Lifting a Curse (Part 6)

Holy Schmidt, Creepers! What a week it’s been. The cage match in San Berdoo fell through. My opponent, a guy as old as me who shall remain nameless yet is wildly popular in certain parts of Asia, went into some kind of organ failure and had to pull out for dialysis and perhaps a transplant or two. Got a bad batch of steroids or human growth hormone or something.

So they were trying to dig up anyone to fight me, and they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. First it was some MMA broad. But I wasn’t having any of that. First, I don’t hit women, and second, even if offered a ton of money there is NO POSITIVE OUTCOME to fighting a lady. Either you win, and everyone shrugs it off as expected. Or worse, she beats you into the ground and you become a laughing stock. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but they’re wrong. Especially when I’m trying to build a mystique here.

So then they were trying to go through this extensive Rolodex of possibilities for an amusement match. A veritable who’s who of one-hit wonders and washed up TV personalities who needed cash. There was some guy who had been a neighbor on the “Brady Bunch”, another one who had been on “Mork and Mindy”. The drummer for a band whose one song gives you an instant and insufferable earworm. The ex-husband of a rather famous entertainer. Those sort of people. My favorite was an actual former pro athlete who had doped out of the sport and was now selling insurance door-to-door in his home town. Other than that guy, who would have been a tough nut to crack, I was going to look like Jerry Lawler smacking down Andy Kaufman.

But then the unthinkable happened, and the whole studio got busted. In addition to televising sketchy cage matches, they were hosting weird animal fights. Roosters against snakes, three-legged coyotes against a dumpster full of rats. Anything for ratings, I suppose. But they should’ve been smart about it, and based themselves out of Turmenistan or something. Not California. So the cops swept in and rolled up the entire operation.

So here I was, schedule cleared and a couple weeks’ worth of clean living to erase. As soon as I heard, I busted open a carton of Dunhills, hoisted a tumbler of Johnnie Walker Gold Label, and called up Parquette. She helped ease my sorrows.

So Wednesday night, we were sitting around enjoying beef bourguignon with a crusty bread and a Bordeaux red, when the phone rang. It was the librarian.

“Hello? Mr. Daley?!? It’s {NAME REDACTED}. Can you hear me?!?”


“You have to help me!” She was whispering in the phone, sounding genuinely terrified.

I sat up straighter, and put my glass down. “What is it?”

“I’m…well, I’m at a trailer out in the country, and there is a man raping a woman. Hitting her. It’s horrible!”

“Did you call 911?!?!”

“Yes, but the line is busy!”

“Hold on!” I said, turning to Parquette, “You have the number for any cops? I mean, their cell phones or something?”

“Sure, why?” When I told her, she whipped out her phone. “Where is this?”

“Where are you at?” I asked, scrambling around the kitchen for a pen and paper. When she told me, the address sounded familiar. Real familiar. I handed the phone over to Parquette, and gave her the pen and half of the paper. She started asking a series of questions as I headed to my everyday computer. The one wired up to my own internet.

As I listened to Parquette reeling off information to a cop friend, I looked up the address on Mapquest. As soon as I saw the place come up, I realized why it sounded familiar. It was the address of my old nemesis’ secret lair, the trailer owned by the strip club owner. The one I ripped a nail out of wearing a Ghillie suit. It was all of ten minutes away.

Parquette was just finishing up the call with the cop, and I could hear a siren starting up just before she hang up. “Let’s go!” she said.

We got there maybe two minutes after the cop, and he already had my nemesis in cuffs. He was wrapped in an old parka, to hide the fact he was naked, and being led to the cop car.

We were there for hours, and it was horrible. I got the story between bits and pieces of overhearing, and from a later run-down from Parquette while we sat in my car, getting warm. It seems my nemesis had been “auditioning” a young Russian girl, one who was clearly being trafficked, and she wasn’t having any of that. She had thought she was coming to the US to be a nanny, and had balked when she found out what the true nature of the work was. My nemesis had clearly since slid downwards from being a t1tty bar owner to a pimp, and he decided to beat her into submission before forcibly driving home his point about where she stood in this world. The librarian had come up as all this was starting to go down, and had run back to her car.

As you know, she tried unsuccessfully to call 911, and the only other number she had in the area was on the card I had given her. The cop hadn’t come in time to completely save the girl, but had certainly saved her from an on-going life of servitude. And she would be safe from my nemesis for the next 25 years. At least 15, if he showed evidence of good behavior. The parade of evidence techs and rape crisis workers would see to that.

“So what was the librarian doing there, anyhow?” I asked, perplexed. It was hard to imagine what had prompted her to stop at a trailer on a remote parcel of land in the middle of nowhere.

“She was involved in a business deal of some sort with the suspect, and he texted this address to her.”

“Business deal?”

“It was a private sale of some sort,” she looked at her notes, “A gradunza, in fact.”

“Gradunza?!?” I was shocked, “Can I talk to her?”

Parquette looked dubious, then relented, “She’s your friend. She called you. Go ahead.”

As I got out of the car, she added, “Don’t mess up this case, ok? Don’t play cop.” I muttered my agreement and headed over to her car. She was inside, engine running, staring over the dashboard. As I came up, she rolled down her window. “Mind if I get in? It’s cold out here.”

She nodded mutely and rolled the window back up. I heard the doors unlock as I walked around to the passenger side.

“You okay?”

She nodded, still saying nothing.

“You did the right thing, calling.”

“That poor girl!” she said, sniffling, “I wish I had….had a gun or something!”

“No, you did the right thing, calling the cops. Calling me.”

