The Summer of ’98 Part Four

From the Journal of Jean-Baptiste Levesque

July 6, 1998

There were fireworks for the 4th, but most nobody came. Where usually the whole town showed up in Hereford Park to gather ’round the bandstand, and the high school band would play The Star Spangled Banner or God Bless America, only a few stragglers showed up, and there were no children there at all. There was a spooky quiet, with nobody speaking of the things that had happened in the past couple of weeks. Four more children had been reported missing, and then there was what happened to Chief Gillette and poor Thierry Blanchette. My friend.

I was there at the library when it happened, and saw it with my own eyes, but I still have trouble believing it. One of the Ammon girls — I think I heard her name was Jacqueline — was carrying something across town toward Hereford House. I saw the girl myself — she might have been fifteen or sixteen, I s’pose. Hard for me to remember these days what bein’ that young looks like. I guess she’s working for Leroy over at that new BBQ shack of his. Been a long time since this town had a BBQ shack. Just the smell of it makes my mouth water and my belly rumble.

This Ammon girl, she was walking ‘cross town carrying something, like I said. Wrapped all in plastic, across both arms. Thing was, people was followin’ her. A couple at first, but she was picking up strays like some sort of Pied Piper or somethin’. They was sniffin’ around her like dogs, and by the time she passed by the library where I was sitting in the courtyard reading and having my morning coffee, there was at least two dozen folks nipping at her heels, and she was walking so fast, with tears in her eyes, yelling at them to leave her alone.

Those people that was followin’ her — they was dead in the eyes, if you follow my meanin’. There was a travellin’ show came through town when I was a younger man — Mysterio the Mystic — and he had a hypnotism act. Harmless stuff, mostly, though some folks got a mite embarrassed when he made them cry like babies or bark like dogs or whatnot. These folks as was followin’ the Ammon girl — they looked hypnotized. Like they didn’t rightly know what they was doin’. They weren’t being aggressive or anything, at least not at first, but they was makin’ the girl nervous, and she done tripped over her own feet, sending that precious package of hers spilling out on the courtyard of the library.

Any civilized person would’ve helped the girl up, but instead, they rushed, trampling the poor girl, practically climbing over each other to get to whatever it was that she’d been carrying. I didn’t get a good look at what it was, but whatever it was, they started tearing it apart and eating it.

I stood up up and started moving toward the library doors, when I heard the first scream. A woman was running across the courtyard toward me holding her throat, which was spurting blood. She was carrying a piece of what looked like raw liver in her hand. A man chased after her, gore and blood in his teeth, and jumped on her back, knocking her to the ground and tearing the piece of meat from her hand.

I yelled at them to stop, but when he looked up at me with black eyes, all the strength left my legs and I couldn’t breathe. I began to tremble, and I fell to my knees and leaned against the library doors. I began pounding to be let in, watching in terror as people I’d seen around town, people I had known their whole lives tore each other apart. I had allowed myself to believe that the terrible things that were happening in Bayou Bonhomme had nothing to do with C’thuN’Chuk, but seeing that black ichor smeared on their hands and faces told me all I needed to know. The creature — whatever it was — was not dead at all, but had returned, and with it, madness.

When the first police car showed up, it was Chief Gillette hisself that got out, and I’m not sure what happened next. They say I may have had a bit of a heart attack, because I woke up in the hospital, and Thierry’s wife Hélène was sitting by my bed, crying. I woke up and the first thing I saw was her crying. I thought maybe she was crying for me, and to be honest, I felt a little guilty. I hate makin’ folks feel bad on my account. But it weren’t for me.

——–

Oscar stopped reading, and turned out the light. He didn’t want to read about his daddy’s death. Still, at least it was quick for him. They say that Chief Gillette had been torn apart. Oscar had to take people’s word for it, because he hadn’t been there that day. He’d gone to a domestic disturbance call with shots fired; officer down. His father had gone first, and hadn’t even made it through the door. Gerry Thibeault had beaten his wife to death with the butt of his Winchester rifle. When Oscar’s father had knocked on the door and announced that he was police and that he was coming in, the door swung open and Gerry unloaded the rifle into Thierry’s face. Gerry then turned the gun on himself, and by the time Oscar arrived on the scene, there were three bodies to clean up.

