During periods of stress, people often embrace the mystical, the tribal, the occult, as a means to bring sense and order to a situation or circumstance that otherwise defies logical explanation.
“I’ve been this person, I’ve acted this way,” is the internal dialog running through your mind. “How did this occur?”
Periods of stress are when omens take on greater significance. That’s when one takes a look at the tea leaves surrounding the shattered vessel that represents one’s existence, in order to try and make sense out of it all, and undoubtedly, to read more into the shadows than are actually there.
Okay, yes...yes, there is a point to this. I promise! You see, some of my longtime friends may remember Damien, a demonic/cherubic looking lawn statue that’s figured prominently in such charming stories as “The Stoned Guest,” a lovely tale that our first cat, Thumbkin, told in his personal journal, about his attempts to violate Damien’s stoned orifices. Yes, it’s just as sordid and revolting as it sounds.
But Damien. Ah, there you go. Damien's one of those shadows.
Damien first came into our lives when Corb worked the front desk at his previous job, but somehow, the little guy has found a way to keep popping into our lives. Someone, somehow thought that Damien would be a cute addition to the shrubbery that surrounded the hotel, but the way that he was placed, it almost appeared that he was peering into the front office. It was a frightening site, particularly during the evening.
Damien quickly moved up in the world, from lawn ornament to office joke. He made it into the warmth of the building, appearing, occasionally, on someone’s chair, or on a desk in place of a vase of flowers. He was once hung by the neck from the top of a door. And then, eventually, he started to make his way to people’s houses.
That was how he ended up at our apartment, actually. It was one of Damien’s first trips away from the office, intended to celebrate Corb’s birthday. One of Corb’s co-workers delivered the statue to me under a shroud of silence, and I hid it in my car. Then, at midnight, while Corb was fast asleep, I snuck him in and placed him our refrigerator. (No, don’t worry, Bette Davis wasn’t living there at the time…that would be a little bit too much evil.)
And somehow, while he was at our place, Thumbkin managed to shag him. Quite a talented cat!
But here’s the thing: as Damien’s prominence increased, so did his reputation as a harbinger of bad luck.
I’m not going to get into the fact that “The Stoned Guest” took place two months before Thumbkin passed away. That’s just morbid, and I’m certain it’s just a coincidence. However, there’s no denying that strange things seemed to follow Damien wherever he would go. While at Corb’s previous hotel, the place endured several water breaks, which had the hotel customers screaming blood murder, and drove profits lower than W's approval rating. And, shortly after Corb left that hotel, his former boss left, too. As a going away present, her staff shipped Damien off to surprise her on her first day of work at the new place. Damien was sent packing, however, after that hotel experienced a pipe burst a few days later.
It was sent to Corb’s new hotel. However, Corb’s new boss thought Damien was creepy, and a few other workers insisted that he had to leave the place.
Eventually, he ended up at our apartment, a few weeks ago. That’s about the point when things started to haywire in my personal life.
And there’s more. About a week after Damien started to live with us, I came home to find the entire apartment building in total darkness, except for the eerie red glow of emergency lights throughout the building. I called Corb up, immediately.
“There’s something wrong in the building,” said Corb. “It started about a half an hour ago. The lights went out in the living room, and those red lights appeared. I called the office, and they’re not sure what’s going on.”
Five hours later, the lights were still out. Of course, it was nine o’clock at night at that point, and Corb and I were running out of ways to keep the kids entertained away from home.
In desperation, we drove back to the complex, positive the light situation would be fixed.
But it wasn’t. The crews were still working away. “Is Damien inside the place?” I asked.
Corb nodded. "Aha!" I said.
We made our way up the red-lit stairs and stumbled into the place. Theo was afraid to enter, afraid of the shadows. As Corb ran around lighting candles to bring some light into the world, I located Damien, and made my way back downstairs, depositing him into the back of Corb’s truck.
Fifteen minutes later, the lights went back on.
The next day, on his home from work, Corb’s truck was almost totaled, when the car in front of him impacted with another vehicle. Corb was inches from being part of the collision, but somehow managed to avoid impact.
“That’s it,” I said. “Damien’s getting out of your car before anything bad happens.”
“Okay,” said Corb, and lifted Damien out of the back. He placed him next to our dumpster.
The next day, when Corb arrived home with the kids, after work, he parked next to the dumpster, to check on Damien, to see how his day had been spent. And also, to bring him back into the house.
But Damien wasn’t there any more. In his place...no word of a lie...Corb discovered a handful of large-sized bones. Not chicken bones, exactly. Too large to be those. What, then?
Coincidence? We may never know. What we do know is that Damien hasn’t returned. We have yet to see him adorning someone’s balcony, or as a lawn ornament at the front office. It’s quite possible we’ll never see the little guy again.
If that’s true, I hope he’s taken his bad omens with him. I’m not sure if I really believe that he was a good statue gone bad. Maybe he truly wasn’t bad, just drawn that way. But whatever the truth really is, I don’t need any more ill wind blowing over my house, thank you very much.
Blow, ill wind, blow away. And take your scavenger bones with you.