From Bewitchment | Buy here

"Bewitchment", ReadThis Books (2020), cover


He was a stranger. She met him in the realm of ether. In its domain where in an orgy of self-adulation and high on the intoxicating juice of ego mortals put up their faces.

For a moon she communicated with him through the domain of faces and through the air. She agreed when he suggested he visit her. The journey would take him across the great sea, from the Old World where he lives in London, England, to the New World where she lives in New York City. He told her his reason for the journey was to come see her to discuss his ideas on the advancement of the Collective of Artists. The Collective is an organization a friend of hers had started and told the world about through the domain. A call for membership the stranger had stumbled upon while prowling the ether and had joined.

The stranger also told her he was interested in her as a woman during the one moon they spent on the ether and over the air getting to know each other. Told her he loved her photograph, the one she displayed on the wall of her room in the domain of faces. She thanked him for his compliment. He did not tell her he was recently separated from his wife, and was allowed to see his daughter only under supervision. She did not tell him she had a boyfriend. He had never been to America and had for a long time wanted to come, he told her. Mentioning a diviner once told him the right moment for him to visit America would come and it would be big.

She asked her boyfriend to host the stranger, this man who had told her of his interest in her as a woman. The boyfriend agreed, reluctantly. He was reluctant because he had become suspicious. Wondering why the stranger needed to come to New York. Could they not continue discussing how to further the progress of the Collective through the internet, through the phone as they had been doing? This stranger his girlfriend had told him little about; whom she said she considered a brother. “He is like a brother to me,” were her exact words. He only knew the stranger was an artist and a shaman, was resident in England and had joined the Collective, eager for its success. The suspicion of the boyfriend had been heightened by these shocking comments his girlfriend once made to him about the stranger: “He expresses himself well. He is multitalented. He has money.”

AS WE KNOW, the stranger had told the girlfriend a diviner once told him he would come to America and his coming here would be “big.” Well, gifted the seer was. The coming to America of the stranger was indeed “big.” A massive boulder it was, its weight crushing the girlfriend, devastating her life, unhinging her where she was most weak: her emotional and mental mooring.

The stranger arrived in New York City on the evening of that fateful day not long ago when, later that night, the mighty whirlwind, that cosmic force, besieged this city, and the whole lot of this region of America on the left side of His Majesty Most High. It was the day of Jupiter. The city was tense. Unsure of what the whirlwind would bring, its inhabitants hunkered down in their houses, their apartments. The boyfriend was in New York, the girlfriend in Florida. She was there with her college girlfriends, one of whose birthday they were celebrating. The boyfriend took time off from work – on the last work day of that week, the day of Venus, and on the first work day of the following week, the day of the Moon – to babysit the stranger until his girlfriend returned from Florida. He stayed with him the following four sunrises – the two work days he had taken off and the in-between two work-free days of the day of Saturn and the day of the Sun. He fed him wild salmon whose flesh the color of the sky at dusk had been made firm and tasty living in the wild, struggling against the current. He fed him spaghetti and shrimp cooked in spicy tomato sauce, with wine to enhance the rich flavor of the food and cleanse his palate. He tolerated his incessant chatter, his pompous talk. He complimented him when he boasted of his grants and awards, recalling the newspaper clipping on him and his work as an artist, a shaman and an activist he had sent to his girlfriend beforehand while he was still in England and which she had showed him. He pampered him with rapt attention, listened to him intently, until, at last, sleep overpowered and silenced him, at which time the boyfriend turned his attention to his trees in the park facing his apartment building, visible from the living room windows of his upper level apartment.

