Playing the Ghost –


Picture by Albane Simon

I gave up Texas

after Lorelei bothered my waters. 10, fifteen years back. I drove to New Orleans, after that Biloxi and also Kansas City, anywhere there was nine-ball activity. If I located an electric motor court set out like a horseshoe, I would certainly rent out an area for a week. A month if the swimming pool hall had Gold Crown tables, much longer yet if I satisfied a pleasant waitress. I would certainly been rushing in Knoxville for a year prior to Jesse Vodinh began my door at the Sundown Motel and also implicated me of tossing video games. Jesse was a risk equine with a cut head and also a fondness for butterfly blades. I was alone once again, on the plum-colored carpeting, when my dad informed me that he would certainly seen Lorelei haunting our bayou. I had not heard his voice in a years, possibly a lot more. My ears were humming. Jesse had actually sounded my bell prior to snapping open his blade.

” Haunting?” I asked my dad.

Searching,” he stated. “For them heads.”

He implied to caution me off yet could also have actually stated, Begin residence, boy. You been gone enough time.

My dad

was from the Louisiana side of Caddo Lake and also worried of witches. He thought that any kind of feline, if allowed your house, would certainly draw your breath clear out. A loosened hog was a person under a spell. Or an indicator a successor had actually passed away and also the household really did not recognize.

He transferred to Uncertain, Texas, with my mom, though she quickly left him for an outdoor tents preacher. I maintained assuming we would certainly relocate, and also he maintained assuming she would certainly return. We were both incorrect. My dad took job as an overview on our bayou, revealing oil-men where to fish for bluegill and also running overload excursions for their households. If he saw a white owl, he would certainly reduce the trip short. If the ghost lights were shooting, he would certainly inform the story of Feu Follet. My dad’s voice was mire.

Uncertain, Texas

is where you end up if you’re shed. Or objective to be. Cabins and also bars and also churches. Old Guthrie and also Wanda possess their lure stand and also lease canoes. Guthrie states, The community’s called Uncertain since Caddo Lake covers the Louisiana and also Texas boundary, making the community restricts difficult to map. Wanda states, The initial territory application had a box requesting for a name and also whoever submitted the documents really did not recognize what to place, so they simply created Uncertain Guthrie states, Actually ain’t no one understands why.

When I came back, I asked Guthrie if they would certainly seen Lorelei. Wanda stated, A person took an additional rental canoe 2 evenings prior to. Guthrie stated, I assumed it was 3 evenings. Wanda stated, That cares– gone is gone.

Lorelei had actually a barbed cable heart

tattooed on her shin. A crescent moon on her knuckle. She invested days gathering plumes and also bones and also heads from the overload. She prepared them in spiritual forms, made them right into precious jewelry. When we launched, among us would certainly claim, “Overload’s simple to obtain shed in,” and also we would certainly satisfy in the bayou. With her, in those sepulchral bogs, the globe dropped away, and also she showed me just how much I really did not recognize. We constantly appeared on the side of something unsafe and also unalterable– love, claim, or being captured. As soon as, we came across a viper skeletal system so excellent it could have been sculpted from alabaster. Afterward, in the black mud of Potter’s Factor, we located a dramatically bowled bone that she determined as a hips. She took it residence and also maintained type in it, pocket money.

A ghost light

is additionally called a remains candle light– a radiant round simply over the overload. You can go a life time without a look, after that one evening the water will certainly be ablaze. It floats, darts, vanishes. It can be as mean as a cottonmouth, as troublesome as a youngster. The closer you obtain, the further the light declines. A light flickering throughout a dark area, a patio light burning for a person that isn’t getting home.

From above

Caddo Lake appears like an equine trotting westward. The bayou networks abound hairless cypress, knotted and also twisted and also centuries old, and also Spanish moss shrouds their arm or legs like shoals of silver haze. Salvinia is choking the overload. It stifles every little thing listed below the surface area and also remove the sunlight. Guthrie believes someone got it for their fish tank, got ill of it surrounding their fish, and also hucked it right into the lake. Wanda states, That weed intends to transform Caddo right into a pasture. Guthrie states, That’ll be completion people.

