"Leave it there for now,young'un." said Johns mom.Being relieved yet left in awe over the cicada noise
suddenly flowing like normal for the season when I hadn't even noticed the absense I said,"No problem." and reached back in
my drivers window to pick up the paper bag with two Yoohoos left in it off the passenger seat.
"Me and you have to take that thing to a friend of mines out west of 95 and he'll bind it right proper."
she said with a smile like her usual ones, "Really?Thank you ma'am!" was all I could respond with as she stepped over next
to me,took me by the arm in a very motherly fashion and began leading me to the chairs next to the large oak trees trun and
continued speaking in an even,smoothly firm voice saying,"Now,,this fella we are going to take it to will ask you a bunch
of questions so you have to get it all straight in your mind about things that have been going on.John told me about the Odem
girl,,the witch board pointer and the duppies this morning but you need to try to remember any weird things that may have
happened to you. Anything that strikes 'you' as outside of the ordinary,normal,usual things in your life."
Having made it to the chairs I waited for her to sit down in 'her' chair,,a wicker and white wooded large
high backed rocker that had arms with curved down ends and then took a seat to her right.John sat to her left until she said,,
"Johnny,, please go get the teapot off the stove put it on the tray on the counter with the cups and bring it out here,,would
"Yes,mama." , "Thank you,love."
"Hey,John,,you want to put these in the fridge?" I asked while sticking out the bag with the chocolate
drinks in it to him.Not saying anything he just took them with a 'stoic' look indicating he wasn't comfortable with the situation
yet was handling it anyway.He usually clammed up a bit around his mom but this was different and we all knew it.
Hands steepled like Spock she watched him walk away for a minute then turned to me,,locked a very stern
eye on me and said,,"You two might be in for a world of shit,boy.We will find out more after we get this thing to my friend,,he
can look into things.Depending on exactly who is behind this it may not be real big trouble.That's why you have to remember
anything at all hat may be part of this,,even if it seems so long ago that it don't seem like it has anything to do with it
at all.You can't ask me no questions about what would be strange or not.I ain't allowed to influence you at all and if I were
it may make things go wrong and that could cause it all to get worse.It has to be from you as you think of strange.John's
fetching something that maybe will help a little but it's all I can do for you young'uns except pray to Our Father to hold
you up and make you as strong as needs be."
At a loss as to exactly what to say to the sudden little flood that came from the usually 'spare with
words' woman I heard "With a blessing like that we would have to want to fail to lose." which came as a surpise to me but
made a large bursting with relief and cheer smile split her dark face like a door opening to let golden afternoon sunlight
into a shuttered room.
"That's the right way to respond,boy.You a church goer?"
"Uh,,not lately.I used to go to church and Sunday school back in grade school but when my older brothers
and sisters didn't want to go anymore my mom stopped it.I probally said I didn't want to go too,,I don't remember."
"Did you get saved and baptised?"
"Yeah and I think I got baptized,,in a baptism pool with blue walls,lights or glass but it's a fuzzy
"As long as ya got Jesus in your heart,,this won't go too bad for no body."
"Is that the name you mentioned to that thing?" I asked with a gesture towards my car,it's trunk and
the occupant of the trash can in it.
"Is it?" was her reply followed by,"Be careful son,,don't spill it coming down them steps." which was
directed to John coming out of the door and down the steps with the loaded tray his mother sent him to get.Her calling out
like she did startled him and he bobbled a bit hitting the bottom step bringing a clatter from the items on the tray but caught
himself easily.The wide eyed look and it's subsequent relieved expression set me to smiling and his mom broke out in a little
"Don't blame no duppy for that,,that was all you,John." I said with a smile on my face.His moms response
removed 75 percent of that smile with the words,"Tru dat,boy,,but don't be calling them.'Specially now,,yeh?" , "Yeah,,what
do you want to do,,sic'em on me?I could trip and spill this hot tea on you,dude." from John,even through his smiling lips,wiped
all but 5 percent of what was left and ellicited ,"Sorry." from me as I stood up and grabbed a small table from a few feet
away and set it closer to us for him to place the tray on.
