The tantalizing odor of freshly brewed coffee wafting from inside the cafe seemed to fill the air. A chill overtook her body as she heard the shrill hoot of an owl in the distance.
Grandma always said the hoot of an owl signals death. Here I am in the middle of a city and I hear an owl hoot.
I can't imagine what possessed me to meet this guy, Julie thought to herself as she looked around the sidewalk, a breeze catching an occasional wisp of paper or trash. French Quarter is definitely not a good area of town to be in after dark and alone. Voodoo, Occult shops and above ground cemeteries were around every corner seeming to invite the unknown.
Julie had agreed to meet with Richard in a public place thinking it would be safer. They had met online and had been conversing for weeks now. Just to be more careful, Julie had also told her best friend, Sasha where she would be.
Sasha and Julie had been friends since forever it seemed. They both had red hair, loved coffee, books and good-looking men. That is what had led her here tonight. If Richard was anywhere close to as handsome as his picture was online, Umph! Just the thought...
Julie had taken a seat at an outside table and had just taken a sip of the dark, rich coffee that had been set before her. Hearing a grating sound on the concrete to her right she saw a shadow streak down the alley. Slowly, chair scraping the sidewalk, she stood up and began to make her way to peep around the corner. She caught sight of a slender female darting to the alleyway. Why would a woman run down such a dark secluded area?
A cold breeze enveloped her as she turned back from the alley. Startled by a loud popping sound, she turned again as she felt something brush against her ankle. She fell to the ground in a faint as a large hairy hand placed a cloying sweet-smelling cloth over her face. Her last sight was of a red dragon tattoo on the inner thigh of the lady in the alley as she succumbed to darkness.
Police sirens screamed in the night and the entire area was flooded with pulsating red and blue lights from the cruisers the officers had arrived in.
The identification taken from the gunshot victim lying on the brick paved area that was typically New Orleans cafe ambiance indicated he was a native of the city. "Richard Borderlon. Name sounds familiar." Officer Dumois said looking at his partner of two days.
Lt. Ramone strode up to the victim lying face down, blood seeping in all directions from underneath him. "Dumois, you stay here and assist with this end of the investigation scene." Looking at Dumois' newly hired partner Lt. Ramone harked, "Waller, you begin with interviewing the teenage girls at this table nearest the victim. We'll have to interview all these people. Make sure they all wait inside. Nobody leaves."
Sharp "yes, sirs" clipped the air as officers scurried to begin the initial interview process.
Officer Dumois stepped toward the immaculately dressed gentleman to his right.
"Thomas Bradford here. That's my wife your partner is questioning over there. I sure hope this Cafe doesn't give me any grief over replacing this suit. I had just purchased it at Brooks Brothers when I was in New York last week. That will cost them a pretty penny. I don't just go to New York every day."
"Yes sir, I understand." the officer hoped his voice sounded sympathetic to this guy with his over inflated sense of self-worth. "Can you tell me about tonight. Exactly what did you see and hear?"
"We were finishing up our stuffed mushrooms and wine when that idiot at the next table knocked over my Sauvignon Blanc spilling it all over this new suit. How unlucky can you get? Man all I wanted to do was have a nice night out with my wife."
"Yes sir, but did you see the shooter?" Dumois coaxed.
Mr. Bradford snapped, pointing to the next table over, "The guy in the blue flowered shirt looking like he just came home from Hawaii that was sitting over there is the one you should be asking questions. He must have seen the gun in the man's hand before he shot the guy. Blue Flowers turned over my wine before I heard the shot."
Officer Thomas was talking with the wife. He wasn't getting any more valid information than his partner.
"Lorene Bradford, Dr.Lorene Bradford, History Professor at Louisiana State University." the crisp professionally dressed lady stated as she extended her hand to Officer Thomas for a handshake.
"It was barbaric! Who would have thought at a nice outside table in New Orleans some redneck heathen would commit murder?"
"Excuse me, I must get to a restroom. I am nauseated." Dr. Bradford made a mad dash for the women's restroom with Thomas following her to the doorway. She disappeared into the confines of the small room and vomited.
"I must wash my face in a little cool water. You will just have to excuse me," Dr. Bradford said to the woman at the next lavatory." I am not easily shaken, but it's not every day you witness a murder before your entree arrives."
Officer Thomas sought a quiet spot at a table near the back of the restaurant and motioned for Dr. Bradford to have a seat. "Tell me everything you can remember about the shooter."
"The man seemed no different than any of us at first. He was dressed casually, but neatly. I noticed traces of dust on his shoes as he passed by our table. I had dropped my fork you see and was retrieving it. Nothing more was out of place. My husband and I work hard and relish our little dining outings. I can't imagine how someone could be so crude as to pick a crowded sidewalk restaurant to exterminate someone, anyone!"
Dr. Bradford paused and took a deep breath before she continued.
"Excuse me, I am rambling. I hate for my students to ramble. To get to the point, the man with the gun walked past our table just as we'd finished our Stuffed Portobello and without a word, pulled out a pistol and fired at the deceased man as he made his way toward another table. After he shot, he fled from here into the traffic and alleyways on foot dragging a woman with him."
Dr. Bradford shut her eyes as if that would erase the memory of what had just occured. "Blood splattered those teenagers celebrating a birthday at the table next to us. They screamed, the mother screamed. Then tables of people began to race inside and some left with food on the table. Oh, the man that did the shooting had on a red shirt I think, I'm not sure. It happened so fast you see. Perhaps the people at the next table over could be more helpful. It will be the man with the dreadful blue flowered shirt and khaki's and the lady with him was wearing a skimpy bright yellow sundress."
"Be'Be' Boudreaux," Lt. Ramone greeted the Cajun waiter.