“I suppose you know?”


“About the gradunza.” I nodded, knowing that she would be forced to fill up the silence by talking.

“I needed the money, ok?” I nodded, waiting for more.

“I’m sixty years old, and I have no one, and the county pays a pittance,” she said bitterly, “The only thing my family ever had of value was that gradunza. And they sold it at an estate sale!” She shook her head angrily.

“But what’s it worth?” I asked, “I sold it for two grand, when the economy was hopping. And bought it back for $475 just a few weeks ago.”

She laughed bitterly, as she pulled the gradunza from a box, and turned it over. She turned on the dome light, “See here, Mr. Daley? Cartier. A true Cartier. A museum piece.”

I whistled, wondering what this thing was worth. A hundred g’s? Half a million? “Why not sell it to a museum then?”

“You see, my grandfather came from Sebastopol. He was a merchant, a White Guardsman. Once civil war broke out, he fled with a suitcase. All he had was a few jewels, and this gradunza, which was stolen. The Russian government is looking to get it back, see? So I could only sell it in a private sale. Under the table, so to speak.” She almost seemed a little proud of herself, having probably pieced together the plan while reading a Raymond Chandler novel.

Most everything came into focus then. I had always thought her a bit of a nutcase, obsessing over this minor piece of family kitsch, when in fact she was chasing a family fortune. Hence the lawsuits, and the complaints, and harassment. This gradunza was her ticket to a better life. Greed may be ugly, but I certainly can’t fault anyone for it, being in its thralls myself.

“I suppose I may lose it now,” she said, sadly.

“Maybe,” I said, “You never know what will come out in court. But I doubt it. There’s nothing any cops are interested in other than assault, battery, and rape. Have they asked about taking the gradunza as evidence?” She shook her head. “So look,” I continued, “This thing has been missing for what, 97 years now? And whoever used to own it is long dead. And their heirs are long dead. Long since executed by the Bolsheviks. Right?”

“That’s true!”

“So do you think anyone even knows whose it is at this point? And even if they did, do you think they have any receipts from like 1880 to prove it?”


“So just take it into Charlotte tomorrow. Find the biggest art dealer you can, and ask for help selling it. They’ll put it up for auction, and you’ll get the best bid. I’m telling you, I know some dodgy characters. Shady guys who can sell pretty much anything. But you’d be in over your head with these guys. Hell, I barely think I’d get 25 cents on the dollar for what that thing might be worth. You’d be lucky if you got ten cents on the dollar. Or even worse, a bullet to your head.”

“Oh, my!”

“Look, I don’t mean to scare you, but you gotta do this thing right. If you keep running around chasing guys with suitcases of cash, you’ll end up dead in the trunk of a rental car out by the airport. Doing it the right way is safer. If the gradunza does belong to someone else, it’s not like they will press charges. You just lose it, and you’ll be no worse off than you are today. But chances are title is so murky that you will be in the clear. And it will sell, and you’ll make a tidy profit. For all you know, your family lore is a bunch of bunk your grandpa spun to make his exit from Russia look more romantic.”

“He was a minor baronet of some sort. Educated in France and all.”

“See? And Cartier was French anyhow. So just sell it openly, and let the chips fall where they may.”

She nodded, convinced, “Thank you, Mr. Daley!”

I was going to say my goodbyes and leave, but then a question came, “One thing I don’t get. How come he had you come here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I can understand why he didn’t want you to come to his house. Or to his place of business. But why have you come here, when he was, shall we say, otherwise occupied? Why not just meet you at a Denny’s?”

She just shook her head, “This is the address he texted, that’s all. He was just so RUDE.”

“Can I see your phone?”

She unlocked it and handed it over, mutely. The last text message was from her, “Be there at 8 pm.” Scrolling up, the address. There were a few odd messages from him that said things like “The other place”, “Where we met last time”, “The country place”, and “Jesus Christ you know the place and time and I just texted it to you AGAIN five minutes ago”. Then I saw the original message from my librarian friend, and it all became clear, “Hello! I can bring by the little Russian beauty. What time is good for you?”

I re-read the message train, and laughed. While my librarian was texting the scumbag about the gradunza, he was also getting texts from a business associate about this poor Russian girl. The two text conversations were getting mixed up by the scumbag, and he gave the librarian the wrong address and time to meet. The other guy must have been a little ahead of schedule or the librarian behind, and she showed up just as things got nasty. Typical. Brought down by lack of attention to detail. The only thing that would have been better is if he had done himself in with a butt-dial.


So here it stands with the curse. Three enemies turned into one friend, one lover, and one jailbird. Curse broken, and it looks like happy days are here again.




Lifting a Curse Part 4

Truth be told, the whipping set me back a lot worse than I thought. It always kicks in afterwards. People love to say, “You’ll feel THAT in the morning!” But it was more like a car wreck, the stiffness set in and lasted a week.

Anyhow, my instructions were clear. Go to Confession, make amends with two of my enemies, and avoid the third. As for the Confession…ah, well, if I recall right, the Priest always ends that with “Go and sin no more.” Let’s face it, that’s problematic, for any number of reasons that aren’t hard to figure out. That box remains unchecked.

As for the first two enemies? Well, this is where it gets interesting.

The first hates me because I bought something at an estate sale that should not have been for sale, and I ended up selling it for two grand. She’s been making my life hell ever since with nuisance lawsuits. The second one I must have rubbed wrong, which is really only a problem because she’s an assistant county prosecutor with some ambitions.

