Spooky - (Marigny St, New Orleans)

Part 1 of a joint post from Wandering Wolf and Sail.

“Damn,” Kat said, her tone appreciative. “You know how to make coffee.”

The dining table was now the heart of their work, the original three books having been joined by a stack of yellowed notebooks and old cassette audio tapes. Owen had one of the notebooks before him, his eyes following each handwritten line with intense interest. He used the rubber tip of a pencil eraser to leaf the pages, careful to avoid touching them for fear of somehow corrupting the now “borrowed” Markham special collection.

At the moment, it’s borrower was busy with another of the notebooks. She wore latex gloves to handle the delicate pages, photographing each with her iPhone. On the table, Catbite’s Macbook Pro displayed growing sequence of elapsed time over two audio level displays, as a USB cassette player bearing the stamp [b]Property of WTUL Radio, Tulane University[/i] whirred quietly.

Several opened cartons lay upon the sideboard, one trailing a lo mein noodle over its’ flap. Kat angled the phone over her next page, until the shot was interrupted by an incoming text. “Fuck me,” she swore under her breath. “Ms. Mar. I am so busted.”

Owen looked up from the page he was studying, audibly inhaling at her comment. The carton at his elbow was half-empty, chopsticks sprouting through the open lid. He'd been absorbed in a particular passage from Markham's notebook concerning Ouanga, when the girl spoke the name of the librarian.

"How many more do we have to record?" he asked of both the book and the cassettes spinning away beside her computer. He rolled back his sleeve to check the time. It was late--Ms. 'Mar' must have had some notion of what Katherine Bight was capable of to know who and when to check in. And, honestly, he wasn't sure why she was here, helping him scour over what could only be termed a practical history of Voodoo, to find his son.

His eyes combed the material before them. These notebooks and recordings were proving to be a wealth of information on all things concerning Louisiana Voodoo. Some were first hand accounts of time spent in consult with bokors and witch doctors, others were transcribed oral traditions of families who could trace their lineage back to African slaves brought to Louisiana in the eighteenth century. Some, even, were first or second hand accounts of Marie Laveau and other 'Voodoo Queens' during the same period. It wasn't clear to Owen, in all this research, whether or not the author believed the things he reported to be true evidence of the supernatural.

But angry librarians? That he did believe in. "What are you going to do?" It was, after all, Katherine's neck on the line for this collection before him. The collection that could help him find Jaiden.

“I’m gonna finish,” she said casually. “Jaiden marked the notes and references to Markham for a reason. The only thing I know about voodoo is that whether it’s bullshit or not, there are people here who’re fanatical about it. Fanatical enough,” she added, “to climb into your attic and put that mark over your bed. That’s fucking creepy,” the girl shook her head. “If there’s something in all this that helps keep us safe while we’re figuring it out, I wanna know.”

She put the phone down for a moment to sip at her coffee. “About three books and one tape left. When I hand ‘em over in the morning, Ms. Mar’s probably gonna fire me,” Catbite shrugged. “I’d have to quit anyway to hunt Jaiden down, so no biggie.”

"So," Owen set down his mug, "you're just going to drop out of Tulane to find Jaiden, just like that?" He fixed her with a raised brow. "Throw away your education, job at the library?" The large man rose from his chair, "I don't know how long it'll take or--God forbid--if I'll ever find Jaiden. What I don't get is why? Don't get me wrong, this," he motioned to their work on his dining room table, "has been enlightening. But here you are, in some strange man's home, climbing in attics and eating Chinese food with black coffee." Owen folded his arms, "I know why I'm doing this--to find my son," a dark look, maybe guilt, passed over his features, "but I can't figure out why you're helping me." His hand idly rubbed at the stubble on his chin.

Kat would’ve smiled at that. After all, it was never a bad thing to leave them a little confused. But this,she thought of the notebooks...bits and pieces of rambling passages that sounded completely mad, if not frightening...strummed a chord within her. There was something here. Something strange and unbelievable, tucked beneath a tribal sense of ritual that afforded a veneer of evil...at least, to the eyes of a poor little rich girl from Southern Alabama.

Then, there was Jaiden. With him, she’d been able to drop her own veneer. He never threatened, nor lusted, nor attempted to assert a masculine dominance during their times spent together. In short, he was just a decent guy. She weighed her thoughts, concluding that to admit them to the elder Walker held no adverse consequences.

“Since that asshole in the whitehouse,” she replied, “most of the male students took his win as justification to handle women any way they want...especially after that other joker made it to the Supreme Court. But not Jaiden. We weren’t besties or anything, but we did hang out a little.” A smile crept to her lips. “He showed me how to climb out his dorm window and up onto the roof. We shared six packs up there...argued a lot, and laughed at ourselves. He’s a good human being. I can count those in my life on one hand.”

She opened another notebook, aligning her phone to take the shot. “I’m a junior whose parents funnel a fuck ton of money to the college to keep me from coming home. If I tell my faculty advisor that I’ve finally chosen a field study, she’ll throw a party. So that much is covered,” she finished as the iPhone’s prerecorded “camera” sound registered the photograph. “This shit is starting to creep me out,” she admitted.

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