Night of the Fais Do - Do 

Cookie Rogan

The first Fais Do - Do of the season is being held down by the edge of the swamp in farmer Boudreaux's barn. Most of the people here in Southern Louisiana are of the Cajun culture and we still follow the old ways in music and dance. I'm planning on meeting my friends Pearl and Al there and a new boy in town, John, who I met at the show a couple of weeks ago. He doesn't go to my school, but to an all-boys academy a few miles away. 
      I was getting dressed when my mom called me to the kitchen to tell me that I have to take my younger sister, Aloysia, to the dance with me. 
      "What?" I couldn't believe my ears. 
      Mom repeated herself and then said, "Dad, your grandmother and I are going to an awards dinner with your brother at his school and we don't want Aloysia left alone in the house. We'll be going to the dance later. You only have to watch her for a little while." 
      "I don't think it's fair," I protested, "all my friends are going to be there and I'll be stuck with a twelve-year-old that's a complete brat!" 
      In exasperation my mom said: "Karoma, please, just watch her until your father and I get there?" 
      "Don't call me Karoma. Everyone calls me Kay now." I said in a fit of annoyance. I stomped out of the room with my mom calling after me: "Wear that green sundress! It looks so beautiful on you with your red hair!" 
      Fais Do- Do is Cajun French for 'go to sleep', but I was planning on doing anything but sleeping. Now I have to drag the Brat with me. 
      I thought. There was always a room with beds in it where parents could put their young children to sleep and still go on dancing. That's how the Fais Do - Do got its name. Maybe I could dump Aloysia in there. I was brightening a little at the idea. But then I realized it was wishful thinking: the Brat would probably pitch a fit if I even suggested it. The gloom surrounded me again. 
      As I was getting ready to leave, my grand-mère, who was sitting in her favorite chair in the living room, called me over to her. "Come here my bébé, I want to give you something." 
      She looked around to see if anyone was listening and whispered to me: "I've been reading the signs and I don't like what I've been seeing. I want you to take this amulet and wear it to the dance tonight. I've had this amulet for many years and it will protect you." 
      Grand-mère was born with a veil, which means she was born with the birth membrane over her face. This is supposed to mean that she has special powers, but I really don't believe in all this stuff or charms to ward off evil. Mom and Dad don't like her talking about it to us either. 
      Looking at the amulet, I saw it was an oval green stone in an antique setting, with the colors of a fire opal in the middle on a delicate silver chain. It would go perfect with my dress. I didn't want to hurt her feelings either, so I put it on. "Oh how pretty it is, grand-mère, I'd love to wear it." 
      When I got to the dance with the Brat tagging along, they were playing a waltz. Fais Do - Do's are different from my high school dances: it's all Cajun music played mostly with accordions and fiddles, and we dance the waltz, the two-step, the jitterbug and the shuffle. I saw Pearl, my best friend since grammar school, as I was walking in. She came running over to me in a panic. 
      "Kay, did you hear?" she asked me as she grabbed my arms above my elbows. 
      "Hear what?" I asked, confused. I hadn't heard any new gossip. 
      With her eyes wide and her blonde curls flopping around her face, she said: "They found a body in the swamp yesterday. Some trappers were out there checking their traps and found this body floating by the old witch's house." 
      The witch is an old Cajun woman named Ada. No one knew her last name or if she even had one. She'd lived in the Swamp forever as far as I knew. Everyone called her a witch because she was tall, thin, wore long black dresses and had frizzy, gray hair that stuck up all over her head. It was usual for the teenagers to go on a witch-hunt as we called it. We'd row out to Ada's house at night and call her name. Ada's house was like many others in the swamp. It was high up on stilts because the ground was too muddy to build on and there was no electricity. The only light came from oil lamps. She'd come out on her porch, shake a can with coins in it at us and we'd take off. Personally, I thought she enjoyed it as much as we did. Once I caught her smiling as we rowed away. We were probably her only visitors. Going on a witch-hunt didn't mean just bugging Ada though. We also got to sneak some kisses on the way there and back. It was better than Old Taters Point where the sheriff could come along and catch us. 
     Pearl continued, her voice getting more dramatic as she talked. "The body was so mangled that they couldn't identify it. I heard the sheriff talking with some men and they were telling him that it looked like the work of a Loup Garou." 
