Short sentences, he thought.
Long sentences it looks like you’re fucking with her head. Well,you are anyway, but. Ghosts would use short sentences, like maybe they don’t have the juice to do a long sentence cause they’re dead. He put his fingers on the plastic planchette and began again.
He jumped up and yelped. Miss America was at the doorbell and he wasn’t ready for her. He still needed time to figure the ins and outs, how to pull this off.
The thought of Melanie’s fingertips only a few inches away, moving together in union, almost like they were fucking together. Unbelievable.
Keep calm and drive on, that’s what you do.
Just make it believable.
The Quija board was a weird birthday gift from his old aunt. She was an aging hippie who wore bandanas around her head, like maybe the Grateful Dead were still coming to town. He barely knew her. On the card table, set up on a raggy red cloth, the board was clean and almost new from the box. Someone, the original owner maybe, had written the words “Dixie” in black Sharpie on one corner. The old timey looking printed wood radiated a shunned and lonely feeling as if it had spooked people out a little too often. A feeling he knew himself.
The doorbell rang again and the shadow of a face moved behind the hall curtain; someone peering in. He stood up and wiped his hands on his shirt. He skipped to the door, taking a quick glance down to make sure his fly was zipped.
He fumbled with the knob and knew instantly for a dead certainty he was going to blow this whole thing. Blow it up bad.
“Hey,” he said “lookie here now, it’s Melanie.”
This afternoon she was wearing Levis cut off almost to her ass and a loose red tennis shirt that hid her golden, way out of his league, cheerleader physique.
He had noticed Miss America, as he thought of her, far back in high school and had tried only once to speak to her. On that occasion he had been shot down in flames. It was just too sad. Whatever her type was, he seriously was not it. She set him straight about that. She was honest that way. A girl’s idea of being honest.
Two years later, just yesterday it was, he had tried again. She had been sitting at a table in the student union with biology books spread out. She and another girl had been talking Some Really Deep Shit about how the line between life and death kept getting moved back and back and back by science. He leaned over, pretending to ignore Miss America and addressed himself to the other girl. “Ever heard of a Quija board?”
And fucking A - here she was.
After standing there in front of her for way too long it suddenly occurred to him to step aside and let her in. He made a courtly wave. “Hey, how they hanging?”
As she brushed by him, her hand moved and the tiniest shower of salt passed over her shoulder. He shut the door.
“So where do we do it?” she said.
His nerves were so wound up being in her presence, breathing the trail of her sweat scent that everything seemed to carry a double meaning. “Do it?” he gibbered and she gave him a look.
“I googled it. I want to see it.”
“Is that it?” She pointed towards the card table in the dining room.
“Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.”
She gave him a dismissive look. “Really? I’m not staying. I got stuff. I just want to see. Okay?”
Before she was halfway down the hall she had her smart phone out and was thumbing dreamily for messages. As he took his own chair she was already hunched over the little glass screen and he no longer existed. He folded his hands on the table and waited to exist again. As she tapped at her phone he found himself beginning to hate her.
She looked up at the table and then him. “So?”
“There,” he said.
She snapped a picture of the Quija board with the phone and put it on the table. “That's just old shit. Like checkers.”
He felt the moment slipping away from him. “Here.” He nudged the planchette to the center of the board. “What you do is, you put your fingers there,” he pointed to her side of the planchette, “and I go here.”
“This is so like, lame?”
“Do it.” He put his fingertips on the edge of the planchette. He kept them there. “If you’re scared, don’t do it.”
“Shut the fuck up,” she smiled slightly and put her fingers on her side of the planchette. “So, what happens now? My head spins around?”
“What happens is the spirits of the departed, they come and move through our fingers together and spell out words, see?”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
“You have to wait.”
“The spirits to come. Just keep your fingers on it. It’s easy.”
They waited. A minute passed and there was no movement. The phone gave a little bird whistle and she turned to look.
He was losing the moment. He was losing her. She would talk about him and this stupid game on Facebook.
So he moved it.
“Fuck!” She jerked her fingers from the planchette. “What the fuck? You did that.”
“You so moved that shit.”
“I swear to Jesus, I didn’t.”
They sat silently and he wondered if he had just called down bad luck on himself. Now there was nothing. She put her hands back on the planchette. He gave it a stealthy nudge. Her eyes looked down, fixed on the movement like a cat. Gently he slid, moving slow as a clock hand, trying to stay spooky, willing it to look real. Not pushing the deal too hard.
He stopped over the O. Would she buy it? She sat still, barely breathing. Finally she whispered “Shit.”
He nudged the planchette feeling her fingers through it, leading her gently, tuned to her touch as he had never been tuned to another human being before. Her pressure; thoughts held silent, feeling the intimacy of her finger tips on the other side of the plastic as he softly escorted her up to the word –
“Fuck me,” she whispered. She looked up suspiciously. He kept his eyes on the board and waited. “You’re doing it, aren’t you?”
“No,” he said. “Swear to Jesus, no.”
She nodded. “Yeah.” Her eyes became red and seemed smaller. “You’re not. Holy fuck.”
He tried to nudge it, but her fingers were heavy on her side and he kept still and waited, his fingertips barely grazing the plastic.
“Who’s there?” she whispered. “Is it you?”
The planchette moved and he almost shrieked. He felt the urgent pressure from her side and let his fingers scurry along.
“Is it – “
Her yell made him jump and his fingers lifted for the barest instant. The planchette jittered off the edge of the board under her hands.
A single tear went down her cheek. He watched open mouthed as it traveled down, down.
