Tag Archives: Olivia Hardy Ray
Whitec Chapel, London
Geneviève Têetu, the Black Witch of Pau
The moon floated past my window like a round, celestial ship; it seemed detached from the sky as it beckoned me, this segregated, white, globular light. Clouds that looked like smoke nearly covered it, but it was still bright and full. I stood in the shadow it threw across my floor and whispered the incantations of conquest as I stared at it. Only when the moon is full could I do this. It kept me potent, this incantation. I have been whispering it many years, mostly for others, but tonight, it was for me.
Urbain has beckoned me, the great and most obnoxious Urbain. I was surprised to be his chosen one, but then again, I am the most wanting. He has given me a command and I must obey if I know what’s good for me. But I must admit, this command he has given me fills me with excitement, this command from the devil’s disciple is most miraculous. I was titillated and beyond containment though I must also admit to feelings of weariness and discontent.
I reached for the windowsill and held fast to steady my nerves. For all the miracles I could manifest, there is still magic I cannot perform. The great Urbain was a far greater witch than me, but what would I owe him for doing his bidding?
I turned from the window to stare at the massive man clothed in a Catholic priest’s robe. What a joke that is! His cross was the color of blackberry jam and marred by scratches, and the starched white collar around his neck was so stiff I wondered if it irritated him. I closed my eyes and mumbled a prayer of gratitude. I had been turned away from him, facing the moon, but of course, Urbain has heard my mutterings.
““What are you mumbling about?”” he asked.,
Tthe irritation in his voice surprised me. I am after all, a witch,. I do a lot of muttmbelring—: incantations, curses, and dark prayers. It is not unusual for me to mutter. I wanted to tell him that, but I held my tongue and .
I met his eyes. I was impressed hHe hads been patient up until now , and I have been impressed, but I have had also become leery. But it is my nature to be leery.
But it is my nature to be leery.
““I was calling upon my gGoddess,”” I said.
““You have no need of gGoddesses. You have only need of me. Will you honor my command, or do I have to strike you down?””
““No need for violence, Urbain.””
““YSo, you say that Annabel has come to your window. How do you know this? How do you know the face of Annabel?”
““I don’’t know the face of Annabel, but the old man called her thatby name, and she was beautiful, so I surmised it. You told me that the old man was her husband, Michele Guyon.””
““Yes, the old man is Michele Guyon, but all the time travel he does has made him a blithering idiot.””
““So, you said, and now he is in my dungeon, as you commanded.””
““Yes, good move. Well, I imagine Annabel might have come to your window, though she certainly knows not whose window she stood before. I’’m sure she thinks, from the bowels of her limited brain, that it is her love of music that beckoned her to you. It was I who beckoned her, though I did not really think she would obey me, but. She never has. I am pleased to see that I have power over her still.”
““I’’m sure your power is greater than hers. She must be putty in your hands.”” I kept my sarcasm buried behind my veiled smile; a smile only partially visible behind my veils.
““Of course,, she is,”” he said. ““I wanted you to see her, to rest your eyes upon her, to and fall in love with her great beauty, so to speak. But I had no idea she succumbed to my will. Yes, I must admit that I did not.””
““How did you trick her then?”” I asked him. ““How did you get the old man to my window?””
I had heard that the great Urbain was no match for Annabel Horton, but of course I would never tell him that. Annabel also had the power of several of her wretched family members, quite competent witches, to ward off any threats from Urbain. Together, they could probably crush him, the way Annabel’s magic had crushed our daughter, Jeanne Elemont, was crushed beneath the cross, crushed by the magic of Annabel Horton.
He looked away from me for a moment, but. I saw the twitch in his cheek. He needed me for revenge., Hhow cunning he was to think of it. Whose need for beauty was greater than mine for beauty?
““As I have always tricked her,”” he said. ““But that is not important., I wanted you to see what possibilities there are. It surprises me, yYour doubt, your and hesitation surprise me.””
““But I do not doubt you. and I am not hesitating. I am merely thanking the Goddess Hecate for the magic you bring me. I am, . . . how do you say it . . .? Joie., I am with delight, Urbain.””
““I bring you no magic. It is not magic. It is power, the power of evil intent. I wish to destroy Annabel Horton, the way she destroyed our daughter, Jeanne.””
““Why are you choosingchoose me?”” I asked, though I knew the answer. ““There are so many you might have called upon.””
He shrugged his shoulders. ““And why shouldn’’t I choose you? You have the most to gain.”” He laughed in the most wickedly way, as if he were crushing a small dog under the weight of his hand.
““I am about to give you a great gift, Geneviève. You will be beautiful once again, the way you were when we first made love under the light of the moon,.”” hHe said, standingwas standing in the shadow by mya parlor window in my parlor. “The way you were when we first made love under the light of the moon. “Do you remember?””