Feral donkeys forage in a copse of cottonwood. The branches of a crape myrtle blossom with cobalt-blue containers. A poacher had actually relocated right into Lorelei’s old cabin, and also a dead gator hung from a trap a hickory out front.

Playing the ghost

is a lonely video game of pocket billiards. You rack the spheres and also break, after that put the hint round anywhere on the table for your initial shot. Miss afterwards, also when, and also you shed. The ghost never ever misses out on.

A couple of days prior to Jesse located me at the Sundown, I was racking the spheres and also clarifying the video game to a waitress. Her hair was blonde, and also she was putting on fringed boots. I wished she could show pleasant. I stated it resembles jewelry, and also she stated jewelry made use of to be called perseverance. Witches checked out the video game like tarot card cards and also informed ton of money.

” I really did not believe individuals from Tennessee counted on witches,” I stated.

” I would not recognize,” the waitress stated. “I’m not from below.”

” I’m bent on succeed, not inform one,” I stated.

She slid a pen from behind her ear, scraped her address onto a paper napkin, sank it in the edge pocket.

Feu Follet

is an additional name for ghost light. The Cajun fairy. My dad thought she dabbled anglers for sporting activity. Guthrie states, It’s the burning heart of an unbaptized youngster. Wanda states, That’s pure horseshit. She was returned by God, implied to be doing penance yet transformed spiteful. Feu Follet makes people think they can capture her, obtains them so dizzy in the bog they never ever appear. Guthrie states, What makes you so certain she’s a lady? Wanda states, She’s a fairy, ain’t she? It’s just guys that go missing out on– guys and also my canoes. Guthrie states, Possibly guys are simply stupider. Wanda states, I can drink hands keeping that.

When we found the hips in the black mud of Potter’s Factor, Lorelei stated, “Feu Follet strikes once again.”

The waitress

stayed in a shotgun shack with her partner. He drank my hand without pressing and also stated, “Call me Darkness.”

The container tree

got on the old Guillot homestead. Guillot thought any kind of bad coming close to your house night would certainly be charmed by the cobalt glass. Spirits glided within and also were entraped, after that scorched by the dawn. When winds came with the marsh, the containers whistled– the last tune of the worthless.

The skies was purpling with sunset when I located Lorelei appreciating the containers. Her back remained to me. She touched one container, after that an additional, like a youngster hanging accessories. Without transforming, she stated, “I assumed you remained in Knoxville.”

” My dad stated you would certainly get back,” I stated.

She turned to satisfy my eyes, bemused, as if she would certainly captured me existing. Reversing, she stated, “Your daddy never ever liked me.”

” He liked you plenty,” I stated. “He really did not like you being wed.”

” I’m not wed currently,” she stated.

” Wanda believes you took a canoe.”

” I simply sufficed loose,” she stated. “That’s not swiping.”

A disallowed owl called from the darkness. Lorelei rotated to encounter me. Her stare appeared a projection, like my merits and also trespasses were being considered versus each other.

” Overload’s simple to obtain shed in,” she stated.

” Yes,” I stated.

Darkness

put on a starched white tee shirt, black suspenders. The devoutly clothed hustler. The waitress had actually noted Jesse Vodinh long back– he blinked his jellyroll whenever he spent for a beverage– so they would certainly been searching for a person to assist reduce him up. The strategy went like this: Darkness would certainly discover me playing the ghost and also make a program of testing me to a race to twenty. I would certainly approve, yet when he bet 5 huge, I would certainly claim that was also abundant for my blood. We would certainly ensure Jesse overheard, understanding he would certainly provide to lay me for a portion. Darkness and also I would certainly maintain the race tight, yet he would certainly retreat at the end and also entrust to Jesse’s money. On my escape of Knoxville, I would certainly visit the shotgun shack for my fifty percent. It needs to’ve functioned.

Ultimately

we took among Wanda’s canoes and also paddled right into the overload. We knocked right into cypress knees, threaded with their corded trunks. A group of white egrets stood so close with each other they could have been a shown moon. The evening was oil black and also smeared with celebrities.

