Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 287

Barbara Allen didn’t struggle as the dark-skinned stranger picked her up from the mud and rocks. Her body limp, she bent in his arms and shut her eyes.

“Where do ya belong, Girl.” The man asked.

“Nowhere.” Barbara whispered.

“That don’t make no sense.” The man grunted. “You gotta belong somewhere.”

“I don’t.”

“Ain’t ya got family?” the many grunted as he hoisted her up.

“No.” Barbara said.

“No ma or pa? No husband?”

“No.” Barbara replied weakly.

“You got work?”

“I do not.” Barbara said.

“I see why you were gonna drown yourself.” The man laughed.

“Throw me back in the river.” Barbara whispered.

“Can’t do that.” The man replied.

“What does it matter to you?” Barbara asked.

“It don’t matter to me none.” The man growled as he began walking.

Barbara, again, hung limply in his arms.

“Don’t you want to know where I’m takin’ ya?”

“No.” Barbara sniffed.

“Don’t ya even want to know my name?”

“I don’t care.”

“Well, I’m gonna tell ya anyway.” The man laughed. “I’m called Louis. Louis Glapion. And, I’m gonna take you to my brother’s widow. I done just got here, goin’ to see ol’ Marie. She’ll know what to do with ya.”

“Did you say ‘Marie?’” Barbara raised her head slightly.

“I did.”

“Marie Glapion?”

“Well, I ‘spose.” The man said deeply. “She got many names. Marie Paris. Marie Glapion. But, most, I think, know her as ‘Laveau.’”

Meanwhile, as Robert, Marjani and Adrienne watched Julian’s chest rise and fall—slowly and steadily, as his body began to breathe again, inside of that body, Mr. Punch stumbled into one of the tall, ornate chairs around the imaginary table in the phantom room.

Punch placed the slapstick on the table and lowered his head upon it both in exhaustion and in despair.

“Cher Punch,” The mysterious, accented voice called out. “This is not like you. We rely on you to be strong and plucky.”

“Here,” Punch sighed, still not looking up. “I never promised to be none of those things, I didn’t.” He raised his head. “And, just who are ‘we’?”

“All of us.” The voice replied, still unseen. “His Grace, Scaramouche, Jack Ketch, and me.”

“And you are?” Punch squinted.

“I?” The voice laughed. “Don’t you know?”

“For the love of sausages!” Punch snapped. “Why does everyone answer a question with another question? Why can’t someone just give me a straight answer. It don’t seem right!”

“I’ve already told you who I am.” The voice replied.

“No, no you didn’t. See, you only told me that you’re me cousin. But, I ain’t got no cousins nor does me master. Here, where’s me master anyway?”

“He’s in hiding.” The voice responded.

“Where?” Punch shouted. “Why?”

“There’s your spark.” The voice said approvingly.

“I don’t need your comments, I don’t.” Punch grumbled. “Whoever you are.”

“You still don’t know who I am?”

“Again with the questions. Listen, if I knew who you were, I’d not be askin’ you. Now, would I?”

“Very well.”

“So, who are you?” Punch screamed.

“I?” The voice demurred. “I am Guignol.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-286? If so, you can read them here.

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