Giorgio Bianchi was playing dodgeball in PE class. None of his classmates understood why he chose to continue taking PE all the way to grade twelve instead of stopping as soon as he had his one compulsory PE credit; after all, he was clumsy and spastic in the extreme, always embarrassing himself in front of them. Taking elective PE classes made perfect sense to him, though: he’d hoped all that sports practice would improve his coordination.
But it didn’t.
At one point in the game, he dodged the ball, but bumped into Ben Davis, one of the most popular jocks in St. John’s Catholic High School.
“Watch it, spaz!” Ben shouted.
“Sorry,” Giorgio said. He dodged the ball again, but tripped over the leg of Karen Schultz, Ben’s pretty girlfriend. She ended up falling, too, and right in the trajectory of the ball.
She got hit on the head with the ball, and was out of the game.
“Eat shit, Bianchi!” she shouted at him as she walked out of the playing area.
“Language, Karen!” the coach said.
Again, a guy on the other team was aiming at Giorgio, who dodged a feint throw, but ended up bumping into Ben again; the thrower, seeing Ben’s disorientation, now threw at him and hit him in the shoulder. Ben was out.
“I’m gonna kill you, Giorgio Bianchi—Jar Jar Binks, more like it!” he said before walking off to the outer circle, where Karen and the other players stood, out of the game.
Towards the end of the game, there were only Giorgio and two girls on his team, and an Asian girl and the boy who hit Ben on the other team. That boy had the ball again.
Giorgio was nervous; he was also at the side of the play area, not at all aware that he was standing just in front of Ben.
That boy with the ball was getting ready to hit Giorgio. Before he even knew what was going on, Ben had already pulled Giorgio’s gym shorts and underwear down.
The chorus of laughter, especially the piercing, shrill cackles of the girls at the sight of his exposed penis, made him almost not notice the impact of the ball pounding him in the face.
“It’s so small!” shouted Karen, who was on the other side from Ben in the outer circle, and thus facing exposed Giorgio, as was the Asian girl, Sophie Chang, who covered her eyes.
As Giorgio lay there on the floor, he scrambled to pull up his shorts and underwear. The laughter was hurting his ears. He didn’t dare look in anyone’s eyes.
“Way to go, Jar Jar Binks!” shouted Ben.
Now everyone was chanting Giorgio’s nickname, one he’d had to put up with for four high school years: “Jar Jar Binks! Jar Jar Binks! Jar Jar Binks!”
Sophie, the only one who didn’t chant, just stood there with a frown, for she felt his humiliation.
In his bedroom that evening, Giorgio was at his computer, reading for the tenth time about Reddit user Lumpawarroo’s theory that Jar Jar Binks was originally intended by George Lucas to be a villain skilled with the Dark Side of the Force, and only pretending to be a bumbling fool deserving of universal contempt.
“If only I could come out and surprise people with a hidden kung fu ability,” he said to himself as he watched the video comparisons of Jar Jar’s clumsy, yet uncanny luck in fighting battle droids at the climax of The Phantom Menace with the staggering, pretend clumsiness of the zuiquan wushu masters. “If only my bad coordination was really ‘drunken fist’ kung fu.”
Sophie was eating dinner with her parents that same evening.
“You look unhappy about something, Sophie,” her mother said.
“I saw a boy get publicly humiliated in gym class today,” Sophie said. “Somebody pulled down his shorts and underwear in front of everybody. Poor guy.”
“Ooh!” her mother said. “You didn’t look, did you?”
“No,” Sophie said in Mandarin.
“Good,” her mother said. “I was worried you were interested in him based on what you saw.”
“Who is he?” her father asked in Mandarin.
“A rather clumsy boy named Giorgio Bianchi, but I think he’s cute, and I feel sorry for him, because he always gets bullied,” she said. “Instead of calling him ‘Giorgio Bianchi’, they always call him ‘Jar Jar Binks’.”
“Man, that’s mean,” her father said.
“I wish I could help him somehow,” Sophie said.
“Is he Chinese?” her mother asked in Mandarin.
“Is he Catholic?” her father asked.
“Of course, he’s Catholic, Dad,” Sophie said. “He goes to my school.”
“I mean, is he a practicing Catholic,” he said. “‘Cause if he is, maybe he’ll get you out of that silly talking-to-spirits nonsense.”
