Mama Will Provide
Disclaimers for any visitor: (1) While this story is inspired by Haitian Vodou, it is purely a piece of fiction and is in no way intended to be representative of the real, and oft misunderstood, religion. (2) My intent on this story is to be intense without being explicit, which I believe falls in line with OP’s TOS. If I cross a line please let me know and I will be happy to adjust. (3) The phonetic spelling of the Haitian accent and use of the term Negro is meant to help convey a sense of authenticity of the character’s speech and of the reality of the 1870s.
The moon waxes full in the sky. He is at the Tombstone compound. If he they confront him in New Orleans he will perish, fate decrees it MUST be Tombstone. In the basement of course, fortified, sanctified in blood and sacrifice. They defeat his minions upstairs easily, then find him downstairs. They cannot hurt him, for he is too powerful, he calls upon the Baron Samedi who infuses him with power of Death. He dispatches the men easily, he takes the girl for a prize. All is as it should be for one so mighty. He is satisfied
I open my eyes and a sharp pain comes from my back tooth. Hadn’t realized that I was clenching my jaw so hard. No matter. I spit out the chunk of tooth and pour myself some swamp tea. Good old Sam, he’s been keeping me well supplied.
Faking Arnuad’s vision is draining. But I think the bastard is satisfied, I made the vision hard enough to obtain and there’s just enough truth in there to keep him off guard until it’s too late. That is of course, assuming that that I will succeed in my final preparation.
My old bones creak as I step out of the small cave I have been living in for the past 20 days. I sip my tea and lean heavily on my trusty walking stick. It is peaceful as the sun rises over the ridge. Light spills out onto the desert and illuminates the desert and the bluffs, glinting red, copper and gold. Soon it will be blisteringly hot but at the moment the air is crisp, dry and cool. This is the complete opposite of the green wet wilderness of the New Orleans bayou. Both are savage. Both are beautiful. I spend my last few minutes sipping tea and basking in the sun. I will miss this world terribly, but the time has come.
The Vévé of Baron Samedi is already drawn in pure white chalk on the floor of the cave. I take the marble that the nice young man gave me out of my eye socket. I want to make sure it returns to him intact. I quickly strip off my clothes and rub rum soaked tobacco over my wrinkled skin. The stone floor feels even colder on my legs as I kneel and pick my ritual knife. My hands tremble slightly, but my voice is clear as I call out to the Greater Loa.
“Baron Samedi, greatest of da Guédé, master of da Crossroads, accept dis offerin’ of cabrit san cors.”
And then I open my wrists. The spicy scent of tobacco fills my nostrils as I loose the strength to kneel and sink fully to the floor. The edges of what is left of my vision dim slowly, a ring of darkness that pushes inward, reducing the entrance of the cave to a pinprick of light. If we could remember our births do we simply experience the same thing in reverse?
No matter. Entering the spirit realm is like entering a dream, only now I shall never wake up. I am still kneeling, still nude, slightly disoriented. I am in the middle of a desolate crossroad lined by scrub brush. The light seems to emanate from everywhere and nowhere. Looking down at my wrists I see no wound and no blood. There are also no wrinkles. I examine my spiritual body discover my younger self. The skin is taut and smooth, breasts are firm, hindquarters plump and round. I chuckle. It is necessity, not vanity, that shapes my spirit body.
“But vain ya should be, Miss Josephine LaRoux. Ya were a damn fine figure of a woman in yer youth.”
I am startled to hear my Christian name spoken. It had a been a long time since men lusted after Mama Jolou, and even longer still since I had been called Josephine. Names are powerful things in the Vodou, that why real mambos and bokors take on a practitioner name. But the spirits never forget. They always know your true self.
I stood up, a thin white shift covering my form as I turned to face the man talking to me. He is as I expect him to be.
He stands well over 6 feet tall, rail thin and dressed in a fancy black suit and hat with a purple silk vest. He is a Negro but his face is ashen, almost white. His eyes are set a little too far back into the sockets, his nose a little too pinched, and his lips look like someone took a pencil and drew a oval around skull’s grin.
Baron Samedi’s smile lessens as the shift surrounds me. His voice is high an nasal “Pity, I liked ya bettah the odder way. But den again, you want sumthin’ and ya want it bad ta use dis method ta get my attention. I coulda passed ya by, let some odder spirit lap ya up.”
“But ya didn’t,” I reply a seductive smile curling my lips as I walk towards him, rolling my hips. It might been a long time since Mama tried to get man’s attention, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten how. Heehee!
“So watcha want Miss Josephine?” His stance relaxes as he continues to stare lecherously at my breasts.
I am treading dangerous ground, “I want Arnuad Bentoit dead.”
