The road rose up and quickly receded in the growing heat as Roy ate it up on his way to Madame Jubal’s shop. He’d been there before with his Uncle after his Father had died. He didn’t remember much except the smell of sandalwood incense, a large parrot and a cornucopia of antiques and curios. His Uncle’s cigar would trigger the memories every once in a while. Like the smell of an outboard motor out on the bayou. The smell of home and childhood. He fiddled with the radio as he rolled on to kill some time.
Boom, Thunderstruck by AC/DC blasted away. He turned it up. It took him back to Desert Storm. He had a vision he was in a Hummer racing across the desert. The .50 caliber machine gun roared as the song blended into the chaos. He saw himself in the Hummer but he wasn’t human. He had transformed into a reptile, a fourteen foot alligator. His helmet was huge and scaley. He felt very protective of his unit. His sense of fealty was overwhelming.
He raced past a state cop in a ditch. The sight snapped him out of his trance. The speedometer read ninety five. The cop looked up at his radar gun, shook it as it beeped, then dozed back off pulling the brim of his hat down over his eyes. For the next ten miles Roy looked in his rear view mirror. The moment was over, Roy got a shiver. He had dreamed of the gator before. In his dreams the gator had the eye of the sun. A circle with a dot in the center. He had no idea what it meant. It was another question for Madame Jubal, what the hell who else could he ask? Most people would think he was crazy. He reached up and felt for the opal. It felt cold inside his fingers.
He was nearing the exit for the shop. He turned off the radio. He was looking around at the familiar sights. Not far now. He slowed down to a crawl and looked over at the shop. He nearly crashed the truck. The man from the gas station stood in front of the shop. He had a cane and a cigar. He was staring right at Ray. He beckoned with his hand, seeming to say welcome. Ray stepped down and gingerly closed the truck door. The stranger walked right into the shop tipping his hat as he went in. Ray began to hurry across the road, hoping to confirm it was the same man. He heard a noise from over on the corner, a crashing of a garbage can stole his eyes for a moment. When he looked back a stray cat ran around the corner of the building.
Ray threw open the door. Madame Jubal jumped out of her chair as the bells on the door swayed.
“Here now son,” she plead, “Don’t go stormin’ about like dat!”
“Did you see him? The man in black?”
“Son ain’t nobody here but me and dis here parrot Lafitte. Maybe some spirits but I can’t count on dem.”
Roy stood in silence. Madame Jubal could see was he was confused. Roy suddenly became apologetic. The familiar smell of the sandalwood incense brought him back to earth. He looked down at the table with the tarot deck. The image of the fool looked back at him.
“Sorry to freak you out like that, I swear I saw someone come in here!”
“Well me and Lafitte been expectin’ someone. Might be you I expect. Why don’t you sit down here and catch your breath. I have some tea to calm your self down some.”
“Okay. Thank you.” Roy sat down and looked around. Everything was familiar suddenly. It was all as it should be, everything in order. He clutched at the opaline talisman. It was warm. He looked down at the tarot cards again. The card he had seen before had changed. The magician was now in its place. it was a picture of the very same man, a buffoon, in very different circumstances.
“The Prince in his own bed
Going vulture culture
Walking with the Queen
To a Hoodoo Dream”— ‘The Loop Garou’ by Dr. John