“The spirits help me with my homework and studying for tests,” Sophie said. “That’s how I get such good grades without having to spend so much time studying.”
“Whatever,” he said. “I just wish you’d study the normal way.”
“Also, it’s dangerous to tamper with the spirit world,” her mother said. “Is this boy Chinese, though?”
“No,” Sophie said in Mandarin. “Does the name ‘Giorgio Bianchi’ sound Chinese?”
“No,” her mother said.
“With a name like ‘Giorgio Bianchi’, he’s obviously Italian,” her father said.
“Anyway, nobody’s perfect,” her mom said.
“What does he want to do for a job, though?” her father asked. “Does he want to be an engineer?”
“I don’t know,” Sophie said in Mandarin. “I don’t think so. He doesn’t take any classes at school that would lead up to studying engineering.”
“What about computers?” her dad asked. Sophie shook her head. “Business? Economics? Law? Medicine?” She kept shaking her head.
“I doubt it,” Sophie said. Then she said in Mandarin, “He doesn’t seem the type.”
“Well, he doesn’t sound like he’s worth your time,” her dad said. “Let alone worth your worries. Probably just some lazy kid who just wants to play a guitar and smoke dope.”
“Daddy!” Sophie shouted. “I like him!”
“He sounds like a loser,” her dad said.
“Well, excuse me for not having tastes worthy of your high standards, Daddy! Donut-eating policemen like you are all high-class types, aren’t they?”
“Hey, don’t take that tone with me, young lady,” he said. “You should respect us cops. We do a hard, dangerous job, and we’re not appreciated much these days!”
Sophie sighed. “I’m finished my dinner.” Then she asked in Mandarin, “May I be excused?”
“Yes,” her mother said in Mandarin.
Sophie got up and left. I hate you two sometimes, she thought.
She went into her bedroom and locked the door. She stripped down to her underwear, then took out twelve small candles and laid them out in a circle around her, over a black silk blanket with a white pentagram on it. She lit the candles, turned off the light, and got naked. She sat cross-legged in the middle.
I’ve succeeded at summoning spirits to help me with my homework and tests, so I don’t have to study so hard, she thought. I wonder if I can summon one to help Giorgio.
She closed her eyes and took several slow, deep breaths. She chanted a triad of words in Mandarin, over and over again. As she got more and more relaxed, she ‘listened’ for any spirits who may have been approaching her. She ‘felt’ their energies touching her bare skin.
“Oh, all you guardians of the world between spirit and matter,” she whispered, hoping her parents wouldn’t hear, “release one of your kind to rid Giorgio Bianchi of his tormentors. I speak to all the spirits in the entire spirit world, from all times, all nations, and all traditions. O Lady and Lord, yin and yang, Mother Goddess and Horned God, hear my prayer.”
Just then, her parents walked past her bedroom, speaking in Chinese.
Sophie heard a spirit say, in Mandarin, I hear you, and I’ll help you.
Giorgio lay in bed that night, never able to forget his humiliation from that afternoon. Crying himself to sleep, he thought, over and over, I wish I could kill Ben and Karen…
He had the following dream:
He found himself in a dark room, what looked to him like a basement or boiler room. An Asian man of about forty years of age, wearing a fedora and red wool sweater, appeared before him. His face was glowing gold. He reminded Giorgio of Freddy Krueger.
“Hello, Giorgio,” he said to the boy in a husky voice. “My name is Di. I have been summoned to protect you from all your enemies. You’ll have your revenge on your tormentors, as well as protection from any reprisals, starting tomorrow morning.”
“How can that be?” Giorgio asked. “What can you do?”
“I can cause your body to work miracles. I am a spirit from ancient China; don’t let my modern clothes, or my fluency in English, deceive you. We in the spirit world transcend all time and cultures. I know many kinds of kung fu, though I won’t really be using them to help you. You’ll get your revenge through ‘accidents’. You’ll see.”
Giorgio wanted revenge for his many humiliations, no doubt, but he didn’t like the grin he saw on Di’s shining face.
“I’m still not sure of this,” he told Di. “What kind of ‘accidents’ will be used as revenge on people like Karen and Ben?”
“You’ll see,” Di said, the evil grin never leaving his face. “Your protection is assured. All I ask is your appreciation for what I’m about to do for you. Your soul and mine are one.”
