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Come Sail Away with Us to Where Beautiful  Words Flow Like Wine​​

The Feng Shui Woman
             She stood in the doorway for thirty seconds, her dark eyes darting from one side of the living room to the other. Finally, she stepped in and seemed to close the door reluctantly. Another ten seconds went by before she moved to the sofa and lifted each cushion, inspected them and then ran her hand in the crevices.
            “What are you looking far? We haven’t lost anything.” The man looked at his wife. “What did you tell her?”
            “I told her the truth. Grandpop’s spirit is still in this house and he won’t leave. I told her we wanted her to get rid of him.” A low distant rumble of thunder drifted across the room. She glanced quickly at the ceiling. “He’s your Grandpop but he’s getting to be a real pain in the rear.”
            He nodded his head at his wife in agreement and then looked toward the Feng Shui woman in slight bewilderment. “He’s not under the cushions. Why are you looking there?”
            “What we do is to restore harmony to a home. Usually we do this by moving things, doing re-arranging of the furniture and in rare cases removing something.” She kept on looking under the cushions.
            “That’s what we want you to do.” The wife nodded toward the staircase. “We want you to remove Grandpop. He shouldn’t be here.”
            The Feng Shui woman straightened up, still holding the second cushion and looked at the staircase. “I sense evil,” she intoned in a rough voice. She closed her eyes and looked upward. “A great evil lives in this house. I will have to do a major exorcism. Your grandfather is firmly entrenched.” She opened her eyes and seemed slightly befuddled. “What did I say? There’s seems to be something terrible here.”
            “Something about a major exorcism.” He waited a few seconds and then asked, “How much is a major as compared to a minor exorcism?”
            “He’s really not evil,” the wife said. “He’s just a pain and he shouldn’t be here.” She hesitated for a second looking at her husband. “I don’t really know where he should be.”
            The Feng Shui briefly surveyed the room, the moderate furnishings and decided the pair could afford a five hundred dollar exorcism. “It may take three or four visits before your grandfather is completely and forever exorcised. For you good people, I’ll do it for five hundred dollars. Of course, if I have to bring in the Feng Shui master, then the price will have to go up.” She waited until the wife slowly nodded at her husband.
            The woman replaced the second cushion. “Now, where is he?”
            The man started to reply but cocked his ear toward the stairway and held a finger to his lips. A faint noise drifted down the steps. Then masculine laughter followed by giggling, defiantly feminine. He tiptoed to the steps beckoning the woman to follow. “We could put up with him as long as it was only him.” He listened for a moment at the laughter and giggling. “But now the old coot has started bringing women home.”
            He eased up five steps and waved for the woman to follow. A louder peal of laughter came from the hallway at the top of the stairs followed by shrill laughter. “Come on,” he whispered as softly as possible. “We’ll break in on them. They should be ashamed of themselves.” He moved up three more steps and glanced back at the woman still standing at the foot of the stairs. “Come on.”
            The Feng Shui woman slowly moved up two steps. Her foot was on the third step when a loud thumping broke out from the hallway. The electric lights flickered and a few flecks of paint slowly drifted down from the ceiling. “What was that?” She stepped back to the living room floor as snow appeared on the TV screen. “Where is that noise coming from?”
            “The second bedroom on the right.” The wife glanced up the stairs. “Sometimes it’s louder that that. He’s yelling at the top of his lungs and the woman he has with him is screaming. It’s terrible. I have to cover my ears sometime. He is so vulgar.” She paused for a second. “And the women are no better.”
            “Whoa,” the Feng Shui woman whispered backing to the middle of the living room. “A few questions. One time you’re saying woman and then the next time it’s women. Which is it?”
            The husband walked down the steps, making no effort to be quiet. “It’s women. The old fool usually brings a different one home every day. It’s embarrassing. We haven’t had anyone visit us for over a year.”
            The Feng Shui woman glanced up the stairs into the dark hallway. The thumping began again, half as loud as the previous. A doorknob rattled as someone began beating quietly on the door. “How do you know it’s your grandfather? It could be a poltergeist or a demon. To get rid of one of them causes the price to go up.” She listened to the two sounds. The thumping seemed to be quieter while the rapping on the door intensified. “Are you sure you guys haven’t just locked grandfather in his bedroom? I know how it is with old people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Put him in a nursing home and be done with it. It’s going to be a hundred dollars just for this visit.”
