I woke up later than I had planned that Mardi Gras morning. The night before had been quite enjoyable since the current year has brought females from all over the world. I suspect they were seeking to be as liberated as they possibly could during carnival in New Orleans—an example of the benefits for men that stemmed from women’s sexual liberation. The result was a large number of females available in the Quarter lounges to the male with the ideal characteristics. Last night I was the specific male for the women in the Quarter because I brought to my apartment two gorgeous females: one at ten and the other at midnight. What a night! But that is another story without the horrifying consequences I am about to tell you that this story brings. I hope, dear reader, you will not rush to the New Orleans Police Department with the information I am about to give you. I am Fred Peters, a prolific writer of fifty short stories, four novels, two monographs, and several articles on Southern literature: Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren. Unfortunately, I am a prolific writer at the age of twenty-four with very few, if any, readers: the horror of it! And I go on and on, and I shall go on writing until I get my fifteen minutes.
I was giving the last touches to my pirate make-up while puffing on a joint a la Bogart, and the quantity of smoke the doobie was emitting was out of the ordinary. I continued retouching the patch on my right eye and my pencil mustache. I flashed back to those females who had told me I had a resemblance to Errol Flynn as he appears in “Captain Blood” and “The Sea Hawk.” The eye patch was my idea to give it an exotic touch which is not present in the films above. At this time, I realized the smoke was making a sort of figure in my bedroom ceiling. Bona had told me that in addition to water, fire, and other means to see the future, the voodoo visions also materialized in the smoke. I could now see, hanging from a noose, between whirls and twirls that faded and recomposed as if goaded by unknown air currents that I was unaware existed in my old apartment, a human head with reddish hair formed. The ceiling fan was turned off in my bedroom, where I was at that moment, so that there were no air currents. The image faded from the air and from my mind, and I continued working on my make-up.
When I went out of the building, on Saint Ann Street, I was greeted with the usual shouting, instrument playing, glasses breaking that one would expect from Fat Tuesday. I walked down Bourbon toward Canal Street with a great deal of difficulty since the crowd was everywhere like ants in a disturbed anthill. It was evident that the number of drunks was already very high: some were sleeping, others vomiting standing against some of the houses, the singing groups were everywhere, women showing their breasts abounded, and some men were urinating in public. Again, it was the usual scene in the streets of the Quarter on Fat Tuesday. At a distance, I could hear Louis Prima singing “Black Magic” and decided to follow the music, which took me to the “La Casa de Los Marinos” a block away. It was filled to capacity: it was a sausage ready to explode. I managed to shove in, and some of the familiar patrons greeted me as I squeezed through towards the bar. The bar occupied the entire east wall, with a myriad of bottles resting on the shelves between mirrors. One of the barmaids saw me and immediately brought me a can of Dixie beer—my favorite. I gave her $2.00, with difficulty because of the number of people at the counter, and began to move around looking for out of town women. Barbie, the barmaid, knew me from my frequent visits to “La Casa” and my remaining until closing time, and she knew, as well, I was a good tipper—the beer’s price was only a quarter. It was February 27, 1968, and I had yet to win the Pulitzer. It was a recurring thought that flashed through my conscious: it usually appeared when I was enjoying myself, and the idea of writing had been evacuated from my mind. The weed helped me set aside that quilt complex for not working hard enough–perhaps the result of belonging to a family of Tulane physicians going back to the early 19th century. Barbie was another story I had already written with an explanation for her moniker. I moved, with difficulty, to the backroom: it was enormous with a stage where they usually had spontaneous locals playing—at this moment a trio of guitar, sax and trumpet were playing. The room was semi dark to allow for quite a bit of contact to take place. In the past I had seeing gay man get broken noses when they made a mistake in the dimness of the room–darkness that incited depravity. Since this was Fat Tuesday, there was a that boisterous trio playing, and the people watching were dancing—but it was more like jumping. As a result, there was a lot of frotteurism taking place.
