Is it weird to admit that I have a favourite demon?
I guess it’s no weirder than admitting that I can see my demons, so here goes.
Terry is the nice one. He’s the first to show up and the last to leave. He lets the others in and shows them out in the early morning hours, muttering, “Well, Peaches, we’ll be on our way…” And they all fold up their papers, tip their hats and head out the door.
Perry’s not too bad. He has a sense of humour, at least. Tells me not to worry, but I seem to be gaining weight and maybe that’s why the nice man I went out with last week hasn’t called back? Unless it’s my woeful lack of ambition… He roots through my closet and tells me why I shouldn’t have bought this particular dress and then goes on to tell me that my sofa is entirely wrong for my lifestyle and when am I going to just grow up and get it together? I think he’s in my mother’s employ.
Garry tells me I will never be happy. And all the diseases lack of happiness causes.
“Jesus!” he’ll cough from behind his newspaper. “It says here that unhappy people are five times more susceptible to AIDS than their sunnier counterparts. We’ve got to get you smiling!”
“I’d smile more if I weren’t so tired,” I complain. “You never let me SLEEP!”
But I’m overridden by Perry. “AIDS??? Pffft. She’d have to get laid to worry about that. And that’s never going to happen with this wardrobe.”
Larry’s the numbers guy.
“How’s the bank account, kid? Got enough for the rent this month?”
“Rent, schment,” mutters Perry. “The girl needs shoes!”
“Set anything aside for the future yet? Time is ticking on….”
They’re a cavalcade of fun, my demons, but by far the worst of the lot is Barry. He asks me the questions that there are no answers to. The ones that have me staring into the darkness long after Terry has tipped his hat and shuffled out the door.
“Why is your mother so much nicer to your brother Patrick than she is to you?”
He comes into the room silently. Stretches out beside me on the bed and whispers into my ear, usually just as I’m dozing off.
“What were your friends talking about when you walked in the room. Did you notice how quickly they all clammed up?”
His voice sets my heart racing and makes my blood run cold.
“What if he wasn’t really dead when they cremated him?”
My Dad dropped dead at work one day. Heart attack. We had no idea there was anything wrong with him. He was just here one minute and the next he was gone forever. And a few nights after the funeral, that was the question that awakened me.
And in the hours afterwards, as I tried to calm down, unable to cry, with no map to grief, I puzzled out that there were five distinct aspects to my fears and I decided to name them.
And changed my destiny for good.
The next night, Barry whispered in my ear, “What if it’s genetic?” and there they all were.
When I first started helping other people, they would come to see me at home. Sitting in my living room, on my questionable sofa, while their demons rummaged through my stuff. A couple of times, one got left behind and made a hell of a mess before I found them and shooed them out the door to go be with their humans. Demons hate to be trapped. And they hate to be without their people.
It was getting too complicated to work at home, so I rented space in a nearby apartment house. It used to be a grand old mansion, now subdivided into six apartments. Five of them are really nice. My friends Stuart and Shelby were renting one when the little studio apartment came available. It’s just one tiny room. I don’t know why whoever was subdividing the house didn’t attach it to the apartment next to it, but I’m glad they didn’t. It suits me perfectly and the rent is affordable. Because, while I do get paid for what I do, it’s a little scary having my own business at thirty-two with no benefits and no one else to rely on. My Dad was a comptroller at the hospital and my Mum still teaches. No one in my family has ever been an entrepreneur.
It’s one of the many things that my mother worries about me.
The fact that I’m still single and childless is also a worry.
“Mum,” I’ll try to soothe her. “I’m only thirty-two. Three years younger than you were when you had me.”
“But at least I was already married! AND I had Patrick.”
It’s not easy being a constant disappointment. Especially when you can’t really explain what your little business is about. I tell her I’m a consultant.