange refrains. Finally she took the herbs, mixed them up on the plate and neatly arranged the pieces along its edges. Feed the angels.
Something rumbled from inside the chest!
Slight as it was, and faint as it was, it was still unmistakable. There had been a small vibration. Then there were small sounds: sounds of a young maiden; a maiden in distress.
And so from the deep depth and darkness, from nothingness, something was roused.
Asleep for so long in this filthy hole. “Is this the calling I knew one day would come?”
Having bolted from the basement well ahead of the girl, Stinkly dashed away with her tail tucked securely between her hind legs. She would not return downstairs with Thankful, and a full hour passed before the child-witch summoned up enough courage to go back and straighten up. One thing Thankful could not reverse was the sweet fragrance of jasmine.
Now and then, while Thankful put things back in their rightful places, she heard a brief growl or a yelp from the direction of the stairs. Stinkly, nowhere in view, was presumed hidden.