Most folks would agree that one thing about Southerners, good ole fashioned Southerners that is, would be that we can spot a demon a mile away. My sister was gifted in this way. She could spot demons at the age of two. Of course, that is she always recognized them in dolls. Hated them she did. Hates them she still does. I remember her telling a little troll doll with red hair that he was just "To ugly," and tossing his sorry wild haired thing into the trash can. My grandmother pulled him out because the silly thing was a bank someone had given her a troll bank? C'mon! But no matter how many times the creature was retrieved he had only one history to fulfill as far as my sister was concerned - to be buried miles and miles beneath the earth where he belonged in the landfill.
Her dolls were history the moment that they were brought into the house. She wasn't going to love them or push them around in a buggy. She wasn't going to change their clothes, rock them or give them kisses. And she surely was not going to sleep with them. Because to Sister all dolls are demons and the only thing worse than a doll is clown. (My apologies in advance to all you wonderful clowns out there but just a word of advice, you might want to circle wide around my sister.) The troll wasn't the only doll of question seeing how my Aunt Kate bought my cousin Beverly, a big, Susie walks-a-lot or talks-a-lot doll when we were little. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, in the family knew the doll had a demon and nobody would seep with it in the room with them because it stood in the corner and stared at you with that one eye. The doll was old by now and missing some hair and had one eye that kinda rolled up in its head and blinked at you but that one good eye was trained on you and plotting all manner of things all night long.
So, we would tip-toe from the bedroom, try to pock up the doll without touching it and take it to another room where we would stand it in the corner facing inward.
When my husband and I married we went to visit Aunt Kate and he said, "Something's not just right with that doll." I'm like - "OH, you mean Susie walks-a-lot demon doll? What ever gave you the first clue? That head spinning all lthe way around?
Okay, so I never actually saw the head spinning around but I knew it was doing it the minute I walked out of the room. Aunt Kate swore that Susie walks-a-lot was a treasure and an antique something or other at this pint and worth some money so that we couldn't take her for a special drive in the country and toss her off a bridge but believe me we tried. For Years! Imagine if you will that generations of children had to be traumatized by Susie who were otherwise having a joyous time to be hanging out at Aunt Kate's. Until nightfall that is when Susie woke up. But eventually, every doll gets it's day as Susie did the night my now very, big, teenage son, our practical joker who also knew the doll was a demon picked it up trying not to touch it and came and stood it by the bed where I was sleeping. So I woke up to Susie's one good eye staring me down an inch from my nose. That was the morning that Susie lost her head - literally - and one arm - literally to yours truly who must have remembered a few old karate moves after all.
Aunt Kate was not very happy about this although you can still hear my son laughing if you try. Aunt Kate said something like, "She was a collectors item is what she as but that's alright. I knew you never liked that doll." Then she made me breakfast, hoecake, tomato gravy and bacon which I ate with a big grin on my face. if it ever tasted good before it really tasted sweet knowing that demon Susie had plotted her last nightmare.
(TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW)
*A version of this story was first printed in The Deep, Down, Dirty South: A Southern Girl Recollects