I have to tell you all this story. It’s a good one. Curl up for a little while.
It was the mid 90’s, and the B&B was in full swing. We had guests from 40+ countries and every state in the union with rarely had an empty room. I was making hay while the sun was shining, trying to grow my new business and family.
Some guests had never stayed in a B&B and were apprehensive. They thought I might be like an “Aunt Bea”, from Mayberry, and insist on ironing their underwear. No, not me. I came out of hectic corporate life to a small town. Local factories of large conglomerates kept us busy with business executives. I understood what they wanted, the pressure of their schedules, and provided exemplary high-end customer service.
As the internet was just beginning, we rarely had weekend guests. It took several years of biz operation to be published and included in the B&B guidebooks, pre-internet. As the internet grew, and more and more people came on-line, our weekend business increased significantly.
I got a call from a guy in Nashville to book a room, for a couple, for a weekend. He explained he was getting married the following weekend, but needed to spend time with an old friend – before he got married. I thought, “Too much information for me, name/address/credit card#, please. I didn’t have time to care why he was here. Not my business.
Full house that weekend, but I can’t remember the other guests. Guy from Nashville checked in, but he was by himself. Attractive guy, VERY tall, 6’4”, maybe, and a happy guy, kind of geeky. I gave him the biggest bed in the house (so he was comfortable), which was the bedroom above our’s. Checked him in, showed him to his room, went over a few details about breakfast, and I disappeared back to the kitchen.
Lisa, my girlfriend/staff person was wandering around up front, doing something, and came to find me. She said, “You’re not going to believe what all they are hauling into the house.” I frowned/scowled at her. Some of my girlfriends were notorious busy-bodies, and a guest’s business was their business. Lisa pouted but rolled her eyes at me.
I was checking in other guests when Nashville guy came back in with his “friend”. She was mid-60’s, grey hair down to her mid-back, stringy, not a stitch of makeup and probably weighed 320lbs. Gee whiz……. wasn’t expecting that one….. and they were sleeping together…… the week before he was to be married…… Hmmmm…..
Ever so politely, Nashville guy introduced me to his companion. I stuck out my hand to shake her’s. Normal etiquette, right? She shook my hand, looked me dead in the eye, and said, “I’m a witch and I’m here to bless the marriage.” She wouldn’t let go of my hand. I looked at him, and her. I narrowed my eyes in frustration, as our hands became a contest. I jerked my hand away. She wasn’t going to “zap my power”, or whatever the heck she thought she could do. I muddled something mildly polite ……. and I fled.
Back in the kitchen, I literally scrubbed the HELL off my hands. Lisa was gone. I had no girlfriend there to talk to, but OMGGGGGGGG there was a witch in my house!
By the time ex-husband got home, I almost tackled him at the back door. I was blubbering, and told him all about the encounter. He had had several beers (Friday afternoon with the boys), tilted his head back, looked down his nose and said, “Takes all kinds…… Are we ready to cook steaks?” He was dismissive. We didn’t see them for the rest of the night, but we heard them. A few bangs and bumps, which is unusual for our house….. The house is all plaster and practically soundproof. I wondered what they were doing…… “witch stuff“…… ?
Was she turning him into a warlock? Did his fiancee know? Admittedly, my knowledge of “witch stuff” is limited.
Next morning, husband was first up. He liked to get up early and survey the house, make coffee, and read the paper in peace. When I arrived in the kitchen, there were chair parts in the middle of the floor. I was barely awake. “What happened?”, I said to him. He explained he found the chair parts in the dining room with a note he passed to me to read, “Looks like your Witch got mad at you and decided to break your furniture!”. I read the note, which was most apologetic and kind. They offered to pay for the chairs. I wondered…. two solid oak chairs…. how could they possibly…..
Husband left to do the yard, and Lisa showed up. Finally, I had someone with whom I could commiserate. Lisa is probably the MOST religious person I know, and we live in the midst of the bible belt. I told Lisa all about the Witch, and how she grabbed my hand. She refused to come down for breakfast, but he didn’t look any different the following morning. Lisa was almost frozen in shock. We cleaned up the kitchen from breakfast and talked about it. As guests left for the day’s activities, normally, we freshened their rooms. Lisa didn’t want to go in their room. I laughed. There was no way the devil would ever compromise Lisa. By the time we talked it out, we began to feel silly about the whole thing.
Lisa yelled at me from the balcony, “Daughn, you have to come up here and see this.” I came out of the laundry to the stairs, “What do you want?” She repeated. I frowned. We never nosed around in people’s things. It’s rude and fowl. She said, “No, this time, you need to see this.” I trusted her, stopped what I was doing, and we went into the room together.
