Wishing Demon (Part II)

It happened when I was just a boy, no more than sixteen years old. I was hitchhiking through Louisiana to see my girl Marie, a young créole who lived in a partially burnt out and completely condemned church on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans. I had been on the road for almost two days to make a trip that would have taken me nine hours by bus, had I the money for a ticket.

An antique milk truck picked me up around Pearl River, carried me along a dirt track side road. The driver dropped me off at the crossing of two dusty unpaved roads somewhere between Guthrie and Slidell. I was close now, so close I could smell the alligator po' boys cooking at the River Shack, close enough to taste the salty sweat running down the back of Marie’s neck.

When I climbed down off the back of the truck, squinting in the sunlight, he was there, leaning on his cane, a dog asleep at his feet. He was an old man, but his skin was so dark and chiselled that it was impossible to guess just how old. He was wearing a dark green suit, a grey fedora and a pair of sunglasses that made him look like one of the Tontons Macoute.

He looked like he had been waiting there for eternity with a slow, lazy patience; doomsday wasn’t too long in coming for him to wait it out.

I nodded my head and said, “Afternoon, sir.”

“Afternoon, son.”

“You been waiting here long?”

“Long enough.”

“I’m in kind of a hurry, do you know where I can catch a quicker ride?”

“Don’t you worry, son, she’ll wait for you; she’s buying candles and washing the sheets right now.” Dark clouds rolled in and the sunlight weakened.

“A young man hitchhiking to the city must be on his way to a woman, huh sir?”

“C’mon now, boy, you know who I am. Your pretty little Marie, she’d call me Papa Legba or maybe Baron Samedi; your mama’s people knew me as Morrigu before the priests came, and your daddy, well, he was one of mine from the start — he didn’t need no name for me.”

“What do you want?”, I asked him. My heart raced and, its beat throbbing behind my eyes as if I’d been running hard for hours.

“You came looking for me. The question is what do you want?”

“If you’re who you say you are, you know what I want.”

“Well, sure I do: you want to be an artiste, I can’t count how many of your kind I’ve met before. Now be a good boy and say the words.”

“How do I know I’ll get what I want?”

“Ain’t no one ever got what they wanted nor wanted what they got, but you will get what you ask for.”

“I wish to become an artist.”

A stroke of lightning came down, trailed by the first thunder of the gathering storm. A smile came to the old man’s lips and he said, “Good luck, son. Here comes your ride.”

The same milk truck that had dropped me off picked me up and carried me all the way to town.

Marie was waiting, just as he said she would be, and we made love for days in that old church, only venturing outside for beignets and chicory coffee.

She was beautiful and her passion burned as hot as I remembered, but I couldn’t keep my mind off my guitar. She sensed my distance and assumed it was due to the presence of another woman. We fought. When I left it was for the last time.

I have taken many other mistresses since that day at the crossroads, but I have remained forever wedded to art.

This entry is part of my journal, published September 1, 2004, in New York. This story was written as a reply to one by Logodrome.