Dee as exorcist
9.00am, Saturday, 4 February, 2017
Despite the lack of a drum roll, the opening elevator doors presented a suck-in-your-breath tableau of four sixteen-year-old girls whose collective youth, beauty, and composure stunned not only the four-abreast, double-rank of police waiting by the elevator, but also the crowd of friends and skeptics gathered for the show. The girls, in sneakers, jeans, and tank tops, holding hands by their knees, stayed in place staring out at their audience as suited their personalities.
The presentation continued for a slow three-count ending with Laini stepping off the elevator into the small space between the two groups, declaring, “Good morning. I’m Laini.” She paused. “We’re here to help,” extending her hand in space.
One of the uniforms stepped forward and shook with her. “I’m Arthur Griffin, the union rep. We’re here to help you. Whatever you need. Because whatever you do for Officer Messer you do for every one of us.”
“May my friends step out?” her exaggerated innocence engendering an anxiety-releasing laugh that rippled through the blue ranks and put everyone at ease. The policemen stepped back as a unit into the assemblage pressing at the rear, unbalancing those closest, ignoring the outrage. Lori-Baby and Stella stepped out first, Sgt. Jesse, Lt. Sam, and Dr. Mike following them, a shield for Dee to step behind. Not so fast.
Laini, “So. Meet my girlfriends, Stella and Lori-Baby.” The two girls nodded. “Girls, Officer Arthur Griffin.” The girls shook hands without speaking.
Laini to Griffin again, “I believe you already know Doctor Mike, Lt. Sam, and Sgt. Jesse.” Collegial greetings rippled all around, encompassing the policemen at the elevator and many of the officers at their desks.
Laini, “And, still in the elevator is our dear Dee,” she inscrutable as she waved and stepped forward.
Given the build-up of Laini’s staging, the introduction electrified Griffin who, without invitation, stepped towards Dee, not seeing Laini step forward until she collided into him. Nor did he see Stella before she hooked his arm and spun him ninety degrees; nor Lori-Baby, who pushed him back into the body of the stunned police guard.
Griffin took a deep breath and raised his arms and hands to protect his head. “Sorry. I understand. Made a mistake. Sorry.”
Stella, looking first to Dee, asked Lt. Sam, “Now what happens? What’s the protocol?” Dee, Stella, and Laini stepped beside Lt. Sam to listen to the answer.
Lt. Sam, addressing Dee, “Messer’s in that room,” she following the line of Sam’s finger across the thirty-by-sixty-foot open office area holding two dozen police-occupied desks around which milled the thirty officials and officious intermeddlers, unwelcomed, trying to get comfortable, the police either ignoring them or shooing them from resting derrieres on their desks.
The room to which Lt. Sam directed Dee one of three side-by-sides, each having a four-by-eight bullet-proof window, the only one with its twelve-foot fluorescent ceiling fixture turned on. Inside, two guards respectfully maneuvered an orange-clad, handcuffed, quiescent prisoner to a seat in the center of the long side of an eight-by-three-foot table. Stella stepped close beside Laini.
“We can adjust the audio so that those outside can hear and see in. Or we can make it so that no sound goes either in or out.”
Stella bent into Laini’s ear, she answering. “They can look in; but no sound, in or out.” Stella bent into Laini’s ear. “And we won’t need the guards or cuffs.”
Lt. Sam to Officer Griffin, “Would you arrange that now?” Griffin spoke to the other policemen and one of them quickly broke off from the others to accommodate Dee.
Lori-Baby stepped close behind Dee and whispered, “Did you know Sister Mary Margaret would be here?”
Dee wrinkled her face. “She is? Weird! Get her over to say ‘Hello.’”
Towing a friend dressed in Franciscan browns, the pair escorted by two policemen, Sister Mary Margaret got through the press to Dee. “Sister Meg, this is a surprise.”
“I came officially, as an aide to the bishop. The Church wants its eyes on this. I’ve told him…”
Dee nodded and touched the nun’s cheek. “Okay, Sister. Good to see you. Sgt. Jesse, would you find a good spot for them? Sister, we’ll talk later,” Dee turning away, looking across the open space to the conference room where the unshackled prisoner rubbed his wrists.