      "What utter nonsense." I said. "There's no such thing as a Loup Garou. That's just a tale to frighten kids to keep them out of the swamp." 
      With hands on hips, Pearl exclaimed, "Well how do you explain the body being so mangled that no one can identify it?" 
      Shrugging my shoulders, I said: "It could have been an alligator. They're known to mangle a person and do a pretty good job of it. There were two cases of an alligator attack just last year." 
      "There is too a real Loup Garou," Aloysia piped up. I had forgotten that Miss Big Ears was listening to everything we said. "Timmy's grandmother said she saw one once." 
      Timmy was in Aloysia's class at school and everyone knew his grandmother was as loony as mine when it came to Cajun folklore but Aloysia and Timmy were still young enough to believe all these tall tales. 
      "Why don't you go away, brat." I said to Aloysia in exasperation. "Go find Timmy and you two can scare the wits out of each other with your Werewolf stories." 
      "Loup Garou isn't a real Werewolf," Aloysia said as she folded her arms and glared at me. "A Werewolf is a man that turns into a wolf when there's a full moon. A Loup Garou is a half-man half-wolf spirit." 
      When she saw I did not believe a word, she shouted: "It's true, cuz Timmy's grandmother said so! I won't go away either! Mom said I had to stay with you until she got here!" 
      "Well you'd better behave yourself or I'll turn into a Loup Garou and mangle you," I told her with steel in my eyes. 
      "Oh good, here comes Al," exclaimed Pearl. "I wonder what kept him. He's a little late." Al was a tall slim boy that had been dating Pearl for over a year. He had sandy colored hair and a ready smile: more the geek type, but he and Pearl made a good couple. He was also the son of our local Sheriff and was going to become a deputy right after graduation. He had already started working on some cases with his father. 
      "Hi, sorry I'm late," said Al as he slipped his arm around Pearl and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I was helping my father. Another body was found in the swamp, mangled, just like the first one. Hi Kay." 
      "Does he know who it is?" I asked. 
      "Yeah, this one we could see the face. It was that crazy old witch, Ada." 
      "What do you mean you could see the face?" I exclaimed in horror. I really didn't care for gory details, but this came out before I knew what I was saying. 
      "The head was missing on the other body, so we're not sure who it is yet," replied Al. "Looked like he'd been dead for a day or so by the decomposition of the body when we fished him out of the water." 
      Pearl looked like she was going to faint. Aloysia's eyes were the size of two saucers, so I said: "I think it's time we quit talking about this. Look Aloysia, there's Timmy. Why don't you go say hello?"
      Timmy was the same height as Aloysia and they were both blondes. Looking at the two of them together, they looked so much alike they could have been related. Come to think of it, they probably were: most of the families in our town could trace their family trees back to some common relative. 
      The dance was everything I expected it to be, except John was really late. It didn't matter. I had plenty of partners and I was having a good time. After the fourth dance, John did finally arrive. 
      "What kept you?" I asked as he came toward me. John looked especially good tonight in his black pants and shirt that matched his hair and eyes. 
      "Sorry, but I got held up by the Sheriff." 
      "What did he want?" I asked. 
      "He wanted to know if I'd seen either Felicity Borne or Mark Tyler. Seems they went out last night and didn't come home. Mark's in my class at school and someone told him we were friends. I don't really know Mark that well yet and I don't even know what Felicity looks like so I couldn't tell him anything." 
      "Felicity's gone off for a few days before," I said. "It's nothing new for her. I don't know Mark though." 
      "That's what my dad said," piped up Al. "She'll show up on her own in a few days. She leaves when she has a fight with her dad." 
      I introduced John to Pearl and Al and we all started dancing. Finally my parents and brother showed up and took Aloysia off my hands, not that I had much to do with the little brat. She and Timmy were with their friends now. I caught sight of her every now and again. 
      It was an hour later when Felicity's dad, Mr. Borne, arrived at the dance. He was going around to all the couples, asking if any of them had seen Felicity since last night. When he got to our group, we all said we hadn't seen her. 
      "Mr. Borne, my father said she's run off before. Could that just be what happened?" Al asked cautiously. None of us wanted Mr. Borne to know we knew about the fighting. 
