At that moment the phone laying on the table rang.And rang four more times while we all looked at each
other.I have no idea why all of the others seemed reluctant or hesistant to answer it,,I only knew that I did not want to
have another converation with Johns dead sister.
Regardless of that,,being a person who can't stand a ringing phone,,I moved first and picked it up before
the fifth ring ended.
"Hello?" , "Oh,,good,,it's you." My coworkers laconic deep voice came across as a welcome alternative
to who I was hoping it wasn't., "Morning Aloishias,,what's happening?" , "Uh,,do you want to work today?" , "I don't have
to be there for another 20 mnutes,,I'm coming." , "No,,uh,,Mabel told me to get someone to fill in for you so you don't have
to come in at all today or tonight." ,"She did?" , "Yeah,,uh,,I asked her why and she said she knew you didn't wanna come
in today and that you have some other things to take care of." , "Why would she say that?I haven't spoke to her since yesterday,,and
I didn't say anything like that when I did.What else did she say,,is she there?" , "Yeah,,uh,,let me go get her,,hold on."
Looking at all the eyes looking at me,,I said,,"For some reason,,it seems I may have the day off.",,as
I heard the sounds of the kitchen come across the phone lines,,into the base unit then being broadcast to the hand set I was
holding.I could hear the voices of those that were near enough for the other phone to pick up.
Knowing Aloishias,,it was the chefs office phone.Ol' Wally Aquacasa would probally not like it and tell
him to not use it,,like what happens every day.Expecting to hear Wally lambast Aloishias before he found out Mabel was involved
I turned away from the guys in the kitchen and stepped into the living room so the 'resumed,,yet with a different subject,,conversation'
among them did not keep me from hearing it.
I recognised Tinas birdlike voice,,and the old groundskeeper who does the rum foot shuffle by shifts
end along with several waitresses and Will Neilson another one of the servers who worked the mens grill in the a.m shift.As
I mentally tikked off the names of the ones I recognised,,I realised there was one or two amid the clanking of kitchen paraphanilia
and cross talk,excuse me's and questions being asked about the days deals and duties that did not seem familiar at all to
me.They did not seem to be involved with any of the other activities in the slightest.One of the voices,,a deep,,resonating
sort,,sounding slightly muffled and with a crackly aspect,,like a speaker that's been blown,,asked,,"What name did the Odem
girl give them?" The answer came from a much higher,,not like a high pitch,,but a more clear quality,,like it was closer to
the reciever perhaps but quirky like the other one.It said,,'sasobonsan,,but like one of their names,,sasobon sam,,like you
told me to tell her'. , "Good,,now,,make sure she gets the fetish and then,,",,,,
The voice was drowned out by Wally,,who evidently stepped into the office and seen the phone laying off
the hook,, roared,,"Aloishias!" ,,then came the sound of the reciever being picked up and Wallies voice boomed into my ear,,"Hello,,this
is Wally,,who are you waiting for?"
Being a tad stunned by what he had interrupted,,I hesitated,,trying to form a word,,as he continued with,,"If
you are waiting for Aloishias,,tell him he is about to get fired if he doesn't satay off this phone,,this is my office phone
and it is not to be used for personal business." , "Wally,,it's me.Your 'stand in'." , "Oh,,hi,,aren't you supposed to be
off?Mabel told me that she told you to lay out today so we could see if that new fellow can pull your load on his own." ,
"Uh,,well,,that's what Aloishias said,,I ju,," , "Well then,,what are you doing on the phone gabbing about it,,hang up and
go to the beach or something. You deserve it and don't worry,,you can take his shift on Wednesday." , "Uh,,okay Wally,,if
you say so.But hey,,make sure you write in on the schedule so the girls up front don't freak out over it.The last time I swapped
they tried to not pay me for the shift I did work because they only look at the schedule,,okay?" , "Yeah,,sure,,did you get
your check allready?"
"My check?" , "Yeah,,they're here.Did you forget it was pay day?" , "Duh,,I guess so.If I show up to
get it,,you won't change your mind about me having today off will you?" , "Ha!Maybe.But that won't matter since Mabel said
to do it."