“Doesn’t she want to meet the bishop? He’s such a fine and humble man,” Sister Mary Margaret saying to Sgt. Jesse as she swept the pair towards the viewing window.
Dee looked at Laini and nodded. Laini turned to Lt. Sam. “We’re ready.”
Lt. Sam faced the police guards and raised his hands for attention. “Hey, guys! Listen up! We’re going to move the girls to interrogation. Half dozen of us in front to clear a path; a couple behind so we’re not crowded.”
Officer Griffin leading, the parade pushed through the room shoving desks and bodies aside, stopping just outside the interrogation room – a disturbance at the rear of the ranks drawing their attention. “Mrs. Messer,” Sgt. Jesse whispered to Dee, “The wife.” A police-complicit path permitted the intruding woman, hidden inside a babushka, sunglasses, and turned-up trench-coat collar, wearing gloves and boots, and carrying a large pocketbook, to get to Lt. Sam, she saying, “Who are these teenagers to come here to gawk at my husband? This isn’t Saturday Matinee.”
The circle of girlfriends tightened around Dee but she stepped through the girls’ perimeter to Ms. Messer, extending her hand, “I’m Dee Mirabile, Mrs. Messer. I’ve come here with my friends at the request of Doctor Mike, Lt. Sam, and Sgt. Jesse. They believe that I might be able to help your husband.”
Joyce Messer ignored Dee’s hand, “Well, that’s nice. But why do you think you can help him when no one else can?” a flicker of hope colored and softened Mrs. Messer’s pale, drawn face.
“I’ve had successes in several instances like this. But to be successful, I need the prayers of everyone concerned for your husband’s well-being. Especially yours. Can I count on it?” her hand still extended.
"Are you an exorcist?”
“Is your husband possessed?”
Pausing, “How would I know that?”
“That’s what I believe I can discover. I’d like to try. May I?”
Mrs. Messer took Dee’s hand into hers, bringing it to her chest and squeezing it, stepping close to Dee and kissing her cheek.
“I didn’t mean anything.
“I want to believe.
“Please help him, if you can – he’s a good husband and a good father.
“Who you see in there?
“That isn’t him.
“Something is terribly wrong.”
The two pairs of hand enfolded, Dee led Joyce Messer next to the viewing window saying softly, “Stay here and watch; pray.” She turned and beckoned, saying to Mrs. Messer when they got to her, “Sgt. Jesse and Doctor Mike will stay by you.” Jesse stepped up and took Joyce’s hand, nodding encouragement, putting her arm around Mrs. Messer’s shoulder, she resting her head and half-shielding her face on Sgt. Jesse’s shoulder. Doctor Mike stood on Mrs. Messer’s other side.
The guards had vacated the interrogation room before Dee, the last of the group to pass through the door that Griffin held open, stepped in, feeling not only the supportive, prayerful eyes of the police but also the Missouri-eyes of the hostiles as strong, challenging fingers pushing into her shoulders, “Go ahead. Show us.” Inside, blessedly more peaceful than the crowded office area, Dee sat on the only other chair in the room, directly across the table from the prisoner. Lt. Sam stood leaning back against the wall behind Messer while the free-standing girlfriends formed a tight semi-circle around Dee, one on each side, Laini behind the chair.
“Good morning, Officer Messer. My name is ‘Dee’ and I’m going to see what’s troubling you.” Dee’s psyche jumped into Messer’s head, while, absent a control center, her body collapsed. Lori-Baby and Stella, on either side, supported her while methodically arranging Dee’s arms securely on the table and shifting her body-weight forward, pillowing her head onto the crook of her elbows. When they stood up, they butted against her and waited.
Dee’s invasion an electric jolt and Messer bolted upright like his puppeteer had picked up the hand control and yanked his strings. He raised his contorted face to the ceiling, slammed his palms to his temples, and cried out. In slow motion he slipped from the chair and laid still on the floor in a fetal position, whimpering. Laini’s angry expression, her movement to the end of the table, and her threatening palms-up quelled Lt. Sam’s impulse to rush to help the fallen Messer.
