This is part of a serial story tentatively titled Tales from Bayou Bonhomme. Last episode gave a pretty good synopsis, so you could start there, I suppose, but if you really want to know what’s going on, you should start HERE
If you think you may have missed something, visit this PAGE for the list of stories.
As far as Luanne Blanchette knew, her husband hadn’t been home all night — and it wasn’t the first time, so it didn’t really faze her. She didn’t wake up in a panic anymore, wondering if something bad had happened to him. And she really didn’t hate him anymore — not really. She knew where he was, and that was strangely comforting. It let her sleep peacefully. Well, that and the two Clonazepam she swallowed every night — little magic yellow pills that muted everything — her cheating husband, her uncontrollable daughter, the recent madness that had come to Bayou Bonhomme.
Luanne wasn’t stupid — she remembered the summer of ’98 quite clearly — though she was never privy to any of the details. She remembered Oscar’s screams as he bolted awake every night for months afterward, invariably waking up their daughter Celine, who was only six years old at the time and had no idea what was going on; what was wrong with her father. She remembered taking her husband to the emergency room when he started throwing up blood after a particularly long and rough bender. She knew he enjoyed a drink when she met him, but he didn’t really start drinking until after that summer as it was forever after referred to in the Blanchette home, if it needed to be spoken of at all.
Fifteen years later, and the wounds had finally begun to heal. Sure there were scars, and they ached from time to time, but they’d begun to get on with their lives. Luanne accepted her too tired, too sad husband’s peccadillos and infidelity — to her knowledge, there was only the one — as a small price to pay for a reasonably peaceful and happy home. He never hit her, he was never cruel to her, and when they occasionally made love, he was even sweet, in his own way.
Men were strange creatures, Luanne thought. She knew he loved her, and knew that love had nothing to do with his occasional dalliances with that woman as Luanne forced herself to think of her. It was a small town, and Luanne knew exactly whose bed Oscar sometimes found himself in, but there was a certain bliss to be found in denial. Denial and Lorazepam, which Luanne took as needed — just like it said on the prescription bottle. And if some days she needed so much that she ended up spending the afternoon in a prescription drug-induced stupor, napping on the couch while some old sitcom or soap opera played to a less than captive audience, well, that, too, was a small price to pay for a peaceful and happy home.
It was also, too often, a quiet home — and a lonely home. On mornings when both Celine and Oscar had stayed out, she found herself feeling very left out, and depressed. It was at those times particularly that Luanne was glad for her prescription of Prozac. The doctor had warned her that they weren’t “happy pills” — they weren’t going to fix any of her problems or give her a perfect life — they were just there to elevate her mood, and to help her cope with the hard times. Luanne thought if they weren’t happy pills, then they were the closest damn thing. She loved them.
Luanne started the day as she often did, with a pot of coffee and one cigarette. She was quite disciplined about it, and reasoned that there was certainly a lot worse habits she could indulge in. Why, she knew for a fact that the Beauchamp boys were growing marijuana, and the rumour was that their own ma had put them up to it, on account of the fact that she had a taste for the wacky tabaccy. And everyone knew that Patrick Doucet’s wife was a drunk, but then, so was her father, so that shouldn’t be any surprise. And God only knew what old lady Hereford got up to in that ghastly big house of hers. Kids were telling spook stories about that place when she was just a little girl, and they were likely still telling them now.
She’d woken up with a headache that morning, and so she swallowed a couple of Vicodin she had left over from a silly accident a couple of months before. She’d had a bit too much to drink and had taken a bit of a stumble — just a couple of steps, but she’d sprained her ankle something awful.
This whole terrible and tragic business of late had her nerves all shot to hell. Oscar was drinking more often, and hardly said two words to her when he was around. He was acting stranger than usual when it came to work, and there had been a couple of nights when he’d woken up crying like a baby, covered in sweat and clinging to her, trembling. She didn’t know if she could go through all that again.
The Vicodin, Prozac and Caffeine were beginning to give her a pleasant little buzz when the phone rang and startled her. She nearly dropped her coffee cup, and wasn’t able to collect herself enough to find and answer the phone until the fifth ring.
“Hello?” She answered.
“Luanne!” Oscar cried, sounding relieved. “Oh, thank God!”
“Luanne, listen to me, are you alone?” He asked.
“Well a’course I’m alone, Oscar,” she said, only slightly slurring her speech. “I ain’t the one a-cattin’ around in this marriage. Who’d you think was gonna be here? Charlie Bergeron? ‘Cause Molly Peters — you know, Ted’s wife’s sister — she tells me that Charlie is — you know — G-A-Y. Like a homosexual.”
“Luanne, please,” the Chief ignored her. He was used to his wife being chemically impaired, especially of late, with everything that had been happening. “Where’s Celine?”
“Who the fuck knows,” she sighed, and dropped the phone. When she picked it up again, she could hear Oscar swearing. “Sorry! Sorry! I’m here. What do you want, Oscar? Is something wrong?”
“Luanne, I need you to pack a bag — just pack a bag and be ready to go. I’m coming to get you. I need to get you out of that house now!”
“Oscar, what’s going on?”
“Pack a bag, Luanne!” Oscar yelled again.
“Oscar, you’re scaring me,” she moaned. It was true. The adrenaline had started flowing in her veins, and she made an effort to focus through the fog of her combined medications.
“Where’s Celine?” He repeated.
“I dunno,” Luanne yawned. “Who knows where that bonne a rienne goes at night?”
“What about that Roger kid? Is she still seeing him?”
There was no answer as Luanne seemed to consider it. The truth was, she was having a hard time thinking.
“Luanne!” Oscar shouted into the phone, making her jump.
“I dunno,” she said, and yawned again. “Maybe.”
Oscar moaned and told his wife again to pack her bags. He only hoped he would be in time.
“Luanne,” he said, swallowing back his panic and fear as best as he could. “I love you, cher. I…”
“Oscar?” She said, suddenly worried. She started to tell him that she loved him, too, but then someone started pounding on her door.
“Oscar… Oscar hold on, there’s someone at the door.”
She put down the receiver, and didn’t hear Oscar screaming at her not to answer it.
The pounding at the door became more insistent.
“Hang on,” she said, irritated. “I’m comin’.”
A few blocks away, Oscar pressed the accelerator to the ground and began to scream.