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Now that my 2013 novel, “Voodoo Vision: House of Spirits” is published, I’ve chosen to introduce in this blog entry the Voodoo Queen herself . . . Widow Paris. Of the four main characters in this 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, Widow Paris is my ‘Fave’ for her glamour, and her ability to conspire and beguile at the same time. I hope that you enjoy THIS peek of ‘Voodoo Vision’. If you are just now joining the ‘excerpt peek’ Chapters 1, 2-3, are included in the line-up of my blog entries.
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Father Vivenzio dashed up the steps to the rectory. Once inside he quietly closed the door facing Girod Street and looked across the polished floor to the door of his office. Although accustomed to the sight, he shuddered at what he saw. A Voodoo staff was propped just to the left of his door. The dark gnarls that seemed to clutch at the wooden cane resembled the knuckles of a hag. A shaft of light from the stained glass windows caught the amber eyes of the shrunken head decorating the crown of the walking stick. It seemed alive. Watching him. Judging him.
The priest hurried past flinging open the door to his sparsely furnished office. A bookcase, matching desk, and liquor cabinet were the only furnishings, save for one guest chair—occupied at the moment. The fabric of his robes rustled as he rushed across the marble-tiled floor.
An elegantly dressed, slender black woman turned in her chair to greet him, her bracelets jangling as she arranged the brightly colored fabric of her sarong. A brocade wrap protected her from the chill of the rectory office. She was physically and temperamentally more accustomed to the heat of the Caribbean.
“Widow Paris! I’m so pleased that you have waited for me. You’ve made yourself comfortable, I presume?”
“Giorgio, I wasn’t sure if maybe I had the time wrong.”
“Please allow me to apologize. I’m so sorry.”
She arched her finely shaped eyebrows and cocked her head. “Go on, I’m curious what you have to tell me.”
“I think you will find my news most interesting, and encouraging. I was just at the estate of one of St. Ann’s most promising benefactors.”
“Let me guess,” she interrupted. “The Calais’.”
“What the hell! Is there anything you don’t know?”
Widow Paris threw back her head, revealing gold-capped teeth and a broad pink tongue. Her laughter was throaty and decadent, “don’t despair my knowledge of your appointments, Father; unless it was your intention to betray our arrangement. Surely you realize there’s not much you can do that won’t be discussed throughout Tremè. My people help me, and I, in turn, help them.” Her bracelets set off another peal of jangles. She adjusted the head wrap that covered her coal-black hair. Still, tendrils crept out at her neckline like snakes slithering down her back.
I am surrounded by spies. The hair on the priest’s arms stood up in an involuntary shiver as he imagined how his swiping at the ribbon the Voodoo doll hung on must have looked. “Let me begin.”
“No. Let me.”
The priest was silenced.
“You don’t seem to appreciate what it means that Jasmine is a member of my church. Go into any household in the Garden District and you will find members of the Afro-Catholic Church—my church. You make a habit of dismissing people as you conjecture their station according to your world–the White world,” and with that Widow Paris concluded her assessment of the priest’s flaws.
“Well, now, if that doesn’t just explain Jasmine’s attitude toward me.”
“Partly, I suppose.”
“Then you know, from your well-placed sources, that Madame Calais has made a sizeable contribution to the church in gratitude for the services and attention her family received from St. Ann’s Church during this past epidemic.”
Widow Paris’ yellow-speckled eyes flashed and the image of a jaguar came to mind as Father Vivenzio felt the glare of the Voodoo priestess. He continued, “So tragic. I did what I could.”
He chose to overlook her snort and let her commandeer the exchange. “Let me guess, you have received from the Calais Trust a contribution of, what? Ten thousand dollars?”
He shook his head, defeated.
“What I don’t know is when you are going to make a contribution to my church based on the Calais generosity.”
“For Christ’s sake, is that what this is all about? Why, I was planning to share the Calais contribution with you this afternoon, Marie. Which is why I am so relieved that you waited for me.”
“How nice. I know that you are anxious to help me with the needs of my people in return for their attendance at mass.”
There was no way out of the split that he owed Widow Paris for their shared endeavors—and his involvement—on both sides of the religious aisle.
He drew out his bankbook and began to write out a check. After the ink dried he handed it to her.
“You’re a shrewd woman, Widow Paris. Very shrewd.”
She laughed in a throaty, suggestive manner. “This should buy someone’s much deserved freedom. Thank you.”
The priest grunted his acknowledgement.
“So, your long-term plans for the Calais’? Do tell,” she coaxed.
“Well, as you undoubtedly know, the Calais fortune is now held solely by the matriarch grandmother and her granddaughter.”
Widow Paris opened and closed her black lace fan as Father Vivenzio continued.
“The grandmother is ailing, and the granddaughter is losing her eyesight.”
She looked bored. “Yes? Yes? Get to the good part, Giorgio!” Widow Paris’ eyes glittered.
“In the end, an incredibly beautiful and wealthy ingénue will be left without a family. Except for the familial community of her church, of course.”
“Well, that is fascinating, now, isn’t it?” she taunted. “Whatever is to be done?” Father Vivenzio stared at the ceiling. “The parish does need a new convent. The current quarters here at St. Ann’s are crumbling. And Madame Calais’ granddaughter was not happy being quarantined there as her immediate family died, one by one, in the Yellow Fever epidemic. It was, of course, my doing that she took flight from the epidemic and was placed here at St. Ann’s. Her father was against it at first, but once the girl’s mother and sister died, he relented in order to save her. Then, he too died. Her grandmother presented the check to St. Ann’s two days ago, but, obviously, you know that. I advanced the idea that the donation, of which your own church will enjoy a portion, be used to renovate the convent.” He pushed back his chair.
Widow Paris sat silently as the priest struggled to his feet, his weight being a hindrance.
“A little red wine, to celebrate our windfall?” he asked.
The priestess nodded. “What’s better than celebrating a glorious afternoon with the blood of Christ?”
I hope you’ve enjoyed these first four chapters of ‘Voodoo Vision’. If you would like to add a copy to your eBook library, it is available at:
Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits ~ on Kindle
Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits ~ on Nook
Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits ~ on Smashwords for iBooks