First moment in the enclosed expanse of Messer’s mind Dee came upon a cavorting demon, a two-dimensional white shadow of a long, thin ballet dancer, the dancer, defying gravity, freezing in mid-step at Dee’s appearance.
“Who gave you permission to be here?” Dee immediately interrupting herself, “Actually, shut up. Don’t answer; don’t speak a word,” pointing a finger at the cowering shadow, like sitting a dog, freezing him in place while she rummaged through the jumble of thought-threads in Messer’s head, finding the one she wanted and following it.
His immediate family might number fourteen today except that years before his own birth three siblings had died in infancy. While Messer still very young, he not only lost an older brother, shot dead during a traffic altercation, but also a four-year-old sister, dead from a rat-bite induced rabies. Leaving a family of eight, counting Larry himself.
The living included his oldest brother – a school bus driver until his conviction on four counts of child molestation. He served six years before his release; recently rearrested on similar charges and returned to jail where he resides today and will for the foreseeable future. Two older sisters, two years apart, each gave birth before age eighteen, neither married, both now living with their mother, adding two to the family-count; earning money in a variety of ad hoc enterprises ranging from shady to mayhem. No fathers to be found by this time, not even Larry’s own who, after twenty-six years of marriage, went out for a drink and disappeared, along with the paycheck. His two younger brothers, roommates, both city workers in garages owned by the Department of Public Works, earned extra money by feeding desirable information to car thieves – for a fee. His mother, a Miniver Cheevy clone, sat in the dingy apartment kitchen most of the time, with a fifth of Four Roses and giant imperial-sized bottle of ginger ale, prepared to match anyone’s lamentation with two of her own, and a shot, waiting for her monthly disability check. Government scams, fabricated litigation, thievery, whoring, and hot stuff, all threads of the family cloth.
Excluding Larry Messer – he observant, quiet, confident but not aggressive, aloof from the clamorous goings on in his family’s personal underworld. Not a miscreant, Larry Messer; not he, the nun’s favorite at the parochial grammar school he’d attended tuition-free, they virtually abducting him, filling his time with extra reading, tutoring, and work around the church, including a four-year stint as an altar boy. Academically inclined, he earned a full scholarship to the Catholic Matignon High School, followed by another free ride to Boston College, assuring himself a superior education. After graduation, he entered the police academy, fulfilling a childhood dream. His mission: to protect John Q. from his family and others like them. Larry Messer not a miscreant – one of the good guys, he, studying hard to ace the sergeant’s exam. Until the incident.
Her rummaging took little real time, but enough, Sgt. Jesse later recounting to Dee, for Messer’s obvious pain to give cause to Dee’s detractors to stop her intervention, or rather to try – their efforts thwarted by the fervor of the newly-converted Mrs. Joyce Messer, supported by Jesse, Doctor Mike, and the steadfast gang of patrolmen guarding the door to the interrogation room. Even Captain John stood by his sergeant, refusing the mayor’s-office demand that he command her to stand down, although under his breath saying to Sgt. Jesse, ‘I told you, asshole!’ Sgt. Jesse later recounting.
Dee followed the thought-thread that led to Messer’s memory of the night his gun accidentally discharged, the moment of the arrival of the demon.
Officer Messer, driving hard in response to dispatch, his face reflecting the rapid red, blue, and white flashes of the lurid police lights, says to the apparition riding shotgun, “Who are you? How did you get here?”
“I’m here to help,” Dee. Officer Messer gassing the car through Brighton streets, kills the siren, brakes headfirst into a corner curb, throws the car into park, and jumps from the vehicle.
On the sidewalk, a squatting man brandishing a knife, leans forward on the balls of his feet, arms describing a circle in front of him. He twists, turns, and circles a bloody, unmoving body, warding off potential challengers from the small crowd gathered at a safe distance. “My kill,” he growls. A second garishly-lit police car arrives, siren cutting out, doors slamming.
