On the Mend
"It's in through here," Dave said, and stepped aside so Petra could enter the house.
She had been in the art room before, at a couple of Dave's block parties. On the phone, though, he hadn't told her very much, just that his house was still haunted and he needed someone to do a reading. Dave wanted to know he could trust what she said, that she was the real deal.
Petra stepped through the back door into the kitchen. She put her sunglasses up on her head, holding back some of the blonde hair that hadn't made it into a twisty ponytail. Dave knew she was younger than him, but still in her forties. There were rumors that she and Eddie had met on a Russian mail-order bride website, but they simply referred to it as a dating site.
"Do you feel anything?" he asked.
"I don't know if it works that quickly, Dave," Petra replied. Her voice still held a light Russian accent.
"Sorry. I don't really know how it works, except for what I've seen on TV and such. When I asked if you knew anyone from that magick store who might be able to read my house, I didn't think you'd say you."
"You had your suspicions." She looked around the kitchen, lightly touching the edges of the counter.
"Well, most people would have bought me a Parker Brothers Ouija board from the toy store. You got me a very special board."
"Yes. It was a hunch. You needed a powerful board to make contact with your ghost." Petra looked up from the counter. "You didn't tell me what happened."
Dave shrugged. "Things didn't go well. I need to make things safe in here again, before my kids come home from Hawaii."
Nodding, Petra looked toward the door that led down into the art room. "My grandmother was a hedge witch," she said. "People from all over the neighborhood came to her for home remedies, spells, protection against curses... hangover remedies..."
Dave couldn't help but snicker.
Petra smiled. "She told me I had some amount of psychic ability. That I could feel things other people couldn't. I get impressions by touching things. I don't know, sometimes it works." She went to the door to the art room and ran a hand over the painted wood. "You said the ghost came in with your new statue?"
"Then it will be down here." Putting her hand on the door knob, Petra started to turn it.
"Wait!" Dave called. She looked back at him. "Just be careful, okay? You have to be really careful how you communicate with him."
Petra eyed him critically, as if she could read him too. "You didn't say the prayer that came with the board before you used it, did you?"
Feeling guilty, Dave shook his head.
"You opened a door that was hard to close."
"It's still a little open." Petra turned the knob. "Don't worry, I know how to protect us." Stepping through the doorway, she walked confidently down the stairs.
By the time they got to the art room and stood before the statue, some of Petra's confidence had left her. She shuddered just looking at it. "My lord, Dave... what have you got in your house? Such rage..."
"The ghost is in there."
"Who is this ghost?" And then, "What did he do?"
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Dave replied, "He killed people."
This raised her eyebrows. "You have the ghost of a murderer in your house?"
"How did he get here?"
"I don't know."
Petra turned back to the statue, reaching in her purse and taking out a wide spool of white ribbon. "I can see that you're a very dangerous ghost. I don't dare speak to you until we set a few ground rules." Clearing her throat, Petra said, "I call upon the power of the All and my family's tradition of witchblood to harness this unquiet spirit. Charge this ribbon with white, protective energy in my family's name." She unwound enough ribbon until she could tie one of the statue's wrists with a knot, and then run the ribbon to the other wrist, binding them together. As she did this, Petra said, "I am speaking to the threatening spirit inside this statue, the one who has taken lives. I bind you from doing anymore harm to the inhabitants of this house, and everyone they love, and anyone else who may enter here. I bind you from acting out any violent impulses. I bind you from leaving your prison until such time as we send you away, and it will definitely not be by possessing the living." She knelt to tie his feet together. When that was done, she wound the ribbon around his head several times, covering his mouth. "I bind you from speaking any harm. You will only speak when spoken to, and you will stop talking when told. You are bound by these terms until such time as we deem it safe to let you go, and then you will depart in peace and go where you are told." Petra cut the last of the ribbon from the spool and stood back. "That should do it. My grandmother gave that spell to me."
"I don't think you left anything out."
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and put her hand on the statue's chest. "Do you have something to tell us?" Dave watched her squeeze her eyes shut harder, hoping the spell she had done would be as effective as she seemed to think it would be. "I won't help you," Petra said, speaking in a deeper voice. "You can go fuck yourself, Dave."
Dave swallowed any spit he had in his mouth. "Nicky?"
"Why wouldn't you help us? Don't you want revenge on the person who trapped you in that statue to begin with?" Dave asked.
Petra laughed, all snicker and no mirth. "Did you ever think that maybe I was working with them, that we had an agreement?"
This dislodged a memory from Saturday night, when Dave was passing between consciousness and the soothing blackness of the pills Nicky had slipped in his drink. He remembered the feeling of Nicky through Taylor's body hugging him around the chest and thanking someone. "Oh God, how did you do this? It's fucking Dave Grohl. Oh thank you, thank you." Everything everyone had been saying about this being suspicious was right. The statue, and Nicky, had been deliberately put in his house. "You made a deal with someone, to get you in here."
