Exorcism is a difficult topic to bring up, especially when your girlfriend is nine months pregnant. It’s awkward, having to douse a crib with holy water all by yourself.
Shawn is his name.
In the middle of the night he lights up Kathy’s belly and makes threatening shadow puppets against the wall. When I touch her, he kicks me, with lead-lined boots. I don’t know how he has lead-lined boots. They must have developed sometime in the third trimester.
Last night, Shawn was humming the theme to Jaws. He kept whispering, “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again,” and it kept me awake. I went to get a glass of water but could still hear him making ghost sounds. Coming back into the room, I almost hurled. His bulge was travelling under Kathy’s shirt, like those dung beetles in The Mummy.
Shawn demands tribute. He demands sustenance. He demands sugary sweets and tacos —fed intravenously via Kathy, forcing me to make grocery runs. This, I’m sure, is to separate me from Kathy, so we have no time to talk things over.
When we got our ultrasound, it was blank. We searched for him in every nook and cranny, and even the nurse was getting worried. There was nothing inside Kathy’s womb. My heart was jumping around like crazy. We thought he had disappeared, gone for good.
Then I saw a face, or what I guess was a face. It had two slits for eyes, jutting out from behind Kathy’s liver.
I screamed. The nurse vomited. The ultrasound dissipated into static noise. The clinic’s janitor had to mop up the mess before we could leave.
I begged Kathy to consider another way out: a basic ceremony, with an experienced priest. I told her it was the only way to stop Shawn for good. Not to mention the impending Apocalypse.
She told me to stop overreacting. She had a closet full of baby clothes, and besides, she didn’t figure me for the cold-feet type.
But my feet are beyond cold. A yeti in flop-flops hasn’t got feet half as cold as I do.
That baby knows he won’t ever wear those little blue pyjamas Kathy’s got waiting for him. A hell spawn wouldn’t look scary in baby blue.
Kathy would be such a good mother if she weren’t so unsuspecting. She’s an atheist and never wears a crucifix, so she’ll be an easy target. I, however, will not be taken so easily. I’ve taken the liberty of adorning the baby’s room with pictures of Jesus.
I swear the lights are flickering.
A man doesn’t need to hear organ music to know he’s doomed.
There’s thunder from the next room, and the howl of a banshee. The doctor yells “Push!” like he’s trying to get a car unstuck from deep mud. I imagine Kathy surrounded by candles in hollowed-out skulls, a pentagram painted in red over her inflamed lady bits, and a witch doctor dancing on her belly. Maniacal crying resounds through the room, along the floor, under my skin. Shit.
Shawn is here.
And here I am, right where the little devil wants me.
Jumping out a window, would that be too melodramatic? There’s one at the end of the hall. I could reach it easily — you can see it from the waiting area, but no. Kathy would never forgive me. I can’t leave her to do this alone. Plus, she wouldn’t know where to find an old priest and a young priest (I’ve looked it up), and she’d be too exhausted to drive a stake through anyone’s heart, let alone a demon’s (it takes an enormous amount of energy — I’ve practised with mannequins).
I go to sit with the other families, all pale and praying on grey-green plastic cushions. A couple of foolish fathers have opted to watch the births themselves. Suicidal. Some of them consider the window like I did, but no one takes it. There’s at least a chance with a demon, no chance with the window. I ask when their own demons are arriving. “Soon,” the families say, shaking.
Watching the walls of the delivery room rattle, we clap each other on the back, passing around holy water in a flask.
There’s no room for retreat. Once the nurse cuts that cord, Shawn will be free. The tiny reaper’s coming, and he’s wrapped in a little blanket.
The nurse passes him to me, the hellraiser, all bloody and gooey, and she’s actually happy, because she knows I’ll be the first to get the fire and brimstone.
I look at my son.
Welcome to earth, Shawn. We have everything you need.
Now please don’t hurt me.