Officer Messer, gun drawn, moves closer to the perp but Lt. Sam takes control, forging ahead of him. Messer takes his cue from Sgt. Jesse, she two steps behind Lt. Sam, flanking slowly to his left, gripping her cocked gun with both hands, poised to repeatedly shoot the perpetrator in the chest if he moves against her partner.
Lt. Sam, both hands in the air, slowly steps towards the lioness protecting her kill, the laughing perp establishing his creds: “I did this;” and louder, “My points,” his bulging, darting eyes underlining the intensity of his disconnect.
“You don’t need that knife, now,” Lt. Sam softly, edging closer, empty palms raised to the disturbed man.
“My kill,” says the perpetrator, “My points. Stay away.”
Dee, still the apparition, from just behind him says softly to Lt. Sam, “Points – what are they? Ask him.”
Another flashing police car brakes to a stop, cutting its siren and disgorging two more police officers who, guns drawn, rush forward. The first, a few steps ahead of her partner, stops abruptly behind Sgt. Jesse, adding her gun to the growing arsenal aiming at the perp, at that moment Lt. Sam saying, “No one wants your points. How do you get points? Who gives…,” and at that moment the rushing, catching-up partner trips forward and collides into Messer whose gun rises a tad and discharges a single bullet dead center into knife-man’s forehead.
Dee returns from Messer’s memory thread and turns to the demon sitting quietly, hoping to be forgotten, Dee destroying that hope: “He wants you out. Did I say, ‘Now?’”
Responding to the demon’s panic to flee his head, Messer muddles first to his hands and knees, and then to his feet, his knees buckling, locking, buckling again, his arms dangling, his head loosely circling his neck, his opened eyes having difficulty focusing, his fingers clawing at the table for support, slipping from it, grabbing at it again – all body parts functioning independently of each other. Messer stumbles backwards against the wall, sliding to the floor banging his ass. His hands carelessly resting on his lap, he looks around in wonderment: Ali Baba’s first visit to the thieves’ den; Alice in Wonderland; who am I; what am I doing here?
Taking the properties of an electrical surge shaped and lit like a comet tail, the demon bursts from Messer’s pores and whooshes twice around the interrogation room before exploding through the thick glass windows, driving ten thousand shards of glass before it. Whizzing through the overcrowded desk area, the demon-energy indiscriminately knocks mayor’s reps, district attorneys, Internal Affairs people, and patrolmen into each other, or the furniture, or onto the floor. Despite the closed elevator doors, the demon-comet tail vanishes into the elevator shaft, leaving a sulphur trace.
Dee, groggy at the return of her psyche, lifts her head like a drunk. Three sets of fingertips caress her. Laini produces a cold bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water with a straw inside, holding the bottle. Dee takes three sips before resting her head on her arms again, her eyes half-open. Lori-Baby gently wipes the left side of Dee’s face with a damp cloth. Dee raises her face towards her and Lori-Baby completes the job, especially thorough and gentle when wiping the sweat from her eyes. Dee’s head falls back into her arms.
“You okay?” Stella, knowing the answer.
Without moving, “Yeah. Unsteady. Exhausted. Hurting all over.”
“So, normal,” Lori-Baby. Even Dee chuckled.
“Stop. It hurts.” Dee raises her head again looking for the water, taking four more sips, pushing herself back into her chair, looking over her girlfriends, Lt. Sam, Messer on the floor, the broken glass. “I’m good, thanks. Everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything’s good,” Stella, displacing Laini behind Dee, pressing firm fingers into Dee’s neck and shoulders.
“Nice,” Dee, resting her head again. “How’s Messer?” Dee’s eyes fully open.
Laini, “Probably time for his wife to tend him. You drove something out. Right now he’s in la-la land.”
“It was a demon. Easy enough.” A pause. “Okay, get her in,” pushing herself to a sit, holding the table’s edge. Laini left to bring in Mrs. Messer and Dee waved Lt. Sam over.
“Did you ever find out about points?” Lt. Sam clueless. Dee with some effort, “The perpetrator, the night of the incident, said, ‘My points.’”