I managed to stand behind a female somewhat shorter than me so that her rear was almost to the high of the fly of my silk pirate’s pants. I began to jump following the rhythm of the redhead female, and after a minute or so, she turned her head and said, “I am Katie.” I responded immediately with my moniker for Fat Tuesday: “My name is Jesse.” She had a beautiful behind I could feel it moving against me, stirring my penis into a prompt erection. The noisy place did not allow for many conversations, so I asked her with my lips touching her ears if she would like to go someplace else. She turned around, gave me a quick kiss on the lips, and said yes as she informed one of her friends she would see them at the hotel. There were other three females with the same outfit: a black beret, a mini red dress, black tights, and one of them has a “Santa Muerte” mask. As we went outside, the sun was going down with a blood-colored effusion that made everything around red. Her face was flushed, perhaps the sun’s reflection, which made me fantasize she had an orgasm while we were engaging in frotteurism. She did not seem older than seventeen: I wondered how she was allowed to enter “La Casa.” Then I remembered that they did not have anyone at the door examining identifications for age. There was an important item I had not noticed inside: it was a black leather dog collar around her neck with a solid gold tiny padlock: it went well with her neck—it was so flushed. She had the sort of skin red heads tend to have, and the black choker, about an inch wide, with the petite gold padlock, gave her a decadent appearance.
As we moved on Decatur toward St. Philip, where another well-known tavern, “The Seven Seas,” was located, I gathered information about her as we walked along. She was a first-year coed at L.S.U., majoring in English. Her family had some farmland around Shreveport–I had noted the twang prominent among those from that area. She told me how much she enjoyed the University, Baton Rouge, and now Mardi Gras. Katie and some of her sorority sisters had come to New Orleans and stayed at the Monteleone Hotel, and were having the time of their lives. She was a chatterbox, and then I realized she was speeding. I was curious, so I listened to her tell me about her first year in school and the idiotic hoops she had to go through to join Alpha Omega. When we arrived at the “Morning Call,” half a block from “The Seas,” I was considering coffee and beignets, but the crowd waiting dissuaded me from trying. When we arrived at “The Seas,” one of the undercover cops was playing doorman and examining identifications. Katie suggested we go somewhere else since she was only eighteen and had been told (erroneously) the authorities did not enforce the age for drinking. We kept on walking until we arrived at Bourbon, where we turned left toward my place.
At the corner of Bourbon and Dumaine, a block from my house, was the Drag Queen Beauty Pageant site. The platform had not been removed, and a couple of drag queens were parading across the stage before a crowd of drooling drunks. On the corner opposite the venue was “Laffite in Exile,” one of the oldest gay bars in the Quarter. We went in without anyone asking for identification. We sat in a booth; she ordered a martini, and I asked for a Dixie. It was usually dark in the booths-area of “Laffite,” and she pulled what looked like a snuff box and dipped her finger took some of the white substance, and inhaled. She then offered the box, but I refused: grass and beer are as far as I go– a little cognac on holidays when I spent time with my father. Since he is very fond of cognac, we greeted the New Year by sipping the best cognac he could find. She began to talk very fast again about the English classes she was taking, which allowed her to expand her reading of American writers she had started in High School. The writers who had spent time in the Quarter fascinated her: she told how she was impacted by Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer. At this time, I took the opportunity to inform her that I had an excellent cognac in my place, a block away, and that I would like her to give me her opinion on some of the short stories I was writing. While I was telling her about my stories and the cognac, her hand was squeezing my penis. When I suggested going to my apartment, Katie squeezed so hard that I cried out. We got up and proceeded to my pad.
As soon as we entered my apartment, she began to undress as she looked at the paintings and posters that adorn my apartment’s walls. Some of them, together with the building, I inherited from my uncle (a gay man who was killed during Mardi Gras a couple of years ago). She recognized Angelow’s “Sawkill Reflection” and surprised me that she knew more about the artist than I did. When we arrived at my bedroom, she was nude, leaving all her clothes on the furniture that led to the bedroom. She jumped into my bed, and I could see her radiant pussy; her labia, both majora and minora, were engorged with blood because of her arousal, and they were very moist as well: her pussy was ready for my entering. Her nipples were like cherries decorating her small breasts, and very stiff. We started making love and Katie had at least five orgasms in twenty minutes, and then she fell asleep. She had the typical redhead skin: her skin was flushed all over. Her pubic area was as bald as an infant’s head, and her engorged clitoris was visible between her labia. Her feet were tiny, with her toenails painted burgundy red. I also discovered that under the black velvet choker was a dark mark on her neck, which I was too naïve to realize what caused it. Since I did not have time to orgasm before she fell at asleep, I was still very erect. I launched an appraisal of her beautiful body, and I