Call Me Preacher

(Excerpted from an experimental hybrid narrative entitled VERGE.  The piece is comprised of poetry / spoken word / fiction-commentary / and drama.


Miz’ Chan: tactical and moral leader of the trio (w/ RSV & Mr. Rougarou).
The Right Reverend RSV: spiritual “expert” / existential cynic.
Mr. Rougarou: a Cajun Lycanthrope with swamp magic from down the bayou.
Aka “Doc Benway” /  Ol’ Charlie Wise: aka “Doc” is ambiguous (sometimes helpful /  sometimes not so much).  Charlie Wise is certifiably “off-his-cork” and full of obvious bad intentions.
Papa Guede / The Baron Samedi: powerful Loas associated with Death, the Underworld, and the Ocean of Ancestors.
Various acolytes (and flunkies) of Ol’ Charlie Wise: when someone screams for “more voltage,” they turn it up.
Various sorely oppressed detainees: few, if any, belong here; if, in fact, this sort of here should ever be, anywhere.

Time: a universal present, extending deep into the past / protruding into possible futures.

Setting: below ground, in a chamber, possibly at the Gates of Guinee.  More specifically, close to intersection of Basin & Canal Streets in New Orleans / by legend close to a sacred portal, the last of the 7 Gates.

The Gates of Guinee

Part 2: “Call Me Preacher”

(Reverend RSV presents himself to Papa Guede (who’s still waiting for their inevitable plea bargain): he opens his shirt to bare his chest; he averts his eyes – direct eye-contact with Guede could be a very bad thing – and bows his head so low he’s nearly touching the cold stone underfoot with his nose and his lips. Miz’ Chan bows her head, as well, and The Reverend RSV addresses Guede :)

MonsiegneurVotre Grâce.
We seek direction & safe passage through these waters you watch.
Unworthy though we may be.
And empty-handed, to boot.

(Papa Guede moves like a chill / silent breeze on past Reverend RSV and stops in front of Miz’ Chan.  He takes Miz’ Chan’s head in one hand and raises it to stare directly into her face.  She’s tries to resist – staring down a god may not be the best way to make a strong / positive first impression but, as they often say: resistance, here, is useless.  She finds herself staring square into the eye-dazzle of this squat little man, and she feels that gaze bore deep into her chest.  It spreads from there like a warm / heady fluid into her pelvis, limbs, and it resonates inside her head.  Guede releases his gentle grip o Miz’ Chan’s head.)

(Miz’ Chan is seized by an inspiration – a pure impulse than morphs into instant action – a need to do & do in a flash that she can neither ignore nor deny.  She removes the baby-girl pelvis found in the cistern from around her neck, goes down on one knee, bows her head and holds out the talisman over her head as a lustrum for Papa Guede.)

(Reverend RSV watches all this in horror through his side-eyes.  If Guede is offended by Miz’ Chan’s hubris, both of them may be trapped – perhaps forever – in this realm in-between the Loa’s two poles of being.  & if Guede snaps back into his alter-ego, Baron Samedi, kiss all the light you love, bye-bye. Buster.)

(Papa Guede’s eyes flash through an entire spectrum of dark / roil & tumult as HE spies & then accepts Miz’ Chan’s offering. The eye-flash lifts and Papa Guede holds the talisman close against HIS heart; a sad giant tear forms in the corner of each of HIS eyes.  After all, Guede is the protector of children from untimely death: in this case, and for all the other babies & young children thrown into the cisterns, HE failed and, Loa or not, that hurts him deeply. Loa or not, the tears fall down onto Miz Chan’s bowed head and (in one stroke) she’s energized, transluminated; though undeserving – like us all – she’s physically touched by Guede’s grace.)