I nodded, though it was a memory I would have preferred to keep buried. forget for it was notHe called it making love in my experience;, I called itit was something else, violence against me, perhapsrape.
“As he came outwalked out of the darkness, he walked to me and took my face in his hand,. I could see his blue eyes, shinning like two icicles that hunghanging from a rotting roof in the starlit night sky, illuminated by stars.
““What greater power is there than beauty?”” he said.
““I am to be a pawn in your revenge,”” I whispered.
His great height overwhelmed me for a moment as he released my face. I could still feel his touch, like heat from the sun.
““I can take my exit,”” he said,. ““aAnd leave you to your misfortune for all eternity.””
I knew instinctively I should have let him go, but his offer was too prodigious. ““No!””
He smiled again, benevolently. The cross he wore hung low, nearly to his stomach. His priest robes dusted the floor like drapes, that falling in gracious folds. One could easily trust him, and how foolish that would be.
““I will do your bidding and take the risk,”” I said,. ““I will do what you ask. I will take the risk, for indeed there must be risk.””
““There is, … but if I succeed, it will be worth it.””
““I will need a powerful, cogent potion to accomplish the task of bringingbring Annabel to me. But, of course, I will do it. Annabel Horton will come to me of her own free will, and I will have her eating out of my hand.”” I showed him my imperfect teeth, and he returned my a smile. His smirk was like a long road into hell. And if I defied him, that’’s exactly where he would banish me., this I knew.
He handed me a music box. ““Your bait. Sometimes, potions are not enough.””
I took the box in my hand and stared at it. ““What is this? A box?””
““I have sent her music boxes over the years. She thinks they’’re from her husband. Women can be such docile fools when in love. She’’ll know you have her precious Michele if you give her this, or at least, she will think you have him. She will make the connection immediately.””
““Fine, where is she?””
““She lives in Brooklyn.””
““It is in America.””
I stared at him in disbelief. ““I cannot go there,”” I said. ““How in the devilDevil’’s name will I get to America?””
““In the devilDevil’’s name? Ha! You are funny.” He let out a small laugh, almost like a giggle.” She lives in the twenty-first century. She lives among despair and, souls damned with an odd intelligence. Imagine,”” he said, turninged to me. ““They have lost their spirits, these so- called modern, arrogant raboteurs.””
““But I cannot go to her. ” I began to panic. ” I cannot cross time.” I began to panic. “You say she lives in the twenty-first century? I cannot go to the twenty-first century. Perhaps I can get to Brooklyn but not in the twenty-first century. I’’ll need someone else to give her the potion and, not to mention your . . . … uh . . . … box.””
““Well, then, send that fool of a priest,”” he said. ““He can go anywhere. She will come. She will follow him. Imprison her immediately or she will get away. Then summon me at the Church of the Holy Ghost at, Nightiengale Square. We will bring take her to Julian’’s church for the exorcism, and I will be forever in your debt, Geneviève.””
““And I in yours,”” I whispered. I sat beforefaced him on my settee,. staring I faced him stoically. ““What if she does not come?”” I asked, myMy fear of him was far more obvious than I wished it to be. ““Why should she go where Julian tells her to go?””
He laughedlet out, a deep bellowing sound that hurt my sensitive ears. ““She will think he comes with God’’s intent. She trusts him.””
““Would you prefer to live as you are with the face of a donkey? Aan ass? A chimpanzee? Or would you prefer to have men falling at your feet as they used to?””
I had no answer. It was clearly obvious. I ached to be beautiful, as any ugly woman would.
““I thought as much,”” he said. ““We can accomplish anything if we want it badly enough.””
And with one brief, perturbing glance over his shoulder, he was gone, leaving me to the impossible task of ensnaring a witch that could crush my soul if she chose. Could the great Urbain really assure me that it would not be so? I stared at the dust he left behind as and a shiver ran through my very bones.
I was afraid. I will admit to being afraid for I was to trick the notoriousgreat Annabel Horton. For that I would need more than the fingernails of a beggar for my brew.
Suddenly he noticed lights, as if coming from a house. Thinking he might finally be off Fox Hollow Road and onto something that would take him into town, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Shit,” he said, as he got closer to the house. “Looks like a frigging dead-end.”
He slapped his hand on the steering wheel. He decided to knock on the door and ask for directions as he stopped the jeep near the driveway. It was quiet, desolate. He took a deep breath and confronted his fear. “Get hold of yourself, man,” he said.
Nick stared back at the farmhouse. It was familiar, which was not unusual. At every turn in upstate New York there was a farmhouse.
“A compelling sight,” he said.
The house was stately and white. Lace curtains moved with the wind, like the porch swing. He could hear the creak. The house stood against the night in shades of grey, like an old postcard photograph picked up at a flea market. Nick could see bicycles lying on the grass. A dog lifted his head from the porch and stared at him. Nick felt strangely nostalgic.