"Why Dave, that's crazy. How would such a thing even happen?"
Dave wanted to punch him again, just for the sarcastic, smug tone of his voice. "I don't know, you tell me."
Gasping, Petra backed up, taking her hand off the statue. "No, no, Nicholas. You can't get in. Stay! ...Stay." She looked at Dave. "He's a slippery little bastard."
"Was he possessing you just now?!"
"No. Just channeling. Speaking through me." Petra furrowed her brow in confusion and touched her ear. "I'm hearing something else." She looked around, and then down at the chaise lounge. "Oh. Hello. You look... somewhat familiar." Her eyes panned to the left and then went up, and up, until she was looking at a figure at least eight feet tall. Petra's eyes filled with fear and shock. "What is that? Dave, what is with your house?"
At first, he couldn't figure it out. "What do you see?"
"It's a very tall figure in a cloak, covering its face... I think it has a beak."
Dave sighed with relief. "Oh, that's just Boddah. He's a reaper. A friend. He won't hurt you." Looking down at the chaise lounge, he said, "I think I know who you were speaking to before."
"I, um... I recognize him. It's your friend. It's Kurt Cobain." She touched Dave's arm. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I knew he was here."
"He and the reaper are in some sort of pocket dimension created by the statue... by the magick that surrounds it. A limbo dimension. He's pointing over here... he's pointing to..." Petra walked over to the mirror that was hung across a corner of the room. The mirror that had reflected Taylor when Nicky possessed him, and shown them all a vision of Kurt and Taylor with Nicky's grandmother. She touched it. "This mirror... it's surrounded by a cloud of purple smoke. It's the magickal signature of the witch who enchanted it." Then she looked at the statue. "This has the same magickal signature."
"Then the same witch did both spells."
"Then the artist of the mirror frame could be this witch," Dave surmised.
"It's a great place to start. And there's something else."
With a sigh, Petra told him, "Besides the witch, you're going to need something that belonged to the ghost to send him away. The spell won't be very effective without it."
"How am I supposed to get something that belonged to Nicky?" Dave asked, clearly frustrated.
At first, Petra shrugged, but then turned toward Kurt. "Kurt says you already have it. That you'll figure it out."
Dave ran his hands through his hair, putting some of it behind his ears. "Does Kurt have anything else to say?"
Listening, Petra eventually replied, "He said it would be safe to enter this pocket dimension for a little while longer, especially with my new spell putting a leash on Nicholas. Just be careful what you ask him, because once he has been spoken to, he may speak." She listened a bit more, and had to giggle, her eyebrows raised in curiosity. "He also says your moustache tickles him when he kisses you."
At first Dave looked surprised, then he had to laugh too, and shake his head. "Oh, Kurt. I've missed you. I really have."
"He missed you too." Petra listened to the voice that only she could currently hear, and then said, "You will soon receive a dream that will tell you everything you need to know. Kurt will be allowed to bring it to you."
Dave nodded. "Okay. Thank you. And thanks, Kurt, for all your help with everything." Dave stroked the chaise lounge. It felt cold as death. "See you again soon."
When the doctor came looking for Taylor's family, Dave was sitting in the waiting room, reading a book he got from the used book store. He hoped the book, called Devious Smile: The Crimes of Austin Nicholas Kelly, would reveal to him what belonging of Nicky's he already had. The phone calls inquiring how Taylor was doing had stopped, albeit temporarily, giving him some time to breathe.
The doctor spotted Dave. "Hello again."
"Doctor Curry." Dave got up and shook the doctor's hand. "How did it go?"
"The surgery went well. We took care of the internal bleeding and confirmed that he didn't hit any vital organs. He's being brought into a room now. Is Mrs. Hawkins here yet?"
"No, but her plane should be landing soon."
"She may not make it before he's out for the night. We, of course, wake patients up in recovery, but once he gets to his room, he's going to sleep into tomorrow." Dr. Curry again offered his hand. Dave shook it. "The nurses will show you to his room."
"Thank you, Dr. Curry."
The attendants wheeled Taylor on his hospital bed by the waiting room; Dave followed along beside it. "Hey Taylor. How do you feel?"
Taylor groggily tried to focus his eyes on the person speaking to him. "Huh? Oh... hi Dave." He yawned. "I'm sleepy."
"He's not going to be much for conversation today," one of the nurses said with a grin. "He'll probably sleep for the rest of the day."
As if to prove her point, Taylor closed his eyes and grew quiet.
They got Taylor settled in his room. Dave took his hand and squeezed it. "I'll bring Alison in here to give you a good night kiss once she arrives, okay?"
"Mm? Good night kiss?" Taylor puckered and made a couple of kissing sounds.
The nurses laughed fondly.
