My landlord tired to protect me from a group of born again Christians who came to console me after Shawn died. They were my co-workers. My boss was a deacon from Riverside church in Harlem and she knew I needed prayer. She sent Nicole Sterling and Gwen Florant over. Gwen is a certified social worker and could get to the bottom of what was happening with me– why I was falling apart. They needed to see first hand what I was talking about. I dared them to come over and see for themselves. There was an evil spirit lurking over me.
Lenox was outside sweeping the steps and was trying to figure out what to do about his tenant situation–Shawn was dead and I was living in his apartment. To make matters worse for the Buddhist, there was a group of Black Baptist church ladies at his front door, attempting to save a soul.
My name was not on the lease. I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was thoughtful for them to stop by to make sure I was okay. I asked them to come to my house and pray for me. Some strange things were happening in our apartment– the stereo turned on by itself three times over the course of the week following his death– the same song kept coming on. How strange that was. I needed them to pray for me. I was frightened.
Lenox warned me– “Charles, there is someone out here for you.”
“Let them in, Lenox.”
“Don’t let them do this to you, Charles. You’re grieving right now. Do not let them brainwash you like that. It’s how they operate,” he said at the door while they were still standing outside, waiting to be formally welcomed inside, like vampires.
I did anyway. I let them in. Nicole said the prayer. Her hand felt warm in mine. When Gwen grabbed my other hand, we formed a circle. Nicole was my closest friend at the job. We made it past a little disagreement regarding homosexuals getting into heaven and at the time, I felt I needed her to rid my soul of the despair that had taken over me. I took Shawn to a service at her church during the holidays. I lived right down the street from her congregation, a different church than where my boss and Gwen attended. Nicole wrote plays and members of her church played the parts. I promised to support her artistic endeavors and agreed to go to her church.
This was not a play, it was the real thing. She even spoke in tongues. A thunderstorm was rolling into Bed-Stuy at the moment Nicole began a strange form a chanting. I opened my eyes and looked around. Wind was blowing the curtains on the two front windows of the apartment and I saw Lenox’s red Ronald McDonald hair peeking in the window. He shook his head at me, almost hinting that I should break free from the chain of prayer being said. Lenox ran for his car as the rain started to pour outside. Nicole’s body jerked. I felt an energy pass through me. What was that? Damn– that was real.
Nicole miscarried the following week. I had a dream of the situation before I had heard of the terrible news and felt personally responsible. I was fired from the job shortly after that prayer. Perhaps they believed that indeed, I was possessed.