Sometimes, you have to give something the benefit of the doubt. And sometimes, you just know.
With a parent devoted to an extremely eclectic and successful eBay store built on hundreds of items purchased at auctions and garage sales, I see a lot of odd things come and go in my parents’ house.
Antique campaign buttons. Collectible perfume bottles. Unspeakably ugly poodle figurines. A fuzzy brooch in the shape of a skunk.
Internet dating sites (that endless, insufferable pool of encounters that is fodder for every wannabe comic and essayist in America) are trying to prove that there is someone for everyone, and eBay proves that no matter what the item is, somebody somewhere in the world will pay to have it shipped to their door.
You remember that doll from The Conjuring? Of course you do, that shit was creepy as all get out. Some people say there’s a true story behind “Annabelle” in the movie, a frizzled, dirty, glassy-eyed toy that begins to walk around an apartment by itself, write cryptic messages, and eventually trash the place.
There are websites that claim to reveal the real Annabelle, an absurdly large and smiley Raggedy Ann doll from the 70’s, which “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren (of Amityville Horror fame) eventually subdued after making off with it in their car.
As the august publication badassdigest.com notes, “Ed agreed to stay off the highway because there was a concern that the demon [in the Raggedy Ann] might fuck with the car.” Good thing, too, because their brakes kept failing, so Ed “sprinkled the doll with holy water” and the car starting working again.
See? Even demon Raggedy Ann knows Jesus, so why don’t you read that Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet on the bus already? Also, I went on a ski trip once, and I shit you not, the host had an entire room full of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, just lining the shelves and bureaus, grinning. Like Alfred Hitchcock’s birds but with red yarn hair instead of feathers.
You can bet I pitched my sleeping bag elsewhere.
The point is, clown dolls are bad news, but does my mom care? No. She goes to the auction one night, and she brings this home.
As faithful readers already know, I’ve been staying with my parents more than usual lately because some serious health problems have been getting me down: I have lumbar degenerative disc disease in this mad storm of interstitial cystitis and clinical depression, and last week a psychiatrist told me I have a borderline personality disorder because, in his opinion, I write too much (the note-taking, this writing-for-a-living, it’s obsessive, you see) so I’m in delicate shape overall.
But does my mother, the woman who drives me to the orthopedist and makes me blueberry smoothies and rubs my back and otherwise loves me beyond reason, try to protect me from the clear influence of evil?
No, she does not.
She buys this antique wind-up clown doll with fleshy plastic feet-hands and keeps it in the living room while she lists it on eBay, and I work a mere two or three rooms away, vulnerable and impaired by various physical and psychiatric diseases.
And yes, someone bought the doll on eBay.
Somebody saw this doll online, thought, “I need to bring that thing into my home,” paid my mom the full asking price of $7.99, plus shipping, and had that cloth-and-plastic horror mailed to their house. In (I kid you not) Salem, Massachusetts.
I don’t know whether to be overjoyed that the thing is out of the house, or to whisper a prayer for the clown’s new owner.
I know evil when I see it.
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