“One can never be, and should never be, smug about life,” says Aurora Goldberg. An aspiring New York actress who has never realized her dreams, Aurora keeps herself afloat by doing odd temp jobs where her rich fantasy life helps her get through the day. Aurora sees the world through the lens of characters in literature and film and these fictionalizations are woven into her interpretation of reality.
I took a bath. I needed to cleanse myself psychically as well as physically. As I washed, I thought about what Owen said concerning Viola Parker. Thinking of Owen nauseated me and made me feel quite guilty so I switched my concentration to Viola Parker…my ethereal intruder. Funny he should say what he did—like he knew her or of her. I couldn’t figure the connection because she was quite old and, as far as I could discern then, not related in anyway to Jake’s family. Her name had never come up in any conversations, or her existence. So I wondered why Owen thought it odd that I bought her house after she died. But I was sure, Viola Parker herself would reveal her past to me because…she never really left here, never gave up claim to this place.
Shockingly, startlingly, Viola just started showing up, rocking away in that old chair and grinning at me like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. She rocked and rocked in that damned chair or Chair of the Damned, as I like to call it. And I was not happy about it. My aversion to Viola’s corporal presence and ethereal spirit might seem odd given my desire to make contact with Jake but I knew nothing about her. She could have been a crazy person in life and be a slasher-type in death like Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy. So, naturally, I was cautious. At first, I thought I was hallucinating. I had placed the chair in the living room right near the fireplace. It looked smart there. It was not a fancy rocker, just plain wood with a worn seat cushion but it had character like an antique. Could have been from JC Penny for all I knew about antiques but it had the look. I never sat in it because that worn seat suggested its heavy use by a now dead Viola Parker and that was creepy. I decided I would sit in the chair when I got a new cushion, but I was too busy studying and being a mentally disturbed hermit to refurbish anything.
The encounters began one night after dark (naturally), exactly one week after my mother left. The chair started rocking by itself. I was walking in the hallway and threw a glance into the living room. The chair had rocked. There was movement. I stopped to catch another look. The chair was still. I looked away and then sensed a one-two rock. I was intrigued and freaked out so I went over to the now stationary chair and felt around for a shot of air or any other logical disturbance. I manually rocked the chair but there was no explanation. I decided that sleep deprivation had distorted my accurate assessment of rocking versus not rocking so I went to bed to get some much-needed rest.
The next night the same thing—edge of vision rocking—straight on looking no rocking. This went on for five nights and I decided to throw out the chair. I took it out to the street for pick up and watched the truck drive away with the chair in its bowels. But my intuition or premonition did not give me a peaceful feeling as I watched the truck drive out of sight. With dread, I walked back into my house and sure enough, there was the chair. I screamed out loud, a summons for Viola Parker to pop into view, sitting in the chair grinning at me, not a Mona Lisa smile, but like that Cheshire cat wide smile. Just rocking and grinning as if she had a secret.
“What do you want?” I asked her and she vaporized. The chair did not. It was solid. I felt it. It was the same chair with the same worn cushion. I thought about going to the garbage dump, but I knew, I would not find it there. This chair belonged in this house and there was nothing to be done. I made crosses out of tree branches and placed it around its base. I don’t know why crosses are always used to fight evil spirits, like in Night of the Living Dead or Damian. I guess it’s because you can’t make a Jewish star with your fingers like you can a cross or easily make a Jewish star with sticks. The Christians have got us on that one. So I made crosses and put it around the base of the chair and stopped using the living room.