The first thing I did was go out on eBay and noodle around. I pulled up some old records, and was able to track down the gentleman who had bought the item in question. For the sake of the story, we’ll just call it a moss-covered three-handled family gradunza. The buyer is apparently undergoing a change in life, and is now selling off his gradunza collection. And out there for sale is the specific gradunza that has been the point of contention with the librarian, with like three days four hours and 23 minutes left on it. And apparently interest in gradunzas is falling, because it’s out there with zero bids on a starting price of $474.99, with only 2 people watching. So I was beside myself; couldn’t believe my luck. I had long since lost the two grand and then some on legal fees, but I was going to be able to get out of this for a lot less than the next visit to civil court.

I can’t tell you the mental agony, weighing the “Buy it Now” price of $699.99. I finally decided to put in a low bid and see what happened. One thing, I try to never panic. The other thing, the pain and anxiety of watching this thing was kind of an extension of the whipping the Hex’nmeisterin administered. It ended up coming to me for the minimum bid.

It arrived in good shape, and now came the question of how to deliver it. Take it to her house? No knowing whether she would be there, answer, or call the cops. And the latter might bring me into the clutches of enemy number two. Mail it to her? No, that would be too impersonal, and possibly show cowardice. Without context, what would she think?

Arrange a meeting at her lawyer’s? Not bad, but I really wanted to put her at ease, and that wasn’t going to happen at her lawyer’s. Plus no knowing if that prick was going to charge some billable hours to me. Call her and ask to meet her in public? It just seemed dodgy. So I decided to go that night to the library, and if she was working, give it to her right before the library closed. And if she wasn’t there, keep coming back until she was. That was her home turf, and everyone knew she was a librarian. It wasn’t really stalker-like.

So I found myself in the parking lot, out of sight under a tree, watching moths and bats flitting around a light. At 8:45, people were starting to leave. I gave one last look at the gradunza in its box, carefully picked it up off the car seat, and went in. She wasn’t at the checkout desk, so I circled around. No one gave me a second look. I found her in the children’s section, tiredly shelving returned books.

I looked at her for a little while, and she just looked defeated, like she was having a terrible day. And very possibly, this was her every day. A life of regrets or longing or empty dreams. Bad pay at a county job, a minor functionary in a dying institution. I couldn’t believe I had such animosity for someone who looked like life had kicked the sh1t out of them and sent them a dry-cleaning bill for the blood stains.

“Excuse me, Ms. XXXX?”

She looked up, smiling expectantly, and then frowned and stepped back when she saw me. “You!”, she spat.

I held up the box to show her, then set it on top of the low kids’ book shelf and took a step back, “This belongs to you.”

She looked back and forth between me and the box, uncomprehending.

“The box,” I said slowly, “Look in the box. It’s your gradunza.”

With a look of a woman in a dream, she stepped towards it and looked in. She started, obviously stunned, then gently lifted the gradunza out. She held it up, and slowly turned it around, inspecting it. Then she turned to me, and stammered, “Thank you!”

I smiled back, and said, “You’re welcome.” I took a deep breath, wanting to just walk away, but needing to say more. “I also want to apologize. I knew how much that meant to you, yet sold it anyway. It wasn’t the right thing to have done, and it’s put you through a lot. Now that I’ve tried to make amends, I was hoping we could just bury the hatchet. We don’t have to be friends, but at least let’s not be enemies any more.”

A tear slipped out, and she brushed it away, “Mr. Daley, I’d like nothing more than stop fighting!” She took another look at the gradunza and smiled, “This means more to me than you know. It’s…it’s…never mind. It’s just something that means a lot to me.”

She straightened up, “Now how much do I owe you?”

“Nothing! It’s yours!”

“No, no, I have to pay you back. It must have cost a fortune!”

“Not really. Prices have gone down, and I still made money on it.”

This went back and forth for a bit, and she finally insisted on paying me what I had bought it for years ago at the estate sale. There did seem to be some rough justice there, and she didn’t want charity, so I agreed. She went to get her purse, and somebody announced over the loudspeaker that the library was now closed. I made my way out front, and she came out, leaving someone else to lock up.

“Mr. Daley, can we at least go to Starbucks or something? I’d love a cup of coffee, and frankly it will be easier to write out a check on a table in a well-lighted place.”

“Sure! But you have to call me Finnegan.”

So we went around the corner to Starbucks, and had an amiable chat over venti mochas. She had left the gradunza in the car, and her gaze kept going out the window. She was distracted by the thought of her gradunza, and before long we were running out of words. We finally parted ways with a handshake, exchange of business cards, and a friendly wave. She really looked much better than she had at 8:45.

I drove home the back way, window down and the air ruffling my hair, the screeching of the katydids in the trees louder than the road noise. There was a huge weight lifted, as if the curse were breaking down around the edges, getting ready to crack and fall away.

And soon my thoughts turned to the time I had spent out on {DATING APP FOR CASUAL HOOKUPS}, setting up a profile, scoping out a certain prosecutor. As I drove, I worked through some details of my plan to fix things with her. Tonight was a great success, and I felt the promise of better things to come.



Lifting a Curse (Part 3)

Yesterday I woke up early, thinking about the upcoming appointment with my Hex’nmeisterin. I reviewed the last few days’ events to make sure I was ready. I packed everything up in a duffle bag, filled my day with purposeless motion and a late nap, and then finally took off after dinner for the WalMart agreed upon with the Messenger.

I was strangely loathe to speed, and ended up pulling into the parking lot later than expected, though still on time. I parked way out in a row with little cars, lined up with the entry to Outdoor Living. Several rows over, under some trees, there were a number of pickup trucks and old sedans with a bunch of teenagers milling about. The smell of tobacco and the sound of carefree laughter drifted over on the wind. It took me back thirty plus years, to happier days, which was a small but welcome blessing.