      With a dazed look Mr. Borne replied, "No, I'm sure that's not the case this time. Everything was fine … just fine. There wasn't any reason for her to go off. " 
      We all looked at each other, knowing exactly what he meant: there wasn't a fight this time. 
      "Well, don't worry, I'm sure my father will find her … and Mark," Al said as an after thought. "They'll both be ok. " 
      As Mr. Borne walked over to another group, Al said: "OK, gang, who's up for a witch hunt?" An evil smile grew on his face as he looked at Pearl, who was blushing to the roots of her hair. 
      "What's a witch hunt?" asked John. 
      "You'll find out. Kay will tell you all about it, I'm sure," Al said, grinning widely. 
      "Do you think it's a good idea with Ada just being murdered today?" I asked Al. 
      "Sure." said Al. "Besides, I want to take a look around that area anyway." 
      "OK." I finally said. "Pearl and I will go check in with our parents so they won't be looking for us too soon while you and John go get the boat ready. We'd all better not leave at one time anyway." 
      "Boat, what boat?" asked John. 
      "Come on buddy, you'll see," Al said, laughing as he walked away with John following, still saying: "What boat?" Pearl and I agreed to meet at the edge of the swamp in fifteen minutes and we both went to find our parents. 
      After sneaking out the back door, I was heading for the swamp when I heard something rustling in the bushes ahead of me. 
      I called out, "Who's there?" but no one answered. 
      It was dark and creepy as the moon wasn't up yet. I couldn't see very far ahead of me. All the lights were at the barn in back of me. I took a few more tentative steps forward and stopped again to listen. Just then, I saw the bushes move. There wasn't any wind. I was just about to turn around and head screaming back to the barn when Aloysia and Timmy jumped out at me … laughing
      "You almost gave me a heart attack you little brats!" I shrieked. "What are you two doing out here?" I was so mad I could have skinned them both alive. 
      "We saw Al leave and figured you'd be heading for the swamp." Aloysia said, with Timmy nodding at her side. 
      "OK," I sighed. "What do you want this time to keep your big … mouths … shut?" 
      "I want to wear grand-mère's necklace for the rest of tonight," said Aloysia. Timmy popped up with "And I want five dollars." 
      Reluctantly, I took the necklace off and handed it to Aloysia and then reached in my pocket and gave Timmy two dollars. As I handed it to him I told him: "This is all you're getting so you'd better keep quiet or I'll tell your mom you were out here kissing Aloysia when I was heading for the swamp." 
      "Ugh!" Timmy made a face, looking like he'd been told to swallow a worm. 
      I continued on down to the swamp, met Pearl and we joined Al and John at the boat dock. It was just a small rowboat but Al had it fixed up with cushions on the seats and had attached a pole on the front to hang a lantern since it was really dark in the swamp at night. 
      John did all the rowing out to Ada's place so Pearl and Al could have some time alone. Al agreed to row back for John and I to have some time together. We sat in the front. It was nice just talking to John and getting to know him better while he rowed. 
      We finally got to Ada's. It was really spooky. Usually she had a couple of oil lamps going and there were lights in the windows. Tonight it was completely dark. 
      John rowed over to the dock. "How about we take a look inside?" 
      "What?" Pearl and I said at the same time in slightly raised voices. 
      "I've never been inside a swamp house," John said. "I'd just like to see what it's like." 
      "I don't think we should go inside," I said nervously. "Ada was just murdered today and the Sheriff might not want anyone in there messing anything up." I really didn't want to go in a house where someone had been murdered. I remembered that a body without a head was found near here. 
      "She wasn't murdered in the house," Al said thoughtfully. "Her body was found about a quarter of a mile away from here. My dad isn't officially calling it a murder, at least not until they finish the autopsy. Come on, I want to see the inside also." 
      John grabbed the lantern and we all walked across the dock and then started up the stairs to the house. I really felt like we were trespassing, which we were. I was hoping the door was locked and we couldn't get in, but it wasn't. 
      John opened it and went inside followed by the rest of us. It was so eerie with the lantern making dancing shadows on the walls. Al found another lantern and lit it also. The inside amazed me. I expected it to be dirty and crummy but it was very clean and neat. It was one large living room and kitchen combined. The walls were covered with holy pictures and crosses. 