"God bless Mabel then.I'll see you in a few minutes,Wally." , "Don't get a ticket son,,you don't get
paid enough to pay fines." , "Don't I know it,,see ya!" He said,"Okay." and hung the phone up.I started to hit the off button
then paused.I listened to the open line after his reciever clicked off the connection,,the piece of conversation still looming
in my mind like a cresting wave blown by an incoming hurricane,,and seemed to barely hear,,'did you tell the duppies what
to do?' ,'yes,Danel' , 'shhh,,it looks like that one has an ear that may work with that thing.' I think.My own 'resident'
pundit chirped,,'now ain't that some chit?can they see you?' Mentally brushing it off I listened a moment or so untill the
'hang up the phone tone' blasted my ear.
Snatching it away from my ear I hastily poked the off button.Turning and stepping back to the kitchen
table,,I set the hand set down and hid my smile behind my coffee cup.If not for the matter of the 'voices',,this would be
a total windfall.
Sasobonsam,,Odem girl,,duppies,,and an ear that may work with a handset?,,if they were referring to me.IF
I wasn't going insane.What the,,,?Amid that maelsrom was the over riding pleasure of knowing I didn't have to work the second
half of the shift.I didn't have to worry about leaving what ever may be going on at that time.Setting my coffee down,,I looked
down at what I hoped would be going on around that time,,and later too,,Melissa.Letting my smile broaden,,well,, not being
able to contain it isn't the same as 'letting' but it didn't now that so it just broadened as I said to her,,"I just wound
up with the day off.And it is payday to boot,,which had slipped my mind."
John was still about a shade lighter than normal,,having lost some of his color when Amanda said sansobon
sam followed by the phones ringing.He asked me,,"So you don't gotta work?" , "Nope.But I do need to go get my check and cash
it.What time is your class?" , "Nine.I gotta go home before I go though." , "Ya wanna ride with me?" , "Yeah."
The look on his still paler than usual face told me what he wanted to talk about.Looking at Melissa I
asked her,,"How about you,,you want me to drop you off at your house,,do you need a ride to work?" , "Yeah,,I really ought
to go home before work,,my mom is not used to me being gone all night." , "She freaks out?" , "A little more than she lets
on according to my dad." , "Okay,,do you want to go now or ride with me to work and then go home,,or wait here till I get
Amanda spoke up real sudden like,,"We can give her a ride to her house can't we Dale,,sure we can.We'll
get her home safe and sound.You go ahead and get your check,,don't worry about her,,okay?"
Dale,,looking puzzled said,,"Sure,,we'll ride her home." And Meslissa,,looking at me with an equally
puzzled look said,,"I can ride with them,,I suppose.She only lives a block or so away from me."
"Okay then.Did you leave anything in my room?,,I gotta lock the door." , "Uh,,no,,I didn't." Draining
my now not too hot coffee I set the cup down and headed that way.Back in my room,,I stashed my stash and grabbed a blue plaid
long sleeve shirt to keep the morning chill off,slipped it on,stepped into the hall and locked my door.
Rolling my sleeves up,,I stepped back into the kitchen to hear,,",,my aunt lives in Casadega and I go
see her at least once a month,,,she reads Tarot,tea leaves and palms.She says they all call her a traditionalist,,or old fashioned,,and
generally pick on her for not being more modern." , "Why,," asked John,,"what do the others do?"
"Oh,,all kinds of things,," Amanda had a more cheerful look on her face as she spoke of this,,"they are
allways trading notes and helping each other devise new rituals and rites.Most are into the new age stuff but a few are like
my aunt and stick to the older paths.And from what I have seen,,they get better results."
Snagging my cup from the table I walked to the coffee maker as I asked her,"So,,is that where you learned
about ouijie boards,Amanda?" , "Yeah,,my aunt Maya's girl friend Amri is into them.She comes from Jamaica and uses some really
odd looking ones.She makes them for others too.She is an obi or mayal woman and is supposed to be the great,great grandaughter
of some big obi-man named Peter Three Fingers or something like that.She gets a lot of loot for her stuff and to cast spells
or whatever she calls it."
This got Dales attention,,"Loot?What do you mean loot?She don't charge money?" , "Well,,she doesn't charge
like most would say it,,she just tells them to give what it's worth to 'em and 'explain de lack to de duppies,mon'.And they
give her money,jewelry,clothes,cars and she even has a real estate business with an office here and in the islands." , "Wow!,,that's
sounds like a good job to me!" John said quickly,,"Man,,that's voodoo.My folks are from Jamaica and they use that name like
it's Satan or something equally evil.Just like Mama Austin and Manson.And duppies are like demons,dude!"
