Tricks and Truth

The cloaked man stalked his prey. She had been hard to follow, but he was a hunter after all, a man of the swamp, and if you can track an alligator through mud and grass alike, you can deal with one lone voodoo woman.

Or so he had thought.

In the shadows of another winding alley, the woman turned. "I'd stop if I was you, Baron."

"How did you know—"

"I said stop. I ain't having you after me like some hussy chasin' varmint," the woman said, her voice richly accented. "I could do things to you that'd make you wish you'd never been born."

Saturday took a step forward, not in a threatening manner, mind, but just enough of a step, with enough of a determined mindset, to make Erzulie wish there wasn't a wall behind her. Because you could do many things with a wall, and some them against it.

"Quite so, Miss Gogol. I'd imagine you could." The Baron walked forward as he spoke, his words dripping with predatorial charm. "Then again I could do things to you that'd make you feel as if you've never lived..."

He stopped before her, his cloak billowed in the back alley breeze.

Erzulie tried to take a steadying breath. There was no reason to fear this man, he was just a man after all.

She took another breath and Baron Saturday took his chance. Erzulie Gogol's eyes bugged wide as his lips caught hers.

They weren't forceful.

They weren't demanding.

They were just there, and that made it even worse.

"For the last time, Saturday!" Erzulie said, propelling the Baron backwards by some unseen force. "I ain't one of your easy ladies, I ain't a prize to be won!"

Saturday opened his mouth to retort but found his tongue trapped in the roof of his mouth. Erzulie smiled a triumphant smile. "I know you've seen me, you all have, you in your little golden court. Oh, what a victory to have the voodoo lady of the streets in your pocket! Or p'raps in your bed? Well, you won't get me, Saturday, and you certainly ain't gonna force me into somethin' like this."

Six feet away from Erzulie's trembling fists, Saturday's mouth loosened and his expression turned to one of shock. "Force?" he repeated in shaken tones. "But I would never..."

"Oh, I know you wouldn't, Baron. I know you wouldn't. But you'd use trickery with words, and trickery with hands, and just plain trickery with tricks. And I ain't having none of it, y'hear?"

"I hear you, Erzulie." Saturday leant against the wall behind him; studied her with an air of regret. "I'll admit defeat."

"Don't call me that," she snapped. "It's Miss Gogol to you and anyone else that asks. Nothin' more, nothin' less."

"Erzulie," he said. Pushing himself from the grimy bricks, he began a slow walk toward her. "Erzulie, Erzulie, Erzulie!"

"Stop that, I said! Don't you come any closer, you'll regret it!" Erzulie's hands flew to the straw doll at her hips. If he went too far. If he went too far... Yes. She would deal with him as she dealt with any who crossed her, by making sure they could never cross again.

Baron Saturday was mere inches from her when he finally stopped. "Erzulie..." he whispered.

"No." She shook her head as if she could deny the name's existence.

"Yes," he said simply. "She's inside you, I know it. Behind Miss Gogol the Voodoo Witch with her tricks and miracles there is a very real young woman who wants out. I can help her."

Erzulie met his eyes.

"Erzulie..." he pleaded.

She tried to shake her head. It hardly moved. She couldn't think.

"They respect you, of course they do. But they fear you also. You think you're alone in the world. You have all that power and no one who understands: no one who can sympathise."

She couldn't even blink, could only just breathe.

"Shall I return to my pampered lifestyle in the high streets and leave you to wander the back alleys all alone, Erzulie?"

Her hands rose, gripped his collars; shoved. Saturday did not move. "Stop that. You have to. You have to go. You can't call me that. You can't. You can't."

Saturday's hands circled her wrists. "And why not, dearest Erzulie?"

"I ain't your dearest anything! This is tricks, this is your tricks! Stop it!"

The Baron lowered his head, drew his mouth level with her ear, and whispered, "No tricks, just truth. Accept it."

A shiver ran down Erzulie's neck. "No," she moaned. "No..."

Saturday raised a hand; cupped her chin; raised her head. "Yes," he said. "Erzulie, yes."

He kissed her again.

There was no resistance.