The Seance

by Jonah Begone

There was a pale, ghastly quarter moon outside the Hell Tent, and a gentle wind wove through the trees. Jupiter was in conjunction with Saturn; the time had come. Inside, Jonah Begone, Mal Stylo and their pards clasped hands and formed a circle to summon up all of their psychic energy for a call to those beyond the veil. The flickering candlelight cast a weird, dreamlike glow upon the reenacting brethren.

Jonah: "Spirits of the past! Honored shades! We gather here in a circle of living historians to call forth a dead historian to grant knowledge and authenticity to our impressions!"

Nothing. Off in the distance an owl could be heard hooting a lone salutation to the night, and a four-wheel drive rumbled down a company street.

Jonah: "Noble forebears! Give us a sign from the Bivouac of the Dead!"

Still nothing.

Mal: "Aw, come on! We shelled out seven bucks per person and drove four and a half hours to attend this event - the least you could do is give us a sign!"

Just then a cooler lid flew open, and a horrible red glow emanated from within. Piece by piece, bacon strips slithered out and dropped onto the dirt floor. Someone made a motion to slam the lid shut so the beers wouldn't escape but Jonah cried out "No! The circle must remain unbroken!"

Mal: "Dread apparition! Do you have a name?"

Disembodied voice: "Elvis I am called. Behold mah image and fear, bluebellies."

A cold white glow in the Hell Tent coalesced into a tall but portly figure dressed in a shimmering white Confederate general's uniform. Unlike the historical version, however, this uniform was caped with a palmetto flag. The ghostly figure wore a soup tureen-sized belt buckle that had "You'll Get My Handgun When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Fingers" on it in raised letters. Two enormous LeMat revolvers were worn slung low, and red animal eyes gazed out from behind Porsche sunglasses. Two other spirit entities formed into the likenesses of John C. Calhoun and Buford Pusser, and both glared malevolently at the pards from behind the King's shoulders.

Elvis: "Y'all desecrate mah sacred soil with your vile Yankee presence."

Calhoun and Pusser: "Desecrate! Yes, desecrate!"

Elvis: "And you, Jonah, y'all shall pay for your levity and japes at the expense of heroic Southrons. Prepare for a fate worse than a fate worse than death - Devils! Rend their flesh!"

Calhoun and Pusser: "Rend! Yes, rend their flesh!"

A foul burning smell then issued forth from the cooler. A can of Coke levitated a few feet into the air, begun to spin and transformed itself into Nathan Bedford "That Devil" Forrest, subject of countless Limited Edition Historical Art Prints. He was attired in a stunning scarlet satin Confederate uniform and held a pitchfork. Instead of chin whiskers, however, he wore flames upon his face which miraculously burned downward. His eyes glowed like back-lit marbles. Another Coke can flew up, spun, and formed itself into a demoniac, pitchfork-wielding John S. Mosby. The air was filled with the snorts and whickers of unseen horses whose hooves scraped at the walls of the Hell Tent. Both apparitions began to vigorously prod and poke the Federal reenactors.

Pards: "Ow! Ouch! Yipes!"

Calhoun and Pusser: "Rend, devils, rend!"

Suddenly an inky shadow eclipsed the fantastic colors of the apparitions. Growing steadily, it crept to the very platform shoes of the King. The horses were stilled, and a feeling of intense melancholy and gloom pervaded the tent. Forrest and Mosby, sensing that something had gone terribly wrong, ceased prodding and poking. The blackness was so complete that it easily overwhelmed the single candle and cast everything in a velvet darkness. Outside, a dreary New England snow began to fall, and a flock of ravens began to caw.

Elvis: "Who dares interfere with mah judgement?"

The pards looked hopefully into the black and saw the figure of Edgar Allen Poe, dressed nattily in a dark blue Federal uniform. He held a carte-de-visite of Vincent Price, and a pendulum rather than an officer's sword hung from his belt. The smell of opium permeated the atmosphere and made everyone a little giddy.

Poe: "Countryman, you do insult our guests who had travelled far. Is this an example of Southern hospitality?" (Turning and staring intently at Jonah) "And you! What makes you think I have to endure your second-rate supernatural scribblings? BEGONE!"

In the twinkling of an eye Poe, Elvis, Calhoun, Pusser, Forrest, Mosby, the ravens and the snow all vanished to the sound of two empty Coke cans dropping into icy water. The pards released each other's hands and gazed around wonderingly.

Utterly spent, Jonah reached into the cooler for a Coke and remembered that the drink had been invented long ago by a Confederate veteran.