The Blood Eagle in the Big Easy (5 page)

BOOK: The Blood Eagle in the Big Easy
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“So you’re particular in choosing your clientele is what you're trying to say.”

“That would be an understatement. The people we work for must show a need for our support.” Leaning forward I lowered my voice as excitement coursed through me. “One of those groups is located right here in New Orleans. We help safeguard the city against the darkness.” Gregory was struggling with the concept and who could blame the guy. I was terrible at explaining stuff like this to people.

“Highest murder rate in America. Damn good job.” Gregory jabbed a finger at me as if to prove a point.

“There’s a reason for that and now that you’re here in New Orleans as the Deputy Marshall, there are some things that you will need to understand sooner than later.” I sat back trying to decide how to proceed. “Are you familiar with any of the New Orleans traditions?” Gregory simply shook his head in response as frustration etched itself across his face. “I guess that’s a good thing. At least there won’t be any bad habits to break.” Nervously running my hand over the top of my head I tried to find a good place to start.

“I’m getting tired.” Gregory grumbled.

“Alright hear me out before you just dismiss me. I’m sure you are familiar with Mardi Gras.” Gregory chuckled and nodded. “Good then that’s where we will start. Each parade is managed by an independant Krewes usually made up of it’s riders. When the Krewes work together as a group they are considered part of the court.” Gregory nodded slowly still struggling with the concept. “The local court is called the Mystick Courts of Comus.”

“What the hell does this have to do with anything?” Gregory demanded as he stood up in frustration.

“I’m getting to that, trust me.” I waved for him to sit back down. “Seriously hear me out, then you can get pissed off all you want.” Gregory sat back in his chair. “Like I said, the individual entities are Krewes such as Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus. Put them together and they are called courts.” Gregory nodded impatiently. “I work for the Mystic Courts of Comus or the MCC. New Orleans is like a magnet for anything evil. The very land itself corrupts anything that comes in contact with it. It’s one of the main reasons they bury their dead above ground.”

“I thought it was because they popped up everytime it rained hard here.” Gregory laughed.

“That’s true too but when they return to the surface they aren’t always dead...” I started.

“You’re going to have to do better than that! I’ve heard this story before by Stephen King. It’s called Pet Cemetery!” Gregory scoffed.

“Where do you think he got the idea?” I was quickly becoming frustrated as I was failing to make him see how very important our current situation really was. “Look, you can scoff at this all you want but it won’t change what’s true. In your position you will see a lot of weird stuff come across your desk with no explanation other than MCC and the words case closed.” Taking in a deep breath I tried to suppress my aggravation. “I’m trying to save you some time and trouble.”

“Alright so let’s say I believe that the drunken folks in the Mardi Gras parades are some sort of super powered force against evil. What’s the point?” Gregory asked indignantly.

Finally something that I thought I could easily explain. What most people didn’t know about the site is that it is actually a giant grave marker as well as a popular attraction. Mr. Popp is secretly buried some twenty four feet below the center of the fountain. He believed that the site was hallowed ground with all the secret occult mysticism that had been built into the site, and he was right.

During his heyday John Popp was a member of the Cowbellion de Rakin Society, the forerunner of the Mystick Krewe of Comus. They were a group of men and women who fought the good fight against those forces that meant to do harm. John’s final battle against the dark forces of his day was against a voodoo priest and his followers. John was infected with an extremely virulent virus that killed him in a matter of days, though he lived long enough to see his enemies driven back from whence they came or were killed. The body of the voodoo priest was interned at the cemetery near Canal and Old Metairie Road. After his death Mr Popp’s wife took over the reigns of the organization and had the fountain built as a monument to her late husband. She was the driving force behind uniting the individual Krewes to fight against the darkness as the local Mystick Courts of Comus.

Today’s Krewes in many ways are stronger and better armed than in anytime in history, they were still mere shadows of what they once were. The vast majority of the Krewes who participate in today’s parades have no idea of what they once stood for. At the time the Courts were founded all of its members believed in the supernatural things that went bump in the night. These men drew a line in the sand and using their influence, money and prestige set out to make this land safe. The original six founding members of the Rakin Society were men who had fallen victim to a vile creature of the night, and they had bonded over their loss. They swore to protect and serve the community at large from the horror of what had befallen their own families. But even then people conveniently ignored or overlooked the ‘unexplained’. Over time their beliefs in the unexplained faded away as nonsense.

When local krewes like Rex and Zulu were formed and meant to work together, but rarely did. It was with a great amount of effort that Mrs. Popp was able to form the alliance that eventually drove most of the more vile elements out of the New Orleans area. Today only the most senior members, and those fortunate enough to be brought into the secret ranks of each krewe, appreciate and understand the truth of their existence. Without these brave individuals who have fought for the very souls of those in the area, New Orleans would be little more than a ghost town.

There is a very good reason that New Orleans is one of the most violent places on earth. It is a convergence of darkness allowing those things that haunt your nightmares free passage to the land of the living. Evil abounds here because that is what is most comfortable here. More than in most places, ghosts and spirits bleed through the ever thinning veil of what we consider reality and what we wish to be fantasy. In time this city will be a battleground for the very survival of mankind, and if you want to survive this city, you need to be a part of this.

Gregory rolled his eyes as he pushed his plate away knocking his glass off the table in anger. “Wow! You’re really going to ride this all the way to the end?” He looked at me hard searching my face for some sign that I was joking but finding none. “You can’t be serious can you?” Then the realization of what I was saying finally seemed to sink in. His anger evaporated as he slumped back in his seat with the weight of the world on his shoulders once more.

