Part One – Genesis
As the night wore on, my mother’s friends zipped in and out of the house for various things. During the day we had a closed door policy, but at night my mother always had someone stopping by to go down to the basement and whisper in her ear. Our house was large enough so that I could go upstairs and not be disturbed, but Charisse was the one who brought the disturbance that night. On her way to the bathroom she crossed paths with my mother’s friend, Federline. He was black as night with flaring nostrils, and wore an arm full of bracelets made of copper with shells and colored beads. He reminded me of the witch doctors I’d seen on TV, except he was clean shaven and didn’t wear traditional clothes.
“Who is that one?” he said to my mother as he saw Charisse slide through the hall to the bathroom. His accent was heavy and words certain. He spoke as though people called him Mufasa.
“Charisse, Suzi’s raggedy friend.”
“She wears a red dress.”
“That ain’t no red…oh.”
“Yes, yes, Madame. You see what I mean? Don’t look at her. Look through her.” “Uh huh. So what you saying? I already know she’s been touched…and not by no angel,” my mother said matter-of-factly.
“Dress red as blood,” Federline said as if my mother said nothing. “Red as blood. When she comes back, look at her again.”
My mother waited for Charisse to return from the bathroom so that she could see what Federline was talking about. When she came out, my mother gasped at the sight of something behind Charisse. She grabbed the seat of her chair to keep from lifting off the ground. Charisse turned to give a puzzled look then disappeared down the hall.
“Aha!” Federline exclaimed. “So you see that too?”
“Get that thing out of my house! My daughter is upstairs!” my mother said in a hushed and exasperated tone.
“It’s harmless to us. That’s her curse. It has been following her since the first time it happened. But I must tell you something about your daughter.”
“Fed, be careful. Be very careful.”
“Here she is your blessing. When she leaves she will be your curse in four years time.”
My mother sat in the chair staring into space. Not one to ever be speechless, Federline obviously struck a nerve. He slowly rose from his chair and showed himself to the door. He had to give my mother time to digest what he said.
“And remember, Madame. I’m never wrong.”
My mother would eventually realize how right he was.