This part about going to the bathroom to await the call was weird, but after the long drive, worked out pretty well. I took a leak, washed my hands, and then went into a stall to wait. Since this wasn’t travel on the low-low, I had my smart phone with me, and spent some time catching up on emails. Finally, my phone rang, and the Messenger told me to exit by the grocery area and stand there.

A brown Dodge pickup rolled up as I stepped outside, the passenger window rolled down. “Finnegan?”

I nodded, “Messenger?”

He smiled, “You can call me Isaac. Hop in. Let’s get the supplies from your car.”

Once we transferred the bag, we drove on a bit in companionable silence. “So you’re not going to blindfold me?”

Isaac laughed, “No! Why would you ask that?”

“Well, because you’re driving me to see the Hex’nmeisterin. I assumed it was some kind of secret. Like you couldn’t give me the address or something.”

“No, it’s not like that. The Hex’nmeisterin doesn’t want visitors chust dropping by. It’s invitation only. And she finds people respect her wishes if they have not been invited directly to her place.”

I nodded. That made sense in an old-fashioned way.

In less than 15 minutes we were there, the clouds up high glowing pink while twilight gathered down below. Gravel crunched under the tires as we slowly made our way up the driveway.

The Messenger smiled at me, and patted me on the shoulder. He said, “Go on inside. No need to knock. Now, have heart. Your troubles will soon be over. I’ll wait here.”

I did as he said, and walked into a simple kitchen illuminated by candles. The Hex’nmeisterin was at the table, facing the door, her lips moving as she read to herself. I stood respectfully a moment, waiting with my fedora in my hand.

She finally looked up, “You are Finnegan?”

I nodded, finding it hard to say anything, feeling for all the world like a naughty school kid sent to the principal’s office.

“Have a seat, and tell me your troubles.”

The words came out haltingly at first, but then picked up steam. The Hex’nmeisterin mostly listened, uncannily intent, but would ask follow up questions about timing, location, and dates. She was clearly paying attention, but not just to the surface, but to something below. As I mentioned different specific days, she would consult a battered leather-bound manual full of tables and charts, and make small notes in a newer leather-bound book.

After perhaps half an hour of talking, she had heard enough. She abruptly interrupted, and asked to see the items I had gathered for the breaking of the curse. She inspected each Mason jar carefully and grunted, “I like that you put everything in a jar. It shows the proper respect for the power. And it seems somehow more fitting.”

I blushed at the compliment and mumbled my thanks.

“Now for the mementoes.”

Those were in an age-mellowed wooden cigar box. She opened the lid and carefully inspected the contents without touching them. She smiled and nodded in satisfaction, and pushed the box back over to me.

“Follow me,” she said as she stood up, turned away, grabbed a lantern, and walked out the back door. I quickly grabbed everything and put it all back in the duffle bag, striding double-time to catch up with the Hex’nmeisterin. The sun was completely down now, although the glow of the moon was starting to show against the clouds and in snatches between the trees. Cicadas and katydids were buzzing and chirping, the occasional sound of a bullfrog breaking through the cacophany. We headed out to an old barn. As she opened the door, a wave of heat hit me, along with the smell of smoke. We went to a wooden picnic table nearby, and I set down the duffle bag.

“Pick up some stones, and put them in a pile right here,” pointing to a spot on the table. Bemused, I complied.

“Now pick up another handful, and put them here, however many feel right,” pointing to another spot. I complied. “Now another one, here,” and this went on for some time, until there were sixteen groups of stones.

“Your knife has tasted blood?”

I thought about it a bit, “It was my Dad’s. I’m not sure.”

“The you need to cut yourself. Not a lot, just a little slice.”

I shook my head, not sure whether to be impressed or annoyed, and knicked my left arm against the bone. In a few seconds, blood welled up.

“Now use the tip of the knife to pull stones away from this first group in twos.”


“So take the knife, and push two stones from the group. Like this,” taking my hand and sweeping away two stones, “Now you do that until there is either one, or two, stones left.”

“Am I supposed to be counting the stones?”

“No,” she said, smiling, “Chust push ’em away by two until there is either one, or two, left.”

In a moment, I was done, and said, “Two left.”

She took a note, and said, “Now the next pile,” and this went on until all sixteen piles were down to either one, or two stones.

She drew up a chart that looked like dominoes of some sort, and then went on to draw some rows below those, and fill out a complicated chart that was a diamond inscribed inside of a square, with a bunch of lines breaking it up into twelve parts; eight of which were triangles and four of which were diamonds. She filled each one with the domino symbols, which were basically four lines with either one or two dots. She would periodically sigh, or laugh, or shake her head, or cluck her tongue. It was a very impressive series of calculations, but I had no idea where the dots and triangles and diamonds were coming from.

Finally, she said, “This confirms what I thought when you showed me what you brought.”

I waited in expectant silence.

“The objects you brought from the lady adversaries were ephemeral, and passing. A hair and dead flowers. Yet the object you brought from the male adversary was metal. And even though it was old and rusty, it was still strong and did what it had been set to do thirty years ago.”

“So he’s the culprit?!?”

“Indeed he is,” she replied, nodding her head gravely, “And a powerful curse it is that he has placed upon you.”

“What do we do to break it?”

