Day 167: Voodoo day.

The doorbell rang.

I looked up from the couch, where I was having a morning glass of cabernet and reading A Scanner Darkly, and saw the delivery-person walking back down the sidewalk.

That’s odd, I thought, I haven’t ordered anything recently, and who would send me an unsolicited package?

I got up, opened the door, and picked up the package. It was a smallish, nondescript box: the only thing on it, in fact, was the combined postage-and-address label. It lacked a return address.

Confused, I closed the door, carried the package and my wine into the kitchen, set the package on the island, stopped: I stared at the box for a few moments, oddly reluctant to open it; I drained my glass of wine, poured a second, and got out a knife. I will admit that I got out a much bigger knife than was necessary to cut the tape keeping the box shut, but I was worried that whatever was inside might need to be stabbed. Don’t ask me why: it had given no indication that there was something alive inside, and the rational part of my mind — slower than usual, because of the wine — felt sure that this was either a harmless gift or a stupid prank, and that I was likely to injure myself. I proceeded anyway.

Inside the box, wrapped in an excessive amount of brown packing paper, was a doll. A voodoo doll, at least according to the tag tied around its neck. Also, it looked like me.

Who would send me a voodoo doll of myself? And why?

Obviously, I had to see if it actually worked. I set the doll on the counter, looked around the kitchen, remembered the knife in my hand…

…and then realized how stupid I was being. I set the knife down, picked up my wine, drained it, poured myself another glass. Look, I said to myself, out loud, there are two possibilities here: either it’s an actual voodoo doll, or it’s a present someone made you, and either way, hacking at it with a knife is a bad idea. I decided it was a gift, and the giver would soon reveal him- or herself, and we’d have a good laugh when I told the story of almost attacking it. Ha ha ha, we’d say, and then we’d talk about other things.

I put the doll on my bookshelf, sitting in front of Hemingway, because I never read Hemingway, and went back to my wine and A Scanner Darkly. I couldn’t concentrate on the book anymore, though, and instead finished the glass of wine — my third? my fourth? — and fell asleep.

I slept fitfully, plagued by odd dreams that vanished completely on waking, leaving behind only a vague sense of unease. When I woke fully, it was dark outside, windy, thundering, and soon it began raining torrentially. I got up, head clouded, and staggered into the kitchen. The doll was on the island, with the knife.

Standing on the island. Holding the knife.

We stared at each other, I have no idea for how long. I wasn’t sure whether the doll was going to attack me directly, or attack me by attacking himself; I wasn’t sure I was actually awake; I was trying to get my groggy brain to come up with some plan for dealing with a knife-wielding voodoo doll. I was saved the trouble of acting: the doll raised the knife and stabbed himself in the gut; he buried the knife to the hilt, and several inches of it came out his back. He staggered, fell forward, and lay still.

I didn’t feel a thing.


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