Shell Shocked: The Sanibel exorcist
I remember well the day that Sanibel turned into a scene out of a horror movie. The scene didn’t include the usual horror story ingredients – alligators, tornados, red algae, floods, or blackened fish. Instead, the scene included images that I thought I would only read about in Steven King novels, or see in my nightmares. Once that horrific day was over no one who was present would ever speak of it again.
It started at Bailey’s. It was a typical Sanibel day. It had poured all morning. I was at the check out counter when all of a sudden I heard gasping from nearby customers. Someone pointed to the check out clerk. The young woman had suddenly turned pale and her eye balls rolled upward showing only the whites of her eyes. And then she began to levitate with strange guttural sounds coming out of her mouth. I could barely understand what she was saying, but then I did manage to put some of her words together: “Sodom and Gomorrah. Noah’s Ark, damn those Mets. Satan lives. Satan lives.”
And then her head turned a full 360 degrees. People started screaming and ran out the door leaving their groceries in their carts. The check out clerk was levitating higher and higher until she was floating 10 feet off the ground. The store manager took one look and fainted.
A woman next to me grabbed me by the hair and shouted, “What we need is an exorcist. Is there a licensed exorcist nearby?”
A voice rang out from behind the deli counter. It was the sandwich man. He leaped over the deli counter and said “I’m an exorcist, but I’m a bit out of practice. I haven’t done any exorcising since my days in the Latin Quarter in New Orleans. I was accused of exorcism malpractice there and was driven out of the state. I was working on a college freshman who had the same symptoms as this check out clerk has.
“But when I tried exorcism on her all the other freshmen in the dormitory started levitating with their heads turning 360 degrees also. They all started singing the Notre Dame marching song and were expelled from the school. I’ve been in the exorcism protection program here in Sanibel ever since.”
The check out clerk’s face began to turn into chalky gray and her lips moved rapidly. She spoke in an Irish brogue and pointed to the Coca Cola bottles. One by one the bottles opened and Coca Cola rained down on the store. One customer collected the deluge in a baseball cap and began to drink from it.
The situation was getting out of hand. “Do it,” the customers shouted in unison. “Do the exorcism.” The deli man had no choice. He suddenly revealed a black satchel he had hidden under the chicken salad section. He opened it and dropped its contents onto the floor. There were some unusual looking tools and bits of dried food. He was searching for one item in particular and soon found it.
It was an underarm deodorant stick. He then closed his eyes, turned toward the heavens and began reciting Edgar Allen Poe poems. He then applied the deodorant stick to his face and the check out clerk’s body began to descend. The deli man then said “You’re cleared to land, Flight 432.” The check out clerk landed safely on the check out counter.
The deli man then took the deodorant stick and applied it to the under arms of the clerk. Her eyes cleared. She stood up, looked around her and said, “Who’s next in line?”
Everyone applauded and thanked their private gods. But just as calm was being restored everyone looked out onto the parking area. They could not believe what they were now seeing. Twenty-five people were now levitating and had their heads turned the opposite way. The deli man ran from the store and was never seen again.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.