Through the Heart (MM)
Tashawn Dallison and his partner, Kendrick, are hopelessly in love. Their life together is perfect until a tragic event befalls them on the night Tashawn proposes to Kendrick.
Overcome with grief and guilt, Tashawn vows to seek revenge, and puts his own life in jeopardy when he steals a book of spells from his Aunt Zatora, a voodoo priestess.
Strange events occur when Tashawn dabbles into the supernatural to reunite with his love, but will he lose his soul in the process? How far will he go to be with the man of his dreams?
She looked like she wasn’t surprised to see me when I showed up at her cabin. She was sitting on her porch in some rickety rocking chair with her cat, Pitch, in her lap. Auntie Zatora was the only one that damn cat would let touch him. Once when I tried to pet him, he bit me. Hate that fucking cat. Aunt Zatora’s salt and pepper hair was pulled back in a tight bun. Her skin was as wrinkled as tobacco leaves and all of her teeth had fallen out from years of dipping snuff.
“Hey, Auntie Z.” That’s what everyone calls her. I stood before her as she stroked Pitch’s fur that was as black as his name.
“I know why you here, boy.”
“You heard what happened.”
“I seen it.”
“You were? I didn’t see you at the party.”
“I dreamt it, boy. I seen everything.”
“Auntie Z, what am I supposed to do?”
“Mourn, boy. Bury him and mourn.”
“There’s still time.”
“You don’t know whatchu askin’.”
“I want to say good-bye to Kendrick right.”
“Revenge, boy, is whatchu want. Revenge can kill a man you let it get away from ya.”
“Please, Auntie Zatora. I need your help.”
She took a pause from rocking, got up with Pitch, and walked inside the cabin. I followed reluctantly. The tattered screen door slammed behind me. The walls of the cabin were littered with animal bones and skulls. Pickled frogs and snakes sat in peach jars in rows on a shelf. Pitch squirmed out of Auntie Zatora’s grip and ran to a small bowl of cat food that sat in a corner in the kitchen. She plucked a large, thick book from one of the shelves. She roared with a throaty cough when she blew dust from the cover. If I didn’t know better, I would think the cover was made of human skin.
“Sit down, boy.”
She sat next to me on the sofa with the book and cracked it open with rough, bony fingers. The pages looked delicate, as if they would dissolve into ash with a single touch.
“This a very ol’ book, boy. ‘Bout two-hundred years old.”
“The writing looks strange. Is that Creole?” I only knew a little bit of Creole. I wasn’t as fluent in it as Auntie Zatora.
“It was pas’ down from my mama t’ me an’ her mama befo’ her. They only five of these books lef’. Lotta folks would like t’ get they hands on this. Very few done laid eyes upon it. You th’ firs’ of your generation, boy.”
“What does this mean?” I asked pointing to the wording.
“Book o’ th’ dead, boy.”
“Come on, Auntie Z, seriously?”
“You doubt me?”
She got up and grabbed one of the peach jars with a dead bull frog inside. She unscrewed the top off.
I held my hand under my nose in protest. “Jesus, the smell.”
“It jus’ formaldehyde.” Auntie Zatora reached into the jar and plucked the dead bull frog out of the liquid as I looked on in disgust. She placed it on the small table in front of us. She started to recite a passage in Creole from this…”book of the dead” as she called it. Suddenly, the day shaded to a gray gloom. Thunder shook the walls of the rickety cabin. Auntie Zatora shouted the words with much conviction. I’m not going to lie, I was scared shitless. Even Pitch scurried under a nearby table out of harm’s way.
After her chant, all was still again. Daylight had managed to chase away the darkness that Auntie Z had conjured forth.
“Just watch, boy.”
A piece of me didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see, but like a car crash, I couldn’t bring myself to turn away. I had to know. Curiosity had seeped in. I stared at the amphibian, but nothing was happening.
“It didn’t work.”
“Hush, boy. Look.”
“Shit. Did you see that? It moved its leg!”
“Magic, boy. Creole magic.”