The park, in the swimming pool of which children played during the season of Cancer, shrieking as they splash one another, and music played loud energizing fiestas held there, the dancing crowd. His trees are the two most visible of the mighty tree beings encircling the park, guarding it. From his living room windows he sees them, his trees, from their earth down below to their heaven up above, which is at his eye level when he stands in front of the windows. Tall and erect they are, lustrous their deep green long limbs. He had developed a mutual loving relationship with them. He loved to gaze upon them from his windows. He loved their myriad of colors in the season of Libra, their rainbow hued leaves a delight to behold, stimulating pleasure in lovers taking a walk in the park, inspiring songs and verse in the poetic minded, soft cushion for the tired feet of passersby shuffling through the park. He would walk among them, caressing them, marveling at their beauty, with a touch of sadness thinking of their impending slumber as his hand lingered on their skin beginning to crack. Here thin lines barely discernible; there thick ones where the skin had started to bulge, about to peel. He worried about their wellbeing in the season of Capricorn when they were in slumber, their skin dried, yellowed, cracked here and there. He rejoiced over their revival in the season of Aries when they woke from their long slumber, their wintry and dirt-covered bodies washed clean by the rains, warmed by the sun. He was happy to see them well and in good spirit in the season of Cancer, their skin silky and deep green, lustrous their limbs, joyous, dancing with the warm wind, swinging their limbs. He now and then went to spend time with them no matter the season, during which he would caress them, kiss them and thank them for their life-giving-outbreath forever nurturing mortals. He would stay with them giving them love and receiving love from them, happy as a suckling at the breast of his mother. He heard the fervent prayers the birds living atop them always made at dawn to His Majesty just then about to again gaze upon this part of earth and bless it with yet another day. Loud their musical cries of prayer; jazzy, symphonic; a solo cry, then a chorus of response, call and response, on and on, back and forth, followed by improvised collective cries, haunting; and then a harmony of sounds, long and complex, interweaving. Their prayer would go on until, at last, they would all of a sudden fall silent when they sensed His Majesty was about to raise His radiant face, His eyes blazing with Love for mankind, for life, for all of creation.

On the night the whirlwind unleashed its fury on the city the sleep of the boyfriend was full of worry. He was roused from his agitated sleep on his single size bed in his living room by the painful cries of his trees. Barely awake he gazed at them from his window as they were being whipped by the whirlwind, ferocious the lashes, their limbs bent over. Hearing their mournful cries, seeing their wobbling limbs and trembling bodies caused a lump in his heart. There they were, his trees, howling in agony, their limbs contorted in pain, flapping every which way. Lines of liquid salt soon converged on his lips as he watched them enduring the fury of the whirlwind. All the while the stranger slept as a baby in a rocking cradle on the full size bed of the boyfriend in the bedroom. The boyfriend had given the stranger use of the bed as was his habit when he had a guest.

The whirlwind still on its march of fury the next day but less than it was during the night, the boyfriend and the stranger and the whole lot of the mortals of New York City heard much news on radio and on television about the devastation the whirlwind had caused. They heard about the fate which had befallen the iron horses of the city. Those mighty horses dependable in their duty of carrying the inhabitants of the city and visitors to the city from place to place all over the city had succumbed to the might of the whirlwind. It had crippled them.

The whirlwind weakened on its second day of destruction, still raging but much less than before. This made it possible for the boyfriend and the stranger to venture out to see what had become of the city, and to search for a place where they might get some food as they had run out of the food the boyfriend had bought beforehand. On the streets they witnessed the destruction the whirlwind had wrought. It had wrecked the crown of many of the houses and fractured others. Pieces of the crowns were strewn about the streets, tangled up among them the broken limbs of innumerable trees. Other trees had died. There they were lying on their side, their lifeline severed from their nourishing patch of earth, exposed to the world. Some mortals walked about with their legs held wide apart to balance themselves, their overcoats billowing in the wind. Others walked holding onto the sides of houses, to the trees still standing tall. The few houses of bread, restaurants, as they call them, open were packed with mortals reveling in their survival of the whirlwind, nonstop their jabber, like an impassioned fête, an excited fiesta. At many of the restaurants, meals and drinks were being had outside on the pavement as there were no more seats available inside, and it was at one of these the boyfriend and the stranger were finally able to eat amid others on the pavement. Later, they found a place to buy enough provisions to take back home to sustain themselves for a few more days.

THE WHIRLWIND FINALLY he whirlwind finally returned to the great sea on the third day and calm began to return to this city of New York. It was then the Custodian of the city let begin again all journeys to the city which he had suspended in awe of the whirlwind.

So it was the girlfriend was able to journey back to New York from Florida. She returned the evening of the day of the Moon, the last of the days the boyfriend had taken off from work to babysit the stranger. That night of her return she and her boyfriend and the stranger all spent time together talking, the boyfriend and the stranger drinking red wine, the stranger smoking – he loved his herb, the medicine man.