“Let’s go into the barn, and I’ll show you.” The Hex’nmeisterin grabbed her lantern, and we went in. The heat had died down a bit, but it was still stuffy, and soon sweat started on my brown and under my clothes. I looked around, and there were curtains hanging up from the rafters to the right and the left. The heat seemed to be coming from the left. The Hex’nmeisterin walked over to the right, and pulled the sheet to the side, revealing a small altar with a simple cross above it. She did the same to the left, and I jumped in surprise as she revealed a small cast iron Franklin stove that was wrought in the shape of a monstrous Baphomet. Red light glowed from the eyes and thin lines of smoke streamed from the nostrils as well as up the chimney pipe.

She led me to the simple altar, although I couldn’t help but keep looking back at the Baphomet. That motherfuc7er looked ready to attack. She had me open the Gideon’s Bible up to Psalm 109, and then copy it out line by line onto a piece of vellum. When I was done, she said, “Kneel before the altar and read the Psalm, like you mean it.” And I did so, with all my heart poured into it, asking the Good Lord to take away this persecution and turn it upon its author.

“Now we go to Baphomet,” she said, and picked up the vellum that I had so carefully written. She rolled it up, opened up the door to the Baphomet stove, and threw the paper in, intoning, “Oh mighty Baphomet, nothing pleases you more than mischief. Wreak mischief upon Finnegan’s tormentor in the same measure as he is trying to wreak it upon Finnegan!”

She led me back to the altar, and pulled my shotglass out of the cigar box. A bottle of homemade hooch appeared out of nowhere, and she filled the shotglass, “Drink to your health, and to freedom from torment.”

I raised the glass, and complied, “To my health, and to freedom from torment!” It was some kind of homemade distilled liquor, strong with a hint of fruit, and it burned on the way down.

She filled the glass again, and said, “Pour a libation on the floor before Baphomet, to the malady and torment of your enemy.” And I did as I was told.

The Hex’nmeisterin pointed at the rosary and asked, “So you’re Catholic?”

“I am.”

“Do you go to Church?”

“For weddings and funerals. Baptisms. Sometimes at Christmas, or Easter. And now and again when the mood strikes me,” I said, a bit embarrassed, “Oh, and also, if I’m in the slammer, I’ll go to the chapel there on Sunday. Doesn’t matter if it’s Catholic or not.”

The Hex’nmeisterin smiled, “So, you are not completely blameless in the matter of this curse, or in the matter of your enmities. You are motivated by greed, lust, anger, gluttony in liquor. And you’re slothful. If I catalogued the seven deadly sins, you’d have eight or nine of them.”

I hung my head in shame, unable to argue, and she continued, “So I suggest you go find a priest and offer your confession. Especially confess the sins that have generated this enmity with these three. Oh, and don’t forget apostasy, since you don’t go to Church regularly. Now take off your shirt.”

“Beg your pardon?!?” I asked, sure I had misheard.

“Your shirt,” she said with slow and careful enunciation, “Take it off.”
I unbuttoned it, and following her gesture, hung it up on a peg.

“Your priest can free your soul of the weight of your sins, performing a spiritual service. But you also need temporal relief from your sins. And it would be just like a priest to let you wallow in the misery you have caused. I intend to expunge the guilt and punishment you have earned here on earth.”

She reached into the cigar box and pulled out my belt. It was black leather, supple and faded after all these years, and it made a sharp cracking sound as she doubled it up and pulled the ends, “I see you are covered in scars on your body. I trust you can hold still as I administer thirteen lashes?”

“I can, if it will end this torment!”

“Then kneel before Baphomet, and put your hands behind your head. It will probably be easier if you link your fingers together.”

She administered the lashes, shouting my crimes at me between blows, “And THIS ONE is for your greed!”, “And THAT ONE is for tearing apart your family!” “That’s for abandoning your children!” On and on it went, the truth of her indictments hurting worse than the cuts and welts that were forming on my back. As a matter of pride, I never cried out, never flinched, never tried to protect my back. Just let her rain the blows upon me.

When she was done, my back was wet from a mixture of sweat and blood. As I put on my shirt, I knew it was ruined. That made me sad, because it was a cowboy shirt embroidered with a steer skull that my sister Mary had bought for me when we were on a trip out to Wyoming a few years back.

I winced a little at the pain, and joked, “So what now? Do I go and sin no more?”

She shook her head, and said, “Maybe your priest will tell you that. But I tell you to go and be no more the fool. You have made enemies unnecessarily, accumulating ill will throughout the decades, across several continents. And now that you’ve settled down in one place, you’ve nowhere else to go unless you run from your troubles again. But something tells me you can’t do that no more?”

“True,” I agreed, “I have fourteen children that I’ve been a horrible father to. I’m trying to make it up to them, by being here for them until they are grown.”

“Then think long and hard on how you live, and how you have made enemies. As for the man, I would recommend avoiding him, and leaving him to the power of the Psalm and the malice of Baphomet. As for the women, you would do well to try to make things right again with them. Barring that, at least turn away their hate. Both have it in their power to harm you.”

We went back to her kitchen, and I gladly gave the Hex’nmeisterin gold and silver ingots in payment for her work breaking the curse and setting me back on the right path. That woman had a spiritual gift, and it was something else to watch her confidently use the objects I had brought to bring me to see the truth. She was almost like a jazz musician, just riffing along with whatever the spirit world brought her.

It wasn’t even ten o’clock when Isaac collected me and drove me back to the WalMart parking lot. I considered going in for some Red Bull and beef jerky, but figured the bloody shirt would attract attention. There was a McDonald’s in the parking lot, so I went to the drive-through instead. Got two double cheeseburgers, pickles only, an unsweet ice tea, and then on the spur of the moment, an Oreo McFlurry. Figured I deserved it after all the pain of being cured of the curse.