“This revenge will be in proportion to what they’ve done to me?”
“The pain they feel will be in proportion to the pain they’ve given you. You’ll see.”
“How do you define that ‘proportion’? You’re not going to kill them, are you? I don’t want anyone’s blood on my conscience. I mean, after what happened yesterday, a part of me wanted them dead, but–“
“I am that part of you. You’ll see, because you’ll do it. Your soul is mine.” He began cackling maniacally, his laughing echoing throughout the boiler room.
Giorgio woke up, his upper torso shooting up from his pillow. He was shaking.
I’d like to kill Ben and Karen, he thought, but only in my dreams, my fantasies.
He fell asleep again after ten minutes of trembling.
He was in that boiler room again. A knife in his hand, he was staggering about for a few seconds, then he flung it at a mirror, cracking the glass. In the reflection, he saw himself in Di’s fedora and sweater. His face had Di’s yellow glow…and his grin. He saw himself laughing as Di had before.
The next morning, he was in biology class. Ben and Karen were sitting at the table behind his group’s, chuckling.
“Mesa Jar Jar Binks,” Ben said in the character’s annoying falsetto.
“Mesa pi-pi so tiny,” Karen said in the same voice. Giorgio’s heart was pounding, almost in pain, at the sound of their laughing.
At each table, where trios of students were teamed, lay a carcass of a cat in the middle. Each student had a scalpel for dissecting the cat. Giorgio held his with a trembling hand.
“Don’t you cut me with that knife, you spaz,” a girl at his table said to him.
Di’s face appeared before his eyes in a split-second, flashing light.
Karen stepped over to the other side of her table, putting her immediately beside Giorgio. He began staggering.
She turned to him with her scalpel. “Mesa cut your pi-pi off, Jar Jar,” she said, then giggled. “Mesa make–“
With a sudden jerk of his hand while staggering, Giorgio swiped his scalpel in an arc across her throat, cutting her off mid-sentence because he’d sliced the blade clean through her throat! Her blood sprayed in all directions, several small dots of red splashing on Giorgio’s face. She fell to the floor.
Everyone screamed, not least of all him.
“What’s going on?” the teacher shouted.
“That little dork, Giorgio, just cut Karen’s throat with his knife,” the female student next to Giorgio said while backing away from him.
“Oh, my God!” The teacher said, taking out his cellphone to call 9-1-1 as he saw Karen’s blood surrounding her body in a growing lake of red. “You didn’t do it on purpose, did you, Giorgio? I mean, after what happened yesterday?”
“Of course, I didn’t!” the shaking, sobbing boy said. “It was an accident, I swear to God!” He began staggering again.
“You spastic idiot!” Ben shouted, stepping around his table, with his hands in fists, to get at Giorgio, who saw Di’s face flash before his eyes again. The teacher was calling an ambulance. “You killed my girlfriend, and I’m gonna kill y–“
Staggering Giorgio slipped on Karen’s blood and lunged at Ben with the scalpel, stabbing him deep in the gut. Ben buckled, coughed blood, and fell on top of Karen.
Again, the students screamed deafening, piercing cries that made everyone’s hands cover his ears, and in the confusion, Giorgio ran out of the classroom without anyone stopping him. As he ran down the hall, he passed Sophie, who shuddered at the bloody knife in his hand, the spots of blood on his face, and his bloody footprints on the floor.
“Oh, shit,” she said. “What have I done?”
When she saw a mob of students running out of the biology classroom to chase Giorgio, she knew exactly where to look to find out what had happened. When she poked her head in the doorway, already full of anticipatory dread, and then saw Ben’s and Karen’s bloody bodies, she retched. She was as frozen in shock as the biology teacher was.
A minute later, she heard sirens.
“Wow,” the teacher said. “The cops sure got here fast. Must’ve been nearby.”
“Oh, fuck,” she said, then ran down the hall.
“Get that little bastard!” shouted a student from the biology class as she and Giorgio’s other chasers saw him go for the stairs. “He killed my best friend!”
He ran up the stairs, not tripping over even one, to his amazement: he’d tripped over steps so often in the past, it was as if he’d taken fewer successful ascending steps than tripping, even when walking up them with perfect calm. It was as if…someone…was helping him get away. He saw a flash of Di’s face again.
