Miss Queen … Tell Us A Story

Tell A Story

Title: Miss Queen … Tell Us A Story
Fandoms: Sylum Clan Universe: Blues Brothers 2000,
Characters/Pairings: Queen Mousette, Original Characters
Ratings: PG
Word Count: 1,579
Summary: April 27 National Tell A Story Day. After a night of severe storms, the students at Journey’s End ask Queen to tell them a story.
Author’s Note: Information about Marie Laveau and Dr. John taken from All That’s Interesting website, The Real Story Of Marie Laveau, New Orleans’ Witchy Voodoo Queen, by Gina Dimuro, Dr. John Montanee: Father of New Orleans Voudou by Denise Alvarado, and Encyclopedia Britannica. New Orleans Voudou is NOT the same as Haitian or Dahomey Voudou.

Opening the French doors and then the storm shutters leading out onto the veranda from her suite. After purchasing the moldering plantation, Queen had taken advantage of the renovations to turn one of the parlors and a sitting area into her bedroom suite. Grabbing her thermal mug filled with coffee, she closed the screen to allow the fresh spring breeze to clear the stuffiness of the night’s humidity from her rooms.

Moving along the veranda, she opened the storm shutters and cleared the debris that had blown onto the veranda. Looking around the front yard, Queen estimated it would take a couple of days to clean up the limbs torn from the trees. Spring in Louisiana was one of her favorite times of the year, but the storms that roared through the southern United States during this time of year kept everyone on edge until they passed through the area. Once she checked the dormitory and school buildings, she would need to call Isamene about any damage to her bar, Queen’s Crossing.

After getting the worst of the debris cleared rom the courtyard and garden, Queen spent the afternoon touching base with all her managers. She would have to go to New Orleans for meetings on Thursday and Friday, so she would probably return to the plantation before the weekend ended. Settling at the table with the school’s teachers, Queen had taken the first bite of andouille from her plate of the kitchen staff’s excellent jambalaya when she felt a tug on her sleeve. Looking down, she saw one of their youngest special children looking at her with large hazel eyes.

“Miss Queen.”

“What can I do for you, cher?” It wasn’t often someone could sneak up on her vampire senses.

“Tell us a story?”

Queen looked up to see tables of expectant faces … Including the adults looking back. “There will be conditions.” She looked around the room. “All chores and homework complete. Everyone ready for bed, so when the story is finished it’s lights out.” Shouts of agreements came from around the room. “By seven o’clock in the community room?”

Chairs scraped, dishes rattled, voices raised, and bodies moved as everyone rushed to complete their tasks in the allotted time. Soon she was sitting at the table enjoying a quiet cup of coffee. Pauline gave her a smirk as she refilled Queen’s cup.

“Shame we can’t get them to move like that every night.” The Houma woman smirked as she sat with her own cup.

“It’s been a while since they asked.”

“The storm spooked everyone last night. Many slept in the community room on the couches and bean bags to be closer to the storm shelters.” Pauline settled down next to Queen. “So, what’s on tap for tonight?”

“Every time we take the students to New Orleans, there’s always questions about the local legends. Since the goal is for calm … I’m sure I’ll come up with something. Now, whether it’ll be a memory, or some tale told by men in exchange for a drink, I’ll let the audience judge.”

The two women sat in companionable silence, allowing the sounds of the spring evening sooth the nerves from last night’s storms as they waited for the appointed hour.

~ • ~ • ~

At seven o’clock everyone was back in the community room, including the staff. One of the padded bar stools and a bottle of water sat waiting for Queen.

Dressed in a peasant blouse and loose skirt … Her mane of dark curls hidden under a colorful tignon Queen settled into her cushy seat. Keeping in mind bedtime for the younger students, she’d have to keep it short and sweet.

“In the year 1743, in the western part of the African continent, a young woman was captured by slavers, put in chains, then chained in the hold of a boat. She eventually ended up in the city of New Orleans where her owner gave her the name Catherine.” She paused to make sure everyone was paying attention. In telling these stories she tried to instill lessons. “Catherine’s last owner was Francoise Pomet, a very successful free woman of color.” At the murmurs that went through the students, Queen took a moment to elaborate. “It was not unusual for free blacks to own slaves for the same reasons white people owned slaves … Cheap labor, until they eventually realized it really was not cheaper than paying a wage.”