The loa’s eyes narrow, “Do not speak dat name ta me! Da man who dare call hisself La Croix…”
Good, his anger is directed at Arnuad, not me. “He insult ya great Lord of da Crossroads.”
Baron Samedi’s bony fingers flex. “Ya are more knowledgeable than most Mama Jolou, yanno he don’t call me for his workins, no matta what he tinks. His sanctuary is of da Great Petro spirits, and even I cannot entah.”
“I have devised a clevah trick Baron Cimitière. Even as we speak my remains are bein’ delivered to dose who would enter his sanctuary. Dey will carry my mortal offerin’ to you inta his lair. And offer myself ta yah here, a willin’ servant to yah in the afta-life.”
“And if he calls to my name in the presence of yer true an full offerin’ ta me I am honor bound to respond ta his summon,” the True Baron cackles and stomps his feet. “Ah girl…I always knew ya were one of mah favorites for a reason. But even still…yanno the magnitude of what ya ask. Fate decreed dat Bentoit live for many more years. Der will be consequence, destruction, and you will give da Great Petro opportunity ta corrupt ya messengers. Dems da rules.”
I nod. “Dey are the Wanderer’s Chosen. Da girl already passed her first test.”
He snorts, “Da Wanderer is still only human.” The Samedi runs his too large eyes over my spirit body one more time. “Very well. I accept ya offerin’. I will take my pleasures with ya here, but know I will tire of ya eventually.”
And when he does I will be like any other spirit in the aptly names Hunting Grounds. I wonder what will happen then? Will I become one of the ancestor loa as I was always taught? Be drawn into paradise or damnation as the Christians preach? Will Samedi simply devour my essence? I do not ask the question. If the answer was important I would not have done this at all.
“Come child…let us see what yer friends are up too.” He waves a hand and window into the mortal world appears. I see the five familiar faces plus the Chinaman sneaking into Bentoit’s estate. I forgot that time flows differently here. They enter his basement sanctuary and I see the hearts upon the altar.
He put his sister’s heart on a similar altar not so long ago. Simone Bentoit had been my most promising apprentice. But Arnuad was a jealous sort and always despised that the women of the Faith were stronger. I believe that a Great Petro really did impersonate Semedi and offer him power. The fact that he paid the price… I walked in on Arnuad just after he did it. I was unprepared for his new-found power and he escaped my immediate vengeance. He’s managed to hold me off ever since. He took the the name “Simione” as part of his practitioner name to mock me. I will enjoy watching him die. Heehee!
My attention is draw back to the battle when Arnuad nearly burns the gunman to death with his unholy energies. I turn to Samedi and he raises a thin hand.
“I will not dig da boy’s grave today.” Cobb’s wounds heal to a non-lethal state. Most forget that Samedi is a master of Life in addition to Death. It is what separates him from the Petro, which can only destroy.
The group figures out Bentoit’s weakness. He becomes afraid and tries to chual the Pretender but unfortunately for him, the TRUE Baron Samedi answer his call. Bentoit’s powers are lessened. The Chinaman finds an opening and stabs him in the heart with the knife used to kill Simone. It is oddly poetic. I wonder if Arnuad is meeting his masters in person, and what they think of his failure.
Samedi nods to me and I cross the window to take possession Arnuad’s body before any of the lesser petro have a chance to reanimate it. I take on the role of crazy old Bayou women once more. I congratulate them on their success. I do not have a lot of time, possessing Arnuad is difficult and dangerous. The possession of a dead body will corrupt even the noblest of spirits and I am tarnished enough already.
I look at the group in front of me. They really are heroes. I pity them.
Cruz is flushed with the triumph of knowing that evil is defeated. Little does he know that in less than an hour he will be praying over the corpse of the girl who defied her father to travel to him. She thought that God had brought them together.
I listen to James Thompson Cobb protest returning to Canton. He foolishly thinks that “running away” is the same thing as “leaving behind”. He’s doomed to repeat his mistakes.
The rest… they face their own challenges. I have done what I can.
I lose control of Bentoit’s body and I’m drawn back into the Hunting Grounds.
“Tis time for ya ta be of service girl” Samedi runs his fingers lightly over my skin and my spirit-body is rocked by sensations that I had long forgotten in my old age. This is also part of his domain. There are reasons they call it “the little death.” I will serve him in ecstasy and agony for he is the most basic parts of nature. He is savage. He is beautiful.
Why did I do it? When I first met the Wanderer there was much talk of greater good, of changing Fate and I was intrigued. But ultimately, I did it because the Wanderer’s plan offered me vengeance. I did it because Arnuad Bentoit killed my apprentice. Because he had the audacity to think he could steal my power. He called me a weak old woman, laughed at me. Stupid boy. Mama Jolou ALWAYS gets the last laugh.