He gently placed the planchette back on the board. The room around them shrank into the most fragile intimacy. He sensed her anticipation and held off. If he could pause long enough to let her wilt, she would sink under the pressure and come to him by herself.
“Oh Jesus, fuck,” she whispered softly.
She vibrated with it. He held back some more, every nerve alive to her being. Then he felt it. Her placid submission to his authority. His authenticity bore her down, crushing her ability to resist belief. He savored the vision of her absolute surrender to his will. This was power. She had given him power. And she was still so very beautiful.
Their hands joined on the planchette and he moved it, here, there, here -
“Hi Grammy. Are you all right? Are things nice where you are?”
Slow. Gentle. He looked at her eyes, pink with tears which were now streaming freely down her face, hanging at the corners of her lips.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Grammy.”
He moved the plastic, slowly, with infinite patience.
“I love you too. God I miss you every day.”
He wanted to ask. Who the shit is this Grammy? Her grandma? Someone else? He opened his mouth but it moved again –
“Sometimes I feel like, I don’t know. Like I’m so ugly. Like I’m some faked up bitch. I got to do stuff to get boys to like me better.”
“Suck guys. You know. Off.”
He was holding his breath, trembling, leaning back imperceptibly to keep the shakes from his fingers. She was staring at the word and he knew he’d blown it. He’d gone too far. Stupid bastard. Stupid, stupid bastard. She’s going to kill my ass for this. She’ll bust my face and twitter it.
“Nobody likes me, Grammy. Not really. Nobody knew me like you. Now you’re gone.”
Nothing happened. The planchette stayed in middle of the board over the “?”. She looked up and realized she’d been weeping. She started to move towards her purse. As her fingers lifted he knew he had to act.
He moved it to the letter S, not knowing why. She looked; her eyes blazed with intensity. He had her again. In his thrall. Like a snake with a bird. Like Dracula’s eyeballs. In his power. Her grief. He felt a wave of rage wash over him at her cold beauty and stupidity.
“S-?” she said.
She took her hands from the planchette, folded her arms. “You asshole.”
“I’m not.” His voice was shaking.
“If this is Grammy, prove it.”
“You have to put your hands back.”
“Listen, fuckwit, if you’re pulling some fucked up shit - ”
He moved and moved.
She stood, instantly obedient and put her hands back on the planchette, looking down eagerly like a puppet on loose strings.
He had wanted to sketch out “Can’t stand you,” to be cruel, to hurt her, but he had been too quick, too sloppy. And yet she had stood at his command. Slave like, she had obeyed him. Perfectly. Unquestioningly sucked down his words and surrendered to his will because she needed him to lie to her so very badly. Would do anything for him, anything to please or pleasure him, just to keep the lie alive as long as he did it skillfully. The thought of her innocent slavishness, stiffened his dick instantly. The wonder of what he had just done to her made him want to tackle her and hold her down to the floor under the male weight of his body.
But she was still this bitch. Stupid, guy sucking off bitch. What he really wanted was - he wanted her gone.
She looked down dumbly at her tennis shirt. “No, don’t. Please.”
The dumbass, beautiful bitch who had just called him Fuckwit still didn’t get it. She was still standing there waiting for the next thing. The next thing came to him from the tips of his own fingers, without her help, before he knew it, as he dragged her fingers behind his.
She held her breath. Her face loosened, lost all energy. She mumbled.
“Yes, Grammy. It’s you.”
Her hands left the planchette and moved to her two buttons and unfastened them. She pulled the tennis shirt up over her head, looking wide eyed and far away.
Mechanically, she hung it on the back of the chair. She looked down, unfastened her Levis, dropped them to her ankles and kicked them off.
His hands rested numbly on the planchette as he watched her, open mouthed at what he had just done. No – what he had made happen.
Her bra was red like the tennis shirt. It had thin red plastic spaghetti straps and a tiny cutesy little red bow between the cups. She pulled down the straps past her elbows, spun the bra around back to front and unlatched the hooks. She pulled the halves away and her breasts tumbled out. She wasn’t looking at him. He wasn’t there. Her panties were narrow white cotton briefs with cartoon butterflies and another tiny pink bow. She pulled them down and shook them off her foot. She had a dark, curly haired landing strip shaved over her pussy next to a black inked Chinese character.
She put her hands back on the planchette; her nude round breasts were pale in the triangle shape of bikini tops. They dangled down over the board, swaying pendulously as they moved the planchette together.
"I am so, Grammy,” she whispered so low he could barely hear. Slowly at first from the inside out, her shoulders, then her breasts, then all her body began shaking so violently she staggered. “. . . good,” she whimpered and suddenly clenched her fists. “I’m a good girl!” she cried to the air. “I am!”
“Look, Melanie, I mean like - ”
“Don’t you look at me!” she screamed in his face. “Don’t you fucking look at me! Fuckwit!”
He moved the planchette, hard –
She pulled her hair, stuffed it in her mouth and bit down on it. Her sobs came out in loud animal brays as he sat woodenly, baffled. Not knowing what to do as the naked girl in the room with him flew to pieces.
Look what you did.
She never did shit to you. Not really.
She went on screaming at the air and tugging handfuls of her hair. Some of it was coming off.
He wanted her to stop. Somehow. But she was right about him. He could only watch like some Fuckwit to see what she would do when she came back to herself. If. He didn’t how to turn it off. And now her phone was ringing.
You fuckwit. You evil ass fuckwit.
He looked down at the planchette and it had been moved.