His mom said,"Go ahead and sit for a minute before you go to class,Johnny.I need to talk to you both."
While he took a step to grab another chair she began filling three handless porcelin cups about 4 inches
across and 2 inches deep.They had a gold rim with a red,yellow,blue and violet colored decorative pattern around the sides.As
she poured a purplish frothy fluid into the first and the steam roiled off of it and then billowed out of the cup a pungent,thick
scent filled the air.
Slightly cloying,sweetish yet with an aroma similar to the night blooming jasmine bush that grew on the
south side of the house in Whispering Palms that I grew up in.Along with that seemed to float more than a hint of something
that made me think of Christmas for some reason.
Sitting down John said,"That smells kind of good mom,,what is it?" Finishing filling the third cup she
set down the tea pot allowing the matching yet different pattern on the sides of it to catch my eye.The pattern seemed as
abstract as the one on the cups but had orange,green and indigo included in it.She smiled real wide and said,"Yes,it does,doesn't
it.What does it smell like to you,son?" while fixing a twinkling set of eyes on him.She looked like she was about to crack
a joke or play a trick or something.
Smiling he said,"Sort of like the hot chocolate chocolate you make with a bunch of vanilla and cinnamon
or something like that in it."
Taking the bright sky blue porcelin lid off of a small red,brown,sea green porcelin bowl she took a spoon
that,from the color,looked like a piece of really old silver and ladled out about a quarter spoon full into each cup while
asking,"And what about you?" and then directed the same glittering look on me.
"It smells like night blooming jasmin to me.With something I can't place my finger on that makes me think
Turning back to the tray she then open another,smaller,octagonal read and violet container and added
a pinch of its the greenish powder that glittered somewhat like sugar into the cups and asked,,"Now,,what does it smell like?"
Sniffing the air I realized the odor had changed to a sea-salty fresh smell like one might catch on the
beach,,a little wood smoke,,something like a girls perfume that seemed familiar and much to my amazement,,heavily laced with
the thick aroma of some good weed!
Looking at John I could see by his expression that the smell was different to him as well.Locking eyes,,John
and I both said at the same time,"The beach."
Picking up a cup in each hand she held them up a little while looking up with her eyes closed,her lips
moving a little but no sound came from them.
Setting them back down she took a sip out of the one she had not lifted and closed her eyes,,said,,"Wood
smoke,perfume and,,?" leaving the question hanging she opened her eyes and looked back and forth between me and John.The delight
she felt at the expressions on our faces obvious in her eyes.
Neither one of us responded for a moment then John started with,"Some,," and I joined in with him for,,"really
Laughing aloud,,she said,,"Right!" and reached into the pocket of her and plopped a big bag of weed on
Stunned,,me and John sat there looking back and forth between his mom,the bag on the tray,and each other
untill he asked,,"Is that for us,mom?"
"Yeah,,your cousin left it.He said you should have some of this tonight." and handed it to me."Mine?"
"His exact words were,'hand it to the white boy,auntie." , "Me?" , "Yes."
Reaching for the money in my front right pocket I asked," What do I owe him for it?" , "Actually,,he
said,,if you said that for me to say,,'beat de duppie,mon and t'ank Yah when ya do,,,you not 'owe me nuttin.But if ya wanna,,t'ink
a me an' smile real big when ya smok it,mon!" , "Really?" , "Yes,boy,really." , "What did he tell you to say if I hadn't of
asked how much it cost." , "Nothing,,he knew you would ask."
Taking the sack out of the hand she had held stuck out to me.I said,,"Tell him thanks when you see him,okay?"
