When I was 8 years old, I must have expressed an interest in what my mother was doing in the bedroom at her dresser. Often, when we returned home from school, the house would reek of incense and candle smoke. Mom was a witch and I don’t mean she was merely difficult to get along with. She was a self-proclaimed black magic witch. She used this fact to intimidate those she was angry with. Mom was known to be a screaming dish-thrower, so if at any moment she seemed civil and not emotionally labile, we would not question it for fear her mood might change on a dime.
Mom welcomed me into her bedroom and sat me down in front of her dresser, aka her altar. The lights were off in the room but lit candles glowed on each side of the altar while incense burned. I sat there, too afraid to move without mom’s direction. She guided me through the ritual, things I was supposed to say at specified times, and she narrated the entire event. Then I was to close my eyes while quietly chanting a phrase from her black magic book and share with mom what it was I saw. I remember feeling flushed, quite warm, and saying “I see an Indian…on horseback…drawing back on his bow…riding along side of thundering buffalo in a cloud of dust.”
“That’s it!” Mom shrieked. I startled from my trance-like state and turned to her. “You were an Indian brave in your past life!” I got excited, but only because mom was so excited. I didn’t know what any of it meant. Some would say mom had no business subjecting an 8 year-old to an altar and past-life regression. Some would say mom had no business being a mom. Life wasn’t boring, that was certain.
For all I know, my mind may have held some memory of a campy Western I had recently seen and mom just seized the moment to fill in the blanks. Around that same time, there was a neighbor boy with anger issues who had painted a target on my pacifist older brother Hans. Hans was more like Ghandi than Mike Tyson, so others had to stand up for him.
I tried, but this move just transferred the target to me. Mom, seeing this bully chase us through the apartment complex one day, came screaming out of the Sun Valley apartments one day to meet this bully as Hans and I tore in behind her. “You little F*&%$@#! You leave my boys alone or I will put a curse on your punk a*# such that you will fail ALL of your classes in school!” Bully’s mother had come out from across the complex to catch the end of mom’s f-bomb laden tirade, mom and her exchanged words, mom restated her specific threat and both women retreated into their apartments with their sons. About two months after this incident there was a knock at our door…
Two Omaha police officers had ridden in on their motorcycles to investigate a report of one woman putting a black magic spell on the other woman’s son so he would fail all of his classes–and she had his all F’s report card to prove it! These two very large cops looked like Ponch and Jon of CHiPs, except Ponch was African-American, resembling a wild-eyed Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction with a ‘Fro that didn’t seem to end. Smirking and snickering, they each tried to play the tough cop, alternating with serious tones at times, indicating they were there to investigate these “very serious allegations.” Of course, Mom assumed her sickeningly sweet, flirtatious, innocent self and denied every word of the complaint. The cops soon went on their way, still snickering.
Mom closed the door with a smug little smirk on her face. We never saw that bully or his mother again! And yes, my mother made that happen!