Sleepwalking – By Jessica B. Bell

A bayou at the Sabine River at the Louisiana r...

A bayou at the Sabine River at the Louisiana rest stop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the next chapter in the serialized story “Tales from Bayou Bonhomme.” This story picks up more or less right after “In the Shadows” which is a good jump on point, because I give you a synopsis right at the beginning.

———

Oscar woke up waist deep in water and slapped his hand over his mouth to stop from screaming. He’d been in his bed, dreaming about the bayou — the same dream he’d had for the past few nights; the same dream that sometimes crept into his waking hours. Someone was calling his name, someone needed him terribly, someone was in pain, someone was alone, someone was hungry. And now here we was, standing in the swamp, under the pale moon, his breath making ghostly clouds in the cool night air.

Oscar stumbled and found himself splashing in the muddy water, cursing in both English and French in equal measure. He paddled his way back to shore and clung to the dock — the same dock where they’d found the Singleton boy not that long ago. He pulled his considerable bulk up on to the dock and lay there, cold, wet, and breathless. He shivered, not only because of the cold night air and his present state of undress, but because he was so utterly frightened and perplexed. The thought that his own mind and body could betray him to the point of self-destruction filled him with terror.

He’d gone to bed that night after meeting with Mel out at the bar. She’d given him a box and made him promise not to open it until he’d sobered up. She wouldn’t tell him any more; just made him promise to keep it secret and safe, and to wait until he — and maybe Leroy, too, she added — could open it somewhere private. She told him one other thing, too — something he already suspected, but didn’t expect to hear from someone else’s mouth.

“Amie’s in trouble,” Mel had said, looking as pale as that stock boy of hers that everyone called Varney the Vampyre.

Oscar had raised an eyebrow at that, and asked her what she knew, and who had told her. She hadn’t replied, only gripped his arm and pleaded with him to take care of himself, and Amie, too.

Oscar knew that Mel held no affection for him — not that he cared one way or the other — and so he took her concern all that more seriously. But he was drunk, and there was nothing he was going to do about anything then. So he had gone home and shoved the box under his bed, then passed out next to his wife Luanne, who was snoring loud enough to wake the dead. The fact that it was still dark made Oscar wonder how long he’d actually been asleep before the dream took him; before he walked all the way through town down to the bayou.

Oscar heard a low rumbling sound that he recognized as a boat motor, and knew immediately who it must be. He propped himself up on the dock and watched Leroy’s boat slowly approach the dock down by Leroy’s Grill, where the man served up the flesh of some ancient swamp thing’s offspring smothered in barbecue sauce, a fact known by only two people in Bayou Bonhomme, the Chief being one of them. Everyone else who ate at the BBQ shack assumed they were eating the best pulled pork in Louisiana, and attributed their cravings for the meat to the fact that it was delicious, and were not aware of its addictive properties. Though that revelation would likely pale in comparison with the simple truth that what they were eating did not, in fact, originate from a pig’s loins, but rather, from something strange and undefined.

Leroy’s boat didn’t seem to be slowing, and was getting close to the dock. Oscar stared in alarm as the other man crashed his boat into the dock, tossing himself into the swamp. The Chief was never an athletic man, and in the past fifteen years he’d put on a fair amount of sedentary weight, but he moved as fast as his full frame would carry him down the bank toward the man who he’d never considered a friend, really, but with whom he shared a terrible bond, and after Jean-Baptiste’s horrible death, Oscar didn’t want to be losing anyone else that could be a possible ally in the troubles that had come to Bayou Bonhomme in the past few weeks — troubles that seemed to only be starting, and were certainly going to get worse.

“Leroy!” Oscar yelled, suddenly aware that his voice would likely carry all across the Bayou, and that if he wasn’t careful, he’d have an audience before long. With him in soaking wet boxers and a ratty old Saints t-shirt, with his belly falling out the bottom of one and over the top of the other, that would make for one fantastic photo op, to be sure. The Chief ran toward Leroy’s boat, slipping and nearly falling in the mud more than once, and found the other man frantically crawling up the embankment. As Oscar approached him, Leroy collapsed face down in the mud.

Oscar rolled the thin man over and when he saw his face, he let out an involuntary gasp. Leroy’s eyes were wide open but vacant, and his lips were moving in a repeated whisper. All of his hair had turned horribly white, and his eyes were bloodshot, like he’d burst all the blood vessels in them.

“I saw… I saw….” he was repeating, though the Chief had to put his ear right down to the other man’s lips to make it out.

“What?” Oscar demanded, maybe a little too strongly, because Leroy recoiled as if to defend himself, and then burst into hysterical tears.

“Shh…” Oscar said, trying to keep the man quiet, and held his arms, pinning him into the mud. An onlooker would have thought the Chief was assaulting Leroy, or perhaps that the two were in the throes of passion, the way that the skinny Cajun was bucking and railing, trying to throw the larger man off of him. But the Chief held his ground, sitting himself right down on Leroy until he calmed down.

Without warning, Leroy seemed to snap out of his catatonia, and sat up, pushing the Chief off of him. He grabbed Oscar by the hair with both hands and pulled his face to his as if to kiss him.

“I saw,” Leroy repeated, a little more lucidly. “I saw everything.”

“What?” Oscar asked again, not even bothering to move the other man’s face away.

“Everything,” Leroy reiterated. “I saw everything.”

——————–

WHAT DID LEROY SEE?????? Tune in next time. Or click HERE to enter the world from the beginning.

No, seriously — WHAT DID LEROY SEE?????

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6 responses to “Sleepwalking – By Jessica B. Bell

  1. As soon as he turned Leroy over, I started reading as fast as I could until I got to the end and…cliffhanger. You minx. Really, though, that was a great way to end it and I have so many questions that I’m DYING for you to answer. I’m certain everything I think I know is wrong and that you’ve come up with far more clever and devious answers than I could hope to think up. Well done!

  2. Pingback: On the First Day of NaNo . . . | The D/A Dialogues·

  3. Pingback: Varney the Vampyre – by Jessica B. Bell (A Bayou Bonhomme Tale) ** | Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante.·

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