Demonic possession, Dez knew, was real. However, the media had sensationalized possession. The general population either didn’t believe in it or believed it to be something far more theatrical than it really was. All around the world there were priests and rabbis who legitimately performed exorcisms, quiet ritualized ceremonies in which they would force the demon out of the victim’s body and back through the veil into Hell. The victims’ families almost always held vigil, waiting with bated breath to hear whether or not their loved one survived the cleansing. Exorcisms were somber events which often resulted in the victim leaving the room in a body bag.
There were also a great many men and women in the world masquerading as healers, with their traveling tent revivals, taking the money of people who could not afford to give. Those men and women were frauds, preying on people who had very real problems, problems having nothing at all to do with demons. Alcoholics, adulterers, and drug addicts would all gather around in hopes the preacher would expel the demon from their bodies, enabling them to lead a good and wholesome life again. Gambling addicts were dragged in to be “cured,” only to throw their money away in another gamble by financing those false organizations. Those people were crooks and deserved to be kicked in the teeth.
Rabbi Sachs did not sound like one of those people.
The man had become somewhat of an underground legend. Several pages into her search results, she had found a number of websites all claiming to contain real images and videos of exorcisms. Among those pages were many articles about a mysterious Rabbi Sachs in Manhattan, who many claimed was the real thing. She had read through the articles one by one, and in the end, found the account of a man who had been at the exorcism of his little sister.
After being told by several doctors their daughter suffered from nothing more than mental illness, his parents had finally turned to their rabbi. The man writing the article explained that upon hearing the story of his sister, the rabbi didn’t hesitate for one moment and insisted they bring him to the girl. Once there, he confirmed she was in fact possessed by a demon, but stated that judging by the rotten smell saturating their home, the girl was dead already and nothing could be done to help her. The family begged him to do something. They told him they could not bear to continue seeing their daughter in that condition. He obliged and for fourteen hours, he performed the prayers and rituals to rid her body of the demonic entity. The man stated he had sat beside the rabbi the entire time and saw many things that convinced him, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the thing sitting in front of him was no longer his sister. He said her eyes had even turned black as night at one point.
When he finally gave up, the rabbi told the family he would be unable to rid the body of the demon as there was no soul present to save. Their daughter was nothing more than an empty shell and they needed to look at other options. He explained to them there was a way to finally put their daughter to rest. His solution to their situation was what brought Dez to his synagogue.
She walked up to the visitor door on the side of the building and knocked. The viewing hatch opened and quickly closed again. She heard the release of two locks and then the door slid open. He was a small, olive skinned man. He was shorter than she was and dressed conservatively in a white, button-down shirt and a pair of black dress pants. His yarmulke rested on a thin swath of dark brown curls.
“Can I help you?” he asked, his raspy voice betraying the cigarette habit Dez could smell on him.
“Yes,” she responded, “I’m looking for Rabbi Sachs. Is he here?”
“May I ask who’s looking for him?”
“Oh, of course. My name is Deziree Davanzati. I’m here to ask him some questions about his exorcism practices.”
He eyed her suspiciously for a moment and then spoke. “And what exactly would a demon want with that particular piece of information?”
Deziree quirked a brow.
“I could smell it on you the minute I opened the door. Although, I must admit, you don’t smell like all the other demons I’ve encountered.” He looked at her expectantly, an eyebrow raised.
“I’m half. My father was a demon.”
“Ah,” he said. “Interesting.”
“What are you?” she asked.
“Very good at my job,” he fired back without hesitation.