I looked at John,,the color was back in his face yet his eyes were bugging a little,,he was obviously
distressed over the subject matter.He continued,,his voice getting more strident with allmost every word,,"And that word is
not obi,,its obeah,,and it's what they call an evil witch doctor that kills people and makes zombies out of them.It's nothing
no one should play with!It's about possession ya'll and that damn pointer was moving by itself last night!Sex adds power you
He was reaching critical mass,,the many years I've known him told me that I needed to defuse the situation
quick before he went all "Black Thunder' on them.Black Thunder was a name he would use back when we would play super heros
and take on imaginary threats to the Earth in particular and the Universe in general.I was often,,'White Lightning'.And as
we got older,,it quickly became our back yard 'rassling tag team names as members of the 'Southern Storm Brothers' or the
'Heavy Hittin Hurricane Hammers'.And if the Thunder Rolled,,I was allready late.
"Aww,come on,Thunder,,lets roll!" I said while smacking him on the shoulder and then grabbing his sleeve
and tugging as I started walking to the front door,,"Let's go get my paycheck and get back here to burn a hooter,,it's my
day off,,don't make it a bummer,,let's go."
Giving in to my insistent pulling he said,,"Okay,,but you guys ought not to mess with that crap,,really.It
wasn't the drugs making you go all weird,,it was that hoodoo bullshit you've been playing with!They want to live in your body!"
He came along after that.I called out to Melissa as I walked through the living room,,"Melissa,,if you
leave me your number I will call you after I get back,,unless you are still here,okay?"
As we got to the door to the front room,,John turned back around and called out to them sitting in the
kitchen,,"Oh,,and sasobon sam is one word,I think,,but I know it's not a name like you used it."
Getting him out the front door,,I asked him,,"You sure seem to know more about that stuff than you let
on last night,dude,,what's the deal with that?"
He didn't respond untill we had gotten in my car and I was cranking it up."Man,,I had a dream bout all
this stuff.You woke me up out it as a matter of fact." , "Yeah?And what did you dream,John?"
"I dreamed my sister called me on a kids play phone and told me that she talked to you on the phone but
that you don't want to tell me she did becasue you think I will freak out over it." As I was looking in my left hand
rear view mirror when he said that he didn't see the expression on my face,,but he did feel the car stop it's backward motion
as my foot spasmed against the brake pedal."Sorry" I said as he continued with only a small pause,,"And she told me that the
loa that used to have that board is strong and has it out for you for some reason,dude.It took the board over as soon as it
came to you.She said that the Odem girl is from a family which the loa has a tie to."
Looking past him to check for traffic from his direction before backing out into the street I seen that
he wasn't even looking at me or even out the window but was instead looking down,,sort of like at his knees with a distant
look in his eyes.
"Seriously?" I asked him."Yeah,,and it made me sad,,I wanted to talk to her,,but all she wanted to talk
about was you and before we got past that,,you woke me up,man." , "Well,I'm sorry John.It isn't like you had a big 'dream
bubble' over your head while you was laying there.I didn't know." , "No shit sherlock,," was all he got out before he started
laughing at the visual I conjured and then said,,"Man,,that's a good thing too,,because the dream before that one there was
a dream about something that happened to me last night,,minus the ralphing on my belly."
"Hey,,you know,,I didn't even recognise Cindy when I got home from work.", "Yeah,,she has been putting
on a little padding hasn't she?" Having seen nothing approaching I backed out and put it in drive as he continued discussing
the added 'softness' which Cindy had rubbed on me last night.My little gambit seemed to take root and get his mind off of
the hoodoo for a little bit.Taking off toward the street corner and it's stop sign about fourty yards away,,we were both startled
by a form streaking by on both sides of the car.As quick as flicked frisbees,,the two short sleeved white shirted young men
with ties flapping backwards over their shoulders were past the car and allmost to the stop sign before visual recognition
"Oooh,,darn Mormons,,why can't their bikes be noisy like other peoples are?" , "Mormons,,is that what
they are?I used to think that they were Jehovahs witnesses untill two came to my door talking about Jesus one day." , "Yeah,,That
would make them Latter Day Saints and NOT Jehovahs witnesses,,fer sure."
"Hey,,did you know I had an uncle who is a Jehovahs Witness?" , "No,,did you know I had a sister that
was a witch doctor?She said she knows you." Having said that,,he reached over and turned the radio on.And turned it up.
As the song asked,,"Can you smell that smell?" and then proclaimed,,"The smell of it surrounds you-ooo!",,I
watched the two white shirts allready cutting across route sixty and heading north,,dwindle in size with every passing half
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