(Those who are coming to this serialized story for the first time, you can read the complete opus to date by clicking here.)
I wanted to be sure that the priapic ghost behind me wasn’t local to Haiti and so, without turning around, I muttered the Muslim prayer I’d learned, “Bismillah rah’man rah’heem.”
The spirit and its hardon dissolved on command. This confirmed that my visitor was Moroccan.
Were they even allowed out of their own country? Wasn’t there some sort of astral law or checkpoint to keep paranormal parasites from crossing borders? I had an immigration problem. But who you gonna call?
As if in answer, the knob of an elegant cane rapped on my bedroom door.
“Jolicoeur, ma chérie.”
Aubelin Jolicoeur, Monsieur Know-It-All, had learned from the hotel manager that I was sick. He’d come to inquire if I needed anything. I did, so I called, “Entrez.”
Keeping a respectful distance from my bed, the foppish little man stood against the wall opposite, leaning on his cane; his beady eyes glittered through the dim shadows. I wondered, not for the last time, whether I was placing my trust in the right person.
I explained that I’d contracted some bad juju in Africa and wanted it removed. Then I got an idea. Since the spirit was Muslim, could I get a Christian injunction barring its presence? I asked Jolicoeur: was there someone here in Haiti who did both juju and Jesus?
Mais oui, he replied. He knew just the person. He would make the appointment.
Several days later, a taxi threaded through the alleys of a shantytown in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-Au-Prince. Arriving at the address Jolicoeur had given me, I found a rickety little house bedecked with flowers and wind chimes. I waited in a tiny anteroom for “Lina,” who was finishing with another client.
I thought, here you are again about to plant your foot in another sorceress’ web. You really should be shot.
The woman who opened the door and beckoned me inside her bedroom had such a kind face that my fears vanished, replaced by relief. This was how far I’d come in a year’s time: gazing around at all the crucifixes and shepherd pinups on the walls, I was actually thrilled to see Jesus.
Lina listened patiently as I described my plight in French. I even told her about my grandfather, whereupon she interrupted to scold me gently: if you’ve had a guardian spirit since birth, it’s not a bright idea to conjure another spirit. Something maliféque had attached itself to the Moroccan witch’s spell and elbowed out anything good that was coming my way. Never mind, Lina could fix it.
Directing me to stand in the center of the room, she set a white candle on the floor. She poured some eau de cologne in a saucer, mixing the perfume with honey syrup while chanting a Christian prayer under her breath. Taking my hands, she bowed her head, still praying, and then crossed herself. Next she lit the perfume mixture to burn off the alcohol, and asked me to rub it on my hands as she recited a prayer from a slip of paper. This prayer (translated from the Greek, she said) specifically dispersed evil spirits.
After she spoke the last words, she paused and cocked her head as if listening to something. “I had a vision of a young man,” she reported casually. “He said, ‘Tell the blonde that she shouldn’t feel bad about the baby she lost. It’s all right because there will be a big change for her in 1982 or ’83, when she will meet a man who will be very good to mate with.’”
Returning to the hotel, I was quite shaken about this last part. Very few people knew I had gotten pregnant by the married man with whom I’d had a love affair. That heartbreak was one of the reasons I’d fled to Morocco a year ago. There I’d managed to distract myself with exotic adventures and work on my novel, but in a few weeks I would have to return at last to America and face my mess.
After Lina’s spell, I could sleep again. No more studly spooks poked me awake. My creativity leaped forward; I finished my book and immediately began another.
An envelope full of mail arrived from home, sent by my parents. Among the bank and credit card statements was a letter from my married lover marked “Please Forward.”
He had never written me a letter before, I suppose because he’d been afraid it would fall into the wrong hands and then his wife would find out. But she’d found out anyway. He had ended things abruptly with me, determined to mend his marriage.
Apparently he didn’t succeed. He wrote that he had left his wife. They were getting a divorce. He hoped I’d feel able to see him when I returned. And when would that be?
(To be continued.)