            “No, no!” The wife gently but firmly pushed the Feng Shui woman towards the stairway. “He’s been dead for two years. He’s buried in the Church Cemetery outside of town. At least ten miles away.” She stopped as the rapping became louder. “I don’t know who is doing the rapping. Sometimes I think it’s the woman trying to get out of the bedroom. She wants to get away from the old goat.” She pushed the woman to the first step. “Go on up and open the door. Chase him and that hussy back where they belong and I don’t care where that is.”
            “Stop pushing.” She stepped back from the step. “How do you know it’s your Grandfather?”
            “I remember the sound of his laughter.” The man went up three steps. “Plus he arrived the very night he was buried. He was buried that afternoon and he was in his room that night.”
            She stood still, making no effort to climb the stairs. “Have you seen him?” She waited a moment as the two people shook their heads. “Have you ever opened the door while the noise was going on?” She frowned as both nodded vigorously. “Well? What did you see?”
            The man reached out and took her hand. “Come on up. I’ll show you.”
            “No, no! I don’t think so. At least not right now. What did you see when you opened the door?”
            The man waited a few seconds waiting to see if his wife would answer. “Actually, I’ve not seen anything. As soon as I opened the door, it was quiet as a tomb.” He flinched as loud static came from the TV. Thunder rumbled from the kitchen. “Usually there’s a smell I can’t identify.”
            The wife moved up beside the woman. “I know what the smell is. It’s that old cheap perfume those tramps wear mixed in with his trashy cigar smell. And then on top of that, there’s a faint lingering smell of sulfur and brimstone.” She stopped as the upstairs’ sounds died away. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know where that smell came from.”
            The husband frowned at his wife. “I don’t smell that. You make it sound like my granddad is an escapee from hell.”
            The lights went off, the floor shook, lightning flashed across the hallway followed instantly by a clap of thunder. The lights began to glow a dull red, flickered twice and came back on.
            The wife had her hand over her mouth. “You shouldn’t have said that. You know it makes him angry if you mention anything having to do with the dead.” She paused for a second looking at the ceiling. “At least it makes somebody angry.”
            “I see, I see.” The Feng Shui woman backed away from the steps. “I can definitely see that this is going to be a major, major exorcism. Why don’t we make an appointment for next month and then I’ll come back with the Feng Shui Grand Master.” She began walking backward towards the front door. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
            “You can’t do that,” the wife whimpered. “You just can’t leave us here with that monster upstairs. You’ve got to get rid of him.” She took the Feng Shui woman by the wrist and began pulling firmly.
            The husband grabbed her other wrist and pulled her to the first step. “You have to come with us. If you don’t, I’m going to run an ad in the paper saying that the Feng Shui demon chaser refused to even look into a haunted bedroom.” He paused for moment as the noise went up a notch. “I don’t think that would be too good for business.”
            The woman snatched her wrists back. “OK, OK. It’s blackmail, is it? Maybe I was a little hasty.” She looked first at the husband and then at the dark hallway at the top of the steps. “Turn the light on. It’s dark up there.”
            The wife stood behind the Feng Shui and flicked the light switch twice. “It never works except when the electrician is here. Then it works perfectly.” She firmly pushed the woman up on the first step.
            The Feng Shui stood on the first step with one foot poised on the next. Wrinkles appeared on her forehead as she turned her head slightly to listen. “It seems like the sounds intensifies as we go up the steps.” She removed her foot from the second step. “Did you hear that? It went down.”
            “Don’t pay any mind to that. It’s just your imagination. Come on.” The husband quietly went up to the fourth step. “See, no increase in noise.”
            The woman nodded weakly and stepped up to the second step. “The noise went up a bit. I’m sure of it.” She turned her head and listened. “What is that thumping sound? It sounds like someone is beating on the floor.”
            The husband gently pulled her up to the third step assisted by his wife pushing on the woman’s waist. The thumping sound diminished slightly but it was joined by a scratching sound from the door.
