The nature of my father's job in 1968 necessitated that we move, as a temporary measure, to Roanoke, Virginia. We lived in a small mobile home court on the outskirts of the city. Much to my pleasant surprise, a girl of my age lived only two lots over, and we soon became fast friends. My friend, Vanessa, lived with her mother and father, and older sister Nerissa, who was 18 at the time we arrived.
Vanessa's parents both worked at night, which left Nerissa as designated baby sitter for her young sister. Since Vanessa and I were such good friends, and spent much time together, and, no doubt, since I had two eligible older brothers, both Nerissa and Vanessa spent many evenings at our home.
On some Friday evenings, when we could catch my father in a talkative mood, we would convince him to regale us with ghost stories. One such evening, Nerissa and Vanessa had joined us. As my father told his stories, we huddled together on the couch, clutching throw pillows against whatever ghost might be lurking in the shadows. After a time, my father, caught up in his storytelling, made the boast that he could, in fact, talk to the dead. Nerissa voiced her disbelief, and since my father was not a man to be denied, decided to hold a Séance to prove his point. This was not the first time I had been witness to a Séance, for my father had staged more than one at our home in the years before. Although some “manifestations” were obviously rigged, there had been enough unexplained happenings at these affairs for me to realize that there was, perhaps, something to his boast. The thought of a Séance terrified me, so I spent my time huddled on the couch, in the darkness, tearful and yet morbidly fascinated with the entire production.
My father, my three older brothers, my mother and Nerissa gathered in a circle around the dining table, with only a tiny candle as lighting.
As they joined hands, and closed their eyes in concentration, my father, in a deep, dramatic voice, began to invoke the spirit world. After a time, strange popping and tapping noises could be heard along the bottom and sides of the trailer, traveling from one end to the other and back again, in somewhat random order. (This manifestations had occurred at other Séances I had been witness to.) After a time, my father began to address the spirit, asking it to rap once for “yes” and twice for “no”. Several questions were asked, and eventually, it was determined that the spirit present was someone known to Nerissa. The spirit, the ascertained, was of a twenty-one year old male who had died unexpectedly.
At this point, Nerissa, a bit unnerved, broke the circle, and the rappings ceased. To cover her unease, Nerissa began to scoff at the idea of a Séance having any real meaning, and dismissed it all as an elaborate hoax.
My father, at this point, left the table and went to living room, where he lay down on the couch
“You don't have to believe me, if you don't want to,” he stated, and closed his eyes. Then, in a quiet voice, he stated,”A man just walked through the door. He's about twenty, twenty-one. He's dressed in jeans, tee shirt, and a black leather biker's jacket. He has sandy brown hair, combed back on the sides, and a lock of hair that hangs down over his eye. He's lighting a cigarette–I can smell the smoke. Now he's taking out a comb from his back pocket, and combing his hair.”
As he spoke, Nerissa, standing by the door, grew very quiet, turning pale, and then even more pale as he continued his description.
“Shut up! Just shut up!”, Nerissa suddenly shouted. “This is all just bull****!”
Bursting into tears, she raced out the door, leaving all of us, Vanessa included, staring after her in shock.
About an hour later, Nerissa and her father, who had returned home from work, came to fetch Vanessa. As my mother and Nerissa's father exchanged greetings, Nerissa approached my father.
“I'm sorry for the way I acted,” she said. “I was upset. You scared me half to death with what you were saying. You see, you described perfectly, my boyfriend, Bobby. You had no way of knowing about him, for he was killed about a year ago, in a motorcycle accident, long before you had ever met me, or moved here.”
© Paulette Boyd
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