MY BABY WANTED a Voodoo doll.
I said, “There are some in the open market.”
Baby said, “No. No, those are for tourists. I want a real one, made by a shaman from down there in the bayou swamps. When I stick a pin in it, I wanna hit a trapped soul.”
She wanted a Hoodoo devil doll that’s a little spiritual prison. I told her, “Girl, you don’t know what you’re asking. You’re from the North where the sun comes up in the morning and moon at night. You know nothing of the Hoodoo swamps where the sun comes up in the morning, but it might as well be the moon because the sky’s still dark and you can hear the breeze hissing your name.”
But Baby demanded her doll. She stomped her feet and pouted. Her freckled cheeks reddened. “If you love me you’ll get me a doll. I ain’t come all this way south with you, to leave without something from the black bayous.”
Later, my Creole honey made me weak with her hotel loving. She came to me like Eve and took me under like Delilah. All my future, all my strength were her’s. That’s why I couldn’t deny her when she asked again for a little soul prison.
I should’ve said no, but I didn’t want to be saved, because I loved Baby all wrong. She had a thing for men that gave her whatever she wanted after her pretty thighs closed.
So, near midnight, I left her sleeping and crept from our hotel room. I paid a cabbie to take me to where Louisiana ends and the ebony swamps begin. As I got out, he told me, “You shouldn’t be messing with things like this. There’s a price for wanting wrong.”
“Sir, that’s why I moved up North, to get some Heaven. But I had to come back to show Baby where I was made. That’s when she wanted more than I offered.”
I tipped my man and looked for the light he said led to a doll maker. I found it suspended in midnight and followed it to a shack with a lit lantern on a table. I snuck up on the back side to keep from being seen even though no one was around.
But the bayou knows when a stranger is walking on its palm. It closed its fist and covered the road with a cypress jungle to keep me where it wanted.
I didn’t panic. I sweated and shook, but I didn’t panic. I knew this was the best time to find a witch who sews in souls. Yet I didn’t want to talk to one until I knew she won’t take mine.
A second peek inside the shack, and there was Ole Bawon Lakwa in his top hat and bowtie sitting on a wicker throne. He was all casual and grinning with buzz-saw fangs white as refined pearls.
He gleefully slapped his hand on an arm of his chair. The clap woke a bat hanging over his head. The mangy creature squealed steam and spread its tattered wings.
I should’ve run.