            The Feng Shui woman froze for a few seconds. “What’s that? It sounds like a cat scratching at the door wanting to get out.”
            “We don’t have any cat,” the wife said applying pressure to the woman’s back. “Sometimes I’d swear that all of Africa is in there.” She waited until the woman was on the fourth step. “Yesterday I heard a pack of hyenas. They were so loud I had to go out into the yard to get away from them. Don’t stop. Just keep climbing up the steps. We’ll soon be at the top.”
            The thumping and scratching died back to a faint murmur. A new noise came. Faint but increasing. An unknown squeal across a broad plain. “What in the devil was that?”
            All the lights went out; an upstairs’ door opened and slammed shut. A gust of hot dry air mixed with dust and aromas from distant lands hit them in the face. The woman stopped and tried to step backward but the wife was too close.
            The wife stopped pushing and tugged the woman sleeve for attention. “Don’t say words like that. I told you words that have to do with the dead or under ground makes him upset.”
            The Feng Shui woman wiped her forehead. “What in the hell are you talking about? I only said .” She was cut off by a loud squeal from the room. The lights flickered and came on twice as bright as normal. She leaned back against the wife as far as possible. “What was that? It sounded like a sound I heard on the Discovery Channel.” She paused for only a second. “It was an elephant.”
            They pulled and pushed her all the way to the top while the woman kept mumbling about an elephant. They stopped with the husband and the Feng Shui woman barely in the hallway and the wife on the last step blocking the way down. Hot dry putrid air blew out from under the door causing loose ends of the scatter rug to flutter.
            “What is that smell? It’s awful.”
            “We think it’s elephant manure,” the wife said. She pushed the woman down the hallway to the second door. “Go ahead and open it.
            The woman stood firmly, braced against the wall, resisting the urgings of the two people. “Why do you think it’s elephant manure?”
            The husband released his grip on her arm. “Grandpop worked in Africa as a young man building railroads. In his spare time he would go hunting. He loved to hunt and he dreamed of killing big game.” He paused and listened as an elephant seemed to be trumpeting only a few hundred feet away. Before he could resume the story, a lion roared. It sounded closer and from another direction.
            “What in the hell is going ?” The light went out completely, plunging the hall in total darkness. No light from the downstairs’ room was visible. The whole house was encased in darkness. A bolt of blue lightning erupted from the doorknob and jumped to another knob on the opposite side of the hall.
            “Don’t mention that place,” the wife hissed. “Just open the damn door and exorcise the room.” She removed her hands from the woman’s back
            The Feng Shui woman found another doorknob in the black hallway and anchored herself firmly, refusing to be prodded farther. “What did he do in Africa? He had to have done something wrong for the animals to be here after he’s dead.” She stared in the direction she thought the husband was standing.
            “Grandpop was only a laborer and he couldn’t afford a high-powered rifle. All he had was a single-shot, bolt-action twenty-two.” The husband spoke softly and clear but his voice seemed ten feet away. “He usually shot at small things with very little luck. With a twenty-two caliber, you have to be close. One day he and a few natives snuck up close to an old rogue bull elephant. They hid in some rocks to be safe and waited for the elephant to get closer. Finally he realized the elephant was as close as it was going to get.” The man paused a moment. When he resumed talking, his voice seemed fainter. “Grandpop aimed for the beast’s head and pulled the trigger. The bullet should have bounced off with no more feeling to the elephant than a mosquito trying to bite. But this shot hit the elephant right in his eye. The animal went crazy trying to find the shooter. Finally the animal left and Grandpop returned to camp.”
            The Feng Shui woman held out her arm and made a circle, hitting nothing but the wall. “Where are you? What about the lion and the other animals?”
            “We’re right here.” The husband’s voice was just a bit softer. “The next week he and the natives went hunting again. A huge flock of vultures were circling and landing not too far away. They walked toward the birds and a few hundred yards away the elephant carcass appeared as a small hill. Two old mangy lions that had been chased out of their pride were trying to eat. The lions were busy chasing vultures and fending off hyenas. The hunters climbed a tree to be safe and waited. Grandpop didn’t wait too long before shooting. According to him, the bullet hit one of the lions on the lower foot with the possibility of breaking a bone. The lions had to leave and one was limping severely. Before they left, Grandpop shot at one of the hyenas and wounded it slightly.”