He reached the roof of the school, opened a door, and was outside. The students had him cornered at the edge of the building. He looked down four floors to the pavement. He shook as he saw the students closing in on him. He started staggering again.
“You’re gonna pay for what you did today, you little spaz,” one boy said, his face tensed in a malicious pout.
More sirens could be heard, as could footsteps up the stairs to the roof.
“Jar Jar never died in the Star Wars prequels,” another boy said. “His death would’ve almost redeemed them. We can make this Jar Jar die, though.”
“No, you won’t,” said a female cop coming out onto the roof with two others, all of them pointing guns at Giorgio. “C’mon, kid. Let’s not make this any more difficult than it already is. Come in the car with us.”
“OK,” he said, still staggering. He dropped the scalpel and held his hands out to be handcuffed. The female officer approached him with cuffs.
Another one of the cops, Sophie’s father, noted Giorgio’s staggering. “What’s wrong with you, kid?” He said. “Are you drunk?”
“No,” Giorgio said. “I just feel…woozy.” Di’s face flashed before his eyes again.
Just when the cop with the cuffs was about to put them on him, Giorgio slid his foot on a pebble, swiping his leg in front of hers and making her trip. She fell off the roof, screaming till her head cracked open on the pavement below. A growing circle of red surrounded her head.
Immediately after her tripping and falling, Giorgio saw Di’s face in another flash. The third cop aimed at Giorgio’s chest and was about to fire, but the boy’s foot slipped on another pebble, kicking a larger rock that flew at the cop’s gun, knocking it to point up at the man’s face. When in a knee-jerk reaction he pulled the trigger, he shot a bullet up just behind his chin, up through the center of his head, through his brain, and out the top of his head.
Blood sprayed everywhere, like a gushing fountain. Screaming from all directions was hurting Giorgio ears.
Sophie’s father cocked his gun. That can’t be mere clumsiness, he thought. No one’s that clumsy…and that lucky at the same time.
Giorgio looked down to the pavement beside the dead female cop and saw Sophie’s car, a distinct one with black paint and large white pentacles painted on the sides. Its roof was also removed. She looked up at him; she felt…someone…making her drive over there.
Jump, Di’s voice whispered in Giorgio’s ears.
He saw Officer Chang coming closer, with that gun pointed at him. “C’mon, kid,” the cop said. “Let’s end this. No more people have to get hurt.”
“I agree,” Giorgio said. “Let’s end this.” Then he jumped.
As he fell screaming, he saw Di’s face flash several times in his eyes. The spirit also took over his body, carrying him in midair and placing him neatly into the passenger seat next to Sophie. He landed with his ass hitting the seat, and his feet dodging the glove compartment to land on the floor with no pain.
“Oof!” he grunted. “How the fuck did I do that?”
“A spirit made all this happen,” Sophie said. “We’re outta here.”
She sped off in her car, past her father’s squad car (in which his female partner was sitting), off the school campus, and down a road in a direction that would take them out of town. Both of them were shaking.
“I…just killed…four people…including two cops…in the past…fifteen minutes,” he said, tears soaking his face. “What the fuck’s going on?”
“I’ll explain later,” she said, turning a corner with screeching tires. “Right now, we’ve just gotta get you away from my dad and his cops.”
“How do you know what’s going on?” Giorgio asked.
“Because I’m the one who summoned the spirit that’s making you kill all your enemies.”
“How do you know I won’t kill you?“
“Because I’m not one of your enemies, of course.”
Officer Chang got into his car, as did other cops in two cars behind his. They all raced down the road after Sophie and Giorgio.
“I’m pretty sure he’s in my daughter’s car,” Chang said to the female cop in the passenger seat beside him.
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“Because during dinner last night, I had a conversation with her about the boy, identified by his classmates as Giorgio Bianchi,” Chang said. “My daughter feels sorry for him because he’s been bullied at school. She wants to help him. I saw the car they raced off in: I bought it for her last year. From the roof, I could tell by the pentagrams she later had painted on the sides. Only she’d be strange enough to paint pentagrams on her car. She believes in weird ideas, like communication with spirits. It’s a phase she’s going through.”
“OK, but how was this Giorgio able to survive that jump?” his partner asked.
“Good question. Anyway, I talked to the biology teacher, who told me the two kids the boy killed had been bullying him. Sophie, my daughter, told me that Ben, the second of the victims, humiliated the boy yesterday by pulling down his shorts and underwear in gym class, right in front of everybody.”
