Catch and Release
“Are you ready, Ma?” Scott asked.
“Oh. Oh I don’t know Scotty. It’s been so long,” his elderly mother replied.
“I promised you that when I had the money, I would fix the house so you could come back home, didn’t I, Ma? Didn’t I?”
“You certainly did, Scotty. I just never thought I would live long enough to see this day,” his mother said, while trying to keep her composure.
In the late 70’s, the O’Malley residence inexplicably caught fire one night. Scott was only 7 then, but remembers it vividly. He remembers waking up to a room filled with smoke, because his mother had opened the door to find Scott and carry him out. His mother collapsed on the lawn with Scott held tightly in her arms. The two gasped for fresh air and stared back at the burning house in utter disbelief.
“Where’s Dad?” Scott asked.
“Oh Lord. Your father!” she shouted as she stood up running toward the house. “Patrick!”
Scott ran behind his mother and yanked on the back of her nightgown. The two tumbled back as the header over the front door collapsed, sending embers in every direction.
By the time the fire department showed up, the house was nearly gone. What happened next, Scott had for the most part blocked from memory, however it involved his mother being accused of arson and murder. They never found sufficient evidence to charge her, but it left her in a fragile state of mind. Scott spent most of his years in foster homes.
Nearly 40 years later, Scott, with a family of his own, rebuilt that house and intended to give it back to his mother.
As he walked his mother toward the patio, where Scott’s wife and daughter stood eagerly waiting, she investigated all of the exterior features. Scott’s mother was amazed that it was exactly as she remembered. She was in a euphoric state until she looked at Scott’s daughter’s window.
In the window she could see a cross with what appeared to be a nest-like circle fixed to it. She had seen that before. Her face grew pale and she fell to her knees. Immediately, she began performing the Sign of the Cross repeatedly, reciting: “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”
Scott and his family stood, horrified at this scene and he slowly picked her up. His mother pointed to the window.
“That cross!” she gasped.
“In my window, Grandma?” Scott’s daughter, Emily, asked.
“Where did that come from?”
“I think one of the demolition guys found it in the rubble. It was basically the only thing still intact. It’s so vintage. If you want it back, I’ll give it back to you,” Emily explained.
“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti,” Scott’s mother said, again, while making the Sign of the Cross, “No, my love. No.”
Scott’s mother began to tell a story about that house, which had been originally built in the late 1600’s. She explained that at the time, the Witch Trials were happening in the area. Everyone lived in fear of the evil that witchcraft created. To protect themselves, similar to the Natives and their dream catchers, they built evil-catching devices. These devices were meant to catch spirits or hexes in the cross and nest and keep any evildoers or witches away. However, they required a priest’s blessing. For some unknown reason, the blessing would only last for 40 years, a common theme of the Bible. If the blessing isn’t renewed, the evil will continue to escape.
“Do you understand, Scott?” she asked. “Do you understand what I am trying to say?”
Scott’s family stood in disbelief. They stared at this woman they’d known and loved telling them that witchcraft was real. Maybe she finally snapped? Maybe those years in a senior home deteriorated her mind?
“No, Ma. I don’t. I don’t understand any of this! What do you want me to do?” Scott pleaded.
“Scott,” she said, staring directly into his eyes, “you need to burn this house down and never come back, because the witch that killed your father is still here.”