Ghosts of Marlow

II

 

A Table Turned

 

Dad always talked about the night Great Grandma Frankie

made the table walk with great, lion strides, pulsing

with pride across the kitchen. She took the old

occult art of flushing the dead from hell to cluck like

hens about the future and where Uncle Bubba would end

his long and painful fight with what a doctor would eventually

call Alzheimer’s. Dad always called it “Old Timers” for colloquial

charm or local color. The name always made me imagine

 

Bubba circling the backyard, neck in a thick brace due to a fall

in the tub. He would stare while making grunts, oinks,

and moos to himself, asking everyone around him which

animal he was. Supposedly, Bubba had seen the table

walk as well, though he never liked to discuss it.

Dad always freaked out at my Goosebump books

or the ever dreaded Fear Street novellas. I tried explaining

the trend, the need to appear in step with a flock

 

of never divergent rebels. He decried “demonic influence”

and swore up and down such things brought the beast

into the soul. It wasn’t pretend. He had seen things

as they should never be seen. He told stories of inbred

hillbilly horror lurking around Sister’s Ferry at Old

Dixie Highway; the single burning light of a spectre

train, thundering from one world to the next.
He had dug holes on full moons,

 

swung a dead cat above his head whilst

standing on an infant’s grave to cure warts

before a date. But the one that lodged and stuck

firmly in that old man’s throat was the damn

table. Grandma Franky had rested her withered

hands on the antique mammoth thing

they would otherwise eat food on and called

a monster out of the Aether to tell fortunes.

 

But something about this night, on this particular

August, with this particular spirit brought

the chills that rage with pain and set his eyes

twisting in the sockets like the divining dice

in a magic eight ball novelty. He would tell

of the antique Lion paws adorned upon the table’s

legs, the twitching of the toes, and the sudden

leap of life that came to stiff and polished wood.  

 

I almost believed him when he said Frankie

had locked the table in the closet. I could hear

the thunk of wood as it “supposedly” had raged

against confinement. I felt that silence as hours

fell to sunrise. Against all logic, Frankie could never

bear to part with the friends who visited, channeled

inanimate wood to less

than natural

life.

 

Dad was a liar, as Grandma Bailey would imply

between bites of mustard greens and bread

spotted with sesame and poppy seeds. The table

never had lion’s feet. An antique can’t live the way

tables that commune among families can when their

wood is still fresh and remembers some notion

of growth and vibrance. Devils abhor

 

craft and skill as evidence of God’s gifts.

The table that walked sits just below her

portrait in the spare room. The one

you used to sleep in as a child. The room

your father will not enter to this day.

It is simple, square, gnarled with use

both natural and not.

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