“Humiliation enough to make him want to kill?”
“Seems that way to me. Funny thing, though: he has a reputation for being clumsy, and the killing of Ben and the female victim looked like accidents, just the kid being spastic again; but what I saw on the roof, Giorgio staggering for a moment before ‘accidentally’ killing Officers Denny and Howard, looked a lot more like zuiquan than clumsiness.”
“It’s a form of kung fu. It means ‘drunken fist’. You see Jackie Chan do it in a few martial arts movies. The fighter tricks his opponent by making him think he’s drunk or clumsy, then he throws a surprise punch or kick. I’m guessing that Giorgio secretly learned zuiquan, and was hoping to kill his enemies by making their deaths look like an accident. If so, his plan didn’t work.”
“Still, I saw, from this car, him fall and land in her car,” the female cop said. “He didn’t even look injured. They drove off chatting with each other, as if he’d just walked over and gotten in. How could he have done that?”
“I know, it’s crazy. I’m a practicing Catholic, but I believe God causes miracles to save only the lives of the good. Sophie believes in weird things like the ghosts of our Chinese ancestors, but come on! There must be a scientific explanation. I’m gonna call her.” He took out his cellphone and dialed Sophie’s number.
“Hello?” Sophie said.
“Honey, where are you?” her dad asked.
“Sorry, Daddy. I can’t tell you.”
“You have that boy, Giorgio Bianchi, in your car, don’t you?”
“Sorry, Daddy, I can’t let you have him. He didn’t kill those people on purpose.”
“What makes you think you’re an authority on this issue?”
“Because I raised the spirit that took over Giorgio’s body and made him kill those people.”
“Well, I suppose that might explain his miraculous jump off the school roof and into your car without even an injury, as it seems…”
“That’s right,” Sophie said. “He didn’t even get a scratch.”
“But I don’t think a supernatural explanation will hold up in court,” her father said.
“Can you explain it any other way? Can you explain how a guy with a reputation for clumsiness could have performed all those feats with such precision?”
“I can’t explain the jump, but ask him if he ever studied zuiquan, you know, the martial art.”
Sophie looked over at Giorgio. “Do you know zuiquan? You know, a kind of kung fu called ‘drunken fist’.” (She pronounced it ‘dzway-chüen’.)
Giorgio thought for a second. “Huh?” he said. “Wait. Do you mean ‘zooey quahn? Like, a kung fu guy pretends to be clumsy or drunk, staggers a bit, then he lands a surprise punch or kick?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” she said.
“I’ve read about it a bit, but I’ve never learned it,” he said loud enough for her father to hear on the phone.
“Did you hear that, Daddy?”
“Yes,” her father said. “And that’s proof enough for me. As far as I’m concerned, he’s lying about having no training. Come on, honey, be a good girl and get him to turn himself in. I don’t want you to be charged with aiding and abetting a felon.”
“Daddy, if I let you take him in, the demon inside him will kill you! Giorgio just told me about the two cops on the roof who he killed. Please stay away, for your safety!”
She hung up.
“Oh, Goddammit, Sophie!” her father said, then tried to call her again. “Oh, she’s turned off her phone. Fuck!”
“So, what do we do now?” the female cop asked.
“What do you think? We’ve gotta find them. And it’s gonna break my heart, but I’ll have to bring my daughter up on charges, too.” Di’s face flashed before Chang’s eyes. “What the…?”
Suddenly, a kind of fog came over all the cops’ heads.
All three cop cars came to a halt. The drivers and passengers in each car looked at each other in confusion.
“Wait…w-what were we just doing?” the driver of one police car asked his partner. There was an awkward pause.
“I-I forget,” the partner said. “We were pursuing a perp, weren’t we?” Another awkward pause. “Wh-who were we pursuing?”
The driver used his radio to call Officer Chang.
“S-sir?” He said. “I feel really embarrassed to ask, but–?”
“What are we doing?” Chang said, anticipating the question. “We’re feeling the same confusion in this car, as are the officers in the other car. Just give me a few minutes to think, OK?” He got out of his car and looked around the roads and buildings, hoping in vain to see something that might help him snap out of his oblivion.
As Sophie kept driving, she was checking her rearview mirror with paranoid eyes: were any police cars trailing her? She heard no sirens; were her followers being furtive about it, waiting for a chance to pounce on them when she least expected it?