As turned her attention back to the tea cups I stuck the sack in my left pocket.Then she handed each
of us a cup each while saying,,"Wait 'till I tell you to take a swallow.Now it's gonna be hot but you have to get a good mouthful
and hold it untill I say swallow it.Make sure you don't spit any out. Swallow it all,,and don't breath while it's in your
Taking the cups we waited and watched her pick up the third one,,held it up like she did the others,,did
the same prayerful looking thing,,took a sip,then reached out to pour a little of the purplish fluid from her cup to each
of ours."Now',,she said.
Raising the beautiful porcelin cup to my lips seemed to take longer than I anticipated.The closer my
hand with the cup got to my mouth,,the slower it seemed to be moving.A virtually tangible wall of aroma and heat rose from
it seeming to thicken and congeal the air around me.
Astonished,,I tried to stop to stop the motion that was bringing the pretty cup full of steaming bewildering
smelling purple concotion and it was as though my hand and head were disconnected from each other.My hand and arm acted like
nothing had been said to them at all.As much as I tried,,they continued right along.Unable to look away,,literally,,I tried,,
I watched the frothy purple liquid sloshing around a little during it's approach wondering why my little nagger didn't say
something about this amazing change in my perception of reality,,before I even drank the stuff.
While thinking that I became aware of a painful,burning hot sensation flooding my mouth and realized
there was a fairly large amount of an acrid,bitter,nasty,putrid,flavor that tasted like rotten road kill laying in the sun
after a rain smelled with a equal portion of mildewy,fungoid infected old locker room and moldy,mouldering socks next to a
sulphur slimed shower room.
Or at least that's what came to mind while I started gagging and trying to puke out my nose.The sounds
of someone retching and puking assailed my ears.Wondering how I could be puking yet have the same awful,disgusting,hot,wet
carcase taste filling my mouth I realized my eyes were closed,which explained why I didn't see the Yoohoo I drank splashing
onto the ground,,or into the air,,in front of my eyes.Opening them I saw John on his hands and knees retching his Yoohoo into
the growing puddle on the oak tree leaf covered ground in front of his 'tear streamed' eyes.
His mother was looking at him with a sad,yet extremely obvious worried expression on her suddenly very
aged looking face.No smile at all crinkled the corners of the love filled eyes.Just a very motherful gaze that expressed all
a mom could feel toward a beloved child.Then,,even in profile,,a look of sterness,resolve tightened those eye corners.Her
jaw bunched,tightening her cheek flesh which revealed the fluid she still had in her mouth by the little bulge pooking out
as her lips tightened and pursed and her throat worked to swallow it's contents.
As it disappeared she turned to me,,eyes watering and said,,"Swa," gasped,said,"Go ahead," gagged a bit,cleared
her throat and said,"Swallow it now,boy." while the watering of her eyes spilled over into flowing streams down her cheeks.
Absolutely NOT wanting to do so,,I did.Keeping my tongue pressed up against the roof of my mouth and
my cheeks tight to keep from tasting the hot liquid as long as I possibly could the desire for air became an over riding concern.Looking
at her,,seeing she had turned her attention to her son who had quit vomiting and was gasping for air as he sat back up in
his chair,,as the fluid burning passage seemed to infuse my body with the heat of a steaming hot fresh layed black asphalt
roadway in noonday sunlight I realized that there was no longer any way to delay the inevitable.I was going to have to breath.My
chest jerked in a spastic twitch as my throat felt it was going to collapse from the pressure of my lungs trying to suck air,,life
giving air in to them.
Totally opposed to it as the sweat poured out of my skin,soaking my shirt in suddenly trickling,prickling
rivelits down my sides,,I stood up taking my blue plaid long sleeved shirt off,,dropping it on my chair as I stepped two steps
past the oak tree,,opened my mouth and sucked in a big lung filling flood of,,,
Sea fresh breezes,a little wood smoke,,the very strong aroma of a womans perfume,,Melissa,,not just her
perfume,,but her,,that delightful scent she exuded the night before,,and some 'very,very good weed'.
A voice seemed to echo in my head,,like the voice of the vodka cart driver in that dream this morning,,before
he turned into Dale,,saying,,""Now,,that's the good weed."