Sam asking, “How…” catching Dee’s eyes flash anger, “Sorry. Points? No; nothing. None of us thought to pursue it.”
Dee nodded saying softly, “Okay. It’s time to go. I’d like to leave here without any speeches: no “Goodbyes,” no questions.”
“Understood. Are we done in here? Did we win?”
Dee, “He was possessed. No longer. He’s himself. I have nothing left to do or learn here; and I want to leave. I need to leave.”
“Thank you, Stella, my dear. Felt great,” taking Stella’s hand, swiveling, and, with Stella’s help, pulling herself to her feet facing away from Messer, her free hand grabbing the table edge.
Lt. Sam walked to the broken window and beckoned Arthur Griffin, “We’re ready to go.”
Joyce Messer stepped into the conference room and Lori-Baby motioned to her husband. Mrs. Messer took two steps towards him, stopped, and turned back to Dee, but she busying herself to exit, didn’t connect. Mrs. Messer continued to her husband, sitting on the floor beside him.
Dee looked out the jagged glass-rimmed opening in the wall: muted comments, movement in slow-motion, hands helping pull the fallen to their feet, a sprinkling of tears, some phone calls, many, many visible cuts, and, covering all, an inch-thick layer of glass shards looking like shattered icicles.
Sgt. Jesse stepped into the interrogation room, nodded after catching Dee’s eye, and left. Dee reached for the closest girlfriends, Stella and Laini, Lori-Baby following, and, as a unit, they stepped out into the office area, grouping behind their guard with Lt. Sam and Dr. Mike.
From his position at the head of the group, Griffin turned saying to Dee, “But don’t you want to say anything to your fans? Everyone’s loves you and is dying to hear what you did and how you did it. Dee, you walk on water…”
Lori-Baby, stepping past the other officers, shoved her hands into Griffin’s shoulders forcing him a step back. “Don’t you ever learn? Lead us out or get out of our way,” stepping forward, shouting into his face, the confrontation interrupted by the emergence of Joyce and Larry Messer.
Holding Joyce’s elbow, he stepped zombielike after her, his appearance without shackles prompting a cheer and a round of applause from everyone in the room. He smiled through his confusion, nodding, waving timidly, a mid-semester transfer student’s first-day introduction to his new home room.
None of the girls prevented Joyce from leaving her husband and approaching Dee, saying, “My dear, you’re leaving without saying goodbye? No. No. Give me just a moment, please,” Dee allowing Joyce to take both of her hands.
“How can we thank you? For what you just did for Larry and for what you did for me and our children, too,” bursting into tears, composing herself, “What did you do? How? Who are you?”
Pulling her hands free, Dee gently touched Joyce’s cheek with her left-hand fingers saying, “It’s done. It’s over, Mrs. Messer. Excuse me, but I really need to rest.”
“Was that a devil that came out of him?” someone from the crowd.
Dee to Joyce, “I don’t think we’ll benefit from trying to analyze what happened here. Take your husband home and love each other.”
“You’re blessed, my dear,” Joyce. “Are you shy? May I kiss you?” leaning into Dee, kissing her cheek. Then she grabbed the teenager and took her into a full embrace, Dee standing erect, holding Joyce’s elbows, Joyce saying, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
Stella’s gentle hand on her shoulder told Joyce Messer to walk away; but as she did she repeated to everyone around her, “She’s blessed. She’s blessed.”
“Dee, we must speak with you,” someone from beyond the police guard.
Laini stepped in front of Dee and raised both arms ending the visit, “Another time. Sorry. Need rest.” Dee took arms again and Lori-Baby’s eyes prodded Griffin who shouted, “Heads up, guys. Let’s get them out of here.”
They started for the elevator. “Dee,” another call coming from outside the exiting wedge, that immediately joined by many other calls, all accompanied by more frantic shouts and more frenzied arms raising and hands waving, all ignored.
