, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jennifer believes that my children will one day require therapy because of the stories I tell.

“That’s a very hurtful thing to say,” I say, gruffly. But you’re probably right, my inner voice whispers, taking her side and recalling that just today my son Harrison, having a general nervousness when it comes to dolls, asked about the movie “Child’s Play.”

“It’s about a serial killer named Chucky whose soul ends up in a doll,” I explained. “If I remember correctly, he’s trying to transfer his soul into a little boy, and in the meantime, runs around killing the people trying to stop him.”

“That’s stupid,” Harrison said, doing his best not to betray his uneasiness.

“Of course it’s stupid,” I continued. “That’s not how it works.”

“Whaddya mean?” the boy asked.

“Do you know how sometimes the cashier at Walmart will ask me if I want an extended warranty on an item I might be buying?”

“Yeah,” he said. “That happened when you bought that external hard drive.”

“Well,” I kept on, “they’re supposed to do something like that whenever you buy a doll.”

“They are?”

“Yeah,” I said, my voice steady and my face plain. “They’ll usually ask if you want the doll possessed or unpossessed.”


“Seriously. You have the option of getting a plain doll, or for a little more nighttime excitement, you can upgrade to the possession pack. For an extra twenty bucks, the store manager will put a curse on the doll before you take it home.”

“Are any of my dolls cursed, Daddy?” Evelyn lobbed from the living room.

“No, honey,” I turned and called back. “None of yours are possessed—at least I don’t think so. Although I wasn’t with Momma when she bought some of them, so I can’t say for sure.”

“I think one might be,” my almost-always-reliable partner in crime volleyed. “I think I saw one of my Barbies floating in the door of my closet the other night.”

“Was she keeping you up last night?” I asked. “If so, I can do an exorcism on her tonight before you go to bed.”

“That’s okay,” the little girl replied. “She said she wasn’t after me.”

“Did she say who she was after?”

“It sounded like she said ‘Larry,’ but I was tired and I don’t think I heard her right.”

I turned back to Harry, but he was already gone. I fully expect to find all of Evelyn’s Barbies in the trash tonight.

Foolish boy. Everyone knows that when you throw a demon-possessed doll into the trash, it always turns up under your bed a little dirtier and a lot angrier.

Therapists. Seemingly demon-possesed things. Trash. Dirtier and angrier. Unfortunately, these things not only pinpoint all of the things my wife adores when it comes to my off-the-cuff storytelling, but they are reminiscent of my time with the Very Old Barton Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This particular whiskey is a special kind of deceptive unpleasantness.

With the twist cap removed and two fingers worth in my glass, a sniff suggests that the Walmart store manager may be nearby casting subterranean, but enticing, magic. At first, the scent is sweetly pleasant, offering something of vanilla and maple-butter. A drop of water—which in my case, I’m guessing must have been blessed—causes the sweetness to turn sour.

But the truest struggle between heaven and hell begins with the first sip.

A horde of sorts attempts to present the dram as endearingly sweet, setting before their victim the possibility of carmeled citrus. But that hellfire-quenching drop of holy water reveals the whiskey’s more sinister intent—a sputtering plume of the leftovers from the last picnic in Hades, which included charred corn and an imbalanced scald of barrel spice topped with pepper.

The finish is fairly quick, which is surprising. In any of my dealings with Lucifer, I can usually count on him to put up a more formidable fight. But this time around, he gives a swift bite of alcohol and then calls it quits before the bout gets any further. I guess he already knows there’s no tricking a man who’s already attuned to his ways.

I mean, consider the scarring—eh-hem, creative—stories I tell my children. Which reminds me, I suppose “Larry” sounds a lot like “Harry.”

I’d better go check the trash. I’ve already thrown away so many of the kids’ toys just for fun, I can’t afford to have the kids doing it, too.