Later that night they all got ready for bed. The boyfriend and the girlfriend were to sleep on the single bed in the living room, the stranger on the full bed in the bedroom. While the boyfriend was in the bathroom preparing for bed the girlfriend was in the bedroom with the stranger. She hurriedly left the bedroom when she heard the click of the bathroom door being unlocked by her boyfriend. She came out of the bedroom into the hallway and walked toward the bathroom, then stopped in the middle of the long hallway when she heard the sound of the bathroom door being pushed opened by her boyfriend. When the boyfriend stepped into the hallway he was startled to see her standing there in the dark. He thought he was seeing a ghost. He asked her, what was the matter? Why was she lurking in the hallway? “I did not know where you were and came looking for you,” she said. Her response immediately stirred suspicion in him. She then turned round and walked away from him, a dark ghost walking toward the living room. He was baffled, thought he had for sure seen and conversed with a ghost as he had thought she was in bed waiting for him. Now in the living room, the girlfriend plopped into bed, frustrated her boyfriend had obstructed her time alone with the shaman. When he got into bed beside her, and, after reflecting on what had just happened, asked her, “Were you really looking for me?” She said, “Drop it, Michael!” He was surprised she snapped at him, but he did “drop it.”

The next day, the day of Mars, the boyfriend out of the way, away at work, the girlfriend and the shaman dabbled in the spiritual arts. He read her chart with his runic tricks, told her his findings. Not much of a surprise to her as she had been told similar things by other spiritualists she had consulted over time. A confused child, low self-esteemed, deeply insecure and plagued by fear, she was fond of seeking advice from spiritualists, even as she was becoming skilled at divination. She was already channeling, a disciple and medium of Serpentine beings, of the River Goddess, who spoke through her. And she was already beginning to attract those who had heard of her gift by word-of-mouth and sought her for consultation. Realizing the business potential in this – “these people are my client base” – she had a business card made and took to handing it out to “potential clients” as the opportunity arose.

The shaman then packed up his runic things, took out from his luggage the drum he had brought with him on his journey from across the great sea. He began to beat the drum. Slow at first. Then fast, faster and faster still, chanting. The girlfriend danced, went into a trance. Afterward he made his move. “Shamans are seductive, very seductive,” she would later comment. She made some attempt at resisting, said she was leaving, returning to her home – a three bedroom apartment she shared with two other women, located in another part of the city, not too far from the apartment of her boyfriend. (She used to live with her boyfriend, and had recently moved to the three bedroom apartment with financial help from him. Before moving in with him, she used to live in a disrespectful part of the city. We will get to all of that shortly.) He did not want her to leave and had to act fast, so he expressed himself – “He expresses himself well.” His devilish smile in place, he told her it would not be nice to leave her guest by himself, all alone. What would he do without her company, her warm presence, her loveliness, their inspiring conversation, all of which he had been looking forward to?

Flattered, and she loved flattery, her resolve began to falter. He watched her, knowing she was weakening. He was proud of himself, elated he had penetrated her psyche, gotten to know her and unraveled her complicated psychological makeup during the time they were bonding through ether, the air while he was still across the great sea in England. He made reference to her desire for him to teach her some spiritual technique. Teach her how to do certain spiritual things. Which they had discussed during the time they were bonding, and which he had agreed to do when he got to New York. And more importantly he mentioned her desire for him to help her do spiritual work on her boyfriend to ensure her control of him. She listened to him, her resolve faltering. The snake then nailed her with his fang, said: “Sex is very important for me to get spiritual inspiration. Without sex I cannot be inspired.” She did not expect this approach from him and was annoyed by this ploy of his. Did he have to use such a cheap shot? But she was curious about him. How strong was his spiritual capacity, really? Yes, he was clearly gifted, but did he know as much as she thought he did spiritually? As much as he had led her to believe he did? He talked a good game, but she better find out for herself … Besides, he would help her do spiritual work on Michael … But he had not paid her yet for finding him a place to stay here … And she wrote that profile on him as a gifted diviner and artist so as to help him launch his career here, she reasoned. “But I did the article on you. I found you accommodation here. And you have not even paid me for that yet as we had agreed to,” she protested. “I like the article,” he said. “And I appreciate your help in finding me a place to stay here. Of course, I do. And I will pay you. Of course, I will,” his smile mischievous, devilish, “when you complete your part of our bargain … You still have to introduce me to people here … other artists … help me find a gallery to exhibit my work, help me put the exhibition together … All of that is not done yet … But I will go ahead and help you with the spiritual work on Michael. But that is tricky. I need sex for it.”

At this point she knew she was defeated. He watched her. “Trust me,” he said, locking eyes with her. Her so-called practical sense kicked in. Her desire for control of Michael and greed got the best of her. She thought about it. Trusted he was going to make good on their money deal and the spiritual work. Believed his word he needed sex to be inspired to be able to help her do spiritual work on Michael so as to make Michael hers forever. Fell for his flattery, his seductiveness – “Shamans are very seductive.”

© 2020 Ségun Ògúntólá

© 2006 Ségun Ògúntólá