Michelle drove to the New Orleans business district parked
and caught a streetcar into the French Quarter. On Bourbon street,
the carnival streamed past: monsters, Zulu stilt dancers, Vikings…
She kept an eye out for Cindy and Greg. They’d recently moved to
Louisiana and they were all quiver about seeing their first Mardi
“Michelle…!” to her left, Greg and Cindy grinned and
waved making their way through the crowd, as man brushed past
She spun her head to the right, her greeting dying on lips. She
stared as the old man, his skin the color of midnight, used his
twisted cane to propel himself to the corner.
“Papa Legba…” she whispered. When the loa reached the
corner, he turned and smiled tenderly: a gentle fatherly smile.
“Don’t forget baby,” he said. His voice resonated in her ear, as if he
was standing right next to her. “You promised to fetch her gift.
Don’t be afraid.”
“No sir,” Michelle breathed, “I won’t be afraid.”
She was dreaming again… New Orleans lay quiet and unsuspecting in the
still dawn. Then the thunder clapped like a great cymbal-–like the end of the
world. The bottom of the sky opened and gouts of rain poured endlessly from
Preternatural gusts of wind stirred the Mississippi, shaped it into a
tidal wave. It rose and fell, rose and fell crashing through the city in fury
To the west, in the eye of the storm she saw them: Dahomey warriors.
A drum beat resonated and the eye grew until it engulfed the tempest. Its power
carried them upon the air-–one warrior sprang forward twisting in ancient
movement and more followed: legs high, spinning in the war dance.
She watched in joy and terror as they danced upon the waters of the
Simone jerked awake, and sat up in bed pushing the dream
away. For a moment, they filled her bedroom. She squeezed her
eyes shut, and opened them once more. They were gone.
She glanced at the alarm clock on her nightstand. She didn’t
have to be up for another hour, but she was so wired sleep was out
of the question now. She moved closer to Paul, draping her arm
over him and laid her head on his chest.
Her cell phone rang. Simone cursed under her breath,
reached over him and snatched the phone off the dresser. The caller
ID said: “Michelle.” She pressed “talk” all the while moving into the
bathroom, so as not to wake Paul.
“Michelle, what’s wrong?”
“Papa and Mama told me they sold it! And to strangers-–!”
Simone’s pretty face creased in irritation. “Girl-–! You called
me this time of the morning for that? You knew that sale was going
I didn’t think you would really do it!”
“I don’t see why not!” Simone snorted. “That house has
been falling apart for years! Katrina just finished it off! You hold on
to the past too much–-you got to learn to move on!”
“You never understood!” You never even tried to
There was a tense silence.
At length Michelle asked: “You still coming with me tomorrow? I
promised Grandmere I’d look for it.”
“Of course I am, sweetie. Look, we’re getting a good price
from the sale. They can buy another house-–a better one with a
roof’s that’s not falling in and wood that ain’t all rotted out from
water damage. It’s not so bad. ”
“Michelle…?” Simone asked.
“Yeah, I’m here; I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Alright honey, love you.”
“Love you too,”
When Simone walked back into the bedroom, Paul was sitting up double
checking his lesson plans. He was a Psychology professor at Dillard
University. Simone had met him at a faculty and student mixer.
But they kept their affair a secret because Simone
was still a student at Xavier. Most nights she stayed at the house her
parents had rented after Katrina. She’d be graduating this year,
and they planned on moving in together.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said.
“That’s alright baby. Michelle again?”
Simone blew out her breath in agitation, running her fingers
through her thick Afro. “She just doesn’t get it. We’re all glad to be
rid of that house-—everybody except her.”
Paul slid out of bed and Simone paused long enough to
enjoy the sight of his muscled, chocolate hued frame. “I’m gonna
make some coffee,” he said. “You want some?”
“Yeah thanks.” Simone followed him into the kitchen, her
tall brown sugar body still clad in a lace camisole, and leaned on the
counter watching him spoon coffee into the pot.
Paul put the coffee on to simmer; then fixed them both a
At length he said: “I know you don’t want to hear this baby,
but she has a point. That house has been in your family for what,
“Some White man left it to my great grandmother, and it’s
been a pain in the ass ever since!” Simone snapped. “You don’t
wanna know how much the property taxes are on that dump yearly!
And after Katrina, the insurance company wouldn’t fix it-–they
wiggled through a loophole dividing water and storm damage!”
Paul held up a conciliatory palm. “Whoa! I’m on your side,
remember? I’m just saying before your finalize anything, make sure
you’re not getting ripped off twice. If you and your folks have made
up your mind to sell it, it’s possible you could get more. That house
has historic value.”
“The papers have already been signed,” Simone replied
“Louisiana state law says you have a grace period to back
out of that.”
She shot him a look of pure venom.
“Alright baby,” Paul chuckled. This is your party, I’m just a
guest.” His mouth curved upwards in a smile. “You know, if you’d
quit being so mean we could have some breakfast.”
Simone grinned back. “Yeah, what’s on the menu?”
“Come on over here and see.”
She sauntered up to him, surrendering to his kiss. Paul’s
thick lips trailed deliciously down her neck, and she moaned aloud
as he tasted her nipples. Simone rubbed her hands over his thick
hair, and licked the hollow of his neck, then gently massaged his
Paul knelt and slipped her panties off, and lifted her to the
counter. She pulled his boxers over his hard rear, and in one quick
push was inside her.
Simone smiled, and returned his quick hard thrusts all
thoughts of grandmere and her beloved house fleeing her mind.
Morning quickies are always the best…
Simone read the article again. As an intern she had to write,
take photographs and do office work the full-time staff didn’t have
time to bother with.
She’d written some of the Newspapers best editorials. But
she was still just an intern–-a “go-fer” as one of her more cynical
classmates put it-–and at the bottom of the food chain.
Hell, the janitors make more than I do. That’s alright. This is my
last year at Xavier. I’m getting all the experience I need. One day, I’ll be a
reporter–-maybe the next Pulitzer Prize winner.
Everything in its own season, just like Grandmere said.
Thoughts of Angelique brought a rush of sadness. Her
younger sister thought Simone didn’t love her grandmother enough,
just because she was going along with the sale.
Did it ever occur to her that just walking inside that house is painful
to us? she fumed. It reminds us of how she died.
She was still angry that the insurance companies had been
able to swindle so many folks, including her grandmother, out of
their payoffs. But that was why she’d gone into journalism, so she
could expose the truth. Newspapers-–real newspapers weren’t
afraid of it.
Simone finished proofreading her story. Before it went to
press, the copy editor would proofread it again, check it for
inaccuracies and to make sure she hadn’t written anything that
could get the Newspaper sued.
Don’t get your back up. He does it to everybody.
She stepped out into the hallway.
You best get ready.
Her papers fluttered to the floor. Simone knelt and with
shaking hands tried to gather them up.
“Let me help you,” a voice above her said.
Simone looked up into a face from 40 years ago. It was
Grandmere Angelique, wearing a form fitting sweater and jeans: her high
cheekbones and full lips accentuated by thick hair braided into a
French roll at the nap of her neck.
Copyright 2010, 2013 Valjeanne Jeffers, Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson, Cover art and design Quinton Veal all rights reserved.
Contact Authors Valjeanne Jeffersand Quinton Veal at http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com
This story has been published in Specular Mythseed and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine
An excerpt was also featured on Black Tribbles Radio Show: Octavia City