by Ramona DeFelice Long
On a shelf in my office is a collection of quirky, inspirational items: My Jane Austen finger puppet. My collection of Beatles buttons. A clay sign that says “Future Bestselling Author at Work.” My Good Citizen Award. A sheet of paper with “Compliments of Mrs. Long” written over with comments—You rock! Best sammiches ever! I freaking love you!—from when I brought homemade chicken salad sandwiches to the high school book group. A plaster cast of my beloved Marcie’s paw. My Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter SinC button. A framed placard of the Cajun Ten Commandments.
Attached to each doll’s dress is a small card explaining How to Use the Voodoo Doll. I have read these instructions and, yes, I have followed them. So far, when I reach step #3--“Pick white pin for good, black pin is for evil!”--I’ve gone for the white pin. That’s not to say I haven’t been tempted to skewer somebody with a black pin. I mean, you’re not an interesting person unless you rack up a few enemies, right? Nevertheless, I’ve resisted inflicting harm on my nemeses through the use of supernatural powers.
Here’s why: It’s not because I rock or because I’m such a good citizen or because I have a bestseller in my future. It’s because I’m not a believer.
I don’t believe in voodoo. I don’t believe in black magic, or white magic, either. I don’t believe in ghosts, vampires, witches or warlocks. I’ve never had a supernatural encounter. No hairs rising on back of my neck from an otherworldly presence. I’ve never seen a cat’s face morph into another cat’s face. Never experienced a premonition, an omen or any déjà vu. None of my deceased relatives or lovers from a former life have swept in to say hello. I don’t worry about what goes around or fear the wrath of karma. Heck, I don’t even believe in Satan.
You might call me a skeptic, but it’s not that simple. I don’t disbelieve the experiences of other people. If you tell me you’ve seen a ghost, who am I to doubt you? Just because it’s never happened to me doesn’t mean it’s never happened to you. Many people I know and respect have experienced the unexplainable, and I’m not about to start calling people liars or demand proof. No “Unless you post pictures, it didn’t happen” from me.
I’ve been pondering this as I try to write a blog post about haunting experiences. Reading the Stiffs’ tales this week, I’ve started to feel resentful. Everybody else has been tripped out by some weird encounter--why not me? I’m from Louisiana, for Pete’s sake! I own voodoo dolls! Why the heck won’t some apparition take pity and haunt me?
Is there something wrong with me? Or is it that I’ve closed my mind to the possibility?
I say I don’t believe in Satan, but I certainly believe in evil. One look at this week’s news—the home invasion trial in Connecticut, the parents who duct-taped their child to a wall—and yeah, I have complete faith in the evil that man can do. But I believe that man is perfectly capable of doing bad stuff without assistance from the beyond.
It’s not that I’m fearless, either. Put me in a small room with a big spider, and I will show you fear. Heck, put me in a big room with a small spider, and I’ll show it to you then, too. But if you put me in the woods, alone, late at night, with no cell phone service, I won’t be worried about the Blair Witch; I’ll be praying not to get eaten by a bear.
So I feel a little deprived. Maybe it’s my own fault, for not being imaginative or brave or spiritually grounded enough to accept the possibility of ghosts and goblins and what-not’s. Thinking about it, I suppose it’s silly for someone like me to own voodoo dolls.
But I can’t get rid of them. And if you think about it, when it comes to voodoo and other formers of mental treachery, is it really necessary that I believe? No. It’s only necessary that my enemies believe.
And that they not cross me. *evil laugh*