            A lion’s roar came through the door followed by a gust of air that brought the smell of decay to the hallway.
            The Feng Shui woman strained her eyes trying to see the door and what lay behind it. “So he wounded a few animals. That doesn’t mean anything. I think you have a tape recorder in there and for some reason are trying to fool me. Turn on the lights so I can get out of here. Then I’m going to sue the living hell out of you.”
            A bolt of lightning jumped from the door to the light bulb. The flash of white light was enough for her to see she was alone in the hallway. Darkness returned in a split second. The door opened, moonlight spilled into the hallway, bringing more dry African odors along with the harsh laugh of a hyena. Something jumped into the hall. A second later the door slammed shut with a crack of thunder.
            “Who’s there?” She moved her foot back trying to find the first step. Her voice had a high hysterical pitch. “Where are you guys? There’s something here. I think it came from that room.” She paused for a few seconds, straining to hear another sound in the hallway. No sound or light came from either side of the door. She swallowed and wiped at the sweat appearing on her forehead. She relaxed her body bringing muscles and mind under control. A second later, she squared her shoulders. “I’m not scared of any damn ghost,” she whispered to herself.
She walked to the door and placed her right hand on the doorknob. With her left hand she reached toward the corner of the hall and moved her hand in a circle trying to find whatever had jumped into the hallway. She had turned the knob and had pushed the door a tiny bit when she felt a furry ear. Something hit the door with a terrible force, the door knob was wrenched from her hand, a furry object brushed by her leg causing her to stumble into the doorway.
 For what seemed like an eternity, she moved her head slowly taking in the broad African savanna. A lone baobab tree dominated her view. A movement caught her eye from under the tree. She put her hand on her forehead to block out the full moon. An elephant and a lion were staring back at her. A single hyena was only ten yards away, its nose pointed at the moon. A soft mournful tearful laugh echoed through the still air.
            A low throaty roar caused her to look back at the baobab tree. The lion was standing holding its left front paw from the ground. It moved an awkward step toward her and then sat down.
            The elephant pointed its trunk at her and trumpeted lightly. She could see a broad area of tearstains down one side of it head. It nodded and blinked its good eye.
            The electric lights came on and the man was yelling at her. She swung her head toward them and took in the two of them standing on the last step. She swung back quickly to the savanna. A single twin bed, neatly made, was against the wall. The whole room was neat and clean with a trace of stale air. She stepped farther into the bedroom hoping to see the baobab tree.
            “What did you see?” The wife stood in the doorway ahead of her husband. “What did you see?” she asked again. Her voice was a combination of fear and excitement. “We saw you step in and moonlight came through the open door. Then five seconds later the electric lights came on.”
            The Feng Shui woman smiled for the first time. “I saw nothing. Not a single thing.”
            The husband peered into the bedroom. “You must have seen something. You stood in the moonlight for a second and then went into the room before the electricity came on.”
            “Not a single thing.” She moved a chair an inch to the left, used her toe to slide the rug farther into the room.
            “What are you doing?” the husband asked.
            The Feng Shui woman continued around the room moving things and occasionally putting a small item in her pocket. “I am doing a major exorcism on this room.” She stopped and looked at the two people. “Do you want me to banish all of them back to where they belong? Your Granddad, the elephant, the lion and hyena along with all the smells and sounds?” She waited until they both nodded. “Go downstairs and wait. Also don’t forget to make out a check for five hundred dollars.” She gently pushed them out of the bedroom and began searching. In the closet, sitting in the corner, hidden by a long overcoat, she found it.
            Downstairs, she glanced at the check and put it in her shirt pocket. “I’m fairly sure the animals are gone. Your Granddad has been banished to where ever he came from. If he or any animals ever return, just call me. There will be no charge. To balance and bring harmony to the bed room I had to re-arrange things and remove a few items.” She held out a handful of worthless trinkets taken from the bureau. She dropped them back in her pocket. “I also have to take this.” She held the single-shot, bolt-action twenty-two caliber rifle. They said it absolutely had to go.”