Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mystics, 437 Rue Toulouse, French Quarter, Louisiana


Previously, Ella Mae and her daughter, Averil Jean, stopped at the Myrtles Plantation in Alexandria, Louisiana where they met the nefarious Beau Raspberry. During their stay, Averil Jean encountered a lady in white, who had been murdered by her husband, Sam Bradford. The apparition urged Averil to seek justice for her in New Orleans.
           Sam Bradford left his New Orleans office to wander and think. Inexplicably, he found himself ringing the doorbell of 437 Rue Toulouse, a rundown townhouse in the French Quarter that advertised a Seer. To Sam’s surprise, a young girl with raven hair and blue-gray eyes opened the door.
           "We have been waiting for you." The girl announced mysteriously.
  She took Sam’s wrist in a strong grip and pulled him into the foyer. Sam noticed she had an extra finger on both hands, a six-fingered girl. Appalachia?
 He let himself be steered into a shadowy front room where a woman of 40 or so sat at a round table. The attractive mystic nodded for Sam to have a seat where a cup of tea steamed. They had been waiting for Sam.
He scrutinized the black haired woman who stared at him silently. She was of American Indian blood, dark with high cheekbones, slender and striking, perhaps royalty. Without a word, the woman took his hands and held them tightly and then let out a breath.
“You drowned your late wife, Alice Lacount." She said laconically.
Sam gasped and his blood ran cold as he pulled back his hands. How could this crackpot know?
“But no matter, we will come to that later. For now, we are here to help with a different message." The Seer told him with an enigmatic smile, taking Sam’s hands again.
 The odd girl sitting off to the side chirped. "Sell. Sell everything now!"
Sam looked at her as if she was deranged. But the girl persisted. “Sell now. Buy back in a year. Believe me!”
The woman rubbed her hands and looked at him with her dark eyes: " Five dollars, please."
Sam was filled with a sudden dread, a yearning to flee, so he paid and hurried back to his office. Nonsense, he thought. The market had fallen, but the Dow Jones average was still high. He laughed the townhouse session off and poured himself a glass of bourbon. His elegant office looked out over the French Quarter which was coming alive as the darkness took hold.
But he tugged at his collar, restless. He wondered what had made him stop at that pink, neglected townhouse. What about the woman and the strange young girl with the wolf eyes? His spine tingled as he recalled the woman saying she knew he had drowned his wife, the wealthy Alice Lacount.
Soberly, he nodded his head. He had drowned Alice in a staged boat accident to escape her haranguing, but also to inherit her money. Sam had loved running Alice’s Myrtles Plantation, but when the servants began to talk about the ghost, a woman in white, he knew it was time to move to New Orleans. With a sigh, Sam decided to call it a night and go upstairs. His day had been tiring and the encounter with the Seers had unsettled him.
Oddly, the next morning when Sam got to the office he called his broker and told him to sell his stock market holdings. Afterwards he gulped a coffee and chewed on beignets as his stomach turned. What was going on?
A few days later, the market collapsed, this time dramatically. The great recession was on. But Sam’s money was safe, half in a solid bank, the remainder in gold. He owed preserving his fortune to the crazy psychic and the weird girl. Why on earth did they help him?
Sam paced the floor in his office. The Seer knew Sam had taken Alice behind Myrtles to the Cane River that fateful night and cleverly arranged the boating accident. Something had to be done about the psychics.
A friend arranged a meeting for Sam in a cafe that was around the corner from Rue Toulouse. There he met a tall, thin man, his face hidden in the shadows. Sam explained his problem, the psychics at the townhouse. To Sam’s surprise, the man said he had heard of the two women, the mother a princess, her daughter otherworldly. He would be pleased to take care of them.  Perhaps a fire.
The Seer’s townhouse burned one night and when fire engines rushed to Rue Toulouse, the firemen were surprised to find a large crowd on the street watching the blaze. Men stood sadly and women sobbed, wringing their hands, young children wept. Who was inside the townhouse?
Once the fire was extinguished the firemen searched the ruins with dread, expecting to find dead bodies. The crowd continued their watch; many were on their knees, heads bowed.
Given the crowd’s strange reverence, the fire captain arrived and counseled with the fire team. He stood on the steps of the burned building and announced through a bullhorn that no one had been inside the destroyed building.
There was a cheer from the crowd. “Halleluiah,” some shouted.
“Praise God” rang out from the multitude, which maintained a vigil throughout the night, then dissipated in the morning light.
Standing in a doorway was a tall thin man, who watched the crowd. So the mystic and her strange daughter had slipped away. He would hunt them, find the pair and bury them deep. 

There was still work to be done.

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