“Catherine was eventually able to purchase her freedom from Pomet and established her own home and raised a family. She had at least one daughter with Charles Laveau, Marguerite Henry. Though she didn’t know it at the time, the biggest event in Marguerite’s life was the birth of a daughter. That daughter came to be known as Marie Laveau.”

Taking a drink from her water bottle, Queen continued her story. “Descending from a line of intelligent, hard-working women, Marie opened a beauty parlor catering to wealthy families and their servants. The gossip she gathered from her stylist chair enabled her to spread her influence through New Orleans by merging the mundane side of her life with the spiritual side. A devout Catholic, Marie also had her thumb on the pulse of the black community. Freed slaves and free blacks still practiced many of the indigenous traditions taught to them from childhood before they were taken from their tribal lands by Dutch, Spanish, English and Arab slavers. At the possible prodding of the spirits of her ancestors, she sought a place for herself in the African traditional practices. She became a student to the renowned Conjure Doctor Jean Montanee, Father of New Orleans Voudou. Dr. Jean was also known as Dr. John Bayou, John Grisgris, Voudou John, Dr. John, and many other names. Dr. Jean was said to be a Bambara prince, or the son of a prince kidnapped by Spanish slavers from his home in Senegal and sold into slavery in Cuba. After being given his freedom by his Master, he traveled the oceans as a ship’s cook before finally settling in New Orleans and became a mentor to conjure workers, rootworkers, members of the New Orleans Voudou community, while serving a large clientele.”

Taking a quick glance at the clock, Queen cut toward the end of her story. “After her husband dies, Marie settled into a thirty-year relationship with a French nobleman, Jean-Louis Duminy de Glapion. They had several children, but Yellow fever took the lives of several, along with many residents of New Orleans. Hot summers and bad sanitation conditions contributed to recurring outbreaks. The rich were able to travel to their plantations outside the city to escape the disease, but many did not have that choice. Even though she lost some of her own children to the ravages of the fever, she never neglected her community or her spiritual children. She offered to nurse them either back to health or ease them through death’s veil. Doing so continued to grow her recognition and reputation throughout New Orleans. Her list of influential clients also grew. She was leading private ceremonies in her home, and public ceremonies in Congo Square. Want to know your future, help with infertility or infidelity, banish an enemy … Visit Marie Laveau. She became the  Voudou Queen of New Orleans and held that title for several decades. After her death in 1881, interest in solving problems through conjure or rootwork dropped off or went underground, along with interest in the African Traditional Religions as the one time slaves and their children attempted to survive in the Reconstruction South. Today there is a resurgence of interest in the ATRs and Conjure also known as Hoodoo. Every year thousands of people visit Marie’s grave in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to leave offerings, spiritual regalia, and candles … Perhaps hoping to curry favor with the spirit of the infamous Voudou Queen and be granted a boon. Hands flew into the air. “Yes, the next time we take a group trip to New Orleans we can visit the cemetery. Now, everyone off to bed.”

Carrying the barstool over to its proper place, Queen was thinking about some of the things she wanted to finish up before heading to bed. She was surprised to see the citronella torches lit in the courtyard as Pauline, Charlie, and a few of the kitchen staff sat around the tables with various adult beverages. Sitting at an empty spot next to Charlie was the last piece of Pauline’s chocolate cake Queen had mourned missing out on after dinner and a glass of her favorite wine.

“What are we celebrating?” Queen was quick to sink a fork in the piece of cake.

“You. You’re a singer/songwriter. You’re always telling stories, and you tell the truth you lived, not the truth someone wrote in a book … Usually. Did you ever hang out with Marie Laveau?” Pauline teased.

“I knew who she was, but I was too young at the time. She was getting into her Elder years when I started working at The Pleasure Boutique. Then I was going to school and working, so there was no time for hanging out in Congo Square. I remember her funeral going through the Quarter.” She was reaching for her wine glass when everyone stood and held their glasses high.

“To the storytellers on National Tell A Story Day!” Pauline offered Queen a toast.

“CHEERS!” Everyone raised their glasses to their storyteller.

~ finis ~

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