1. The Syncopated Rhythm of the Loa's Kiss


    Date: 11/8/2018, Categories: Supernatural, Author: MadMartigan, Source: LushStories

    The Old Absinthe House is dead. The French Quarter is a cemetery. The bar’s doors are thrown open to the elements and a gentle breeze drifts in with the dancing notes of a street corner clarinetist. I recognize the tune, but it takes a second to place it. I remember a Janjaweed commander who wore out an old vinyl record during an impromptu interview. Sidney Bechet. ‘Blues in Thirds.’ I shiver, the tune dredging up the kind of memories you wished you could forget, but are carved into you. Outside, the rain falls in softly patterned splashes, turning the street into a slick black mirror, the reflected neon lights beckoning empty streets. It’s useless though. The breeze. The rain. The night. Nothing cuts through the oppressive New Orleans heat. It’s claustrophobic. Elemental. Insidious. It has a way of slithering inside your skin, changing you. I remember the first week I was here, on assignment for The Globe. I remember jogging along the river walk on a night not so unlike this one. The heat was just as torturous then. I remember an unfathomable thirst, the taste of cotton in my mouth, and the smell of cigar ash. I remember the beat up old shanty that popped up out of nowhere. I remember the hunched figure of a weathered Creole woman rocking back and forth in a wicker chair, a crackling hum reverberating from a throat like dried leaves as she sucked on a tobacco pipe. My first news editor was the romantic sort when it came to life. Liked to believe there were certain moments ...
    that defined a journalist. Chance meetings with chance people, unbelievable stories that get stamped into you. Miracles. Heroism from the cranked out drug addict, the compassion of a prison guard. Stories you don’t forget. The sappy shit we sprinkle in and pat ourselves on the back for, to distract us from the shit and the mud the world crawls through. I always thought it was idealistic bullshit meant to inspire the interns, make them forget what we subject them to. Because honestly? Those moments, those stories, are polished turds that hide a diseased underbelly. The places and moments ignored even during daylight because they’re dark, foul, and smell of sulfur. Death. Scorched bone. The sour notes of debased sex. Those are the moments you don’t forget. I remember the words she whispered while she offered me a jar of liquid darker than the black of space. I’m not sure why I drank it. I suppose it was desperation to quench a thirst I didn’t know needed quenching. It was thick like molasses and burned my throat, muddied my thoughts and wrung me dry till I was left dry heaving in the dirt. As I was kneeling there, she read me. Said it was her gift. She told me to fear a black rooster with jade eyes, to pity the one in chains, to wake the girl in the moon. She told me many things, most of which sounded like the mad ravings of a senile fortuneteller. I think about that memory as I wallow in writer’s block, my ragged, tired face reflecting back at me in the mirror behind the bar, ...
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