Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chapter 11 - Imagine a World

August 1948

At Dr. Wall’s funeral last month, Alice Moriah had asked Solomon to continue seeing her father’s patients until she could make other arrangements. She wanted to set up a foundation, the Hezekiah Wall Foundation, as a memorial to her father, and then she would donate the clinic to the Foundation. She planned to hire a doctor to work at the clinic. As soon as the doctor was settled in, the Foundation would pay for Solomon to go to college and medical school. She felt sure that was what her father would have wanted.

Solomon was in the clinic early this morning. Alice Hope had volunteered to help out. He’d taught her how to start a chart on a patient and how to get a set of vitals. She stood in the dispensary doorway. “Grady Watson’s out here with his boy. He says the boy was attacked by a demon.”

Solomon raised one eyebrow and said, “Oh really?” He was aware of the rampant superstition in the area. The fundamentalist preachers had fanned it into a major issue. If I believed what some of these folks believe, he thought, I’d be scared to death. “Okay,” he said as he got up and followed her down the hallway. Solomon watched the way she was doing that sashay thing with her hips. Wonder if she’d like to hang around after work again, he smiled as he thought about it.

Grady’s boy, Jacob, was ten years old. His blond hair looked like his daddy had put a bowl on his head and cut around the edge of it. The child was terrified. Solomon sat down on a stool in front of the boy and said, “What happened, Jake?”

“Demon left his mark on me,” Jake said. “I ain’t gonna die, am I?”

“Can I see it?” Solomon asked.

Grady pulled his son’s tee shirt up. “Hit’s the demon mark. See, hit’s a dog’s head.”

Solomon looked at the purple mark. It took a stretch of the imagination to see a dog’s head.

Grady pointed, “See thar’s ears, and that thar’s a nose.”

Solomon wondered if the child might have been kicked. “Come here, Jake,” he said, “let me get a better look at this.” Solomon pulled the shirt over Jake’s head. “Skin the cat,” he said. The purple welt was about three inches in diameter, and it had an irregular border. Solomon palpated it checking for broken ribs. “Does this hurt?”

“Naw, hit don’t hurt a tall,” Jake said. “Hit pumped up thar like a risen.”

“Does it itch?” Solomon asked.

Jake shook his head, no.

Grady said, “Hit wuz the Mortimer Demon.”

Solomon raised one eyebrow and said, “I don’t know what that is.”

Grady responded, “Then ye’s lucky. Hit’s the offsprang of Satan.”

“Where did it come from?” Solomon asked. He tried not to seem patronizing. He really wanted to understand what could cause this much fear.

“It come from the unholy union of Satan and a woman,” Grady said.

“You mean like an incubus?” Solomon asked. He’d read about that folklore.

“Don’t know ‘bout no incubee. I jest know what Alfred Hicks granddaddy seen.”

“Tell me about it,” Solomon said.

“Alfred Hicks’ grandma got raped by the demon.” Grady flourished his arms as he talked. “Hit got on her and Alfred said she screamed like hit wuz a killin’ her.” Grady stuck a fresh chaw of tobacco in his cheek. “Then his grandma, her belly blowed up like she wuz about to doff off a young’un. Alfred’s grandpa knowed hit tweren’t his’n ‘cause he hadn’t bedded her in over a month a Sundys.”

Grady spat in his spit cup and went on, “Alfred’s grandpa tried ever thang he knowed, but hit wudden die. When hit come outta her,” Grady shuttered, “Alfred said hit crawled around the floor like a dog. Hit wuz hunched up with a tail twix hits legs. His grandpa smacked it with a shovel.” Grady flailed his arms to illustrate. “He got the thang on the back, and hit let out a holler like nobody ever heered. He said hit wuz worsen a banshee howl. Then hit jumped thu a winder and run off.” Grady wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. “Alfred, he said hit looked like a dog, but hit had hands whar paws wuz sposed ta be. Purdy soon Alfred’s grandpa died. And his grandma...well, she wuttin never in her right mind adder it.”

Solomon sat listening without saying anything. He was considering possible natural causes. He’d read about hypertrichosis, sometimes called the werewolf disease. It was genetic and caused a person to have excessive body hair. As for the dog with human hands, that has to be nonsense. It’s genetically impossible for humans and dogs to mate, he thought, and babies have been born with tails, but they don’t jump through windows.

Grady said, “Doc?”

Solomon looked up, “I’m sorry, Grady. I don’t know what to say.”

Jake said, “I ain’t gonna die, am I?” There were tears in his eyes.

Solomon put Jake’s tee shirt back on and shook his head no. “You’re not going to die,” he said. “Grady, this is a rash like hives. It’s from Jake’s nerves. You’re scaring him to death with your stories.”