Then, both she and Giorgio heard Di’s gravelly voice: You lost them.
As if no proof were needed to verify the spirit’s words, Giorgio and Sophie believed Di with perfect faith. She slowed her driving, and both of them heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“Hey, over there,” she said, pointing to an abandoned old building she sometimes visited to get away from the world. “We can hide in there. Nobody will bother us in there.”
“But it’s so filthy and awful-looking,” Giorgio said.
“Exactly,” she said. “No one else will be there. Not even squatters, winos, or derelicts.” She parked behind the building, hiding her car between two tall piles of garbage. They got out.
“Oh, God, it stinks,” he said, then plugged his nose.
“We don’t have a lot of options, Giorgio,” she said, also covering her face.
They walked into the building and across to the other side, where the stench wasn’t so bad. She pointed to a corner.
“Here,” she said. “Let’s sit here and think this through.”
They sat, and he asked, “OK, what’s all this about a spirit?”
“Last night, I thought about what happened to you in gym class, and I felt sorry for you,” she said. “I wanted to protect you from more bullying. I also know a few things about tampering in the spirit world, so I summoned a spirit to protect you. I didn’t mean for it to kill your enemies, though! This has all been my fault. Don’t blame yourself.”
“So, whenever I see the shiny, golden face of an Asian wearing a fedora, right when one of these freaky things happen, that’s the spirit that’s caused all this trouble?” Giorgio asked.
“Wait a minute,” she said with her mouth and eyes agape. “An Asian with shiny, golden skin? That voice I heard, saying we lost my dad and the cops. That husky, gravelly baritone voice. And he made you move like someone who knows zuiquan…”
“You know which spirit he is?”
“Di,” she said. Her whole body looked as if it would drop.
“He said his name was ‘Di’, in my dream last night.”
“Oh, no!” She fell to her knees. “When Di is summoned, he doesn’t go away. If he leaves you, he’ll just enter someone else. The best we can hope is he’ll enter someone far away, someone neither of us knows or cares about…not that I’d wish Di on my worst enemy.”
“Well, what are we going to do?” Giorgio asked, his voice rising in a crescendo of panic. “I don’t wanna be possessed of a demon for the rest of my life! I don’t want any more blood on my hands! You have any idea what it’s like, having no control over your own body? It was bad for me before, but not like this! I’m scared just to move! Look, Sophie, you got me in this mess, you’ve gotta get me out of it!” He grabbed and shook her.
“Calm down!” she shouted, slapping him. “I need to communicate with Di. Maybe I can make a deal with him.”
“How do you ‘communicate’ with him?”
“There’s a ritual we can do with him, to get his full attention. But you have to do it with me, and…we both have to get naked…and sit together.”
He blushed and shrank away.
“Giorgio, I won’t see anything I didn’t see yesterday. We have to be naked so our bodies’ energy won’t be blocked from receiving the energies surrounding us. That’s part of how we can communicate with the spirit world.”
He didn’t stop blushing. “You OK with me seeing you?”
“Sure, why not? I have a good body, even if I do say so myself. What can I say? I hope you like what you see.” She took off her blouse right in front of him, then unbuttoned her skirt.
“Wh-why do you hope that?” He unbuttoned his school uniform shirt.
“Because I’ve always liked you.” She dropped her skirt, revealing her white bra and panties. “You’re cute…and your ass is cute. You’re eighteen, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” he said, blushing again while pulling down his pants.
“I’m eighteen, too, so don’t worry about anything. We’re grown up enough to be doing this.” She took out some candles from her bag, arranged them in a circle around herself and Giorgio, and lit them. She got a piece of white chalk from her bag, then drew a pentacle on the ground, just inside the circle of candles, getting the sides of the five-pointed star as straight as she could, and the circle around it as symmetrical as she could. Then she and Giorgio took off their underwear, she in all insouciance, and he with trembling hands and a purple-red face.
They sat cross-legged, facing each other. His hands were covering his crotch.
“Giorgio, you have to be open. I saw it. It isn’t small. Karen was just being mean.”
He moved his hands away, but he avoided her eyes. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a smirk of pleasure on her face, her eyes looking down at him, and it encouraged him to look straight at her.
“Don’t be so shy,” she said. “I’d do you.”
“This is so embarrassing.”