All over the walls, my moire silk wallpaper, were dayglow stickers that made patterns at night. What the heck? I looked at Lisa, she at me, nodding, “Told ya’ so”………… We were paused at the doorway and tried for a minute to see if there was any pattern to the stickers. We couldn’t come up with anything……… but then again…….. we’re not witches.
Lisa said, “That’s not the best part. Wait until you see the bathroom.” Unsure of when Nashville Guy and the Witch would return, I found myself tip-toeing in my own house…. into their bathroom. There were containers of makeup all over the counter, and more makeup cases on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Estee Lauder queen, but she brought 47 bottles of nail polish. I counted them. Who brings 47 bottles of nail polish for a weekend? Lisa flung open the door of the closet. On the floor, what looked like a hundred WalMart bags, 68 pairs of women’s shoes. Huh? We double counted them. We looked at each other, not knowing what to think. Lisa was a beauty queen and I was best-dressed in high school, but wow, we also knew how to pack and travel. This woman was a nut, ………….but that didn’t mean she was evil or would harm anyone.
Then, the chanting started.
Later afternoon, Lisa gone, the Witch and Nashville guy returned. About 4-5:00pm, I was minding my own business, setting the table for the next day. I heard chanting. The witch was sitting in my formal living room, chanting, holding hands with Nashville guy. Little stones were arranged on my coffee table. I interrupted her chanting as I peaked around the corner, and they asked me to JOIN THEM! I couldn’t help it and blurted out, “Fat chance!”
Well, that precipitated a bit of an argument, which turned ugly. Finally, I asked them to leave. It was the only time in 25yrs I’ve ever asked anyone to leave my house. They left in a hurry, dragging WalMart sacks, full of shoes. As she departed, I was holding the door. She stopped, turned to me and said, “Curses will fall upon you…” The look on her face indicated she meant it, but I was mad, and I had Daughn power. She needed to go.
I wandered around the house for a while….. thinking…… Really? “Curses on you”? I thought it was not very original, and she was making fun of me, trying to spook me…. which only made me more angry. It bothered me for the rest of the day and night. I was vexed but not hexed.
Well, by Monday morning, word had spread. The girls were all abuzz about the Witch. More girlfriends stopped in after taking their kids to school, so we had to repeat the story. They were all agog, more so with every unfolding detail. On girlfriend to me, “Do you feel any different, Miss D?”. She placed the back of her palm on my forehead to take my temperature, reporting back to the other women that I “seemed okay”. Nonetheless, we had to “DO” something and purify the house again, allegedly. Yep, that was it. They had decided. Something had to be done, urgently. Interesting situation……
I’m Presbyterian. So, I called Bob, my Presbyterian minister.
He came right over, and we told him our story. Some of the girls were very animated, we were a pretty diverse bunch, black/white, and different ages. To me, Bob is more like a friend than a minister. We worked on many projects together. He chuckled and assured us there were no witches. We were unyielding. The girls wanted some kind of movie-drama-exorcism of the house….. just to make sure. I understood their apprehension in our culture of the Mississippi Delta, and it was important for me to respect their wishes. Bob was puzzled. Presbyterian ministers don’t do that….. exorcisms. Well, said the group, we needed someone who did…….. “THAT”.
I thought, “Where am I going to find a Catholic?”
The girls were insistent. Bob looked at me as if to question……. half seriously, half joking. We were stuck. I went along with the girls, my empathy to them was necessary. What could an exorcism hurt? I would be pleased to have a super-duper blessing over my house……. and happy girlfriends.
Well, this is rural Mississippi. Bob called the Catholic priest, but we only have one Catholic church in town, and their priest rotated. No one wanted to wait too long.
On steamy summer Wednesday afternoon, we had two Black ministers, a Methodist Minister, an Evangelical Youth Leader, and a Presbyterian Minister, gather together with my girlfriends to do an ad hoc southern Protestant exorcism of the house. My girlfriends brought their own ministers. It was great. I’ve never been prayed over so much in my life. We had communion, we sang, and said a prayer. The Devil didn’t stand a chance. The ministers talked to the heavens and cast out any semblance of a residual demon.
And don’t you know it, we had a scrumptious potluck afterwards……
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said Sunday mornings were the most segregated time in America. Well, that Wednesday afternoon, in my parlor, we were all together with a common mission. It was probably the first mixed-race, mixed faith, religious ceremony/EXORCISM in the county, if not the state. We did it.
Surely, our house is blessed.
Take that, Witch.