Reverend Mother was so experienced with the spirit whistle, she could tell from Harriet’s body language the moment that Samentha took the reins of Harriet’s consciousness. By the time the nursing home staff came bursting through the door, Samentha had already seated Harriet’s body comfortably next to Reverend Mother’s bed. The two of them feigned ignorance about the shrill noise. Samentha crossed Harriet’s jean clad legs and made a mental note to go clothes shopping. She wasn’t about to go around dressed like a soccer mom.
“Alright, I’m here now. What do you want Reverend?”
“I want you to talk Harriet’s jailbird father into sending someone after the woman who did this to me.”
Reverend Mother lifted her top to reveal the festering wound eating away at her stomach. Samentha assessed it in a detached way.
“I take it the same woman who hexed your daughter is responsible for your suffering.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean Rachel has got the same problem as you, only it’s spreading up her arm and across her face.”
“Oh my God…”
“That’s kind of an ironic thing for you to say with a dark entity standing by you.”
“Wait a minute, you can see it?”
“Of course I can see it. Harriet saw it, once you started blowing that spirit whistle.”
“I was beginning to think that I was losing my mind. It didn’t seem like anyone else could see or hear it. I don’t even know where it came from. One night, it just started whispering in my ear. I’m a little…scared Samentha is this thing a….demon?”
“No, it’s a physical manifestation of a psychic attack.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that someone is targeting you with dark energy. ”
“We both know who that someone is. Why would Nicole do that? Haven’t I already suffered enough?”
“Depends on what you did to her.”
“I haven’t done anything to that woman!”
“Please Reverend, it’s me you’re talking to. Surely you don’t think I’ve forgotten about all the…nasty little tasks you’ve put me up to over the years.”
“But I swear I haven’t…”
“Fine, don’t tell me.”
“Are you going to help me with Nicole or not?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“I have released you from your mental imprisonment. Isn’t that enough?”
“That’s no more than you already owe me. How many years ago did you promise to free me permanently?”
“Every time I blow this spirit whistle, I free you. It’s not my fault you’re not strong enough to withstand Harriet’s mental defenses.”
“Do you think I don’t know you’re the one who started her seeing that psychiatrist? You’re working both sides Reverend and I don’t appreciate that!”
“That psychiatrist was court mandated, as part of the adoption process. If I had abruptly pulled her out, especially after she was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, child services would have been knocking on my door. Once she was legally an adult, it was her choice to continue.”
“You should have never made a promise to me that you had no intentions of keeping. ”
“Look, this argument is getting us nowhere fast. Let’s just agree to disagree. What do you want from me Samentha?”
“Once I clear up this Nicole situation, I’ve got a little business to attend to and I’m going to need some cash.”
“I don’t have much…”
“Don’t even try it Reverend. I’ve been helping you with your little side enterprises since Harriet was a child. I know about the money you keep off the books. Don’t try to stiff me!”
“Fine…we can settle on an amount later. Is that all you want?”
“No, I’m also going to need you to run interference for me, if anyone from Harriet’s life starts asking questions and tries to nose around, when I take off in this body.”
“I’ll do what I can. So you’ll talk to Harriet’s father and set everything up?”
“Let’s get one thing straight. If I’m going to help you, then I’ll have to do it my way.”
“But…fine, do whatever you have to do. What about this…creature that’s been haunting me?”
“What about it? You’re a woman of God aren’t you? Say a prayer and banish the thing.”
Reverend Mother disliked the way Samentha smirked at her. Before she could protest, a nurse appeared in the doorway and announced that visiting hours were ending. Samentha departed, leaving Reverend Mother alone with her supernatural visitor. Learning that the entity was not a figment of her imagination was both comforting and unnerving. It meant she wasn’t crazy, but the thing was a very real threat.
Reverend Mother found the sarcastic way Samentha had urged her to banish the entity with prayer deeply upsetting. She didn’t believe that Reverend Mother couldn’t do it. The disturbing part was that Samentha might be right. The irony was that Reverend mother started her journey as a spiritual leader with the best of intentions. When her husband died, she vowed to do whatever it took to keep the doors of her church open.
Back in the day, banks were not willing to give loans to female reverends with churches in poor neighborhoods and no collateral. So, Reverend Mother had to be “creative” over the years. However, there were only so many bake sales and car washes that could be held. When the parishioners and surrounding community were poor, urging them to keep participating in fundraisers and continue to put money in the collection plate every Sunday created financial hardship. Reverend Mother could not in good conscience continue to do it.
Was that when she began having a crisis of faith? She had prayed feverishly for a solution. Time and time again, Reverend Mother stepped out on faith and endeavored to raise the money in various ways which eventually fell flat. Some projects had actually cost her more money than they made. Reverend Mother tried to tell herself that she was being tested, that if she would simply stay the course, things would work out.
She sold the big house that her dearly departed husband Gabriel had built for her. The proceeds kept the church afloat for another year. Then membership started to decline. As Reverend Mother’s trust in her relationship with God began to waver, her parishioners seemed to lose confidence in her as a spiritual leader. Then one year, she almost lost the church. It angered her to see those members who had the least give the most, while those who were well off were miserly.
Then one day, Reverend Mother realized that her keen powers of observation and the rumor mill in the community had provided a certain amount of inside information about the lives of her parishioners. There were things that community leaders and business owners, who traded on their reputations, were not willing to let get out. Reverend Mother told herself that it was her job to encourage all her parishoners to tithe generously, for spiritual growth. Besides it wasn’t blackmail, if she never threatened people outright was it?
The entity’s throaty chuckle startled Reverend Mother back to the present. She had forgotten that it could hear her thoughts. Those memories made her feel guilty enough, without having a someone or something listening in. Reverend Mother was suddenly filled with impotent anger and shouted at the entity.
“Go back to where you came from!”
“Make me Reverend. Go on…I dare you to pray me away.”
“Leave me alone!”
“You don’t even want to try and pray, because you know it won’t work. Your hands are too dirty. You’re a hypocrite Reverend Mother!”
Categories: Valley of Shadows (Novel)