Grady grabbed Jake by the arm and pulled him towards the door. “Never ye mind. Ye’ll see, Solomon Sepaugh. Mark my words, ye’ll see.”

Solomon relaxed into his favorite chair and thought, Sarah, tell me about the Mortimer Demon.

When she appeared, she was sitting on the compounding table. “This is hard to explain because I don’t really understand it meself,” she said.

“Sarah,” he teased, “I thought you understood everything from your perspective in the afterlife.”

As she pulled her feet up on the table, one foot uneventfully passed through a jug of water.

Solomon noticed, but he didn’t say anything. He was getting used to her abilities.

“Oh no, the afterlife is a lot like this life,” she said. “We have different capacities and knowledge.” She began her explanation. “The earth world is like a three dimensional motion picture show with the projector in the afterlife, the Light World. Scientists are working on this kind of light show right now. They’ll call it a hologram.”

Solomon leaned forward in his chair and studied her. She’s remembering the future again, he thought.

“Now ye see...the projector is God’s mind.” She hopped off the table and just leaned against it. “Okay now, remember that God made man in His own image. So the projector can also be yer mind, and my mind, and Grady’s mind. Human minds can project their reality on the earth world sort of like God does ... because the earth world is an illusion anyway. Eastern philosophers have taught that for thousands of years, and they’re right.”

“I don’t know, Sarah,” he said shaking his head, “it seems awfully real to me.”

“Aye, it does, but that’s because ye’ve never seen the real world. Ye know that even the image ye see is upside down.”

"Yeah, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about it that way,” he said.

“Yer physical senses detect the illusion, and they project it to yer mind. Think of it another way.” Sarah put her hand on the table she had been sitting on. “Put yer hand on this table.”

Solomon put his hand on it.

“Is it solid?” she asked.

“It feels solid,” he said.

“That’s right, it feels solid, but it’s not solid. It’s made of atoms,” she said, “and an atom is like yer solar system. The nucleus is like yer sun, and the electrons are like yer planets. There are huge distances between the planets, and there are huge distances between the nucleus and electrons...and what’s in between?”

“Space,” Solomon said.

“Aye, lots of space,” she said. “So ye see, yer physical senses were designed by God to give ye the illusion of something solid.”

“Okay,” he said, “but what’s this got to do with the Mortimer Demon?”

“It’s an illusion,” she said. “A long time ago, folks got it in their minds that something big and hairy and mean lived in the woods. People’s minds created the Mortimer Demon.”

“Well, can it hurt anyone?” he asked.

“No, people’s fear is what hurts them,” she said. “They break out in hives and bruises. They overload their hearts. They fall and break a bone. They shoot a man when they were aiming to shoot the illusion. The Mortimer Demon has only as much power as folks give it.”

Solomon thought about that, and then he asked, “Well, when God creates a bear, it can maul a man, and yet you say it’s an illusion. So when a man creates a demon, why can’t it hurt a man?”

“When God imagines a bear,” she said, “it becomes part of His creation. It’s made up of atoms in a specific pattern ordained by God, and sure enough it can maul a man. But when a man imagines a demon, it has no atomic pattern. Only God’s imagination creates an image with atomic patterns in the physical world.”

“God uses His imagination to create His worlds,” Sarah continued, “and humans use their imagination to create their world. Before ye can create anything in the world, ye have to imagine it...just like before ye can be a doctor, ye have to imagine it.” She went on, “The folks that can see the demon are the folks who project its image with their minds. They could put their hand through it, if they dared to get so close. Like ye say, it’s not solid.”

“Oh wow!” Solomon said, “Like you…you’re an illusion.”

“Aye,” she said. “I’m an illusion. Ye created it with yer imagination.”

Solomon looked confused, “If I created you, how do you know things that I don’t know?”

“Solomon!” Sarah said, “Ye didn’t create me mind or me soul. Ye only created the vehicle that helps ye to see me. God created me soul and me mind. And God made me a body for the Light World, but it’s too beautiful for ye to see.”

Solomon sat quietly absorbing what he could.

“Have ye na’ ever wondered why ye and Ma can see me, but nobody else can?” She laughed and said, “And if ye ask Ma Patsy what I look like, she’ll tell ye a different story.”

Solomon was shocked, “You mean you look different to Ma?”

Sarah smiled real big and said with a lilting laugh, “Aye, that’s right, me bonnie lad.”

With that she disappeared. Solomon sat back in the big chair. He put his feet up on the ottoman and smiled to himself. That’s amazing, simply amazing.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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