(The resonance Guede released into Miz’ Chan congeals into a message, delivered in a soothing basso murmur.  It sounds to her like an operating text for body/spirit synch & resurrection.  Maybe she feels much of the weight of all those baby-bones lifted off of her heart:)

(Reverend RSV side-eyes all of this in a state of dawning way beyond simple amazement.  Miz’ Chan appears to him as Adam Kadmon – no, Eve … no, Lillith … maybe something even bigger like Cybele, Diana or La Pachamama.  Through any lens, in any language, RSV watches her gradual transformations through flesh into a divine light, and back again as Miz’ Chan, only, but more than.  More Metatron - for a brief moment – than just another craving human, back brain riding tall in the saddle.  This is considerably more than he ever expected.  And his prior expectations had always been a source of so much disappointment, and bitterness: then THIS!)

(Papa Guede whispers this next piece – more or less, privately – very close to Miz’ Chan’s face.   She can sense the words carried in his breath.  Reverend RSV hears nothing.)

Papa Guede
Chante Lwa Is Not Just What You Hear.
Not Just What Drives Your Feet & Arms -
Souke … Souke … Souke Bou Ou -
Swirl You All Around You,
So It Says,
So It Goes
Chante Lwa Is the Engine Inside the Beat:
Drum-Thunder / Cyclone / Water
Wind To Strip Your Flesh
On Down To Your Bones
It All Swirls All Around
If You Need It To
But Lips & Tongue & Skin, So Smooth It Is, As Well
When You Need It To
If You Need It To:
Dial You It
Dial It Up
Dial It Down
If You Need It, Too:
Now Go
Now Go
Now Go You

(Guede places his hand on Miz’ Chan’s heart, then guides her to the door.  Another Veve appears  – this one apparently scrawl-slopped in coarse black pain-strokes.  Guede presses Miz’ Chan’s Miz’ hand against one of the seven stars spread across the Veve and the door begins to open.  Miz’ Chan stands – still & quiet as a ghost – before the dark aperture and tries to spy something / anything inside the huge / yawning nothing she sees in front of her eyes.)

(Papa Guede forcefully pulls Reverend RSV up into a stand.  Averting his eyes, RSV murmurs his thanks for the boon of admission to the next level of the Realm:)

Reverend RSV
MerciMerciBondyé, Vie …

(Reverend RSV moves toward Miz’ Chan at the door to the Realm of the Dead but Papa Guede stops him with a firm flat-hand against his chest.  He pulls RSV off the side – denying him entry – and RSV stares in angst & deep unease as Guede’s form flickers and the outlines of a taller / more skeletal figure in a seedy top hat manifest.  Reverend RSV smells the sharp / musty smoke rising off the Loa’s cheap cigar.  It looks like the Baron, HIS own self, and that portends nothing less than a possible / personal train-wreck for The Reverend RSV.)

(RSV is stuck at the gate (with the formidable Baron Samedi) & Miz’ Chan is wholly on her own.  A quick glance amongst them says it all, then Miz’ Chan steps across the threshold, alone.
Into a big, gaping nothing.)

(While Miz’ Chan peers ahead the big/gaping nothing is dispelled in a concentrated blast of grainy/white, almost thermonuclear, light & heat.)

(Miz’ Chan’s entire ponderable body (at this convergent moment) is a single open organ and what she feels is a single unitary feeling, and that feeling is the deepest primordial Fear.  In fact, Fear is the basic metric / the very key signature of every throbbing molecule in this space.  Clearly Fear (and its minions) calls the tune in this space. Like the thunder roiling off the shoulders of Blake’s angels as they rise from the smoking ruins of Orc to fight and die, yet again, an oily patina of Fear covers every surface, every motionless figure in this space.  Yes! There are others.  Miz’ Chan sees a two distinct groups of very still others in this place she’s entered: maybe breathing / maybe not.)

