Sallie Benson and I are cousins but not by blood.
“Want to come up to my house and play with the Ouija Board,” she sometimes offered on warm summer nights. The Ouija Board belonged to Chris Smith, our neighbor. He lived in a trailer in the woods just below Sally’s place and to the left of the big gold house where I resided.Chris found the board in an old metal shed where his mom, Deb stored things. He dusted off the daddy long-legged spiders and brought it up to Sally’s back porch one June evening in 1984.
A group of kids gathered around to give it a spin. The Ouija Board was a game from our parent’s generation. Despite the popularity of the mystical version of Monopoly during the 1970’s, by the time we were old enough to spell things, the game was forgotten and almost banned, like the old knockers– the toy with two heavy balls on each end of a string that made a loud clacking sound while creating black eyes on the snotty noses of children across America.
It was silly trying to get the Ouija Board to work properly with Ryan and Robbie Garlock, Jason North, Brian Hoffman, Randy Marlin and my brother Bill acting stupid around the game. Sally and I were very serious and told everyone to shut up as we tried to get it to work right. The other boys were trying to see between Sally’s shorts instead of watching what was being told to us. Eventually, we ended up playing kick- the- cans on the day that Chris brought out the old toy. He forgot to take it home with him. Sally immediately claimed it as hers despite the fact that Chris’s mom didn’t even know that her childhood toy was missing from the shed.
Sally and her mom Janet knew I was one of the few teenage boys who could be trusted sitting on her bed. My hands went on only a heart- shaped oracle with a needle suspended in the center of a glass magnifying lense. I was more interested in channeling than trying to get into Sally’s Daisy Duke shorts. The ‘magic’ was real with my childhood friend and cousin. She had mystical powers, just like me, and we both believed in God, demons, fortune tellers and Aretha Franklin. The messages hidden in the letters on the Ouija Board came to us effortlessly.“Who will I marry?” I asked it over and over again.The oracle spun in confusion, knowing, as Sallie and I both did, that I would never marry a woman.
“Does Ryan Garlock love me,” Sally asked.
“Oh Sally, that’s a stupid question to ask a spirit,” I said.
“Well, what should I ask it?“
“Let’s make the ghost prove that it is real,” I said.
The hairs on our neck stood on ends. “Take your hands off of it,” I ordered. I was able to move the oracle without touching it by simply hovering my hands above the beige colored plastic. Sally’s eyes widened and she insisted that I let her try channeling the plastic piece around without touching it.
“Focus on it. Don’t focus on what it’s going to spell out. Just focus your attention on the needle,” I advised.Sally took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. My cousin was just like me. She had a wild imagination and could believe in almost anything. Sure enough, when Sally focused her thoughts on the metal, suspended needled, the piece of plastic started moving around the board as if a ghost was conducting a spelling-bee.“This is freaking me out,” she said.“Yes, me too.“
The summer went on. We saw our friends at the Three Springs Community Pool. We were getting older and so were all our friends. Kick the can lost its popularity and getting the gang together to play games was hard.
Despite our attempts to stop spending so much time improving our skills on the lettered board, our sessions became more intense. There wasn’t a whole lot to do on warm summer nights, living in the woods so Sally and I started lighting candles and turning off the lights. Eventually, we learned to sit with our legs crossed like Indians and to say chants prior to asking for events of the future.
“Show us a sign you are here,” I ordered one evening when the little lens kept repeating the numbers 6-6-6 and spelling out L-E-G-I-O-N-S. I figured Sally’s Catholic roots were causing the repetitive signs to appear and I wanted to take the game to the next level anyway.
“Show us a sign you are here. Show us a sign you are real,” we kept repeating.The closet door in Sally’s bedroom of her family’s trailer came crashing down from the rollers and track from which it opened and closed. Sally and I both saw eyes inside her closet. Even now as adults when we talk about the night that her step-father Denny burned the board game, we know what we saw was real, and the closet door that came crashing down was not our imagination.Sally and I ran from her room screaming at the top of our lungs. Sally was crying and tears were streaming down her face. We were terrified.
Her step-father Denny went into the room to check things out.
“There’s nothing wrong in here,” he explained.“But the closet door– that closet door just fell and we saw something in there,” Sally cried.
Denny insisted that the door was working perfectly.
Life went on and lots of new clothing was worn and placed in and out of her closet, despite the fact that years ago, demons were once hiding in there.I was placed at the Benson table during the wedding of a family member almost a decade later. Sally and I insisted on sitting next to each other. It had been years since we saw each other. I left for the Army in ‘88 and hadn’t seen her in ten years.
She laughed when I said, “Sally, did you just see my glass moving around on its own.” She remembered the warm June night from our childhood immediately.
“Denny, tell us the truth, did you put the closet door back on track that night when Sally and I got freaked out while playing with the Ouija Board,” I asked.
He remembered the night perfectly and looked both Sally and I in the eyes and swore that he didn’t touch it. Somehow, that closet door found its way back on track on its own.Sally and I looked at each other and smiled, yet hairs were still standing up on the back of our necks because we both know that the devil was in her room that night.
I wanted to join Sally and the other girls when they tried catching the bouquet of flowers that the bride, our cousin, Karen Brown threw over her shoulder.I could only laugh when the daisies bounced off of Sally’s big tits. She didn’t even attempt to capture an old superstition. She knows that some things are best left to move along in their own good time, just like my foot did that night as I reached out to touch Sally where I shouldn’t have.