wondered about the causes for her bruised neck. I got up and rolled a joint to smoke while I studied her. I noticed that the small purse she was carrying was open, and there was a folded rubber mask of “La Santa Muerte.” She opened her eyes and smiled with the most perfect teeth I have ever seen. She asked for a drag and I went back to bed. She saw my erection, at which point she grabbed my penis and began kissing it: talking to it as if it were alive or as one talks to a favorite pet. She then proceeded to ask me if I wanted to sodomize her: I was very startled. Since I had never been asked to do that, I thought the size of my penis would not allow me to enter her. She got up and pick-up her dog collar from the floor, and I realized it was a strange device. The two sides that came to a full circle around her neck, connected with the little solid gold padlock that tied the collar on front, had two hooks to insert one’s fingers. Then one would use it to put pressure across the throat and deprive the person of oxygen. Katie wanted me to asphyxiate her with her black velvet choker as she had orgasms (she used plural). She told me she was in Paradise as she gasped for air while having an orgasm; the deprivation of oxygen did something to her pleasure centers. It was called erotic asphyxiation, and it was practiced quite a bit by students at L.S.U. It should be noted that the four years I spent at L.S.U., I never heard of such games. She showed me how to do it after I entered her anus. I used some Vaseline, and it was an easy entry, to my surprise. One important rule was that “Yes” meant continue squeezing, and “No” meant stop. While I was riding her she, would be masturbating so that she would have two penetrations—twice the pleasure? I remembered Juvenal writing: “lassata sed non satiata”
It was like riding a horse with reigns around her throat: I was galloping on a wild mare into unknown regions. The orgasm I was about to have had been unimaginable before this moment—so I tried to postpone it as long as I could. Suddenly, she went limp, and I thought she had fainted because of her orgasmic frenzy. I withdrew trying to ascertain what was wrong. I was shocked to discover she seemed dead. Katie’s body was releasing stool from her rectum and urine from her bladder. I was horrified. What to do? The garbage trucks were on the streets collecting Mardi Gras trash. I immediately called Bonuta for she had her own room and phone, and explained to her what was happening. My parents were out of town so she got into her VW and came to my place. Bonuta had been with my family since I was a little boy. In addition to cooking she also managed the household. There was a long story about her origins and how she came to work for our family. She had taking my virginity at fourteen at my father’s request since he feared that my hyper sensitivity was a sign that I was going to be homosexual like my maternal uncle.
I had a small garage–big enough for two cars. I would get there through a small passage between the two apartments that were on the ground floor across from the stairs that was located in the middle of the building. I opened the garage door, Bonuta parked her VW and we went upstairs to my apartment—she was holding a small case. I was in a state of shock and she was able to calm me down as I told her more details about my experience with K. She examined the bed and went to the bathroom and filled my bathtub (it had four beautiful silver tiger paws holding it), with warm water and poured a liquid. Bona lit some black candles with a picture of the Archangel St. Michael, and began a chant in some strange language (I could hear a name repeated frequently: Baron Samedi), as she cleaned K’s body. We then proceeded to dry her and put all her clothes back on. We took her body downstairs, to the garage, holding her between the two of us as if she were a drunk we were taking home. We put her in the back seat of her “bug” and drove about half a block from the St. Louis Cathedral where we were able to find parking space. We could not park any closer, so we carry her again between the two of us, entered St. Louis, and placed her on her knees on one of the pews. Fortunately, there was no one around, and we left her there as if she were a devout catholic praying.
Bona took me back to my place and she explained to me that K had been possessed by a Loa/Lwa and it came alive only when she was been strangled. I thought of a succubus as she was explaining to me what K was. She left me and told me to get enough sleep and to call her to talk about the next steps I should take—my building was cursed.
I am writing these pages immediately after the events took place because I cannot sleep, and I fear the police could track her corpse to me . . .
Genaro J. Pérez tiene el doctorado en filosofía y letras de Tulane University (New Orleans) y es profesor de literatura Hispanoamericana y Peninsular siglo XX y XXI. Sus libros de crítica incluyen: Formalist Elements in the Novels of Juan Goytisolo; La novelística de J. Leyva; La novela como burla/juego: siete experimentos novelescos de Gonzalo Torrente Ballester; La narrativa de Concha Alós: Texto, pretexto y contexto; Ortodoxia y heterodoxia de la novela policiaca hispana: Variaciones sobre el género negro; Rabelais, Bajtin, y formalismo en la narrativa de Sergio Pitol; Subversion y de(s)construcción de subgéneros en la narrativa de Rosa Montero. Sus poemarios incluyen: Prosapoemas; Spanish Quarter Notes; French Quarter Cantos; Ten Lepers and Other Poems: Exorcising Academic Demons, Estelas en la mar: Cantos sentimentales, and Pandemic Prater: Pastel Palliatives. Narrativa: The Memoirs of John Conde and French Quarter Tales. Es Co-Director de Monographic Review/Revista monográfica (Volumes I-XXVIII) y co-director de la revista Dura.