(Scanning further as her eyes adapt to the room’s extraordinarily brilliant light source (that oddly enough, seems to reveal nothing much about the space or the actors in it). But Miz’ Chan’s default recon skills kick-in to suit the needs of this emerging situation. She scopes (in a granular way) the two groups of shapes, figures, (maybe) “beings” – for want of any better description – on either side of a metallic-looking slab.  There seems to be another being on her/his/its back, affixed to the slab by straps (neck, shoulders, wrists, thighs & ankles).   The smell of Fear pours off this figure like fever sweat. Looming over that figure is another “being” (more extraordinary than the rest).  This figure radiates presence & the skillful demeanor of an adept, or a hierophant. & the cold precision of a true technician (of both/either the sacred &/or profane).  The “adept” has placed one hand on the bound being’s chest; the other hand is raised above his head – cupped in the iconographic thumb-index-forefinger mudra associated with transfer of divine knowledge or essence from point A (the Redeemer) to point B (the rest of us). But this seems more like a dodge, or a ruse to rule the rubes and so-called cognoscenti, alike. Or a consciously staged performance of deliberate blasphemy.  This transfer appears to work more in the direction of taking than giving. The adept seems to be sucking animal energy directly from the figure trussed up on the slab.  As he aims his body like rod or wand, he performs an elaborate abracadabra of bombast, bluster, menace: all a clear declaration of his intentions and their inevitability.)

(Then it hits her: the man-on-the-slab is being “put to the question” – like back in the glory/dog days of Torquemada, or Savonarola, or, somewhat later (and somewhat more nuanced & clandestine in his approach), Richard Topcliffe.  Only this time it’s by water, no bonfire or branding iron, no full-body vise, Catherine Wheel or iron-lady.  But the same sadism that fueled the excesses of any earlier Inquisition has persisted though the time / has shifted to something possibly more cosmetically modern.  Now it’s often done quietly, in isolated black-ops locations through some neo-liberal abracadabra like “extraordinary rendition.” And though we might call this tableau less spectacular / (maybe) more humane (?), and it’s context: positively contemporary – it always seems to hinge on the same sort of questions.  Sometimes it reverts to the old-school pageantry as cautionary tales for a cowed population.  Think: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea. Think also: some of the same old school unrefined “conveyor protocols” of East German STASI or Soviet NKVD / KGB officers.  I guess it all depends on what relationship (based on terror) a given government wants to cultivate with its subjects / or citizens.  Which set of “memory laws” it seeks to enforce on the brain collective.  So which is which, here: Miz’ Chan has a lot on her plate to mull over & chew on.)

(Miz’ Chan “runs” a quick gestalt profile on the adept – given the sum total of his presence (overall demeanor / physicality / apparent attitude toward the other actors in this tableau): He’s obviously sociopathic with megalomaniac tendencies (in her at best scenario).  A maestro of manipulation /full-blown psychopath (probably).  An unbridled monster who’s escaped from his (Skinnerized) wig-box (undeniably).  Though most beings use them habitually, profiles always have drawbacks, and the drawbacks can return to bite you in your soft parts. But here, Miz’ Chan seems to have pinned Ol’ Charlie Wise* (who bears a nagging resemblance to aka “Doc Benway”) to the proverbial T.

(The beat that drives the self-aggrandizing spiel of Ol’ Charlie Wise, here, is relentless, inexorable, unvarnished as a dirge, but more up-tempo and, occasionally, Afro-Carib polyrhythmic & infused with Afro-Carib echoes of Don Luciano “Chano” Pozo. The rhythmic engine driving a brass-jazz funeral you could once witness as a 2nd Line in a wedding or a funeral parade in NOLA’s By-Water, Gentilly or Tremé / Lafitte neighborhoods of Old New Orleans.  After all, the Object-Monster geo-located this portal into Baron Samedi’s Guinee smack in the middle of the confluence of Canal & Basin Streets, on the edge of the Crescent City’s Vieux Carré so something like that would be most appropriate.  But this is not the Chante Lwa she expected. (If that’s the right word: Miz’ Chan carries so few expectations with her through the world. But the Banda rhythm, if that’s what it is, has been tweaked, knocked out-of-phase with what you might expect.  Maybe there’s a hint of aggressive contrapuntal undercurrents hidden in the beat to keep our ears open & honest. And maybe we’re witnessing the prep-work on a body before it’s transported in style to its place of temporary rest – before its deep-dive into the vast oceanic waters of its ancestors.  But it could also be something much less necessary, festive – or both.)

(But definitely not the Chante Lwa she may have expected. If Miz’ Chan were prone to harboring any expectations, at all.)

