New Orleans May 1, 1791
Joseph Maurice Frederic Larue
Tossing the shovel aside Joseph wipes his brow. He slowly pulls the battered Bible from his pocket and thumbs through while scanning the scene before him.
Seven graves. All but two of the deceased were younger than him. The fever struck quickly and most every soul on the ship had passed, including his beloved family.
He found the page he was looking for. Slowly he began to read…
Half an hour later…
“Ego facultate mihi ab Apostolic Sede tributa, indulgentiam plenariam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concedo et benedico te. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spirtus Sancti. Amen.”
Backing away slowly he picked up his axe and hefted it over his shoulder. He could see the city from here…New Orleans. He began to walk. Soon he would be on Rue Hospital at a house he heard of once from a co-worker back home.
“Home…”he thought “This is as good a place as any to start a new life …”
He began walking…
It had been a long month.
He disliked most of the work he had done since starting anew in the New World, but watchman at a plantation was by far his least favorite. He spent all day on horseback and all night sleeping close to the slave quarters without so much a bottle of good wine.
Luckily his employment came to a halt when Spanish soldiers came to the maison to arrest his employer for abusing his slaves.
“Didn’t sit right with me anyway” he mumbled as the soldiers walked by with his previous employer “beating slaves nearly to death…”
Once again on the familiar streets of New Orleans he was finally at ease. The familiar sounds and smells came to him, reminding him once again he was home.
He moved quickly through the streets, knowing exactly the way to go. To Rue Hospital, between Chartres and Royal. No other place in the city was as sweet to him, for only here would he be a welcome sight. The women there were nearly as sweet as the wine, and they cared not as much for the look of his face as much as the look of his money…
Vinicios Silva Carneiro
“The rudeness of some people is matched only by the foulness of their smell” the doctor noted to himself as several sailors rushed past him, stinking of rum and lack of personal hygiene. He pressed on through them. “Hopefully there is a place here I can rest, preferably in a soft clean bed” he mumbled a little too loudly.
One of the sailors turned and looked at him with a brown and broken smile.
“Rue Hospital, sir” he slurred “finest beds in all the colonies!” He ambled off into the crowd of people filling the road by the dock.
He lifted his heavy leather case over his shoulder, looking about hopefully. “There be no porters on this dock, good doctor” the Captain laughed. Vinicios knew deep down the truth of this man, he was a pirate…it was plain to see. “This be a slave town. You’ll be needin’ ta buy one down et the parade grounds by the church. Either that er tote yer bags yerself!” His whole body shook as he laughed. But it seemed the truth, not a single porter in sight. Not even a carriage.
He moved through the crowded street looking for a sign. There, just above the heads of the crowd, hung a sign reading: Rue Hospital. He pushed with great zeal through the throng of bodies. Having made no other plans besides finding a south-bound ship, he assumed a bit of rest and a meal would not disturb his plans greatly.
“I do hope he was serious” he mumbled “I’ve slept on that ship one night too many…”
He continued down Rue Hospital looking for rooms. Soon he could see the all to familiar store-front sign of an absinthe house hanging in the window of a small house. Another sign just below it read: Rooms. He took a deep breath and hoped for the best as he worked his way down the street to the door, struggling slightly with his large leather case…
“Papagayo” hit the street running. No point in staying around to see what happens next. Once the sailor’s body was found, cleverly stuffed into the bilge of the ship, all hell would break loose. Not being there when that happened seemed the wise choice.
Ducking through the open air market he weaved in and out of the patrons until he reached the street on the other side. “As safe as a babe in arms” he thought, a broad smile spreading across his face. He breathed slowly, taking in the sights and smells of the docks and market. The smell of tarte a l'oignon, griot, puole, diri a jon jon, picklese and beyen snaked past him as he looked around.
Just ten paces behind him he found the source of the all too familiar smell of a home-cooked meal. Standing in front of a large canopy was a tall thin man. In his hand was a glass of akasan, he was sure of it!
The man looked at him and slowly motioned for “Papagayo” to come over.
“You be de young houngan Papa Legba told me ‘bout?” he asked, not looking at the young man directly. Before “Papagayo” could answer he continued.
“Bondyè tells Papa Legba, Papa Legba tells me, and now I’m tell you” he turned and looked “Papayago” in the eyes. His were blank and white.
“This place be de evil place. Many devils hide ‘ere, awaitn’ de time te eat de poor white man’s soul, an’ our souls too. Papa also tell me you be de one to help stop dem…and Papa don’ lie ‘bout such tings!” He took a sip from his glass and whipped the sweat from his brow with a small dingy white cloth.
“You go now, young houngan. You do as Papa Legba says Bondyè wan ya to. It be dat way” he smiled as he pointed deeper into the dark streets and alleys of the Crescent City.
“You jus look fer de house with the green fairies…de House of de Risin’ Sun!”
He turned and slipped behind the curtain separating the front and back of the canopy. A cool breeze blew in off the mighty Mississippi River, blowing the curtain to the side as he passed through.
The tall blind man was gone...