Sue’s picture this week is
Pearl Barley generally enjoyed the ups and downs of exorcism. Sure, the Deacon was a hard task master and some clients were less than grateful to be rid of possession. Take last week and Morgon, the 14-year-old wailer. A classic case of a teenager meddling in the occult without precautions, ignorantly releasing a screaming spirit from the Crimea, Suliman the Grubby. How was Pearl to know the stupid girl enjoyed emitting limb-ripping bellows? No one told her there was a music career in the offing. Mind you, Pearl understood why her mother wanted Suliman gone; after each utterance, her laundry was wet again, poor things utterly terrified.
However, there were cases that were less than satisfactory. Take yesterday and Crichton and his phantasm pigeons. Poor man, all he wanted was to race them; but it turned out some awful avian massacre had taken place where he had built his new loft and now the pigeons wouldn’t leave the security of the shelter. The old boy was at his wits end. ‘Can ye help us, lady? They says thems afeared.’
Pearl wasn’t used to de-spooking birds but this was a business matter so needs must. As the Deacon said, ‘It’ll help get the message out.’
Pearl nestled her cup of tea on her chest and shuddered, remembering what had happened.
It had seemed so simple. ‘What usually draws them out, Crichton?’
‘The sun, lady. Them’s up and about and away come dawn of the day.’
Pearl was still marveling at the accidental poetry, 30 minutes before dawn the next day as she picked up a clearly befuddled and terrified pigeon. She massaged a mix of herbs into its wings, whispered into its ear and let it go. It stood for a moment than then launched itself. One by one she administered the simple cure-all and after each ministration the pigeon flapped languidly onto the ridge line of the roof. She finished the last pigeon as the sun crested the horizon.
The old boy squinted at his flock, the anxiety that had been embedded into his face beginning to give way to hope. ‘What did you do?’
‘I just told them they would be safe in the light.’
It was at that precise moment that the eldest pigeon, the father of the flock took to the sky followed by his wife and, shortly after, the rest. They flapped and then headed up. And up. And up.
Crichton’s frown reappeared. ‘Where’s they going? Them’s heading for the bloody sun.’
Sure enough, each pigeon just kept climbing, obeying the instruction they had been given, each intent on their own form of suicide.
At least the Deacon had been understanding. As he patted her shoulder he had comforted her with a simple thought. ‘You weren’t to know those pigeons were literalists.’