Ol’ Charlie Wise / aka “Doc Benway”
(Throughout this devil chant, aka “Doc Benway” serves mouthpiece &  physical surrogate mouthpiece for the actual Charlie Wise:)
I’m Charlie Wise
I Am   I Am
Got Mojo Hands
Got Git’mo Eyes
Now I See You
Stare Clean Through You
I Do   I Do
‘Cuz My Eye’s On You
I Call It Straight
Got No Disguise
‘Cuz I’m Charlie Wise
I Am   I Am
Again   Again   Again

(Pause, for the bridge.
Even if it’s only in your head, Ol’ Charlie / aka “Doc”.)
I’m Charlie Wise
Got How’s Not Why’s
Got Thunder
Got Lightning
Your Last Bye-Bye’s
I’ll Sear You
I’ll Shrive You
I’ll Transmogrify You
Your Flaws & Illusions
I’ll Exorcise
& Free You From Fear, Too
I Will   I Can
‘Cuz I’m Charlie Wise
I Am   I Am
Again   Again   Again

(A Group splayed out around Ol’ Charlie Wise chimes in with a musical bridge of sorts.  This break is offered toward another group pinned down on the left in the spirit and manner of call & response. The left-situated group responds to this torrent of inevitability with various physical takes on the themes of deference / submission / self-deprecation.  It may all seem a tad overblown, like typical “Show Town” choreography. But their low moans, the clank & grind of their manacles, & the creaking of their overburdened joints adds another tonal color to the sound-scape.)

So You Fell To Earth
In This Undead Land
Where Love & Trust
Are Contraband
Ain’t No Saints Here
& Your Soul’s Gone Bust
On The Hot-Hot Sand
On The Hot-Hot Sand

(Miz’ Chan observes quietly and moves as imperceptibly as possible – though it seems that she’s being ignored or perhaps the Object-Monster has phase-shifted her into temporary invisibility as the others in this space go about their dirty business with nary a glance in her direction.  She is transfixed by what’s unfolding.  The fanned-out phalanx of acolytes assists Ol’ Charlie Wise,  preparing the implements for the next phase of this ritual if, indeed, that’s what this is. As they run through the web of straps that keep the “man-on-the-slab” immobilized and defenseless, and break out the cloth covering for the pinioned man’s face (with particular attention to his mouth & nose) their movements are slow & stylized – like one of John Woo’s old-school slash / burn & bludgeon ultra-violent ballet arrangements.  Finally one of the group – apparently a leader from the deference the others show – presents Ol’ Charlie with a wide-mouthed white ceramic pitcher (apparently, by the weight & unwieldiness of it) full of liquid.  Charlie Wise takes the pitcher in both hands & holds it over the “man-on-the-slab”, elevates the pitcher over his head like a monstrance – at that magic moment of Transubstantiation of host into flesh & blood of the Eucharist – then lowers it down to chest level, and passes it back to his boss acolyte. At that moment, the acolyte’s hood slips down and Miz’ Chan is shocked to see the face of her own erstwhile ally, Right-Reverend RSV, revealed.  And he smiles, no less, as he looks directly at her.  Maybe? Maybe What?)

(Two other acolytes tilt the slab so that the man-on-it is canted in a direction approaching upside-down: his head is now much lower than his feet.  That’s when she realizes this man’s bare feet are gnarled & unique and could only belong to Mr. Rougarou or another being very like him.  And she’s never met another being remotely like Mr. Rougarou. She tenses and mobilizes her muscle memory to prepare for a forceful emergency extraction.)

(Ol’ Charlie Wise leans over the bound man and whispers to him more softly than the sound of a snake breathing.  What he says is unintelligible for Miz’ Chan – could be but the impact on the bound man (could he really be poor Rougarou?) is electric.  That Fear again moves like a taser shock through his trussed up body – like a seizure of Fear and the dread of anticipated pain.  Then Charlie Wise dips a cupped palm into the pitcher and sprinkles the bound man’s face with the liquid, using his own hand like an aspergillum, it seems, while dropping phrases from the old Latin Vulgate version of one of  the ancient holy books of “Eerie Joy & Amnesia”.  Miz’ Chan shivers involuntarily – this scene is about as creepy as it gets – and scans for the best avenue to do the most damage with the least cost to her own life & limbs. And spring Rougarou from what looks like the bowels of a Dark (and most Unholy) Mass.  But what-to-do with or about The Reverend RSV?)

