L is for Love (A Serial Killer Story)

Scarlett: Part V

Despite the war that was supposed to be brewing, everything was eerily calm in New Orleans. Scarlett had no real intentions of battling with Cassie; it just wasn’t fair. Although, she was prepared to fight back if provoked, Cassie had yet to make a move. In fact she hadn’t even seen Cassie around at all. Normally she would have been worried about such a fact but because of her lack of confidence in Cassie’s skills, she was hardly bothered. After conversing with Dave about the subject, Scarlett had decided to lay low for a while. For the sole sake that Cassie threatened to reveal her, she refrained from adding any suspicion her way. She worked and kept to Aunt Tiki’s day after day. It wasn’t until she noticed she had another stalker that she began to move her pawns on the board.     
She first saw him when she was stumbling home drunk one night. The mood altering effects of alcohol made it easy to disguise the fact that she saw him looming in the shadows just yards behind her. He followed her all the way to the corner of St. Philip’s and N. Robertson, just across the corner from the Charbonnet-Labat funeral home. Although she didn’t get a well lit view of his face, she was sure that she could recognize him again. She began drinking less so she could keep her wits about her. She also began operating further under the radar than ever before. The only people she really had any contact with recently were Bruce and Dave.
Bruce was his usual reminiscent scatter brained self and Dave was a continuing source of sarcasm and advice, nothing was new. Nothing except the feeling like something was about to go terribly wrong. It was early Friday evening and Bruce had let her go home early. She decided brooding inside all night was out of the question and against her better judgment, she showered and left her house dressed to kill.
Since it was still early, Scarlett decided to go by Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo. The establishment was run by Flow and her daughter Audrianna. Scarlett had discovered that Flow had known her parents from the sixties. Apparently Flow and Scarlett’s mother had organized and held religious tolerance events together. Scarlett became a second daughter to Flow after this news came to light. Flow ran the store with her daughter Audrianna, who couldn’t be more than sixteen years old. Flow was well over eighty but you would never be able to tell by looking at her. At a height of just over six feet and weighing a solid one hundred and eighty pounds, she was a very intimidating woman. 


Even being like a daughter to Flow, Scarlett had never gotten around to asking Flow  how she had gotten to New Orleans or about who Audrianna’s father was and probably wasn’t going to. There was obviously some reason Flow never spoke of it and with her history, it just made Scarlett all the more curious.
Flow was born in a very small tribal village on the South coast of Haiti. From the research Scarlett had done, it was a tribe that was very faithful to VooDoo practices, as well as some very primitive patriarchal marital practices. At the ripe age of thirteen, all the girls in the village were round up and put on display for all the men to see. After extensive examination of each of the girls, the men were then allowed to choose which girl they desired for their bride. What was even worse, the men had to be over forty years old to be able to take a bride. Flow had been thirteen when she left Haiti and arrived in New Orleans. That was all that Scarlett could decipher and because of it she would never ask her questions.
Flow and Audrianna were obviously both very well trained in the practices of VooDoo. Scarlet was sure with how many years of experience that Flow had under her belt would make her the status of a High Priestess; from the things Scarlett had seen and heard, and taken part in, around the shop, almost literally confirmed her theory. Audrianna was well beyond her years in her education as well. Flow homeschooled her, in more than just the normal curriculum. It was because of all these things that Scarlett felt at home in Reverend Zombie’s. It was a place that, when empty of tourists and ignorant locals, was a safe haven for the wicked, for lack of a better word, of the city. There was an unspoken don’t ask don’t tell policy that made the Army’s version of it look like a five year old created it. Everyone knew what Flow could do, but no one really knew what she could do and it was that fact alone that created and withheld the law of the wicked. Although there were other havens around town, those who passed through Flow’s respected and avoided each other outside the shop. Inside however, they were able to smile and communicate with silence. It always made Scarlett giggle. Made her think of a bunch of serial killers getting together to talk about their conquests. A serial convention, a conference for the corrupt. No one really knew what the other’s crimes were but you could guess by their look and purchases. There were witches of all shapes and sizes, both black and white, other voodoo priests and priestesses, shamans, doctors, nurses, serial killers, gypsies, and even police and city officials that all took part in the illegal activities that occurred at Flow’s.
Today the store was empty. Audrianna was behind the desk playing with a golden gilded deck of tarot cards, just like the one that Flow had given Scarlett for Christmas. Scarlett thought it was odd that Flow gave Christmas presents, but again didn’t ask.  Audrianna looked up and smiled.
“Mama isn’t in yet.” She stood and walked around the counter to give Scarlett a hug, “She will be here later tonight.” Audrianna kissed both Scarlett’s cheeks, another custom that was out of place but accepted.
“That’s alright,” Scarlett replied, “I’m not looking for anything out of the ordinary today. Just some incents and whatnot.”
“Very well miss.” She said heading back around the counter.
“Audry, how many times have I told you not to call me ‘Miss’? Please?” Scarlett said putting her hands together as if she was going to pray. Audrianna giggled. The only reason she kept calling Scarlett by that title was because it made Scarlett uncomfortable. For some reason Audrianna thought that was funny. Scarlett shook her head and smiled. She knew Audrianna would never stop unless she stopped asking. She picked up a woven shopping basket and began her walk around. After an hour of wandering she was confident that she had everything she wanted. She settled on large bottles of lavender, tea tree, rosemary, and sweet orange essential oils, a white sage bundle, some dragon’s blood, myrrh, and nag champa incents, two books on natural healing and meditation, some candles, and a deck of dragon tarot cards. Scarlett unloaded her items on the counter and Audrianna came out from the back rooms. Scarlett hadn’t heard her leave.
“Mama said you have credit. This one is on us.” She smiled. Scarlett knew what the credit was for. She had done Flow a favor of sorts. Audrianna helped Scarlett wrap the bottles so they wouldn’t break in her rucksack. “She also told me to tell you that she came across some very, well, useful items that you might be interested in. She wants you to come back two weeks before Mardi Gras. One in the morning.” She wrapped the last of the newspaper around the last bottle and taped it. Scarlett was ecstatic. The only time Flow made late, well, early, appointments was when the product she was selling should only be transported under the cover of darkness.  A small group of French foreign exchange students walked in just seconds after Audrianna finished speaking. Audrianna greeted them in perfect French. The girls giggled and replied in their native tongue and disappeared behind one of the shelves of knick knacks. Scarlett smiled and nodded to Audrianna to confirm the appointment. She winked and waved as she walked out the door. From behind her she thought she heard something like Audrianna whispering ‘good day Miss’ but Scarlett just ignored it. A good start. She shouldered her rucksack and headed out to get something to eat.

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