      There was a door in the middle of the room that was closed. Al walked over and opened it. It led to a hall with three doors, one on each side and another door leading out the back. He opened one and it was a bedroom. It was very neat and decorated like the nineteen-twenties. You could tell it was a woman's bedroom with all the lace dollies on the dresser and chest of drawers and the neat bed with lace edged pillowcases. They were shabby from use, but clean. 
      Al walked out and opened the door across the hall. I noticed that there were a bunch of bolts on the outside that were broken. As I walked in, I was shocked. It looked like a pig's sty and smelled like one. There were clothes all over the place. Everything was filthy with a bare mattress on the floor. The windows had bars on them; I'd never noticed that before from the outside. What was even more shocking was the clothes were men's. 
      "Ada wasn't married, was she?" I asked no one in particular. 
      "Not as far as I know." Al answered. 
      "I think it's time we leave," I said as I headed back toward the kitchen. 
      "Not just yet …" Al said. "I want to have a look out back first." 
      "I'll go with you," said Pearl as Al headed out the back door. 
      I went back to the kitchen with John. As I was looking around I saw a letter on the floor near the table. It was addressed to the Sheriff. I picked it up and toyed with opening it, but then decided that wouldn't be right. I stuffed it in my pocket to give to Al later to take to his dad. Ada didn't have a phone, so she was probably intending to flag down a trapper or someone rowing down the bayou and ask them to deliver it for her. Since it was addressed to the Sheriff, I felt like it might be important. 
      Just then I heard Pearl screaming. She sounded like someone was killing her. 
      John and I looked at each other and then headed for the back door. It opened onto steps that went down to what looked like a shed. 
      Pearl was still screaming, but as we got half way down, she stopped. John opened the shed door and I saw that Pearl was in Al's arms, crying and shaking. 
      "Don't come in here!" Al shouted, but it was too late. I was already inside, and I wanted to throw up. 
      On a shelf sat three heads. I recognized one. It was Felicity Borne. I had no idea who the two men's heads on either side of her were. In the light from the oil lamp it was the most gruesome thing I'd ever seen. I had heard that killers take trophies to relive their crimes later: rings, a lock of hair or a finger, but I'd never heard of them taking heads! 
      I heard John say in a horrified voice: "Oh God… that's Mark!" 
      And then I felt myself falling. 
      When I woke up, I was lying on the sofa in Ada's living room. John leaned over me. I must have fainted. I jumped up and headed for the sink where I lost my supper. John pumped some water on a dishtowel and gave it to me to wipe my face. 
      "Are you all right, Kay?" he asked. 
      "No!" I felt like I'd never be OK again. "I want to go home!" 
      "Yeah, let's get out of here," said Al as he looked at Pearl. Pearl didn't look any better than I felt. 
      We headed out the front door and down the steps. We didn't need the lantern anymore as the moon was high in the sky now and gave off a soft glow. 
      When we got down to the dock, the boat was gone. 
      "Why didn't you tie it up?" screamed Pearl. 
      "I did!" Al screamed back. 
      Before this erupted into a major argument, I jumped in. "Stop shouting! Arguing isn't going to get the boat back. It must have drifted off." Looking at Al, I said, "You and John will just have to go in different directions along the bank and see if you can find it. Pearl and I will wait here." 
      Grudgingly, they both went in different directions, neither wanting to go off alone in the swamp. I could see John was more afraid than Al. He had never been in a swamp before. 
      Pearl and I sat on the dock and watched Al and John until they were out of sight. We had been sitting there for about five minutes, not saying anything, when we heard the squeaking of a door opening in the back of us. I turned around and now with the full moon, I could see the shed door was open through the stilts under the house. 
      "Someone's just gone in the shed," I whispered to Pearl. 
      "Maybe it's one of the boys?" she whispered back. 
      "No. They would have come back along the bank." 
      "What are we going to do?" Pearl said, starting to panic. 
      I thought quickly. "We're going to quietly go in the house and barricade ourselves in until the boys get back with the boat." I was shaking so bad I could hardly stand, but I knew I had to act brave or I'd have Pearl screaming her head off again. 
      We crept quietly up the stairs and into the house. I flipped the latch on the front door and told Pearl to lock the door leading to the bedrooms. 
