Copyright 2014, Ginger Henry Geyer
Chlora and her girlfriends took an Ouija board under the bleachers at a football game to put a hex on the opposing team. They did not heed the warnings of hail and brimstone that fell from above.
The half time show was waning like the moon,
the majorettes with their fire batons going up in smoke.
Even the drummers, who couldn’t read music
were quietening down.
This was nowhere close to the insanity that would foment
in future years at pro football games.
Chlora sauntered off to the concession stand
for popcorn. It was stale and salty.
She tossed it in the trash.
There was her idolized teacher,
standing in line for the ladies’ room.
Chlora ignored her, embarrassed
to realize that teachers are real people
who need to use the restroom.
She pivoted around and headed to the underside
of the bleachers where she and her friends liked to
play games people play.
She steered off into a section of parked cars
and saw some mean boys sneaking around
looking for magnets and hubcaps to steal.
One threw a football at her and narrowly
missed her head.
Another hollered out to her to look the other way,
so she did.
She ducked under the section of bleachers
where she saw the glow of cigarette butts.
Three of her friends were there,
like live wires setting off sparks.
Sometimes they pretended to be
Down Under, like Australians.
Usually they sat underneath the Pep Club,
and got into the spirit of the game, but it was loud
as thunder under there when the Peppers
rhythmically stomped their feet on
the metal bleachers. Even so,
Chlora preferred the home field advantage
and avoided going over on the enemy’s side
where they once tried to rig up booby traps.
Here, under the parents’ section
it was all doomy gloomy with only muted sounds.
Paranoia had set in about the game, and they were
definitely the underdogs, though
the cheerleaders were trying in vain to raise hopes.
Chlora’s girlfriends were huddled up,
out of the wind, hunched over a red lap blanket.
They had an Ouija board out, surrounded by glowing
cigarette butts that had been tossed from above.
The girls asked if Chlora had brought her kittens.
Then they told her to go collect more cigarette butts
especially ones that were still smoldering.
Some had lipstick on them
…then, Lucky Strike!
Somebody dropped a package of Salems.
Now they needed a lighter, as the smoky butts had fizzed out
Should’ve brought candles & matches.
There was some legend about
cleansing the Ouija board with white candles
before using it, but they were unsure how to do it.
At least they were outdoors
rather than in a room, so the spirits can get out
into the air and not hang around in a confined space.
They girls announced that this was serious business
and they needed to put a hex on the opposing team asap.
The circle of girls somberly went into séance mode
like that first lady in the White House.
Somebody hummed I’m gonna put a spell on you.
Chlora was glad that this time
they didn’t try to levitate anybody.
Two of the girls warmed up Ouija by asking questions
about boys and other silly things.
One should never take spelling lessons from Ouija
It spun out three figures 8’s,
each one ending with the word “IF”.
How DID that thing work?
Chlora examined the heart-shaped thingey.
It had a fancy name, planchette, and
was nothing but a piece of plastic on felt skids,
yet it seemed to know more about them
than they did themselves.
With their hands barely touching,
surrendering to Ouija’s pull,
it would jerk to a stop over letters
that flowed forth into words,
skimming the surface so fast
you had to hold on for dear life.
It would go into a flow state,
mimicking the ideomotor effect
which requires a commitment to surrender,
to lose self-consciousness like a pianist.
Or like the automatism of a dowser looking for water,
or a holy roller speaking in tongues.
Flow was familiar to Chlora, who
did automatic writing, which was
fun to do if you were in the mood
and could keep up with the joy.
The pair of girls leaned over the board,
their fingers lightly touching the planchette.
They were getting into it now,
isolating themselves from all distractions,
like that pair of heroes Ajax and Achilles on the Grecian urn,
who played a game to chill out
during the Trojan war.
But it was just the calm before the storm
as the one in his
helmet got killed soon after.
No wonder they looked rather tense,
hunched over their game board
hoping it’d give a clue to their future.
Suddenly Ouija spelled out “NO HOPE”
in response to a query about the football game.
The quartet of girls read that out loud in unison.
An upper voice hollered whatta you kids doing down there?
The girls scowled at the anonymous rear ends above them.
Some of them had sat on bleachers for fifty years or more,
dutifully watching their kids and grandkids
play every sport ever invented.
It was a wonder their flattened buttocks were not imprinted
with the grain of the wood,
but that’s just part of being a parent.
What if all those rear end sprouted tails?
You could match the tail to the personality—here a mink tail,
there a tiger, or scorpion, horse, beaver, rabbit, or peacock,
and many merry cocker spaniels.
Somebody’s dad peered down between his feet.