Still they came, “Dee! Dee!” Part of her wanted to smack them back into themselves. Part of her understanding. But the biggest part of her totally wasted from the ordeal, exhausted to sickness. Dee kept her eyes glued to the floor, fast-walking to keep up with the fast-moving police phalanx, gaining the elevators without incident.
Still the pleas, like the frustrated mayor’s rep who shouted over the crowd, “The mayor proud, thankful. Wants to meet you.” Dee stepped into the elevator which quickly filled with her girlfriends, Lt. Sam, and three of their guard – not Griffin, Lori-Baby’s decision – and waited for the doors to close before turning front. She rested her head on Laini’s shoulder. No one spoke.
One of the officers inserted a key that enabled the elevator to bypass any other floors, taking the crew express to the basement, and from there to the back door where, car running, Sgt. Jesse waited at the wheel to drive the girls to a subdued brunch at the Bristol Lounge, gluttony and plate-sharing the hallmarks of that meal: pancakes, waffles, steak, sausages, and eggs, fried, shirred, and scrambled, fresh orange juice and cortados.
Back in her room at the Spaulding, Dee headed straight to the bathroom, “Changing, then sleeping. Do not disturb. Exhausted.”
“Alright. But we want to see what our poor little rich girl bought,” Lori-Baby.
“Help yourselves,” Dee, and went into the bathroom. Seven minutes later she emerged carrying her clothes, a shower cap on her head and a towel around her body. She took off the shower cap and tossed her jeans and sweater on a chair, making her way through her girlfriends gathered around her bed, passing the loot, making space for Dee. She lay between the sheets, on her back, eyes closed, neither her face nor hair any the worse for the shower. Stella folded the quilt on Dee’s bed and set it on the floor, nodding to Dee’s “Thank you.”
“Dee, everything is beautiful,” Laini, “But this necklace – wow! Wow! Although it would help me a lot more than you,” holding it up for approbation; carefully passing it around.
“Do you think that I thought for a single moment that these things, ‘Mine, mine, mine?’ Except tonight: that choke, that dress: ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’”
“Yes!” shouted Lori-Baby, pumping her arm.
“Dibs on our next event,” Stella.
“I hope you got seventy-five percent off these ticket prices,” Lori-Baby.
“I didn’t, alright? Not a nickel. But relax. My dad says the estate actually grew. Don’t ask, okay? No more babbling. Sleeping now.”
Laini lay down beside Dee on top of the sheet.
“Laini, did you notice this bed a single?
“Shhh! I’m tired,” Laini.
“Better not bump my hair or touch my makeover. Lie totally still.” Giggles. Stella and Lori-Baby each pulled a chair over to Dee’s side of the bed, taking off their shoes, slouching, and putting their feet on the bed in firm contact with Dee, the lot falling quiet and still.
While many stories appeared in the local papers regarding an incident at the Area A Police Station on Saturday morning, none had a solid attribution to match Jerry Butler’s, he a full-time student at Boston College Law School who writes occasional, but well-received articles for the Boston Globe under the heading, “Inside the…,” the article of this date entitled “Inside the Boston Police Internal Cleanup.”
After a basic introduction gleaned from first hand observations outside the police station, his article continued, “A source close to the spiritual counselor involved tells this reporter that she was called in to calm a disruptive police officer. She met with the officer and the result was miraculous: she returning him to his former kindly self.
“Coincidentally, at the precise moment of the officer’s liberation from the forces that seemed to control him, an explosion occurred that caused property damage and numerous cuts and bruises among the witnesses sent some of them to the nearby Mass General Hospital for treatment, no injuries resulting in an overnight stay in a hospital.
“Rumor has it that the bishop himself was injured but is alright. What was the Archdiocese doing there? The Church has refused comment on any part of this story.
“All charges pending against the officer, his name withheld, have been dropped and he is reinstated in full. This reporter could glean no further details from the source and urges readers to receive other reportage with a high degree of skepticism. Look to this column for additional accurate details as your reporter pries them loose And be sure he will.”
Not an hour after the article appeared, Jerry Butler got a call from his godfather, praising him for his reporting. “Well done, Jerry.” To which Jerry said simply, “Thanks for your help, Sam.”