And home I drove, the full moon now fairly high in the sky, guiding me home to scotch straight up, a hot shower, a warm bed, and facing a tomorrow with my curse broken and a better life before me.




Lifting a Curse (Part 2)

OK, Creepers. The saga continues. If you didn’t read Part 1 of this series, scroll down first. it’s just a few posts below.

So The Messenger had given me my marching orders, straight from the Hexenmeisterin. I had to get something personal from whoever was cursing me, and bring it along. And here’s the problem. Enemies, I got. Lots of ’em. Earned many of ’em fair and square, being a right selfish ba$tard. So I had to run through the list, and it was a doozy. But some could be scratched off. The ex-wives have plenty of reason to hate me, yet we all rise and fall together unless one of them hits it big. Wins the lottery or whatever. So they might gloat on a personal level at my misfortunes, as long as they are just personal to me. Like getting the clap, or crashing one of my fun cars, or getting non-fatally stung by a swarm of enraged ground bees. They wouldn’t want me arrested or ruined or killed.

I’ve got some business associates who might hold a grudge, but these guys don’t do curses. They would just pull the Italian Rope Trick on me and drop my body off at a friendly funeral parlor for an off-the-books cremation. Maybe mix the ashes with baking soda and using it to cut an unexpectedly strong batch of heroin.

There have been a number of fist fights over the years, but generally those people had no idea who I was even before I pummeled them into a concussion. And I make a point of getting the hell out of there to avoid the inconvenience of a long conversation with the local constables. Guys whose women I had taken, then cast off when done with them? They would have done something long ago if they really cared.

There were a few stray cats here and there, people I had crossed years ago back in Youngstown, but somehow curses don’t strike me as things that work long distance. This goes all the more so for people overseas. I seem to recall that black magic can’t cross salt water. There were some other possibilities, but they were just to remote to be worth following up on. If some random person were obsessed with me and wished me ill, then there’s not much I can do about figuring that out, much less getting a personal object from them.

So this exhaustive cataloging led me to three suspects. Number one, an assistant county prosecutor who would book me for conspiracy to commit felony jaywalking with a minor, if she could. Number two, a t1tty bar owner who put knockout pills in my drink, presumably in an effort to rob me, and ended up making himself look really stupid. Number three, a harmless looking librarian who has been hauling me into court for civil charge after civil charge, all stemming back to a very good deal I got at an estate sale when I first moved down South. Apparently the item I purchased wasn’t supposed to be sold. She claimed some sentimental value, but wanted to simply refund me the price I had paid versus the amount I could (and did) get on eBay. And that quick two grand was some hard earned cash, based on all the hassle it’s bought me these past few years.

So yesterday I started on my trek to obtain personal items from these three. Thursday was an auspicious day for me. You see, I normally fast the last Wednesday and Thursday of each month. It’s a long story, but years ago I fell into this after a chance reading of “The Spiritual Exercises” by St. Ignatius Loyola. It provoked a discussion with Milton, the defrocked priest who was the business manager at my sh1tty little newspaper, The North Coast Free Press. One thing led to another, and he finally double-dog-dared me, and I was on a two day fast from everything but water and medicine. No booze, no tobacco, no food, no weed, no coffee or juice, no non-prescription pills, no sniffing glue, nothing. By agreement, I could still have sex though; the prohibition was on putting things in my body, not a prohibition on me putting things in someone else’s body.

And I loved it. At first, there were headaches and irritability from stopping smoking. And hunger pangs. Light headedness from low blood sugar. And even on occasion, I believe some mild delirium tremens. I would just obsess about a certain song, playing it over and over, while Milton or someone would try to talk to me and I ignored them. I’d laugh, I’d cry, I’d rage, I’d rant on some obscure point for hours at a time. I felt somehow wild, and strong, and brilliantly powerful. Then I would go through a low, and sometimes shake, and think about gin and tonic, maybe cry a little; until the high hit me again and I was belting out the lyrics to “Anything Anything” by Dramarama over and over and over again. (Reference 1).

And by time Friday morning rolled around, I’d be ready for a ceremonial breakfast. It was always the same, and remains the same. I whip up a four-cup espresso pot of Cafe Bustelo with sorghum sugar, have a tin of kippered herrings laid out in a cross-hatch pattern on a heavily buttered piece of toast, follow up with two eggs over easy (salted and peppered, naturally), and then end it all with a dessert of two Dunhills and a shot of Fernet-Branca. It is a clean ritual, one that helps affirm that I am the master of my own destiny. Sure, I can be led around by the nose the other 28 or 29 days of the month, but on the last Wednesday and Thursday, I am master over my needs, desires, predilections, addictions and afflictions. And then I return back to the filth, and it starts all over again.

But on Wednesday and Thursday, I was on the top of my game. The assistant county prosecutor was in theory an easy mark, a divorced lady about town who eats out nearly every meal, and on a predictable schedule. The same breakfast at the same diner, lunch at one of four places, and dinners generally dictated by the guys she meets on {DATING APP FOR CASUAL HOOKUPS}. So I hit her up first at breakfast. I put on some light disguise; a gray wig, farmer clothes, and replaced my typical glasses with wire-rims rocking some tape around the frame. I sat at the counter, as did Fat Danny, but further down.

The assistant prosecutor was with her friends, or should I say her posse, a mix of women that were in part bound to her by affection, and in part by the possibility that one day she would be State Attorney General or even Governor. They were talking loudly, ignoring everyone around them. Classic attention whores. (Reference 2).