Spotting the bag of urine hanging off the side of the bed, Dave joked, "Hey look Taylor, you've got your own personal stash of lemonade!"
Smacking his lips, Taylor said, "Mmmm. Lemonade." He went quiet, nodding off.
The nurses snickered and shook their heads. "Now, now," one of them said. "He's too weak to defend himself."
Dave stayed in the room a while longer to make sure Taylor wasn't going to wake up and ask for anything. As he was about to step out and check for messages, his phone rang.
It was Jordyn. "We're here. How's Taylor?"
"Sleeping. They just brought him out of recovery a half hour ago." Dave stuffed his book into a jacket pocket. "The surgery went well. Things look good."
Jordyn relayed this information to Alison. "Alison wants to visit him before we go back to the house."
"No problem. I'm on my way to get you." Checking Taylor one more time, Dave headed toward the parking lot.
"Um, I know you wanted to save Alison the worry, so I waited 'til we got here, but... I did tell her about the ghost."
Dave couldn't help but roll his eyes. "What did she say?"
"He wants to know what you said."
Alison called to the phone, "I said you guys got really drunk and scared yourselves with your ghost stories. We're lucky you're not all in the hospital."
Sighing, Dave realized it really didn't matter. He would prove it to them. "Ha ha. We'll talk about it when we get back to the house."
Dave reluctantly exited the hospital, leaving Taylor in their hands for the time being.
When Alison saw Taylor asleep in the hospital bed with the IV and other things attached to his body, she leaned down and kissed him on the lips. "My poor Bunny Foofoo." She peeked under the sheet at his bandaged abdomen. It all became more real to her at that moment. "Oh, Taylor." Alison smoothed his hair back off his face.
Taylor did not wake up, but did make a soft noise.
"They said he'd be pretty out of it until the morning," Dave commented. "Why don't we go back to the house and get something to eat, and I can explain all this ghost stuff?"
Alison nodded, obviously holding back tears.
Taking her hand and patting it, Jordyn said, "You're staying with us tonight."
"Thank you. I don't know what I'd do with myself if I had to rattle around in that house alone." Alison went back to Taylor's side and leaned over him. "Hey. Baby? Good night kiss?"
There came a quiet, "Mm, night," and Taylor softly kissed back, then was asleep again. He hadn't opened his eyes throughout the entire exchange.
"Surgery takes a lot out of you," she remarked, and followed her friends out of the hospital room.
Dave, putting his arm around Jordyn, joked with her, "How come you don't have any pet names for me?"
Smiling, she said, "Do you wanna be Bunny Foofoo too?"
Jordyn and Alison were both looking at him, perplexed, and he didn't know where to start. It certainly was a strange scene. In the kitchen where they sat, eating a quick dinner, there wasn't a glass cup to be found. (Nicky had broken them all.) Downstairs, there was a $20,000 statue tied up with white ribbon and two holes in the wall that hadn't been there before. In the bedroom, the suitcases they had helped Dave and Taylor pack were open and thoroughly rifled through, and the gun usually kept locked up in the nightstand lay out beside the bed. One of the oddest things to Jordyn was that someone had obviously cleaned her Lalique vase to a gleaming shine, where before it had grown dusty. Why on Earth...?
Dave tried to start at the beginning. "What I'm about to tell you is going to sound insane... but it's all completely true. I was there. I experienced it. Everything I'm about to tell you, I believe it, and Chris believes it, and I can guarantee you Taylor believes it."
Oogly jumped up on the table and looked at him. "Meow."
He couldn't help but grin; it was like the cat was saying I was there too, and she wanted to offer her support. Dave stroked her back. "All I ask is that you listen with an open mind."
The girls looked at each other and shrugged. "Okay."
"We did make contact with the ghost. At first, he was being vague and avoided telling us his full name, just that his name was Nicky. Shortly after, though, the things he said became threatening and scary. That he was here and he wasn't going anywhere, and there wasn't a thing we could do to make him leave. I started yelling at him, telling him to go, and I turned and saw... Taylor had his hands on the Ouija pointer, like this." Dave imitated the positioning of Taylor's hands on the planchette. "I saw his reflection in the mirror, you know the one hung across the corner?"
"And Taylor wasn't alone. There was this transparent cloud-like thing floating behind him, with its arms around him. It looked like a person, only ghostly, you know?"
Alison visibly shuddered.
"When I looked straight at Taylor, no ghost. But in the mirror... I didn't realize what was happening at the time, but... uh... You know how we talked about the ghost influencing Taylor to not act like himself?" Dave asked.
"The ghost actually possessed Taylor."
There was a long pause. Finally, "What?"
Even Oogly looked up at him. "Meow?"
Dave glanced around the table at all the confused, horrified faces. He wondered briefly what it would take for Jordyn to have him committed. "And on that note, I need another beer."