Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Wind Demons

Betsy Heavens played the organ at her church, often until the congregation had left and her glasses had slid off of her nose, been caught by their chain and bounced against the bosoms that her husband had loved so well. Ernest Heavens had been an organ builder for his family business of Good Heavens Organs. That company and family tradition had died with them, as he'd been an only child and they'd been unable to conceive.

Ernest had installed and maintained this organ for the church. It could not be said that Betsy still belonged to the congregation, for she didn't come to worship anything but the memory of Ernest.

Each blat, boom and blast from the aging tubes recalled to Betsy when she'd bring him lunch at a job site. She'd arrive to the hoots and hollers of an untuned organ. Each installation took time, from delivering the parts to fitting them together, from calibrating the sounds to negotiating with the wind demon that dwelled within each Good Heavens Organ.

He'd only revealed to her the secret of the family business after five years of marriage, as the family pact with the wind demons demanded.

"Betsy, I don't mean to be indelicate, but I have a very early meeting tomorrow with my juggling guild and it's almost midnight," said the parson, standing in his bathrobe and juggling a set of bright red and yellow rubber balls. "And service ended about twelve hours ago."

Betsy did not respond. She stared straight ahead, her fingers motionless on the keyboard. Very unusual.

"Uh, Betsy? Are you okay?"

She turned to face him, then turned back to the keyboard, lifted a finger, and let it fall onto one of the worn keys. Instead of the blast of an airhorn that he expected, instead he heard the muted thud of the key falling against the stops.

As a pastor he'd counseled many people through the shadowy lanes of despair and catastrophe, but nothing matched the look on Betsy's face.

"We'll get someone out to fix it as soon as we can," the Pastor said. "I promise. First thing in the morning."

"That's not good enough," Betsy said. She stood up and approached the little trap door on the side of the machine that led to its abdominal cavity. She tried the door. It was locked.

"May I have the key, please?" Betsy asked.

"Look, I'll call a repairman before the other jugglers arrive tomorrow morning, I can-"

"Nobody will touch this organ besides myself, and I will do it tonight. Give me the key," Betsy said.

"It's getting late and you'd have to quit for the night anyway, because of the neighbors. You remember their complaints, it really does make sleep difficult. I'm not a hundred percent sure where the key is, anyway..." he trailed off. Betsy's face hadn't changed, but something in her eyes had. A few minutes later, he was rummaging in all of the junk drawers in the church until he'd unearthed the tarnished brass key.

"I won't leave while it is broken," Betsy said. She unlocked the door and shimmied inside.

"Who enters my domain?" breathed a voice like a hurricane hitting a flute factory.

"My name is Betsy Heavens," Betsy said.

The breeze moved around her and whipped up a pile of baby powder that had been set nearby and the grains formed the shape of a muscular man with indistinguished facial features.

"Heavens," said the wind demon. "Where is Ernest Heavens?"

"In heaven," Betsy replied. "I am his widow."

"My apologies," wheezed the wind demon. He deflated for a moment, then came back with full force.

"What is wrong with the organ?" Betsy asked.

"Nothing," the wind demon said. "But I am choking."

"Choking? On what?"

"The air no longer flows as freely as it once did. It has become harder and harder to blow around and it is stale."

Betsy then noticed how stuffy it was. It felt close and still - exactly the opposite of how the inside of a Good Heavens organ should be.

"Have you checked the intake pipes?" Betsy asked.

The wind demon spread his arms wide. "I am a wind demon, not a technician. Ernest always took care of that."

"Then I will take over," Betsy said. She climbed out of the doorway. The pastor was off - probably sawing logs, Betsy thought. She climbed up among the tangle of pipes that extended above and beside the organ and began looking for the intake pipes.

That's where she found the pastor with a handful of broken wire coat hangers and fishing equipment. Around his feet were filthy red and yellow juggling balls, distorted into ovals from the force of the wind demon attempting to suck air in through the pipes.

"I meant to clean these out ages ago, I swear," the pastor said.

The Moral: keep track of your balls.

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