(As Ol’ Charlie Wise sprinkles palm after palm of liquid on the bound man, he moves around the slab while he walks a circuit around the bound & tilted man.  He continues his chant.  His boss acolyte – who may be / probably is the Reverend RSV  – carries the pitcher and trails behind him.  When Charlie Wise stops to bow toward the bound man and ramp up the volume of his chant, this boss-acolyte also stops, faces the bound man and sprinkles water on him from his own cupped hand. So back to the beat and his chant is driven as before – with a little more solemnity, a little more emphasis on the inevitability of the process:)

Aka “Doc Benway”
I’m Charlie Wise
I Know My Name
Folks In Camp 7
Call Me Their Pain
But I’m Just Charlie Wise
Ain’t No Surmise
I Am   I Am
& You’ll Recognize
I’m Prince of Your Bad Dreams
& Lord of Your Sighs
The Bearer of Screams
O You’ll Realize
By the Blaze In My Eyes
That I’m Ol’ Charlie Wise
Again   Again   Again

(Ol’ Charlie / aka “Doc” pauses for another turn-around.)
I’m Charlie Wise
Don’t Care What You Say
I Rule Your Nights
I Rule Your Days
I Rule Your Lows
Ain’t Got No Highs
You Hear Me Comin’
Got No Place To Fly
& That’s How It Goes
& That’s Where It Lays
Cuz’ I’m Ol’ Charlie Wise
O You’ll Realize
Again   Again   Again

(The rest of the phalanx of acolytes create a living sculpture tableau with their bodies.  The rhythm of changes in the ways their forms configure is synched to the Mboko-Voice imbued in the drummer’s fingers, the drum-head stretched across the top of the instrument, and the whole resonant cavity of the drum’s interior.  Only this is nothing like a divine Mboko: in fact, it’s quite the reverse; it’s divinity backward.)

(The tableau first configures as “the head of the spear,” then morphs into images of “strength, power” & finally “dominator dee-luxe.”  The row of hapless prisoners makes its own series of images depicting: what you’d normally find inside an overcrowded cell full of unwashed, poorly fed, political detainees subjected to serial, abusive, enhanced interrogations.  Synched not so much to the drum but rather their own individual (and collective) pain. But their performance of submission / resignation (?) is much less convincing and riddled with contemptuous obscene gestures toward the acolytes – and Ol’ Charlie Wise, himself.  But only because he’s not looking at them).

So You Fell To Earth
In This Place of Pain
Can’t Hide From The Sky
While You Pray For Rain
Can’t Shut Your Own Eyes
When You’re Goin’ Insane
On The Hot-Hot Sand
On The Hot-Hot Sand

(Charlie Wise stops his walkabout and faces the bound man.  He raises on hand high above his head – and that hand appears to be holding a taser – a Tom A Swift Electric Rifle, to be precise.  He presses his other hand to the bound man’s chest and intones the next verses of his hoodoo chant.  The shape he creates – and the presence of the taser – reminds Miz’ Chan of a lightning rod.  It looks like Ol’ Charlie is fixin’ to summon hot wrath from some source outside himself and conduct it downward into what may be Mr. Rougarou.  Those feet / whose feet, you know what I’m saying?)

(The boss-acolyte – who might be the Right Reverend RSV – comes closer to Charlie Wise and continues sprinkling water from the pitcher.  (& who else could it be: that insouciant slouch / that perpetual sneer, even at such an august moment, you know?) The phalanx of other acolytes stands in a line, immobile, facing the bound man, with their arms outstretched, and rigid.  Each arm ending in a fist.)

(The line of detainees refuses to participate in any more of this unnatural ritual.  They sit – as best they can while cuffed and manacled – with their backs to this tricked-out travesty.  But they still hear every word, every scream, smell every drop of Fear leaking from the bound man on the slab.)