“I’m afraid I am very serious.” He seemed to shrink slightly from the realization that his world had just gotten larger while he stayed the same.

His slumped back in his chair, exhausted from our conversation. “Just what does this mean for me?”

“It means that I have to report in shortly. I already have six texts wanting an update on the situation.” I held up my phone displaying the less than courteous messages from the Gatekeeper. “It means that if you want to know what this city really has in store for you that you should come along and see what happens next.”

“Just like that, pull back the curtain and see the all powerful Oz?” Gregory croaked.

“First off, Oz is a gay club on Bourbon Street and you really don’t want to see anything behind the curtain in there unless you are into that sort of thing which is cool with me.” That made me chuckle as I now found myself funnier than he found me. “And yeah just like that. The Court will want to test you and scrutinize you while I make my report but overall its just that simple.”

“And what if I don’t want to join your little club?” Gregory asked.

“The fact that you now know about them and the position you hold with the Marshal's service means you don’t really have a choice.” Closing my eyes I shook my head  I felt bad for the guy. He was suddenly being thrust into the deep end of the pool well before he was ready. “They would recruit you even if you didn’t know about them already. It would be harmless at first, like someone casually explaining to you the meaning of the MCC stamps that would appear on the top of your official reports. Then you would start digging and snooping, and eventually you would be forced to join or be transferred out of town. Probably demoted and divorced. They don’t play with any sense of fairness or civility. They jealously guard the city’s secrets.”

Gregory nodded. “Alright, I’ll go with you but I need to call the office and tell them I’m running down a few leads and that I will be in later.”

“While you do that I will let the courts know to expect us.” Waving at Ricky I let him know to bring the check. Russells was excellent about giving me my privacy. The owner was a member of the MCC himself. After paying the bill I told Gregory that we were expected at 9:00a.m. Since it was still early I dropped him off at home about 7:30a.m. for a shower, giving me just enough time to grab a change of clothes before picking him back up at 8:30a.m. for our meeting at 9:00a.m. It was turning into a very long and busy day.



Chapter 4


Driving down St. Charles Avenue always gave me the feeling I had stepped back in time when things moved a much slower pace. The magnificent oaks lined either side of the street, the old trolley car still clanked and stuttered as it made its way down the neutral ground. The large multi level homes that bespoke of tradition took up the spaces between the oaks. Men and women from the universities down the street could be seen running or walking its length. Still with all the commotion and goings on it seemed almost effortless and unhurried. Even the motorists didn’t have the urge to step on the gas to speed to their destination.

It hadn’t taken me long to shower and dress in something more stylish. The courts were hardly the Oscars but they did expect a certain level of professionalism. Even as fashionably inept as I am you could hardly go wrong with anything by Armani, especially when it was one of their more stylish charcoal gray suites.  I pulled over in front of Gregory’s two story slate gray plantation style home and adjusted my jacket. Before I was able to get out of the car Gregory stepped out his front door with his wife in tow. As she waved at me she gave me one of those polite smiles people use to cover up anger. I waved back, a little frightened. Gregory was clearly in a hurry as he quickly made his way down the steps and through the gate.

As he opened the car door and plopped himself in the passenger seat he miserably sang. “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.”

Shaking my head in amusement as I chuckled I told him “While its amusing as hell to me you should probably avoid singing that particular song once we’re there.” Pulling back out on St. Charles I made the nearest U turn. “There are a few things we should go over before we arrive.”

“Such as?” he snapped.

He was in a particularly foul mood and that just wasn’t helping things. Gritting my teeth I thought of how best to explain things as I drove toward the French Quarter. “First you need to drop the attitude. You don’t want to get lumped into the same category as me.”

“And what category is that?”

“The highly unpopular one.” It made my head hurt when I thought about the Gatekeeper. “The guy in charge basically hates me and that’s putting it mildly.”

“Color me surprised!” Gregory growled. “You’re not just my pain in the ass.”

Whipping the wheel to the right I pulled us off the road and glared at Gregory. “Either get a grip or get the fuck out!” The last thing I needed was his bad attitude ruining his chances here in the city and if he didn’t get ahold of himself he was going to be ruined before he ever got started. “These people can ruin your life! This is the most important interview you will ever have. If they like you then you’re set but if they don’t god help you! So make up your mind right now!”

Gregory went ashen as it hit home that there was nothing he could do to change the situation. “Fine, what is it that I need to know?”

Giving him another few seconds to change his mind before I pulled back into traffic I finally spoke. “Try not to be an asshole to start with. I have that covered for the both of us.” That brought a small smile to his face as he leaned back in his seat. “Try and fit in.”

“How?” I had to admit that it was a fair question.

“Hell, I don’t know. I mean if you see everyone in the room is bowing then you should probably bow too.” Trying to explain the courts acceptable behaviors was a lot tougher than I thought.

That seemed to at least partially snap him out of his foul mood as he laughed. “You do realize you just told a black man to bow when he’s told right?”

“Oh dear God! I included everyone in that statement.” My cheeks flushed red. I hadn’t intended it to come out the way it had. “I didn’t even think about that.”

“I know! But its still funny as hell.” Gregory clapped me on the shoulder. “Anything else I should do Master Warden?”

“Yes! Stop that shit right now.” I laughed. “More than anything treat this like you would the courtroom. Don’t give any extra information they don’t specifically ask for.”

“So if they ask me do I know what time it is I should only say yes and nothing more.” Gregory smirked.

“Exactly! Don’t give them anything. If they ask you a question be polite and answer, but that’s it, nothing extra.”

BOOK: The Blood Eagle in the Big Easy
2.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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