      "There's no lock on this door!" she cried with a look of horror on her face. 
      "We'll have to lock the one in back that goes outside!" 
      Just as I said that, we heard someone coming up the back stairs. 
      "Quick!" I whispered. "Let's start piling everything we can find against this door first then we'll do the front door, and whatever you do… be quiet! I don't want whoever that is to know we're in here." 
      I wedged a chair under the doorknob that led to the back and then, as quietly as we could, started piling up furniture in front of both doors. All I could think was thank goodness the doors opened inward and not outward. 
      We were standing there shaking when we heard grunts and weird sounds coming from one of the bedrooms. There was shuffling and what sounded like things being thrown around, as if whoever was in there was looking for something and couldn't find it. 
      After a minute or two I heard a sound that sent my heart into my throat. It was the sound a large animal would make in a rage. It was loud enough to rattle the dishes in the cupboard. 
      Pearl opened her mouth to let out a scream, but I was quick and managed to get my hand over her mouth before she did. 
      All was quiet for a few seconds. Then we heard that shuffling sound again. It was coming down the hall, heading for one of our barricaded doors. 
      I saw the handle turn. When it wouldn't open, the pounding started. The door shook with every strike. Then the howling started again. It sounded like whatever was back there was throwing itself against the door. 
      I could see the door starting to crack and yelled: "We've got to get out of here! That door isn't going to hold long!" 
      Pearl helped me move the furniture away from the other door. We unlocked it and ran down the stairs. John and Al were both coming back and neither had the boat. My heart sank. How were we going to get away from this thing?! 
      At first, John and Al didn't know what was going on because neither Pearl nor I was coherent. Then, as the boys were trying to make out what we were talking about, it came out on to the porch. 
      It was half-animal and half-human. It had the shape of a man, but it was covered in thin, matted fur. The face was without fur. It was making the most horrible howling noise and waving its fists in the air. 
      John grabbed my hand and Al grabbed Pearl's. We all started running down the bank toward town. I could hear the monster coming after us. I knew we couldn't run all the way back to town: it was too far. I could hear the grunts and growls it made. It was getting closer. 
      Pearl and I were both tripping over dead branches. The wet, soggy ground made our shoes slippery. I knew I wouldn't be able to go much further. I had a stitch in my side and I could hardly breathe. 
      As we rounded a bend I saw a boat heading toward us. John and Al both started yelling and waving their arms. 
      It pulled over toward us. Then I could see that it was Aloysia and Timmy. We all scrambled in. Al took the oars from Timmy and started rowing away from the shore. 
      All of a sudden Aloysia cried "Stop!"
      We all looked at her as if she was crazy, but Al stopped rowing. 
      Just then, the monster came out of the trees. Aloysia stood up in the boat and held the amulet by the chain high over her head. Then a light shot out of the middle of the stone toward the monster. It bathed him in a soft, green glow. He howled and twisted in rage. 
      As I watched, he started to fade before my eyes. I stared in total shock and horror until he had completely disappeared. 
      I looked up at Aloysia, who was still standing. 
      She was holding an empty chain; the amulet was gone. 
      It was a quiet ride back to the dock. I could hardly believe what I'd just seen. No one else could either. 
      As Al was tying up the boat, I said quietly: "I don't think any of us should mention what happened with the amulet. No one will believe us and they'll just think we're making it up." 
      "I'll go on ahead and tell my father about … well, what we saw in the shed." Al said cautiously, trying to be delicate and not alarm Aloysia and Timmy. "He should be at the dance by now and he's got to know about … them. I'll just tell him that I had a hunch and wanted to check out Ada's place. I won't say that y'all were with me so there won't be a need for any other explanations." 
      I'm sure he could see the relief on all our faces. I didn't like the thought of being made to retell it all, not to mention being grounded for a month for going into the swamp. I could see the rest of us were thinking the same thing.
      "See ya later," he said with a small, lopsided smile as he headed for the barn. 
      As Al was walking away, I suddenly remembered the letter in my pocket. 
      I ran over to him. "Wait! Give this to your dad. Tell him you found it in the kitchen." 
      He looked at it, gave me a nod and then hurried off. 
