The Texas Exorcists

Julie Lyons pens a captivating profile of Larry and Marion Pollard, who perform exorcisms in their West Texas ranch home. Lyons describes witnessing the exorcism, or “deliverance session,” of a woman named Ruth:

“Get up and face me,” [Larry] commands, in a Texas drawl. “I want the one that is trying to intimidate, to act like the big boss. Get up here and face me right now. I call you to judgment.”

Genial, wisecracking Ruth vanishes. A metamorphosis takes place, with subtle changes in voice, movement, and expression. Her head begins to shake and bob. Her arms tense up and straighten. Her fingers stiffen and arch upward. Her head jerks to the left, avoiding Larry’s steady, unsmiling gaze.

Marion, 65, looks on beside them, praying quietly.

“Turn the head right now and look at me,” Larry demands. “Who are you?”

The head snaps forward and drops. The mouth lets out a long sigh—ahhhhh. A robotic, vaguely masculine voice responds: “What do you want?”

“What is your function?” Larry asks.

“I have no function except to torment,” the voice answers. The eyes are fixed in a way that is glaring yet vacant.

“Do you have a right to her? Yes or no?” Larry asks.

“Yes, I have,” the voice says, in a clipped, mocking tone.

“What is your right?”

“Her sexuality,” the voice groans, drawing out the consonants with a hiss. “I take all of their reproductive organs. Everyone gives to me.”

“How long have you tormented her?” Larry asks.

Foreverrrr,” the voice says, breaking into a growl. “As long as I want to.”

“That ain’t the answer,” Larry interjects. “Do you want me to punish you?”

“No,” the voice says, growling again. “Noooooo.”

As he does many times on this April day, Larry calls on the angels of God to torment the demons with flaming swords until the spirits speak truthfully or depart altogether. After considerable interrogation, and after Larry repents on Ruth’s behalf for the sins that allowed this demon to take residence in her, the thing apparently leaves. Ruth bobs her head and exhales.

She plucks a tissue from the box and dabs a tear.

“I felt it leave,” Marion says, speaking for the first time. “Thank you, Jesus.”