(The man on the slab moans, in a whole-body twitch of anticipatory – but still real and deeply felt – pain.)

Aka “Doc Benway”
I’m Charlie Wise
Ain’t No Big Thing
Some Call Me Preacher
Some Call Me Their King
You A Ruined Angel, Baby
Now You Bound To Sing
For Me   Again
Again   For Me
Cuz’ Now You See
Your Fate To Be
In the World I Bring
O You’ll Recognize
‘Cuz I’m Charlie Wise
Just Ol’ Charlie Wise
Again    Again    Again

(Ol’ Charlie Wise lowers his hand and gets into ready position with his Swift Electric Rifle.  He motions the boss-acolyte to come closer and dump the water more forcefully onto the bound man’s cloth-covered face.  The acolyte appears to know & venerate this drill and steps up to the plate.  Charlie Wise bends closer to the bound man’s face for a more intimate moment with his experimental subject: before the deluge, and the air-hunger kicks in.)

(The phalanx of other acolytes cross their arms in front of their chests.  Each arm crossed against each chest ends in a fist.  Their faces are as stolid and indecipherable as before.)

(Miz’ Chan’s eyes quickly scan the scene for a final pre-combat gestalt.  She notices the boss-acolytes split vision – one eye on Charlie Wise / one eye on her and that tears it: in her experience, only the Rev can do such a thing.  She also sees / senses / almost feels the bound man’s agony before the storm breaks over him.  His body tenses up into an arched rictus you might normally associate with the final death throes associated with a systemic tetanus infection.)

Aka “Doc Benway”
I’m Charlie Wise
I Am   I Am
& You, My Friend
Been Git-Mo-Ized
Bend Down Your Knees
No More To Rise
‘Cuz You Been Washed
In Blood & Lies
By Charlie Wise
& Now You See
You Do   You Do
For Me   For Me
That I’m Ol’ Charlie Wise
O You’ll Realize
Again   Again   Again

(Charlie Wise signals his boss-acolyte to dump the bulk of the water and engulf the bound man’s face while he deploys the taser.)

(The boss-acolyte swings the pitcher over the man but the swing continues and the pitcher smashes smack into the middle of Ol’ Charlie Wise’s face.  It soaks Charlie Wise and he grapples with the boss-acolyte for control of the taser.  At this point, all the light is sucked from the chamber.  At this point, as well, Miz’ Chan is sure, or at least sincerely hopes, that this shady boss-acolyte is actually the Right Reverend RSV.)

(Miz’ Chan also springs into action though we can’t see this piece unfold.)

(We have no idea what the phalanx of acolytes is up to, now, but they’re still throwing down their chorus.  These end-times zombies are well programmed to go down with the Titanic. & singing, at that!)

So You fell To Earth
Where You Are Right Now
Open Up Your Mouth
Spill Your Secrets, Loud
Step Outside Yourself
Leave Your Blood & Bones
On The Hot-Hot Sand
On The Hot-Hot Sand

(The line of detainees lets loose a huge and terrible roar.  They shake their manacles  and the roar surges louder, yet.  There’s no light so we don’t know what their final image might look like – if they even choose to make one.)

(The hot, nerve-grating rasp of an arc welding unit in full psychotic break mode echoes & resounds inside the chamber.)

(Light is back on again. A reasonable light, this time.  Charlie Wise & his little chamber of twisted will & obscene technologies are gone, now.  Miz’ Chan and RSV are close by, helping a dazed / wobbly / somatically debilitated Mr. Rougarou navigate the scorching heat and uncertain terrain. All of them hear this last chorus coming from the slowly closing mouth of that primal gash in the sand.  But who’s doing the singing, now?  Are the zombie acolytes – if such they are (or were) – still kicking it, in auto-pilot mode or something similar?  I suppose the supremely twisted “wise heads” who devised these enhanced interrogation protocols, and set national security goals and objectives, presciently designed some failsafe nodes or buttons into this pain matrix.
& like with any dead religion, the rites / rituals / rules and liturgy often long outlive the gods they were created to serve.)

