Jack Eidt
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"Maleficent Love"

I ingested the blood of the goat at the Temple last night. They said it would clear my vision. I still hear the Banda played by three tanbou calling the lwa down to mount my head, controlling my thoughts, filling me with love for this beaten, wayward half-island hidden away from the world.

The spirit rides me like a horse down the cluttered streets of Port au Prince to the market where old plump women in straw hats dressed in bright cotton flowers announce their mangos just reduced to one goude a piece, toothpaste for fifty. They sit amid piles of yellow plastic bags, discarded Michelins, red banana peels, mud puddles a foot deep, and pecking hens that clutter the remains of the French colonial streets once the pride of Europe.

Yeah, I'm walking, and everyone calls, "Ay, Blanc!" I try to smile at all my new friends who laugh at me because I'm alone in a part of town where none of the other Blancs, the nuns and relief workers, will wander. Barefoot children push discarded bicycle wheels with sticks. Seeing me they stop, thinking I am a ghost.

An orange-blue-yellow-red tap-tap zips by with people holding on in its old pick-up bed outfitted with benches and a thatched roof. Men play rummy in a vacant decrepit Victorian gingerbread storefront, rusting fretwork embellishments hanging loose from the eaves above them. The men throw their cards and yell at each other, laughing, dressed in pressed white shirts as if some job awaits them.

The Rada in my head keep repeating the rhythms from Dahomey, as I pass the rows of artists hawking their wares along Champs de Mars. I wish Legba would open up the pathways and let me escape into the forests and desolate villages of the Grande Anse peninsula. But Legba won't listen. The sores on my arms and back are from bathing in the polluted water. I hope they will go away. I think I got Chagas from the bug that flew into my wattle and daub hut and bit me on the arm; I breathe harder going uphill. It might be tuberculosis.

Walking blind, I run into Ti George, the one who allowed Baron Samedi to take over his body, made his eyes roll and he foamed at the mouth, while the helpers removed his shoes and laid him back to allow the possession full access to his person. The first thing Samedi, more Baron Zombi, did after he put on his black top hat and stuffed plugs in his nostrils like a dead man, was smoke cigarettes and drink rum. Baron watches over graveyards, oversees the harvesting of parts by the oungan who devise spells to heal the sick and afflict the maleficent. He guards the crossroads of the spirits on their way to Guinee, which is where I would rather go than be here, in this polluted capital, worried another insurrection would close the airport and make sure I can never go home again.

"Ti George, I am leaving for Miami," I lie, not quite looking into his eyes that rove, eyes that see, understand my weakness for the drums, the Boula, Manman, and Segon that called the spirits onto my head back in Mass.

"You did not offer bus fare into the plate last night." Bus fare meant money to Ti George, and he could have meant one goud or a thousand dollars. He left it up to the spirits, but I sort of felt sick after the goat blood ingestion and had to depart without any financial sacrifice.

I handed him a ten dollar bill and said, "Here’s bus fare," and he could not stop looking at me with his disapproval.

"You not going anywhere, my friend," he said.