“Mrs. Williams?” I asked.
“Yes, who is this?” she asked.
“My name is Trevor Harris, I’m a member of the Hawthorn branch of our family,” I said.
“And just what family are you talking about?” she asked.
“You are Amelie and Winnie’s mother, aren’t you?”
“Of course, but that’s the extent of my family,” she said. “You people I might have been related to a couple of hundred years ago? No, you’re not my family, you’re not my people.”
“I thought you might feel that way,” I said, “but I’m calling about an issue that involves all of us. If you remember, last Saturday your granddaughter Milley was locked into…”
“Now leave the child out of it.”
“I’m trying to, Mrs. Williams,” I said. “But she had an experience much like one I had when I was a kid. There is an evil presence there.”
“Of course there is, which is why I’m trying to keep my family away from the crypt and those associated with it, like you Mr. Harris,” she said. “For some reason they keep going back, drawn by the darkness; the idolatry and ancestor worship, as if they were pagans. My mother, God rest her soul, got it into her mind to focus on that cursed place. Her and her pseudo-African charms and spells did more to rip this family apart than anything in the crypt. She believed in some tribal magic or something that I could never understand and she focused it at that accursed place. I hope she cast all of that aside in favor of our Lord before she passed. I pray for it. No good can come from that place of evil.”
“But the evil may be caught up in your granddaughter,” I said. “I think I can help keep it away.”
“You? And just who are you?” she asked. “If there is an evil spirit in Milley, Reverend Stevens can cast it out far easier than you can, I’ll warrant. He is a man of God. He can call upon the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord, to help the poor girl return to the path. That damned crypt, and I mean that literally, will only bring sorrow to her and to us. Milley talked to Dr. Stevens on Sunday and he said she was fine. He knows. So that’s the end.”
“No, Mr. Harris,” she said. “I want you to leave me and my family alone. We don’t need your voodoo and witchcraft, no thank you, we only need our faith.”
“But can’t you at least return the crucifix your mother had set up and keep the presence of Christ down there?” I asked.
“No sir,” she said. “That place is really Godforsaken and it will only pollute and soil the cross. I will not sacrifice a symbol of my faith for that evil.”
“So that is the end of it?”
“Yes sir, it is the end. Now you have a good day, Mr. Harris, but stop bothering my family.” I heard her line go dead.
Amelie had hinted it would be hard to convince her mother and she was right. Yet I was puzzled. I had sent a small feeler out to Mrs. Williams. She had power, but suppressed it, not believing it existed. Yet there was something there, something powerful and unfamiliar, hidden from me. I didn’t feel I had the right to push and discover it. I also didn’t feel I had the finesse to do it undetected. But it was undeniably there. Was it an artifact of her faith? Or perhaps something else?
Amelie had said Benjamin had cast a large net. Was Mrs. Williams caught in it? Did she refuse to even try to use the implements of her faith in the crypt because he was keeping her from it? Or was he now only trying to cast doubt in my mind on a good person of faith?
Nobody and nothing was as it seemed. I hated to relate Mrs. Williams to Bethy, but I had the same bad vibe from her.
I realized that I was much more shaken by the whole Bethy thing than I realized. I had been in love and trusted her. More than that, at one times she was my everything. Yet I find now that I was totally blinded to her. I overlooked so much.
Was there anything or anyone I could truly trust anymore? I realized that there wasn’t, not even myself. He had controlled me for so long that I couldn’t take anything I had ever done or thought as being anything except a part of his plot.
But isn’t that exactly what he wanted me to think, so I wouldn’t trust myself? So I would be so hogtied in my brain I wouldn’t be able to act when needed? I didn’t know who was an enemy, who I only perceived as an enemy, who he fooled me into thinking was an enemy or who he totally blinded me one way or the other.
I let a sliver of my brain enter my new sanctuary. I felt peace there, but no answers came up. I was blind to the motivations of everyone around me. This newfound power of mine seemed to only bring up more questions than it could answer.
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