It wasn’t until later that day that he learned what happened to the Chief, and how Jean-Baptiste had been taken to the hospital. He didn’t want to think about his father. He was angry and confused — he wanted to hit something, to hurt something, to find something or someone to blame for all the madness. When Jean-Baptiste got out of the hospital, the old man pointed him in a direction that would end up changing his whole world.

———

From the Journal of Jean-Baptiste Levesque

July 11, 1998

All anybody’s been talkin’ ’bout all summer is them missin’ kids. Even though most of the kids is from neighbouring towns, everyone seems set on believin’ that whatever’s happenin’ to ’em is happenin’ here in Bayou Bonhomme. I’m inclined to agree, a-course I know a mite more than most folks. Couple-a weeks ago, Mel Cayce was bendin’ my ear about Leroy Angell.

“I know you like the boy, Jean, but I’m tellin’ you — somethin’ ain’t right there. What’s he doing out there on the bayou at night?”

I told him I didn’t know anything about that, and I didn’t. I ain’t been followin’ Leroy’s comin’s and goin’s for some time now. We got into a bit of a fight some time back which ended in him tellin’ me that I weren’t his daddy, and that he didn’t need me lookin’ over his shoulder all the time.

‘Course there’s more goin’ on there than I knew. I ain’t no fool, and I know when a boy’s got a guilty conscience about something, I just had no idea it could possibly be something this bad.

“Oh, yeah,” Mel told me, as if he’d made up his own mind about it, which he obviously had. “He’s out on that bayou once or twice a week, middle of the night. What’s he doing out there, huh? Dumping bodies, that’s what I think.”

I didn’t bring up the fact that my daddy was accused of pretty much the same thing all them years ago, nor the fact that it was Mel’s own father who had driven us out of town when daddy came knockin’ on his door early one morning.

I didn’t want to believe any ill of the boy, but after what I seen at the library, I don’t know what to think. I’m too old to deal with him myself. I reckon I best do something, though, before the wrong folks get it in their mind to deal with him directly.

Used to be I’d go to Thierry with somethin’ like this, but poor Thierry…

Too many funerals. Ordinarily I’d have been drivin’ the backhoe and diggin’ all them graves, but since my heart attack, I been restin’ mostly. Fella from the town council came by for a visit, politely talkin’ ’bout retirement, and I suppose that might just be for the best. I can always spend more time givin’ tours of the bayou. Gives me something to do, and makin’ up different bullshit versions of the Legend of Remy LeVert keeps my mind sharp.

Or maybe if I get through this summer, I’ll just up and leave. I done my time here, and I’m getting too old to fight. Coming up on 65, ain’t I? Time to enjoy my golden years. Ain’t that a joke?

Maybe I’ll just package this whole thing up and give it to Oscar, have them lock me up as a lunatic. Or maybe I’ll just sink the whole thing in the bayou and let the secrets I’ve kept die with me.

Got to speak with Oscar ’bout Leroy. That’s for sure. That I gotta do. No getting out of that.

——-

More Summer of ’98>>>>>>>

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8 responses to “The Summer of ’98 Part Four

    • Turns out it took me — Jessica, that is — ELEVEN installments to finish this storyline. It’s quite involved. Are you enjoying the multiple perspectives? I thought it the only real way to tell the WHOLE story, as no one person had access to everything.
      Have fun in California, but make sure to drop by for Swamp Thing Wednesday/Thursday!!

      • I am enjoying the multiple perspectives, and how the characters fill in the gaps for each other (e.g., Leroy and Victor). I’ll do my best to keep up 🙂

    • I knew that at a certain point, Oscar would enter the story the journal was telling — so I had started thinking a while back on how I could tell the story from multiple perspectives, with each person filling in the gaps — or even just motives, thoughts — that the other wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of. Now that I’m done writing about ’98, things start happening really quickly. I just had a spurt where I wrote about 20,000 words, and I can’t wait to write the rest of the story now.

  1. Pingback: The Summer of ’98 Part Three | Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante·

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