So You Fell to Earth
In This Maybe Place
Where the Sky’s on Fire
And the Ocean Shakes
No Slow-Bolts from Jesus
Don’t Expect No Grace
On the Hot-Hot Sand
On the Hot-Hot Sand

(Its mission finished, the gash (and its mouth) locks shut, sucking back the photons of radioactive light – blazing backwards, against the grain of any physics our world might recognize.  Maybe we’ll have to call it magic until we know more about its grand mesh of actions and causation.)

(Miz’ Chan,  Reverend RSV & Mr. Rougarou share a searching look among themselves: tinged with disgust and revulsion for the ongoing hunger of stolen / illegitimate power to brutalize, break and dominate (on the part of Miz’ Chan), or confirmation bias, even deeper cynicism and a collaborator’s guilt (however brief – and ultimately staged – that collaboration may have been (from the good Reverend).)

(Reverend RSV thinks: her gift was perfect.  It seemed to touch the god in a right way.  But of course, the baby-girl bone is a tiny sheela-na-gig:

a lens into that place where death & birth converge.  Matter evaporates into pure spirit / pure spirit made manifest as matter.  What ever could be better as a gift for the Guardian?)

Reverend RSV
(To Miz’ Chan:)
Good call back there.
But it’s fair to say: could have gone either way for us.
You scared the devil right out of my guts, and back into his hole.

Miz’ Chan
Well, that sounds like a good thing, no?
Don’t want no devil to hide away & make a home inside you … do you?
When that loa looked into me,
My first impulse felt too right to resist.
And we all got what we needed in the moment, no?

Mr. Rougarou
I don’t know what you mean.
All I got was dread & more dread.
But I was sure glad when ya’all showed up.
All I can remember is blur & fear, screams & drowning: then nothing but darkness.
I’ve got to shake that doom off my body / out of my head.

(Mr. Rougarou’s take seems particularly troubled by the abuse he suffered, his defenseless (nearly terminal) vulnerability and his (probably) ineffective efforts to disremember how bad it all felt.  And always, as always: that core ontological question – Why the fuck is it always me or my kind on the business end of this shit? His saving grace here is natural flex: being chased by so many upright burghers, outrunning so many damaged souls bearing torches & pitchforks – sometimes very real / sometimes merely symbolic – he’s developed quite a bit of blessed resilience to bounce back on when attacked by ignorant minions – all crazed by Fear & programmed phobias. But a body & a soul can only stand just so much aggression, whether nuanced or full-bore (like this last situation).  This is an integral part of what a New World would hold for Mr. Rougarou.  Somewhere, sometime, somehow … somehow … somehow… this shit has got to stop, he thinks.  Isn’t that just simple / unadorned justice: the very core of what justice really means?)

Mr. Rougarou
So where are we now?  & where do we go next?
I’m in a bone-tired place / but I’m afraid to sleep.
The dreams in my head are oceans of fire.
My body’s wobbly ground that shakes beneath my feet.
My head & my body choke all the breath, tone & ire from each other.
My head feels like it’s fixin’ to smother, or explode,
But still, instead, I’m all broke open and I’m too damn scared to sleep.
& still, & always: I’m too scared to lay me down & just sleep.

(Mr. Rougarou yawns a long fearful yawn.)

After this kind of test, just what comes next?
That thought’s always kickin’ at the back-door of my mind.
I only know: something, somewhere’s gotta’-gotta’ give.
What’s the new when, what’s the wherefore soon to be?
When do we get to stretch out / kick back, & just live
under some bright sane sun of our souls?

(More to himself as an aside, than an actual attempt to communicate.)

Tell you what: no truth yet has ever set me free.
& ya’all’s truth here has got sharp teeth & real long legs
& it’s after me:
All I can ever do – & fast – is run.

* The actual Ol’ Charlie Wise was a prime mover / “elegant practitioner” of the dark art of enhanced interrogation as described in the post 9-11 counter-terrorism playbook of the US Military.  His role in water-boarding (etc.) at Guantanamo’s Camp 7 was prominent and notorious.  He is currently dead.  Thus the stand-in stunt-man turn courtesy of aka “Doc Benway”.

John Sullivan