I love my wife. Seriously, I do.
But if you repeat what I am about to say, I will deny it. To the grave.
My wife is possessed. The demon has a name, but if you utter it, you will only anger it. Believe me. Every time I catch myself about to call the demon out, I stop and think, Don’t poke the demon, Greg. Fire will spew from her lips, and she will gnash her teeth growling in that freaky, guttural snarl…
She wasn’t always possessed, at least to this degree. Once upon a time I would only see an annoyance flash in her eyes. Now that flash is the ten second warning. I’ve learned to duck and cover or perish where I stand.
As the years have gone by, just locking myself in the bathroom or banging around in the basement have proved to not be enough protection. If I could be seen, smelled or heard, she’d sense my presence. Many times I’ve heard her familiar growl seeping under doors I was cowering behind. “Grrreg! Are you going to take all day in there!?” I swear, when the demon appears, I get as knotted up as last year’s Christmas lights.
My epiphany came from an unexpected source. I happened to pick up and read the cover jacket on the book on my wife’s nightstand, The Red Tent by Anita Diamante. It seems that back in the Old Testament days, those women possessed by the demon were isolated to a tent of their own. Forehead smackin’ genius.
With a little help from Wikipedia, I discovered that some tribes in Africa have a specific hut for their possessed females.
Of course, this is not the days of Abraham, or the plains of Africa. If I tried to sequester her to a hovel in the yard, she would probably divorce me, if I were a lucky man. It’s more likely that she would brain me and bury me in pieces under said hovel.
What I needed was a man tent. A red hut. My very own cowering cave, completely separate from the main house.
Two problems though:
First of all, Iowa is stupid cold in the winter, and the demon knows no seasons. Coleman doesn’t make a canvas structure that can sustain me for a week in twelve inches of snow.
Second, I needed a reason—and a darn good one—to vanish for days on end. I needed a hobby, no-no, a calling, to justify my absence from the demon’s lair.
While I brainstormed the second problem, I took bold steps to rectify the first. The most important detail of the plan was to approach her while the demon was away…
One Monday morning after a long weekend of snowfall, I slid the blueprints for a two story detached garage across the breakfast table. She looked out at her car buried under eight inches of ice and snow, and then gave me a huge grin. The plan was working.
When the spring finally came we broke ground, and by midsummer, my red-brick-man-cave was almost complete. It was time to implement part two of “Operation Dodge the Demon”. I needed to pull out my secret weapon—an unsuspecting accomplice—our pastor.
It might have been the tensest Sunday morning in our history. The demon snarled me out of bed, told me I could barely dress myself and why was she surprised that I couldn’t help her dress the kids, and screamed that if I didn’t get out of the bathroom we were going to be late for church.
The only time my mouth didn’t possess a Tums was when I held the sacraments of communion in it.
When we filed out to shake the pastor’s hand, he asked how the garage was coming along. I projected my voice sideways towards the fashionable demon that flanked my right.
“I’m ready to get all my woodworking tools out of the basement and into the garage loft…”
“Really? Do you think you’ll have some time and space to devote to our More Than Carpentry ministry?”
Cha-ching. “Honey, whaddya think?” I held my breath.
She offered a taut smile, “That sounds like a real blessing. It’d be nice to get him out of the house. Some days I just can’t stand the sight of him.”
As her talons pulled me into the narthex, I glanced back to my pastor who gave me a knowing smirk and mouthed the words, “I’ll call you.”