Read Echoes in the Bayou Online

Authors: Ursula Dukes

Echoes in the Bayou (9 page)

Before
he could open his bedroom door, Ava stomped up behind him. She told him that
she was there to do a job and then she reminded him that he was the one who had
called the office in need of help. "Well help has arrived and like it or
not, I plan to see this thing through. Now I'm not saying that I won’t help you
with your search for documentation on this place, but I'm telling you that I
plan on showing both you and Gavin that I can get the job done. Now if you’re
not willing to abide by those rules you tell me now and I’ll pack my bags and
be gone within the hour, it’s your choice."

There was
nothing he wanted more than for her to stay; he could tell by the tone in her
voice that she meant every word. "Ava, I can live with that," he
said, his voice soft. "I just wish you would tell me what I said that’s
got you so upset?"

"
Magnus, just please can we not talk about it right
now? If you don’t mind I’d like to get to work, and get some measurements down
so if you have something else to do please don’t let me keep you." She had
become all business now and he wondered why.

"
That’s fine Ava; you seem to have everything under
control so I think I’ll step out for a bit. I need to get some supplies,"
he said and headed back down the stairs and out the door.

He was
angry but he tried to fight it, he even managed to get into the car without
slamming the door. It wasn’t until he’d made it to the main road that he
punched the dashboard. 
What the hell made
her switch it off like that?
He wondered.
It was quite obvious to him that the phone call from her boss Gavin had gotten
her riled up.
Clearly the two had
something going on and now it was over. And one of them doesn’t want it to be
, he thought to himself. Now all I’ve got to do is
figure out which one.

As
she set about the house in search of any
documentation about the history of the plantation, someone was out in the bayou
making sure no harm would come to her. Earlier, when the two had gone out,
Sinta had managed to place gris-gris all around the property, the gris-gris
would not allow anyone who meant Ava harm inside the house. But since the
spirit of John DuPonte was already in the house, she had to find a way to get
invited inside so that she could talk to the young woman and find out
everything there was to know about her. She hoped and prayed that the young
woman inside the big house would accept the idea of reincarnation.

For Ava,
the best solution to rid herself of her anger was to throw herself into her work,
once she searched in her bags and found the measuring tape, she went about her
task. She was going to take various measurements for window treatments and new
doors. The first night that she had arrived, she noticed that the kitchen
housed a large pantry. The only thing missing was a door. "I’ll start
there," she said with determination. She knew that Magnus had left angry
and she only hoped that when he returned he would be thinking more clearly and
would see things her way.

She
didn’t feel as if she owned him an explanation.
I'm not here to get romantically involved
anyway,
she told herself.
Okay then, so
what’s with the hand holding, hugging and kissing?
Her conscience demanded an answer.
People do
strange things when they are under duress
,
she argued back.

By the
time she had reached the pantry, Ava was in a full on argument w
ith herself. Not only was she mad at herself for being
vulnerable during their paranormal episodes, but she was also angry because she
liked kissing him, and she liked holding him in her arms.
Why for once
can’t you put your stubborn, yet bruised feelings aside? Stop doubting them, go
with them and see where they take you!
Her intuition implored. "Besides, didn’t you say earlier that you were
going to do the unpredictable thing? Well wouldn’t following your heart in this
particular situation be quite unpredictable?" She asked, out loud.
"Not every man is going to treat me like Gavin did. And like I said, my
intuition seems to work on everyone but me," she murmured and took out her
measuring tape.

 
In all of her frustration, she wasn’t paying attention
to the warped wooden shelves in the pantry that housed an overabundance of
canned jams and vegetables.  As she hooked the end of the measuring tape
onto the old wooden board it gave way taking the contents of the shelf with
it.  "Shit!" She cursed. Ava bent down and began picking up the
larger pieces of glass. When the mess had been swept up, she examined the wall
that was behind the broken shelf, an old rusted latch had been affixed to it
and immediately her curiosity was peaked.

 
 Without bothering to wait for Magnus to return,
she hastily began removing all of the items from the other shelves. When the
entire pantry had been emptied, she began work on trying to open the old latch.
After several failed attempts using a hammer, she decided to get a bit more
resourceful. Using a rag soaked with olive oil, she lubricated the latch and
using a butter knife slid the latch up. It made a clicking sound before easily
giving way.

When she
opened the door, a sudden burst of impossibl
y
cold air blew out bringing dust and cobwebs with it. She stood in the doorway
for a minute and began having second thoughts.
Maybe I should wait for Magnus

After about three minutes of debating with herself, she decided to go in. When
she crossed the threshold and entered the tiny room she was not met with fear,
but quite the opposite; an overwhelming feeling of sadness came over her. A
tarnished metal bed frame stood in the corner of the room and a decaying old mattress,
rolled up and tied with twine sat on top of it. A small wooden crate that was
covered in cobwebs stood at the base of the bed frame.

 
As she moved closer to the bed frame, she stepped on a
loose floorboard. "This just keeps getting better and better," she
whispered cynically.  As she stood in the room looking for something to
lift the rotted floor board with she laughed at herself when she saw that she
was still holding the butter knife. She had been gripping it so tight in fact
that her fingers had begun to ache. There was no denying that she was
frightened, at that moment she hated Magnus for leaving her alone in the house.