      As the rest of us were walking back to the barn, I asked Aloysia: "What made you come after us?" 
      "It was really strange," she said. "Timmy and I were talking and all of a sudden the amulet started getting real hot on my neck. I took it off and the center looked like a whirlwind. Somehow I just knew you were in trouble. I told Timmy I wanted him to row me out to look for you and he did." 
      "But … how did you know to hold the amulet up and make the monster disappear?" I stammered, looking at her with new respect. 
      "Grand-mère told me … I think," she said, looking puzzled. "I don't know how she did, but I sorta knew it was her and she sorta … told me in my head … right before I said 'stop.'" 
      She looked at Timmy and said with awe in her voice: "Gee Timmy, now we can both say we saw a real Loup Garou!" 
      I grabbed them and gave them both a great big hug. "Thank you. You two saved all our lives tonight." 
      Aloysia looked really surprised that I would thank her, much less give her a hug. Timmy just looked like he really did have to swallow worms.
      When I arrived home, Grand-mère was sitting in her favorite chair waiting up. Mom and Dad had brought her home before they went to the dance. Everyone else was still there talking about the murders. My dad and some other men went out with the Sheriff and Al to Ada's, but I asked John to bring me home early. I was still very shaken up. 
      I walked over to my grand-mère and knelt down beside her. 
      "So," she said. "You now believe?" 
      "Yes … I do." I answered quietly. 
      I stared into those wise old eyes and saw my grand-mère for the first time. I saw wisdom, beauty and a spirit that lived in two worlds. 
      She took my hand. "You have a question for me." It was a statement. 
      I did, but I wasn't sure how to ask her about what I'd seen. Finally, I said, "The light, grand-mère … how did it make the Werewolf … just disappear?" 
      She patted my hand. "The Loup Garou is not a Werewolf. There's no such thing as Werewolves. Loup Garou is a spirit of pure evil. What I sent with you in the amulet was pure goodness. It was happiness, love and most of all my faith in God. The amulet is just a stone, no more, but it was a symbol of all the feelings I have for my family and my belief that good will always win over evil. The Loup Garou could not stand up to feelings so powerful." 
      As she said that, she reached in her lap and handed me the amulet. For some reason I wasn't surprised that it was back with her. 
      "I want you to have it," she said. "Keep it as a reminder to always have goodness in your heart." 
      I gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, grand-mère." I rose and went to my bedroom. I had a lot to think about. 

It's been a month now since the Fais Do - Do. John and I are still dating, mostly with Pearl and Al. One night on our double date I thought about the letter and asked Al what was in it. 
      "Oh, I thought you had read it," he said, surprised. "It was basically the same thing we witnessed. It seems Ada had a brother that worked in the oil fields. He came to see her one night and told her a Loup Garou had bitten him. He'd go to work for a few weeks, then go to Ada's when it was a full moon and time for him to change. She'd lock him in that room until he changed back. It seems the locks weren't strong enough this time to keep him in and he broke loose. She wrote all this in the letter intending to send it to my father right after her brother broke loose and around the time of the first murder. The victim was some drifter, his was the third head in the shed beside Mark's and Felicity's and the first body found. Ada knew she couldn't control her brother once he broke loose and didn't want him to hurt anyone." 
      "Why didn't she send it, Al?" asked Pearl. 
      "My dad seems to think her brother found out she was going to turn him in and she was running for her life. The autopsy showed that her body was in that condition from running through the swamp. She died of a heart attack. 
      "That's why her head wasn't missing," I said softly. "He didn't kill her."
      "Yeah," said Al. "Personally, I think she just got scared he was going to kill her and she was trying to get away from him when she died. My dad thinks the letter is all a bunch of crock and her brother is just a mad psycho. He's put out a warrant for his arrest." 
      "But Al… didn't you tell him that he's gone?" I asked. 
      "No, I didn't, Kay. I figure that whoever bit him is still out there and people should stay out of the swamp." 
      We were all quiet for a while. Then Pearl asked Al: "Willing to risk Old Taters Point again?" 
      This time Al blushed as John said: "I'm willing … as long as we don't have to get there by boat!" 

© Cookie Rogan, 2003.
The moral rights of the author have been asserted.
The rights of A. R. Rogan to be identified as the author have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and patents act 1988

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