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Boredom generally ruled in the weekends in the late sixties at our farmhouse in the small farming community of Millersport, Ohio. Naturally, this was after we'd finished our chores and whatever schoolwork that we children had to do. We three boys were just use to being busy all the time and any slow down in the routine qualified as boredom. Our recently adopted sister, Debra, seem to take every situation in stride, however, turning us green with envy.

One Saturday the three of us were lazing about, being unusually irritable and squabbling among ourselves, when mother brought up the idea of a witch board. When we asked what it was she told us it was like a homemade Ouija board but, she warned, it wasn't a game. She said we could actually talk to spirits on it. She told us that her and a childhood friend of hers use to use one all the time when she was a girl. Intrigued by the idea, we jumped at the chance.

A sanded piece of plywood and an indelible black marker (to print the letters of the alphabet, the 'yes' and 'no', and mark out the numerical scale to the number ten) later and we had a suitable witch board sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. Deb even decided to join the fun as we pondered what to use for a 'pointer' to indicate letters or numbers. Mother said that they use to use a small glass, so we designated a thick whiskey shot glass.

As we asked the traditional “Is there a spirit in the house?” We tingled with excitement, but the glass just sat there with everyone's finger tip on it, refusing to budge. It took us up to half a dozen tries before it lethargically moved to cover the word 'yes'.

My younger brother was the self-appointed most intelligent of the group but, also, the most impatient and began ridiculing the 'spirit' for being so slow. A regular, albeit unusual, battle of wits broke out between the two and, as expected in argumentative situations, the exchange became heated. My brother, Larry, would use phrases and colorful language to demean the supposed spirit and it would parry with inexcusable comments and dreadful insults. This delighted my brother to no end as he was always willing to 'prove his superiority' through any means attainable. And so the war raged on.

The longer the battle continued, the quicker the shot glass flew around the board until mother and Deb relinquished their fingers in an attempt to qualm the 'spirit' and halt the session, but this wasn't to be the case.

Finally Larry fired his last shot with a remark that extremely insulted his opponent's intelligence. Instantly, the glass became still in the middle of the board and refused to move any farther. When Larry crowed about how he had won the argument and we all removed our fingers, the lone glass started tipping rapidly from side to side as if doing some kind of jig in the center of the board. As we all watched in awe and amazement, the heavy glass swiftly flew off the board and attempted to hit Deb in the face. Wisely, sis ducked and the force-ridden glass smashed to bits on the wall behind her.

The sun hadn't set on that day before mother took the board outside, smashed it to pieces with an ax, poured gasoline all over it and the shards of remaining whiskey glass and set the entire thing ablaze.

My humble advice is to think long and hard before messing with an Ouija board and never-ever build a witch board.

Gary Copeland


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