Boofer Strang beat the drum. Candles flickered from the wind the drumbeats created. Mandy giggled as she held her friend’s hand waiting for a spirit to visit. She and Renee had come to New Orleans to soak up the atmosphere. Mandy had read many books that described hot steamy nights and a dark occult side of the city.
The previous evening the two women visited a famous vampire bar. Mandy could have sworn that one pasty creature followed them the whole way to the Irish Pub where they drank, clapped and stomped until dawn. This afternoon they had taken a tour bus to the Saint Louis Cemetery to see the tomb of Marie Laveau, the late voodoo queen, before heading to her shop. They both bought voodoo dolls. Mandy had giggled then too because the doll’s face looked like a cross between a native mask and a castle painting. After that they had their tea leaves read. Mandy hoped the future prediction of her marrying a handsome man and having three children would come true.
The drumming stopped. Mandy felt her cheeks ache from chewing her bubble gum. Focus, she told herself, and then she looked around the dark room. The decor and low-lit paintings made her feel that she sat amongst the dead, more so than when she had been at the graveyard. She had thought those graves looked funny, sitting so far above ground because of the high water table.
Focus, she thought again. She snapped her mouth shut on a bubble and looked at her friend. Her breath caught.
Renee’s eyes were balls of white. Shivers crawled down Mandy’s back and arms. She wondered what to do and lightly shook the hand she was holding. Renee did not move. She looked at the Strang man whose eyes were closed. He hummed lightly, but it was gradually growing in strength and volume. She looked back at Renee, who was now also humming.
Mandy dropped Renee’s hand, got on her knees and shook her friend’s shoulders. The woman’s blond curls swayed, but her eyes stayed the same and her humming grew louder.
She turned to the man. “Stop this, Boofer Strang,” she said loudly over the humming.
He ignored her.
“Stop this right now!” She saw him lift one eyelid, but he quickly closed it again. She let out a deep breath.
“Renee! Renee!” Mandy shook her friend hard and slapped her face.
Renee burst into laughter as she brought a hand to her cheek. Boofer laughed with her, as all of a sudden the lights came on. Mandy looked from one to the other as they hooted.
“That’s what you get, Mandy, for dragging me around to all these creepy places!” Renee clapped her hands. “You didn’t have to slap me though!” She hooted again and held her stomach as she rocked back and forth.
Mandy looked at her hands which seemed to be convulsing. Then she huffed, stood up and stomped out of the room. Great guffaws followed her.