Her own
words echoed through her head.
I'm here to do a job and I’ll also help with finding
any documentation…

Sliding
the butter knife
under the board, she found that
it too lifted quite easily. As she stuck the knife down into the dark hole she
stopped when it scraped upon something hard. "Probably a rock," she
mumbled. "Or with my luck, it's a goddamn skull."

"
Here goes nothing," she said and reached into the
hole. She let out a sigh of relief when she realized that the shape of the
object she was touching seemed to be square. "Thank god," she said
and gripped the object. As she was pulling the brown square out of the hole, a
large spider scurried across her hand.

She
screamed and inadvertently threw the object, it landed on the floor along with
most of the dirt that had been buried on top of it. "Get a grip Ava,
geez." She scolded herself.

Once she
regained her compos
ure she crawled over to the
small object and realized that it was a book, a journal to be exact. As she
picked it up and examined it, she brushed away what dirt that was left and
noticed that years of mildew had caused some of the binding to wear away.

She carefully
opened the delicate book and sat with her back against the wall and began
reading what was to be the most personal and intimate details of the life of a
slave girl named Celeste.
Because of the
wear and tear, several of the pages had rotted away. But that didn’t stop Ava
from feeling an extreme connection to the young woman.  After reading
several entries, she was able to discern that her mother had left her the small
diary and it was to be given to her a few months shy of her sixteenth birthday.
Even though she was a slave in the big house, Celeste was treated quite
harshly, especially by her mistress, Amelia Montieu. And even more so after
Amelia had caught her son, Will smiling at the young woman. Ava immediately got
the sense that something was not right. The journal entries alone told nothing
of her wanting to run away, what they frequently spoke of was her seemingly
undying love for Will.

She marveled at the fact that even after all these
years, the handwriting was so incredibly legible, it was as if the diary was
waiting to be found, waiting to be uncovered. "Waiting for me?" Ava
half questioned out loud.

Now
wanting to wait any longer, she decided to leave the tiny room and call Magnus
and tell him of h
er discovery. Just then, the
door leading to the pantry was slammed shut and locked from the outside.
             

A putrid
smell invaded the small room and she found herself trying to fend off her
invisible attacker. The diary that she had kept a firm grip on was ripped from
her hands and thrown across the room; a sharp slap stung her face.  Ava
blindly reached out and swung violently into the air but she couldn’t meet her
target, it was an unseen force and it was bearing down on her. She could feel
the heat of hot breath against her skin and the smell of stale brandy filled
the air. 

Her eyes
were wide open but she couldn’t see a thing and then with a swoop, she was
knocked onto the floor while her shirt was violently ripped from her body.
The entity began kneading her breasts and as she
fought harder, she could feel her legs being forced open. "No!" She
screamed out loud. "Nooo!" She pushed out in front of her. A
heaviness came over her entire body and just as she was about to scream again,
she felt her head being lifted and pounded back onto the hard rotted floor
knocking her unconscious.

 

Chapter
Eight

 

When she
came too, Ava was out of the pantry and lying on a sofa in the sitting room.
Through the blurriness, she could see someone leaning over her. At first she
thought it was Magnus, but as her vision cleared she saw that it was an elderly
woman.  The woman wore a tattered old dress with a matching head
scarf.  Instead of being afraid of the old woman; she was bewildered,
"What happened?" Ava asked and tried to get up.

"
No, the old woman objected." You's need to rest
miss, took a mighty bad fall back in dat pantry and I does bring you out,"
she said. Ava knew immediately that this woman, whoever she was, was no longer
of this world; there was an air about her. Besides being helpful, the woman
seemed to emulate wisdom and knowledge.   "But how did you get me
out?" She questioned her. "There’s no way you could have carried
me," Ava said as she eyed the seemingly frail woman.

Sinta let out a low howl.
"Hee, hee, you's be surprised at what this ole
lady can do," she winked at her. "When I find you, you ain't have no
shirt miss so I found that and put it on you." She pointed to an old tee
shirt of Magnus's.

When Magnus pulled up in the
driveway he'd gotten the sense that something had gone wrong, he had gotten the
feeling earlier when he was out but he’d simply blamed it on his anger. Now
when he arrived home, the feeling overtook him and he raced into the house.
Calling out her name, he found Ava in the sitting room and sitting next to her was
a strange black woman, he immediately went to her. "Ava, oh my god what
happened?" He asked looking between them both. "And who the hell are
you?" He asked the strange woman.

"Ava
did this woman hurt you? I'm calling the police," he barked and reached
for the phone.

Ava
reached out and stopped him.
"Magnus no you
don’t understand, this woman helped me. While you were gone I found a hidden
room." Magnus looked at her as if she’d gone crazy.

"
And no, I'm not crazy. There’s a hidden room behind
the pantry and inside I uncovered a diary, Celeste’s diary." Ava couldn’t
hide her excitement; finally they were going to get some much needed answers.
And despite the throbbing in her head, she was going to be alright.

"Ava
that’s great but who are you?" He asked Sinta. "And more importantly
how the hell did you get into my house?" He was confused now but for some
reason he could tell that the old woman meant them no harm.  "Ava I
think I better take you to the hospital," he said.

Ava shook
her head no.
"Magnus I don’t think you
heard me, I said I found a hidden room and in that room I found that
diary," she said pointing to the small journal.

"Yes
I heard you, but that’s not what’s important right now," he said with
concern in his voice. "Ava you hit your head, you could have a concussion.
Please let me take you to the hospital and get you checked out."

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