” What occurred in Knoxville?” Lorelei asked from the bow.

” I wore my welcome,” I stated.

” I was intending to see you,” she stated. She was existing, and also I was flattered. She dipped her hand right into the lake and also dragged the surface area, water furrowing in between her fingertips. “You conserved me a journey.”

” You have actually constantly held your horses,” I stated.

” Tyler,” she stated. “I make sure sorry regarding your father.”

I leaned right into the oars, however, more difficult. We displaced swaths of lily pads– sitting blossoms guiding as if combed by an undetected hand.

” Exactly how would certainly you recognize?” I asked.

” You stated he would certainly informed you I was back,” she stated.

” He did,” I stated.

” That’s just how,” she stated.

After

Jesse implicated me of tossing the race, he entered into my restroom and also cleaned his blade. The songs of running water, the metal fragrance of splashed blood. I lay on the plum-colored carpeting, hearing my dead dad’s voice. Jesse eliminated the lights prior to he left, shut the door behind him. Begin residence, boy.

The overload

tightened. The cypresses enclosed. Rough drapes of moss developed a lengthy passage. Water folded up over the oars like screws of towel.

I stated, “So you’re–“

” Below,” she reduced me off. “I’m below. With you.”

” As well as my dad?”

” He’s about someplace,” she stated.

” So after that I’m–“

” Right where you’re implied to be,” she stated. “Shed in the overload.”

” I do not comprehend,” I stated.

” I recognize,” she stated, like an apology.

Behind Lorelei, the lake claimed the perspective. My bearings were gone. We might have wandered out of Texas and also right into Louisiana or some dark district rinsed of time and also boundary, of names and also various other lies.

Beyond

the cypress brakes, the overload opened up, and also we went across right into lustrous water. We drifted with celebrities assessed the surface area. They swelled, after that went back to their unpromising terminals.

Distant, a flickering cinder. A candle light lit for the dead. On the wind, the fragrance of a struck suit.

” Feu Follet,” I stated.

” Strikes once again,” Lorelei stated.

I grabbed her hand

and also she was gone. Or she had actually never ever existed in any way. Or I had not. My vision burrowed, and also the remote cinder flared, as if being coaxed to fire. I knew it would certainly off, and also with it, my life. Okay, I assumed. Okay, I prepare. At when and also anywhere, the lake was absolutely nothing yet spooky light. The spheres rolled and also spread out, caroming off each various other. I was horrified. I was courageous. When I dove in, I made no sprinkle. The water supported my body like a resting youngster, reduced me to the constantly flexible silt.

Over, the lake shed, and also in the turning shades, I check out a lot of money: the dead gator slides its noose and also creeps under the veranda to wait for the poacher’s ankle joints, his knees, his throat, after that goes back to its genealogical waters, sated and also spectacular. The lake increases. It spews out our bitter bones, frees itself of every bloodsucker and also toxin. A white owl flies from the mossy shroud. The containers sing and also drop quiet. Wanda finds her canoes. She states, Some youngster most likely played a trick. Guthrie states, I could not have actually connected them excellent, I do not recognize, it’s a secret. Wanda listens to sound in the brush and also states, What’s that? Guthrie states, An enigma? It’s a concern that ain’t yet been resolved. Wanda states, No, dummy, what’s that sound? Guthrie cocks his head, pays attention. That? he states. That’s simply a hog rooting around for dinner. Wanda states, Ain’t that intended to suggest something, a loosened hog? Guthrie states, It implies a person demands to spot a fencing. Wanda states, No, there’s even more to it, an old lesson or fact, something we’re undoubtedly missing out on.


Corpus Christi indigenous Bret Anthony Johnston is the writer of the unique Remember Me Similar To This and also the supervisor of the Michener Facility For Writers at the College of Texas at Austin.

This tale is released in partnership with Texas Regular Monthly publication. It will certainly show up in the digital photographer Keith Carter’s publication Ghostlight (UT Press, November 2022).



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