He’d assumed years ago that he’d been raised in Phoenicia, New York, because that’s what it said on the hotel register when he checked out of the room he’d awoken in, with no memory at all of how he had gotten there. Phoenicia, New York, was another small town within biking distance. He must have been on a lot of country roads in his childhood, staring at houses just like this one. He never went to Phoenicia, though, it was too frightening to confront a past he couldn’t recall, but he’d insisted on buying a second house in New Kingston after finding the town on a Google search for vacation homes. Had he subliminally chosen to be near Phoenicia?
He didn’t have any answers, perhaps he never would. Perhaps he didn’t want them. As he stared at the house, it drew him in, engulfing him in a black and white fantasy, like an old film. He couldn’t have any connection at all to this farmhouse. New Kingston wasn’t written on the hotel register.
Nick stared at the house for several more minutes before the image faded, simply drifted off into the night, leaving behind a phantasmal mist. Nick drifted into the ebbing image, falling into a mindless stupor, as if inebriated.
“God,” he cried out. “What the hell is happening to me?”
He struggled to escape the blank plateau into which he had fallen, but he couldn’t. It was as if his thoughts were being gripped by a distant hand. He suddenly felt floated right up to a shadowy shape in the sky.
“Leave me alone!” he shouted.
His head fell sharply to his shoulder, an action that seemed to come from somewhere else, another person―another body.
“Stress can cause people to black out,” Jenna once told him.
“Yes, of course, that’s it―stress,” Nick whispered. He looked back at the house again. The noise returned, overbearingly loud―the drill into concrete…deafening.
Quickly switching the radio back on to fight the noise, he thought about screaming out for help. The sound hovered above him, precariously close.
He turned the radio up louder. Nothing but static―Damn.
The noise continued…threatening to use its power…devour him. It was directly over his head, so very close. He felt lifted by it, lifted up to someplace far, as far as space.
“This is madness,” he whispered. “This is impossible.”
He had spent his entire adulthood distracted by the ordinary pressures of survival. He never considered himself particularly introspective, not much caring to delve into the remnants of feelings hidden beneath the debris of inconsequential information―feelings his wife insisted were vital links to his mental well-being. Nick never questioned his life after waking up in a Chelsea hotel with no past. He walked out into the city and survived. Surviving took up all his time, owned his thoughts. He didn’t need to know the rest, the forgotten past. The only choices he needed to make were the ones he faced in his profession as a circulation vice president for a major New York newspaper. It took twenty years, but he finally had an executive’s salary.
He didn’t want to know his inner life. The dreams he had over the years had been too disturbing to probe―images of violent anger, blood everywhere he looked, murders he could not explain.
“My inner life is uneventful and average,” he’d told Jenna when they first met. “I can’t devote much time thinking about it.”
And then, years later, new torment, new dreams…monsters haunted his sleep, metaphors for himself, he surmised.
No, Nick did not want to find his past or obsess on any uncomfortable emotions, especially not with his dreams, blood on his hands, a dead child at his feet…a battered woman.
“Am I insane?” He looked out into the night and shook his head. “Am I?”
He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He switched the radio back off and listened for the quiet stillness of night to return, soft and melodic. He listened until all he heard was the wind.
As he stared back at the old farmhouse tears came into his eyes. He suddenly wanted to leap from the car and run to the front door, as if he belonged there, behind the majesty of its silent repose.
I’m home. Mom! I’m home, he wanted to shout.
His eyes blinked as the lights in the farmhouse flickered. He switched the radio back on. He needed the music to ground him, but the static had returned with an irritating repetition. He tried to find a clear station. He was agitated. He wanted to get the hell out of there. He knew that by now the only general store in town would be closed and he’d have to deal with the supermarket for a
lousy quart of milk. He hated the supermarket: big, cold places…so why the hell can’t I get off this damn road and make it to the goddamn general store?
“Shit,” he said, switching off the radio altogether.
The lights from the house flickered again, as if an electrical storm was passing over, but the night was clear. Nick backed the jeep up, deciding he would leave the way he had come in…no need to ask for directions. As his breathing returned to normal, he was grateful for its steady rhythm. He was making rational decisions like his old self. It had all been imagination, just imagination.
As Nick backed up the jeep, he noticed a man at the window of the old house peering through a torn shade.
“What the hell happened to the lace?” He whispered as he stared in awe at the tattered blind. He quickly thought of his wife and the look in her large dark eyes as she gave him that half parted smile and suggested therapy. How the hell would he ever explain any of this to her?
He sat quietly. His eyes drifted back to the house. He looked quickly for the dog. All he saw was a tired old porch―empty…no porch swing. No dog.
“Shadows playing tricks,” he said. The oblique shape in the sky expanded and lowered itself closer to the Earth.