J.J. Redick nervously drove down streets in a New Orleans neighborhood that he had never been to before. The small houses lining the streets ranged from “dilapidated” to “unfit for human occupation”. He wondered why he had elected to make this trip at night when everything seemed ten times as unsafe. Distant and not-so-distant police sirens punctured the still night with frightening regularity.
Finally, J.J. reached the address he was looking for. It was allegedly the location of “Madame Lasquier’s Voodoo”, but there was no signage that indicated he was in the right place; the house looked just like the houses on either side of it, except it didn’t even have lights on inside. He consulted his phone to ensure he was in the right place; he was.
Had Google Maps fed him out-of-date information? Had Madame Lasquier died years ago without telling anybody, leaving behind a normal house resided in by normal people? J.J. had half a mind to just drive away from that poverty-stricken street and forget about the whole project, but he knew he couldn’t. He had to help his teammate, and the only way he could do that was to enlist the help of a real practitioner of old Creole voodoo.
Getting out of his car and checking his surroundings to make sure he wasn’t about to get mugged, J.J. walked up to the front door of the house. Mentally reciting what his response would be if he was greeted by somebody other than Madame Lasquier, he rung the doorbell.
J.J. awkwardly stood there for a minute, wondering if he should ring the doorbell again. If the resident of the house really wasn’t Madame Lasquier, he didn’t want to be seen as an annoyance, so he decided to keep waiting. Just as he had made up his mind to leave and find another voodoo woman to help him out, the door opened.
It was hard to see who was standing there; there was no light on in the entryway, so the only light came from a streetlight that was down the block. Whoever it was, they had dark skin and were wrapped in some kind of purple garment. “Are you Madame Lasquier?” J.J. asked.
The woman turned around and walked back into the house, but left the door open, which J.J. took as an invitation to follow. After navigating down a cramped hallway that was lined with shelves, they came to a small room that had some light emanating from it. Madame Lasquier sat down at the table in the center of the room and motioned for J.J. to sit across from her.
“It is rare for one so fair-skinned to come here,” Madame Lasquier said in a gravelly voice that was heavily accented with Louisiana Creole. Now that there was some candlelight in which to see more clearly, J.J. had to estimate that she was at least ninety years old. “With what do you need my help?”
“I have a friend, not even of the age of twenty, who is afflicted with severe knee pain,” J.J. said. “Conventional medicine has so far failed him, but I know that there are voodoo remedies or spells which can cure him.”
Madame Lasquier nodded. “It is a common misconception that voodoo is about curses and retribution, but voodoo is also about healing and prosperity. I have many potions that will bring relief to your friend’s ailing joints, and I am knowledgeable in the rituals necessary to make best use of those potions.”
“Great!” J.J. said. The skulls and candles that filled the room had made it seem like Madame Lasquier might only be interested in acting as a sort of spiritual hit-woman for her clients. “What’s the cost?”
“I sense that you are a very rich man, so rich that no price I charge could meaningfully impact your wealth,” Madame Lasquier replied. “Therefore, I must ask for a different type of payment.”
This line made J.J. uneasy, given who he was dealing with. “Um…maybe.”
“I will bond my soul to yours, so that when my earthly body finally dies, my spirit will remain on Earth to be reincarnated when the opportunity arises.”
“No way!” J.J. said quickly. The thought of having his soul intertwined with the possibly cursed soul of a voodooist was appalling. It had implications not only for his own earthly life, but whatever afterlife awaited him on the other side.
Madame Lasquier slowly stood up. “Then there is no deal. I trust you can find your way out?”
J.J. could see that there would be no further negotiating with Madame Lasquier. Rarely did he encounter somebody with such an air of uncompromising power about her. However, the thought that a cure for his teammate was so close, yet so unattainable, was tormenting him. So he did the only thing he could think of.
Running to the nearest shelf, J.J. grabbed bottles of potion, jars of powder, and a skull. He then quickly ran out of the house as Madame Lasquier shuffled after him, screeching words in a language he didn’t understand. As he sped away from that dark street, he wondered what the true cost of his burglary would be.