Louis the Louse:
The Escapade with the “Obeah Man”
I, Abraxas the Sane, did stroll down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn on this very hot Summer Day. I was dressed in white, spacious linen clothes that helped to mitigate against the 97-degree outside temperature. As I rounded a corner near to East 25th Street I “bounced” into none other than Louis the Louse. “Why Abraxas what a pleasure…can’t say I’m enamored with this bloody hot sun…jeepers man! It’s hot as the mythical fires of Hell,” The Louse stated mopping the sweat off of his protruding forehead. I muttered something like: “Yes, yes its really hot, eh?” Not mentioning the fact that his usual black suit, white shirt and red bowtie was not something that lent itself to such hot temperatures.
“Quite, quite Dear Boy…but what a stroke of luck meeting up with you! I was just going to visit a place I heard some women talking about…you will be an excellent companion, I dare say!” Louis the Louse said stroking, as usual, his goatee beard. I, Abraxas the Wary, did groan inwardly because from experience I knew that there was no telling what “His Lousiness” had in mind. “Heard some women say” something was pure and simple eavesdropping by the ultra-nosy Louse. “Oh, really? And where are we going?” I asked, fighting an urge to bolt down the street because Louis the Louse had that wicked, wolfish grin on his face that told me that he was, as usual, up to no good, and that I would be an unwilling witness/participant to one of his many escapades.
“Come along now, don’t just stand there like a bump on a log! Let’s be going…You’ll know the details when we get there…You’re not very busy now are you Abraxas?” the Louse asked and I just rolled my eyes skywards and groaned inwardly. After we walked about 400 yards from the corner store where I met the Louse, we arrived at a private house with a little walkway on the side that went all the way to the back of the main house, and a large open backyard with a small cottage-like house. “Aha! We’re here!” exclaimed the Louse. “You see Abraxas this is the place where a man from the Caribbean – either Grenada or Trinidad – is said to do Obeah. That’s a kind of Black Magic thing, I gather…and so we’re here to see for ourselves…are you excited dear boy?” Louis the Louse explained.
He knocked on the door and a big Black man with bulging muscles; I guessed that he was about 40 years old and looked as fit as the proverbial fiddle, opened up and said: “Yes? wha’ yuh want? Who yuh lookin’ fuh?” “We’re looking for Brother John…we are in need of his help,” Louis the Louse said meekly. “Okay…come in and wait. I man will go get him,” the big fella said ushering us into a largish room its walls covered with black drapes. The only light in the dark room came from a small altar covered by a red tablecloth and adorned with flickering candles – black, red and white. There were three round dried gourdes (Caribbean people call them calabash), some dried bones, a small clay pot with sticks of incense, a small bottle of olive oil, and some other paraphernalia including dried herbs and a clay pipe.
“Welcome mon! I is Brother John and you come to de right place! Brother John will help you no matter what de problem is!” said a shortish, potbellied Black man in his late 50s. He wore a tight white shirt tucked in black pants held up by a red sash. He had a round face with a black unkempt beard and he wore push-toe brown leather sandals. “Well, thanks. I and my good friend here would like to know what you can do for us and how?” Louis the Louse stated as the man gestured to us to sit on the floor on a large rug, just to the left of the altar. “I will talk to dem spirits on your behalf…” the man started. “What, you speak to spirits? What language do they speak? British or American English? Are they males or females?” the Louse pounced without any preamble.
“Listen man! I been doin’ dis for over 30 years now. ‘An my fadder did it before me. I can evoke the spirits and help you get success in love, money or a good job. I can “pass” meh han’ and make people pay for doing yuh wrong,” Brother John snapped impatiently. “Ok, ok…let’s begin!” Louse the Loise said, “I already paid your man $20.” “Nah man. Is $40. Dis man want help too?” Brother John asked. “No, no he’s just with me…that’s all,” the Louse replied. “OK. Ok. Spencer! Bring de beer and cigar!” Brother John said. “De spirit like to enter me when I drink beer and smoke a cigar…is how dey does mount me, and take over my mind so I could see into de future, and help people,” Brother John explained taking out a black pouch from his pocket.
“…Ha, ha, ha…yes, yes, taking over your mind is good!” Louis the Louse muttered. Brother John gave him a dangerous look but continued. He drank a Heineken beer and lit up a stinky cigar with one of the sticks of incense. After a little while he suddenly closed his eyes and started to shake. Then in a deep guttural male voice supposedly that of the spirit that possessed him he asked: “Yuh want ah wife?” “Nope, not into that sort of thing, thank you,” the Louse replied. “I see yuh no happy maybe yuh need a girlfriend, better job?” Brother John asked again. “No, no! Have better things to do with my time…what kind of spirit is this? Asking such mundane and stupid questions!” the Louse snapped. “No, no he not asking Monday questions!” the voice replied. “Dipstick I said MUNDANE MEANING dull…Not Monday! what kind of nonsense is this?” the Louse now very exasperated replied.
“Then ask me yuh questions so I can give yuh de answers from the spirit world!” the voice intoned. “Listen dog turd! I think that you’re a quack!” Louis the Louse shouted. “No, no, no I is no duck and cannot quack, so ask your questions and don’t talk back!” the voice said. “Not a duck you confounded imbecile! I mean you’re a fake, a conman and a clumsy one at that,” the Louse, now very angry stated.
With a great flourish of his hands the Obeah Man opened the black pouch and scattered a number of dried bones on the floor in front of him. He rubbed them and then looked up at Louis the Louse and said: “People pass ‘han on you! Dat is why yuh behaving so! Is not yuh fault yuh have a nasty spirit inside yuh making yuh angry…But I go cast it out for yuh! Give me yuh ‘han!” Brother John intoned. “Most certainly not! You blathering creep! What a load of horse dung! You’re as good an Obeah Man as me!” Louis the Louse snapped.
“What is the name of the spirit? Is it a Male or female spirit? How do you know whatever you say is possessing you is a spirit? Have you ever seen a spirit? Why does a boozy drunken spirit have to have you guzzle down a Heineken beer to ride you? And, too boot, you’ve told me nothing of significance since I came here. You, my good man, are a fraud…a liar and a shyster,” Louis the Louse pontificated. With that Brother John “came out of the spirit” and fixed a baleful eye on a now grinning Louse saying: “Meh have a good mind to give yuh a good cut arse! Yuh look like ah fu***ng scarecrow! Get to f**k outta meh place…you stinking mother***er! Before I buss yuh arse!”
I grabbed Louis the Louse and beat a hasty retreat before anything worse happened. Outside he looked at me and said “What an ugly man! You should have spoken up Abraxas and not let me alone do the talking…that was not nice. But I guess the Obeah Man had you fooled!” And with that he sauntered down the road whistling as he went along. Grinning all the time.