It was a typical night for us hanging out in my basement. Three lifelong friends, now twenty-something just trying to find humor in the world. We were foolishly brave, vibrant with our youth, and oblivious to the things we did not understand. I was the natural leader in my mind although I feel certain the other two saw themselves in that role. Somewhere close to the midnight hour we decided that we should finally dig out the Ouija board we had bought earlier in the day. We were all quite sure it was nothing but harmless cardboard covered in mass-produced stickers, but that didn’t stop us from purchasing it. The mystical device was something new and we were always up for trying those sorts of things. We were all on a supernatural kick and had spent countless nights visiting supposed haunted locations over the past year. We all swore we felt something along the way at least once, but never replicated it on a second attempt. There were no consistent moments where more than one of us felt the same thing. In time, it just became a joke. That night it all changed.
“Do you need a knife to open a piece of saran wrap, Daniels?” Luke asked as he grew frustrated watching my constantly gnawed fingernails slip on the plastic exterior for the fourth or fifth time.
“No!” I said proudly as I finally dug a piece of tattered skin into the plastic and shredded a small piece to make room for my finger. I clawed eagerly and ripped the rest of the plastic open.
“About time.” Luke replied with a laugh that was filled with exhaled cigarette smoke. “Jamie, are you taking notes?” He looked over at the third member of our trio who was occupied with a Dungeons and Dragons book.
“I guess so.” Jamie rolled his eyes as he spoke with a blunted tone that reflected his disdain for the whole ordeal. Jamie tossed the book to the side and flipped open his notepad. He looked around for a pen and Luke tossed him one that was close.
I rubbed my hands with glee as I placed the board between us. Luke picked up the pointer and tossed it on the Ouija board. It landed with a thud and flipped over, inflicting the first dent in our brand new piece of cryptic cardboard .
“Hey, fucker. I paid ten bucks for this.” I glared at him and picked it up, then placed it gently in the center of the spiritual device. “Okay, put your fingers on it like this.” I motioned for him to take the other side of the plastic eye which was supposed to roll over words as the ghosts communicated with us.
“Demons of the night, speak to us!” He yelled coarsely and stabbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. After catching my disapproving glare, he shrugged his shoulders and obliged my request.
“This is serious business.” I tried to contain a laugh but it didn’t work. A few seconds later Jamie was laughing as well. After exchanging a few insults as we were known to do, we got back on track and prepared to summon Satan himself with our mock enthusiasm.
“Okay, now speak to us since Daniels is finally taking this shit seriously.” Luke pushed the pointer towards the ‘No’ on his side of the board and looked at me. “I guess they don’t want to speak to us. I’m getting another beer.” Luke jumped up and left me there holding the pointer alone for the time it took him to get to the fridge and back with a round for all three of us. We popped the tops and sipped the suds, then once again got back to the art of summoning.
For about twenty minutes we used ridiculous phrases and begged for something to possess our board. We finished off the current round of beers, then another for good measure and sat back smoking, already becoming with the cheap toy.
“Well that was a waste of ten bucks.” Luke said. “We could have just bought more beer.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” I tried to blow a smoke ring without success and Luke one-upped me with several perfect ones.
“Hey guys?” Jamie broke a few moments of silence with one of his annoying phrases. “Maybe we should do some crazy shit to this board.”
“Like what?” I asked, turning my attention to him. Jamie was known for stupid ideas and we loved to shoot them down.
“We should bleed on the board!” He pointed to the knife Luke tried to offer me early.
“You are out of your mother fucking mind, Jamie.” Luke’s eyes relayed his staunch opposition to the idea. He looked to me for affirmation, tossing his head towards Jamie to indicate I should following up with an equally degrading remark.
The gears in my mind turned for a moment as the ideas resonated in my head. “Actually that isn’t a bad idea. What could it hurt, right?” I picked up the knife and swiped it across my finger. It was sharper than I expected and I opened it up with ease.
“This is stupid.” Luke placed his face in his palm and laughed. “But if Daniels is in, so am I.” He took the knife and carefully picked at the edge of his finger as I let my blood drip on the board.
“Yeah, I was just kidding.” Jamie held his hand out and refused the knife when Luke offered it to him. “Y’all are ridiculous.” Jamie’s thick southern accent only came to the forefront when was amused.
“Nah mother fucker, it was your idea.” Luke took the liberty of tapping the edge of the blade on Jamie’s palm and wiped it on the board before Jamie would stop him. “Now we are all in!”
“Yeah, bitch.” I smiled. “All in.” I placed my fingers back on the plastic eye and Luke did the same.
For what seemed like four or five minutes we sat there cracking jokes and daring the spirits to speak to us. We occasionally had a serious moment, but it was mostly filled with our visible disdain for the whole idea. All of us secretly hoped something would happen, but none of us really believed it would. That was shattered quickly as Luke asked “Is anyone, anyone, ANYONE out there?” Almost immediately, the plastic device slide awkwardly across the board to ‘Yes’ and we stared at each other and I darted my eyes from Luke to Jamie.
“Luke did you move it?” My question was almost an accusation.
“No! I didn’t move it, you did!” He retaliated with an equally accusing tone.
“I didn’t, I swear!” I held one hand up to simulate my enthusiastic denial.
“I didn’t move it.” Jamie chimed in, which immediately caused Luke and I to shush him in unison.
“Okay, let’s get serious.” I said and motioned for Luke to put his fingers back on the plastic pointer.