The girls artfully raised up their blanket for a shield
and one of them fudged an answer.
She proudly held up a bag of jacks,
rattling it to great effect,
Oh, just playing children’s games down here!
She tossed out a handful of jacks,
like God scattering the Milky Way,
and told the rear ends that
Einstein was playing dice with the universe,
it was all innocent and
they need not concern themselves.
Jacks always just come down as they will
and Chlora had to go after a jack that ventured too far.
She reached under the lowest bleacher for it and
got up close and personal with Charlotte’s web.
The web bobbed, as if receiving gifts or catching ideas
and she didn’t want to disturb the resident spider.
Spiders gave her the heebie-jeebies,
but their handiwork wove together the lost and the found,
as all good parables do.
Spider Man knew this, as did his sister
the Navajo Spider Woman
who had the gift of weaving.
It was Chlora’s turn to consult the Ouija board.
Like Jesus, it rarely answered a question straight on.
She asked if Halloween would be ghastly
or miraculous next week.
The planchette jerked around and stopped on a dime:
It seemed to be stuck there, and the girls gave it a nudge.
There was a YES and a NO printed on the board,
but no MAYBE. Suddenly Ouija spelled out
CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT
Chlora thought of her precious kittens.
It was like all of her nerve endings were exposed
and raw, supersensitive like in finger tips or private parts.
Abruptly the flow and spill
was rudely interrupted by a Dr. Pepper
that fell from above.
Now it truly was hail and brimstone raining down upon them
a message from on high, a sure sign sign to quit.
One of the glassy eyed girls wanted to continue,
saying the Devil made her do it.
Ouija was as contagious as a witch hunt in Salem,
the very same town where Ouijas were manufactured.
Chlora’s Sunday School training kicked in
and she pronounced that this was like the three temptations
of Jesus, and they should just say no.
Truth was, Jesus didn’t just say no,
he engaged with the Devil,
flat out refused his seductive offers
and told him to take a hike out there in the wilderness.
Preach it, Chlora!
She reiterated the three temptations
which sort of blurred together, as temptations tend to do,
but essentially warn us about idolatry and identity.
Jesus was fasting out in the wilderness,
which means he was starving and would
eat anything, even stones or gluten
or stale popcorn from the concession stand.
It had been the Holy Spirit herself who led him there,
as in the Lord’s prayer “lead us not into temptation”.
Forty days in the wilderness would tempt anybody;
even expert campers got antsy when in solitude too long.
But no food? Jesus was really hungry.
So his first test was about appetite.
Then the next one was fitting for homecoming,
as it was mostly about showing off.
Jesus passed that one easily, as he didn’t even
flaunt his own miracles.
And then there was the one about power mongering,
that seemed to happen to even the most well-intentioned
members of the student council.
The Devil took Jesus to the mountaintop
for that one, and pointed out all the towns below that he could rule.
That Devil could quote scripture
like the winner of the Bible sword contest.
Jesus knew when good was being used as evil.
People who base their religion
on fear instead of love
always seem a bit more fascinated
with entertaining Satan.
Jesus wasn’t about to play his games.
And then angels came to tend to him.
The girls listened to Chlora for once,
wide-eyed, as the cigarette butts burned into nubs.
One of the girls shuddered and said
they would all burn in hell
for flirting with evil spirits.
Chlora knew that images of hell
came mostly from Bosch and Dante and Milton
but agreed it was getting
as creepy as the crawlers down there.
Unlike the opposing team,
they should quit while they were ahead.
Instantly the masonite Ouija board cracked in two,
like the dramatic tear in the veil
of the temple when Jesus died.
That was even weirder than what Ouija said.
The girls drew back.
They peeked out from under the bleachers
to see the scoreboard. Time was running out
but time seems to take forever at the end of a game.
They had time to invent a wholesome new game,
voting on who had the most pious shoes up there,
based upon the condition of their soles.
Maybe suggestibility and the power of ideas
could be used for the good.
Their quarterback took a bad body blow.
Since nobody could move the goalposts,
the game just petered out.
At least there was no overtime
that nobody got paid for.
They lost bad and the fans were downright sad.
The band fired up a somber rendition of Bob Dylan’s
“You gotta serve somebody”.
The Homecoming maids cried off their mascara,
donned their boyfriend’s letter jackets,
and escorted the muddy players off the field.
The cheerleaders did not know what to do with uncertainty,
so they congratulated players for a good game,
and got scowls in return.
One of the girls wrapped up the broken Ouija board in
the lap blanket and said she would go bury it.
Chlora picked the cobwebs out of her hair
and was glad to go home to her kittens.