“You don’t need to feel that way. It’s just the human body.”
“But I’m getting a boner from seeing you.”
“Thanks.” She grinned, looking down and noticing the growth.
“One thing I don’t get,” he said, trying to refrain from looking between her legs. “If we’re summoning a Chinese spirit, why are you incorporating Western pagan symbols into your ritual? I don’t mean to be racist or anything, but the two don’t seem to go together.”
“Oh, there’s where you’re wrong,” she said. “I find my rituals work a lot better by mixing ideas from different traditions. The Moon Goddess and the Horned God of Wicca, they’re just like yin and yang, as I see it. These opposites are archetypes that manifest themselves in all things, in all traditions, and they’re the basis for contacting the spirit world.”
“Oh, OK. So, what are we going to do?”
“Summon Di, and talk to him. I’ll be speaking in Chinese. That should draw him in better. Let’s close our eyes and take some deep breaths.” They closed their eyes. “Breathe in slowly, a long, deep breath.” They both did, grimacing at the foul odor around them. “Hold your breath for a moment.” They did. “And…let it out slowly.” They did. “Let’s do it again, two more times. Just relax. Breathe in slowly…hold it…and let it out slowly.” They did this one more time.
Sophie started chanting something in Mandarin, repeating the three-word mantra of the previous summoning, saying it several times in a rhythmic way. She and Giorgio started feeling a vibration all around their bodies, between each other, and in front of themselves, where they sensed a presence.
Suddenly, they heard Di speaking in Mandarin. Sophie replied, and the two began a conversation Giorgio wished he could participate in, for he couldn’t speak a word of Chinese. Sophie and Di kept talking and talking, their voices getting louder, more and more emotional, and with more tension, more agitation. Finally, they ended with Sophie fighting back tears.
“W-well, what is it?” Giorgio asked. “What did Di say?”
All you need to know, Di said in Giorgio’s and Sophie’s minds, is that I find you a most ungrateful host, Giorgio. I rid you of those two tormentors of yours—Ben and Karen—I helped you elude the authorities, and now you want to throw me away, like some object that’s exhausted all of its usefulness to you. You’ll be rid of me, boy, but not in a way you’ll like. You’ll see.
Di laughed in his portentous way, then Sophie and Giorgio sensed he’d left them.
“Well, what are we going to do?” Giorgio asked.
“We’re going to make love,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek.
She reached forward and kissed him on the lips. She crawled on top of him as they continued kissing.
“But what…are we…gonna do…about Di?” He asked in between kisses. “What did you…say to…each other…in Chinese?”
“That doesn’t matter,” she said, then kissed him. “Di will…leave you. That’s all…that matters.”
“But Di said…I won’t like…how he’ll…” Giorgio began.
“Shut up and fuck me,” she said. “I don’t wanna d–, be a virgin. Put it in me.” He did. She winced as she bounced on him. “Ow! That hurts! Oh!” The pain in her heart made the pain between her legs seem trivial. Her pain was love for him, just as he was loving her more and more. She was the only person in that whole school who’d ever been kind to him.
He pulled out and made a mess on the ground. “Ooh!” he grunted.
“Eww, that’s gross,” she said, noting also her blood, which was mixing with his come.
“I didn’t want to get you pregnant,” he panted.
“What difference would that have made?” She got a tissue and wiped herself clean.
“What?” Noting she looked away from him and wouldn’t answer, he then yawned. “I feel worn out. I gotta sleep for a bit.”
“Me, too.” They put their clothes back on, lay side by side, and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Giorgio, this time, had pleasant dreams…unlike Sophie.
The other two police cars, in their confusion and oblivion, were allowed to drive back to the police station. Chang and the female cop were about to turn around and go back, too; he had vague misgivings that he was urgently needed somewhere and didn’t want to turn around. He let the other two cars go because cops were needed elsewhere in the city. Chang just kept hoping he’d remember again what they’d just been doing.
Just then, Di’s golden face flashed before the eyes of Officer Chang and his partner; the fog of forgetfulness lifted from their minds. When they finally remembered who they’d been chasing, they wanted to kick themselves for letting the other police cars go.
“Shit!” he shouted, then started the car. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll call backup,” she said, picking up the two-way radio.