Well, the diner was a bit hot, and my mark took off her jacket and draped it over her chair. Seeing a likely chance, I gave Fat Danny a pre-arrranged signal, wiping my face with a red and white checked handkerchief. Immediately he stood up, grabbing his throat, and making dramatic choking and wheezing noises. Suddenly this sleepy diner became attentive, all eyes on Fat Danny as he staggered back and forth, everyone expecting someone else to make the first move. Suddenly a man jumped up and grabbed Fat Danny from behind and began to thrust, for all the world looking like a frantic prison rapist working his way to orgasm on the new fish before the guards can run back and save him. I mean, this motherfuc7er was motivated!

As soon as he jumped up, everyone else followed, and soon there was a crowd around Fat Danny, who had wisely put a huge piece of country fried steak in his mouth, and his savior. Danny hammed it up, rubbing his throat and gushing thanks upon the man, who was actually humble in a completely authentic manner. I took advantage of the excitement to go over to my mark’s table, and pull a long blond hair off of her jacket, and pack it in a Mason Jar. “Gotcha!”, I thought.

The librarian was dead easy. That was my next stop. Since we had been battling in court for years, I had studied her and knew that she visited her parents’ graves at the end of July each year. They had died in a car wreck in the early nineties, and were buried next to each other in an Episcopal cemetery. She always brought flowers, which were left to dry out and go to seed until the cemetery cleaned up at the end of summer. I pre-empted this cleanup, and by noon had some epic desiccated roses in a Mason Jar. They reminded me of the cover of “American Beauty” by the Grateful Dead. (Reference 3).

Last was the strip bar owner. He was a tough nut to crack. The strip bar was an old converted warehouse, with his office up on the second floor. The stairs were almost like a fire escape running down the inside of the building, and could be seen by everyone from the dancers to the patrons to the bouncers. No luck getting in there while the place was open without doing some major external B&E. His house was out in the suburbs, and nothing special, but the cars were locked in the double garage, and he had a wife and kids. There was the soft glow of the television visible from the back yard, as it was tuned to “Jessie” and several other Disney shows one right after the other. And no luck on the clothes line, apparently he and his family had entered the nineteen seventies and used a clothes dryer.

After some time fruitlessly sitting in the dark, I remembered that he had a trailer set aside in a park that was in between this suburban paradise and his hellhole of a strip bar. He used it fairly often, to “audition” young ladies who were new to the area and considering a career in the exotic dancing arts. They usually passed after half an hour, at the most, and he was clearly quite attached to it.

So well after 2 am on Thursday night (or, I guess you could say, 2 am Friday morning), I snuck up on his place in a Ghillie suit, a claw hammer in hand, and pulled a nail out of the decrepit wooden steps running up to the trailer. These stairs were falling apart as it was, and would hardly be less structurally sound if I liberated one thirty year old nail from the rotted wood. It didn’t seem like the kind of place where you would want to run a security video, but it amused me to no end to image him reviewing security footage of a clump of grass rising up with a hammer, yanking one nail, and then fading away into the night, never to be seen again. That would be the kind of sh1t that would give most people nightmares, if they had any inkling it was going on.

So here I sit, with something personal from three very determined enemies. I have also grabbed some items precious to me. The first is a belt that I was wearing the day my first child was born. It still fits somehow, even with the muffin top it makes around my stomach. I have a rosary that used to belong to my great-grandmother, and possibly came from her mother before her. It’s dark wood, and is worn from decades of prayer. I had my youngest daughter use it this afternoon to pray a rosary, to renew its power, on the theory that the good lord listens to the prayers of virgins. And there is more, to include a knife that belonged to my Dad, a shot glass that my Grandpa brought back from Okinawa, and a Gideon’s Bible that I stole from an hourly rate motel the night I lost my virginity at age 13. It’s unlikely that many people would have had the presence of mind to grab the Good Book at a moment like that, but I am proud to say that I did, and have had the sense to keep it ever since.

And I have payment; pure gold and silver bought in ingots at pawn shops and online. As I said, this has been a terrible year. If the Hex’nmeisterin can help me break the curse, it will be funds well spent.

More to follow soon!



Reference 1. This song is worth listening to.

Reference 2. Information on Attention Whores can be found at

Reference 3. Many of you may not know about the Grateful Dead due to your age. Overview on Wikipedia, link to music on YouTube:

Lifting A Curse (Part 1)


As you know, at least if you’ve been following my blog, I’ve had any number of setbacks this past year. Many self-induced, others that were visited down upon me by a capricious and cruel fate.

But then I began to wonder, was all this bad luck the result of a malignant force? An unknown foe opposing me? Perhaps through schemes, such as those played by “confidential informants” and wiley snitches?

But then I began to catalog the variety and pervasiveness of my misfortunes, and it occurred to me that this could be…no, HAD to be…the work of a curse. The evil eye, malocchio. An imprecation. Hex. How else could I go from suffering the typical indignities of upper middle age, and replacing them with the unrelieved series of legal, medical, interpersonal, moral, ethical, parental, familial, maintenance, and pet-related problems? Just thing after thing after thing after fuc7ing thing. I mean, on the one hand things are good, but I have to work harder than ever just to keep even. There is this constant head wind. For example, I still get a ton of pu$$y (note 1), but my prostate is acting up. I eat and drink same as ever, but I’m fighting this stomach bulge I never had before, not to mention the gout (note 2). I still have work, but don’t have the same uncanny luck that’s followed me around; easy cash and extra cash and small inheritances and old debts unexpectedly repaid. And when things go to sh1t, they truly go to sh1t. I realized that this was no simple downturn, or even well-deserved come-uppance.

