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Xavier Perez-Pons


Like the rest of the country, New York in the thirties suffered a terrible social scourge: unemployment. Michael Schlimazl and Jacob Schlemilh had no material ambitions, hence much of their income was donated to charities that helped the unemployed and their families. The responsible for one of these charities, Father Gregory, priest of the Church of the Nativity, was the one who told them for the first time about a case of possession that affected his parish and that he had been managing unsuccessfully for several months. A couple of exorcists authorized by the archbishop had also failed in their attempts to solve the case. So Father Gregory requested help from the two partners of ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S. L.

Before visiting the presumed possessed person, Father Gregory gave them background information. Emil Gresham was a middle-aged psychiatrist, single and without a direct family. He attended the religious services of the parish, which often meet his material needs since he had few clients, and the few he had ended up committing suicide. His colleagues considered him a jinx. He himself had tried repeatedly to commit suicide but without success because he always tried to kill himself with pistol shots and he had terrible aim. But suddenly, one day his luck changed and it was because of something as trivial as the buying of an onion. Envious of the success of Father Gregory, the devil had opened a grocery store just in front of the Church of the Nativity with the purpose of poaching customers from the church. (It’s not clear why the devil considers grocery stores to be the competition of churches. Demonology specialists usually attribute this to poor information about the work that goes on in the churches.) The point is that one day Emil Gresham entered the grocery and bought an onion. Paradoxically, later it was learned that he really didn’t like onions and that what he wanted to buy was a banana but he was too shy to ask for it.

That was the turning point. Since then, his aptitude as a psychiatrist increased spectacularly and hence the influx of patients. People who entered his office crammed in a straitjacket, came out turned into wise men. A guy who frequented Central Park dressed as a rabbit and stealing sandwiches and hot dogs, after going through his practice, became a personal adviser to President Roosevelt and the main ideologue of the "New Deal"... However, all these successes had a counterpart: Emil Gresham began to behave strangely. He adopted the voice of Mickey Mouse and one day, while he was attending to a hypochondriac patient, he began to turn his head 360 degrees at great speed until his head fell off his body. From then on he acquired the habit of keeping his head in a locked cabinet. It was the head that, from inside the cabinet, talked with his patients while his body wandered randomly through the house, hitting the walls because of the lack of vision. On one occasion, during one of these blind walks, he fell down the stairs and became unconscious. It was this incident that blew the whistle on Emil Gresham because what at first was qualified as “murder” became “head robbery” when the deceased got up. Then the press echoed the finding in the office’s cabinet of the lost head, a head of sound mind to make matters worse, all of which stirred up a scandal of large proportions. The mayor of New York himself insisted on visiting the protagonist of such public scandal, but when he saw that his head reposed peacefully on the bedside table while his body laid in bed, had a fit of hysteria and resigned a few days later. A doctor who visited him, however, considered it beneficial for the body to have his head separated, as this made it possible for the body to rest free from worries in which the head could be engrossed.

Day and night there were journalists stationed at the door of Mr. Gresham house. On the two occasions that the Archbishop sent an exorcist to the house, the main radio stations in New York City broadcasted live the exorcist's continuous entrances and exits. Sometimes he came out with an expression of horror on his face, or covered in a yellowish mud that turned out to be vomit, other times he was fired through the window... It was then that the priest of the Church of the Nativity, Father Gregory, requested the help of Michael and Jacob in his capacity as enigma-solvers.

After breaking through the crowd of journalists, both managed to gain access to the front door and enter the house. What they saw was a jumble of furniture as if a hurricane had passed through the house. For weeks, Emil Gresham had been unable to practice his profession, so he spent all day in bed. Michael and Jacob took the opportunity to thoroughly explore the house in search of something odd or suspicious. And at the end of the day they found it: in a kind of altar full of candles and surrounded by mysterious symbols, there was a flowerpot that contained tall weeds instead of flowers. After commenting between them, the two friends proceeded to pull the leaves and, after a while of struggling, they succeeded to uproot the tubercle that hid in the earth under the leaves. It was an onion.

At the very moment when the tuber was uprooted, Emil Gresham’s head was reinserted in his body and normality returned to his life, which unfortunately was clearly shown by the sudden increase of the suicide rate in the city of New York.


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