As she was calling for backup, Chang was thinking about the series of supernatural events that had occurred. He was merely assuming that boy knew zuiquan. He’d made a miraculous jump of four floors without any injury. And suddenly, conveniently for him and Sophie, all the cops had forgotten who they were chasing. Sophie often talked about summoning spirits who helped her with her homework and tests…and she routinely got excellent grades, without much studying.
Could she have really involved the supernatural in this?
“I don’t believe it!” the female cop said. “They said they have nobody available right now to send to help us, and nobody at the police station remembers the killings at St. John’s. How could that have happened?”
“Spirits,” Chang said.
“Sir, you can’t really believe what your daughter…”
“Do you have any other explanation?” Chang said, getting no answer from his partner. “Look, whatever’s going on, we’re getting no help. We’re on our own. The point is, that crazy kid’s with my daughter, and I’ve got to get her away from him. I have a hunch I know where she’s hiding, too. A dilapidated old building on Mason St. She often goes there, and it’s near here, too. If the station has any back-up available to send us, call them and tell them where we’ll be.”
A half hour later, Giorgio and Sophie woke up to the sound of footsteps and talking. They scrambled to their feet, their hypervigilant eyes darting around in all directions.
“Who’s that?” Giorgio whispered. “The cops?”
“Shh!” she said. “How should I know?”
They hid in a corner, behind a stack of crates, and eavesdropped through the wall between them and the approaching voices.
“Oh!” the female cop whispered. “I’m glad the worst of that stink is behind us.”
“Shh!” Chang said. “If they’re here, they’ll hear you.”
“Oh, no,” Sophie said. “That’s my dad’s voice.” She took out a switchblade from her purse. “There’s something I’ve gotta do. You’re not gonna like it, Giorgio. Neither will I, and that’s because…I…I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said. They kissed. “But what do you have to do that’s so awful?” He shuddered at the knife, the blade of which she was holding against her wrist.
“I can’t say,” she said. “You’ll try to stop me.”
“Oh, God, Sophie, you’re not thinking of…”
The two cops turned the corner.
“And here they are,” the female cop said. She took out her cellphone to call the station.
“Come on, Sophie,” her father said. “Let’s just go home and forget this ever happened.” Then he looked at Giorgio. “Son, for some strange reason, maybe it’s this…demon…my daughter was talking about on the phone, all the cops have forgotten the crimes you committed today. I’m gonna make this real easy for you: just let Sophie go, and you’ll walk.”
“But, I want to be with her,” Giorgio said. “I love her.”
“I love him, too, Daddy,” Sophie said, hugging Giorgio.
“Oh, fuck me,” Chang said. “C’mon, honey. He’s dangerous.”
“Not anymore,” Sophie said, then let go of Giorgio and began staggering, the switchblade hidden behind her hand.
“What’s wrong, honey?” her father asked, walking toward her.
“No, Daddy,” she said. “Stay away!” She saw a split-second flash of gold.
“Back-up should be here in a few minutes,” Chang’s partner said, putting her phone away. Giorgio shook at Sophie’s staggering. Her father came closer to her.
“Sophie,” he said, grabbing her free arm, “I just want to…”
She slipped and lunged forward, stabbing him deep in the gut.
“Unh!” he grunted, buckling and coughing out blood.
“Daddy!” Sophie screamed, then pulled the bloody knife out of him.
He fell on his face on the ground before her, his blood soaking the ground. The female cop pulled out her gun. Sirens could be heard outside. Giorgio backed off, the whites of his teary eyes showing. Sobbing Sophie staggered a bit on the pebbly ground. Di’s face flashed before her eyes again.
“Sophie,” the cop said, cocking her pistol. “Let go of the knife. I don’t wanna hurt you.”
Sophie’s right foot slipped on some pebbles, and the knife flew from her hand and into the cop’s neck…but not before she put a bullet in Sophie’s forehead.
“Sophie!” Giorgio screamed as he saw both of their bodies fall to the ground.
He fell to his knees sobbing and put his arms around Sophie’s lifeless body.
Five cops entered the area, guns pointing at him, their faces grimacing from the stink.
“This is the kid who killed all those people at the school,” one of the cops said. “I’ll bet he killed these people, too. How did we forget about the school, then remember again? Weird.”
Don’t worry, Di said in shaking Giorgio’s ear. I’ll never trouble you again. The echo of his laughing voice bounced off the stony walls, then faded out.