So I resolved to break this curse. To smash it. I’ve been to priests (Catholic and other), pastors, preachers. Visited Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah after midnight. Stopped by to have a frank talk with an old woman in New Orleans. That was in part the reason for my visit to Willow Thunder’s place (as relayed in my story, Deja Voodoo). But none of that really seemed to work, so I began to consult with palm readers, mediums, snake handlers. The usual. However, while this seemed to have alleviated some of the issues, nothing brought me back to where I need to be. So I decided to call in the big guns, and see a well-reputed Hexenmeisterin recommended long ago by an associate of my third ex-wife. The card was still in the original Crown Royal bag I had stuffed it in years ago, in a dresser drawer under my Colt .45.

It was a curious card, hand-written in a striking calligraphy. It provided a name, title (Hexenmeisterin), and a number. Also the curious instruction, “Let the phone ring until it is picked up”. The back side of the card was in some barbaric and bastardized Teutonic slang, and said much the same thing, at least to my long-rusty German. Just a lot more detail. I rang the number, and let it ring, over and over and over. Finally, nearly ready to hang up, I heard the line engage as someone picked up. There was nothing but breathing on the far end.

“Ah, Gruess Gott?” I felt the need to slip into German and a bit of Bavarian slipped out.

“This is the Messenger,” came the answer, “Tell me why you wish to speak with the Hex’nmeisterin.”

So I laid it all out, with the Messenger filling pauses with non-committal grunts and “Uh-huhs”.

When I finally paused, the Messenger said, “Look, sounds like you have a serious problem here. The Hexmeisterin will meet with you, but there are some things I expect you will need. First, she can’t see you until the Full Moon. That’s the best for breaking curses. Next one is the 29th this month. Saturday. She’ll need suitable payment. No cash. Gold, silver, or something that can be sold easy. Like a nice watch. Don’t get cheap here. She’s breaking a curse, and that’s hard work. Tricky. Her motivation is going to drop if you try to do her dirty. You understand?”


“What did I say?”

“Full moon, Saturday. Pay her well, but no cash.”

“Glad you’re listening. So here’s some things you’ll want to do. If you have some enemies, try to bring something of theirs. A prized possession, or something physically from them. Like hair, an article of clothing you steal off a clothesline. Something they touched, especially something they’ve had a long time. Ideal things are pages from a diary, or an undergarment, or a favorite pen, or fuzzy dice they’ve had in their car forever. You can go through their trash to find something if you can’t get in their house. But don’t bring trash, if you know what I mean. Just something to help re-direct the energy.”

“Got it.”

“You know much about Pow-Wow? About Hex?”

“A little.”

“Then bring some backup stuff too. Like favorite clothes, graveyard dirt if your family cemetery is nearby. A family memento. If you have a knife that’s tasted blood, bring it. Anything that feels right might be useful. Any questions?”

“What’s the address?”

“OK, you’re gonna meet me at a public place, and I’ll take you to see the Hexmeisterin. Is this your cell phone?”


“What kind of car do you have?”

“I got a couple.”

“Which one you driving?”

I thought about it. No reason to be surreptitious. “Toyota Supra. Yellow. 1999.”

“OK, so go to the WalMart parking lot at (NAME OF TOWN REDACTED) this Saturday, and park way out in the aisle by the Outdoor Living section. I mean, way out, with no cars around you. Go into the bathroom at 7 pm. Sit in one of the stalls. Doesn’t matter which one. I’ll call you. Got it?”


“Then tell me what you’re gonna do.”

“WalMart in (NAME REDACTED). This Saturday. Seven pm. Drive the yellow Supra. Bring something from my enemy, and some things that mean something to me. Sit in the bathroom and wait for a call.”

“Good. Talk to you Saturday, 7 pm.”

And with that, he hung up. Looks like I had some homework to do.



Note 1. A Ton of Pussy is a formal measure of sexual activity, and is the Minimum Recommended Monthly Allowance for male sexual encounters. The Ton is calculated by multiplying the estimated weight of the female lover by the number of penetrative acts that end in male orgasm. A Ton is reached when you have had 2,000 pounds of sexual gratification. For example, if you picked up a 100 pound woman and had sex with her once, that is 100 pounds towards the 2,000 pound total, or 5% of the monthly requirement. If you had sex with her twice, that counts for 200 pounds (or 10%), even if completed during the same encounter. Similar calculations hold true for larger women. Please bear in mind that this measurement is not an exact science, it’s an approximation of total depravity. Hence the greater score reserved for larger women, because the assumption is they do more impressive and unusual acts, to retain your affections.

Note 2. Per Steinbeck, in “Travels With Charlie”, prostate trouble and gout are the only two maladies that a French gentleman may admit to. I’m Irish, not French, but I can certainly understand the sentiment.

My Absence


On a trip to a place with some people to do a thing for a guy I know. Spotty internet. Swamps. Large mosquitoes. Ceremonies in poorly pronounced Latin, involving sigils inscribed on alligator skins in the moonlight with the tears of a green-eyed virgin. And rum. There will be rum.

Gonna schedule some more Six Word Stories, so you don’t wander away in disappointment and disgust. Scroll down from this sticky post and you’ll see.

Back mid-to-late April, or so. So don’t be pi$$ed if I don’t “like” your comments in a timely manner, much less dazzle you with my witty repartee. It’s nothing personal, it’s business.

If for some reason I don’t come back, I’ve loved you all like family and probably would have banged at least half of you, given the chance.