1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer
It was the doctor’s turn to laugh. “Well, Jesse, I see your love of Shakespeare has paid off. That was pretty damned dramatic.”
The big oaf was momentarily embarrassed dawdling at the threshold.
Then a fresh burst of zeal overtook him and he rushed into the light of the fire.
“These, what are ya doin with these…”
“These what Mr. Jessup?” Doctor Pearce inquired cooly.
The word hung awkwardly on the air before the whole room erupted in raucous laughter. The boy’s face did bear some evidence of intelligence but his rustic accent and protestant zeal were too much for composure.
“I saw you, I saw you out in the woods, actin actin like like warlocks, don’t deny it, there ain’t no use, ain’t no laughin where you’re goin…”
We redoubled our laughter. The way that lanky Graham’s clothes straight-jacketed the brawny youth’s broad shoulders made his rustic preachments doubly funny.
“You claim that we are witches, Inquisitor!?” I said in a comically arcane English accent.
“No one expects the Yokel Inquisition!” Lucas caught on to the Pythonism.
Jesse Mitchum’s embarrassment was creeping back into his wholesome, square-jawed, features.
“You know Jesse, in your defense, I’d believe they’re witches quicker than what they really are.”
“What are ya’ll doin’ out here! You’re just like old Luckadoo’s kin, wicked, wicked to the core…!”
“They’re soldiers, Jesse, defending America…with better life through chemistry.” The doctor announced with his characteristic acerbic sarcasm.
I was beginning to get curious, we rarely ventured far into the woods, and our voodoo themed ayahuasca trips were held in a root cellar. The lad struck me as a typical Methodist teetotaler and I doubted highly he was given to hallucinations. He must have seen something.
“Jesse,” I said, “I think that’s your name, so, Jesse, I promise you that we are way too fond of lattes and craft beer to venture too far out into these hills. Whatever you saw wasn’t us. Though I’m as curious, as the hell that you’re promising me, as to what you saw exactly.”
Our unexpected guest relaxed a little and seemed to enjoy the respect in my voice. Pearce had mentioned something to him about his study of Shakespeare. I was dealing with a budding thespian.
“Well..” He began.
I held up my hand. “Take a seat, get comfortable, do you want something to drink? I bet you’re wanting something warm?”
“Ya’ll wouldn’t happen to have some Cocoa?”
“O Graham has plenty of Cocoa.” Sam quipped as he did a pantomime noseful.
I had forgotten about Graham in all of the excitement. He hadn’t said a word since his French exchange with Officer Fabre. The traces of that sardonic smirk still played in curlicues round the corners of his mouth. His eyes were distant and unpleasantly cold, mocking even…
I got up to fetch the cocoa partly cause Chuk had fallen asleep and I was the backup chef, and partly to dispel the serious dose of heeby-jeebies that I’d just gotten off of Graham Hoyt.
I wasn’t spooked easily. And while I’m not an atheist, my outlook on cosmic matters is so spartan and empirical that I wouldn’t blame a body for thinking that I was. There was something about that look, and the whole atmosphere around Hoyt, the suddenness of the shift from his vivacious Etruscan chattiness to this brooding haughtiness, that reached down into my guts and broke my skin out in goosebumps.
While I was getting the powder from the cabinet above the microwave I felt a command.
Look out the window.
It was very stern. It was impossible to resist the compulsion. I looked and I froze.
There out beyond the dock in the midst of the cold mountain lake were lights. Fantastic lights of various hues, violet, green, crimson, deep blue. They appeared as orbs glowing with a ferocious luminosity and doing a sort of rhythmic rearrangement round some spot. There was a strong sense of intelligence and intent.
“Hey, hey Baird, hey what’s taking so long…. I’m keen to hear what this yahoo has to say.”
I couldn’t look away or say anything.
I managed to mumble with a slurred sort of awe, past whatever was keeping my jaw from working, like speaking through a straw… “Look, there…”
For some reason, it was damnably difficult to get my arm to move so I could point.
Schmidt slapped me on the back. “You gotta cool it with the boozin man, you’re slurring like a motherfucker.”
This brought me back into a fuller control of my faculties.
“Hey, hey! Look out the damned window asshole!” I yelled.
There was a pause.
“Don’t you see the lights…”
But there was nothing but darkness now.
“Have you been microdosing again?”
“No, holy shit, you can’t tell me you didn’t see that…”
“Dude, my last liver workup looked like a Merck catalog, I see shit all the time. But there’s nothing out there but owl shit and darkness at the moment. I promise you.”
“You alright man?”
“Yea, yea,” I said as I put the milk in a clumsily rinsed kettle.