"Man, I ain't gonna be no help to ya. I had my back to 'em bussing a table. All I know is I hear gunshots. Man, can you believe gunshots in a public place without no fight first? Naw, no warning, no loud talking, then everybody running and goin crazy to get out. I could tell it was a man running off into the alley dodging cars as he went. That's all. Can I go now?"
"Where y'at BeBe? You fixin to go somewhere? You remember me? You grandmama live rite nes door to me. What you see?" Lt. Ramone slipped smooth as silk into the Cajun jargon.
" I jus finish bring out cafe' to the lady who de man what shot dat other man took now, yea. I turn aroun, Mais, jamais d'la vie! Dat por woman had gris gris on her neck but yah, it no good gris gris. The man what done the shootin', he ran off headed to Moon Walk. He grabbed the lady what had stood up. He jus gone. The man what got on the big flowers on his shirt maybe can help. N'em folks dey sit rite next table over."
"You say he took a woman too?" Lt. Ramone asked.
"Yea. Yea. She was waitin' for someone. I had done brought her cafe' to her. I see her get up like she lookin' at something, I hear shots, then all hell break loose."
Officer Waller sat at a back table with the young teenage girl. " I know this is going to be difficult for you. It is very important though. You were sitting at a table right where the gentleman was shot and we need to know what you saw and heard."
As the girl raised her downcast eyes, the female officer saw tears forming again in her eyes. "Where's my friend and her mom? She brought us here to celebrate our thirteenth birthdays, my best friend and me." The tears spilled over and slid down her face.
Officer Waller handed the frightened teen a napkin to wipe away her tears.
"She is inside with another officer giving her statement too," the policewoman explained. "She's not far away. Why don't we try to finish this up quickly and you can get back with her and your friend. First, what's your name?"
"Jenny. My name is Jenny. My mom is going through a divorce you know," the teenage child volunteered. "I wonder if something like this could happen to her. My dad hits her when he drinks. Can I call her. My mom, I mean, to make sure she's okay?"
"I'm a little confused, Jenny. The person who was shot was a man. Why would that cause you to think of your mom?"
"There was a woman with a red dragon tattoo on her thigh sitting at the table next to the windows. The woman was drinking tea when the man with the gun came up. He was walking fast and her face looked like my mom's does just before dad hits her."
"Okay, what next? I still don't see the connection between them and the man who got shot?"
"Can I call my mom? I really want to talk to her."
"Sure sweetie, just as soon as we've heard what you saw and heard. We'll make sure your mom is okay. Can you tell me what the man looked like?"
Relaxing a little, the girl began, "Well, he had on navy Dockers with a red polo shirt. It looked like something my dad would wear." Jenny dissolved into tears again.
Waller had to calm the child before she could continue.
Tears still streaming the young girl told the officer, "I've never seen so much blood. It splattered everywhere." Holding up her arm she showed spots of blood on her sleeve. The dragon woman ran away just before the shots were fired. The man that went to her table turned and shot another man that was walking by our table. Everyone just froze for a while then tried to leave. The police and ambulance got here fast."
Still coaxing, the policewoman continued her investigation. "Did you see where the man went? Did he get in a vehicle with anyone?"
"No. He ran off dragging that other woman with him. Cars almost hit him but he didn't get in one. He ran down an alley and I didn't see him anymore."
"The other woman? What other woman, Jenny"
"I'm not sure where she came from, but when I got up to run I saw the man in the red shirt dragging her with him. It wasn't the dragon lady, it was another lady. That's all I know. Can I call my mom now?"
"Sure honey, let me get you to the restaurant office. You did great. We may have to get with you if more questions arise, but we'll talk to your parents first."
Julie began to wake nausea overtaking her. Where was she. Nothing felt familiar. The darkness seemed sinister. She startled as a match struck offering shadows in the dark as someone lit a candle.
Rolling to one side and gently raising herself on one elbow Julie stammered, "Who are you? Where am I?"
The silver-haired woman sitting at the table remained silent, weariness showing in her wrinkled features.
"What happened? Where am I? Who are you? What do you want?" Julie's voice was shaking.
In the denseness of the situation, an ancient mantle clock's tick reverberated off the walls. The old woman remained silent.
"Richar', You are here because of Richar'," a feeble voice floated from the other side of the darkness.
The last thing she remembered was a huge hairy hand clamping down over her nose and mouth, a glimpse of a woman fleeing down an alleyway and then darkness.
"Richard? I haven't even met him yet." From the medicinal fog she was enveloped in, Julie's haunted thoughts recalled she had been at the cafe' waiting for Richard to arrive.
"Where am I? Who are you?" she broached the knarled old woman on the opposite side of the room.
"Where you are Mon Cher, is in the room where you first began." And I am your great-grand’ Mere, Marie Landry, so called for my own great-great grand’ Mere of the same name. The first to settle here in Louisiana from France. You have a rich history."
"My name is Julie Chiasson. My parents adopted me and know nothing of my heritage. How can you think you know my history?"
"Oui, It is a long story." Marie whispered in a raspy voice.
Julie shivered as she rubbed her hands up and down her arms. An ominous chill had enveloped the room. With blurred vision, she was sweeping the room for any means of escape. Squinting, she noted the door was between the woman and herself. Looking further she knew there were two windows in the room, one being above the kitchen sink. To the right of the sink there was a cookie jar in the shape of a Mardi Gras mask in purple, yellow and green on the counter.
Moving at last, with difficulty, Marie pushed herself up twice from her chair. Shuffling her way to the cookie jar, she removed a slender, antique key. Next she went to the large desk that had remained in this old home from another period in time. As Marie rolled back the top, Julie caught sight of an old quill pen next to a bottle of ink. It was as if she had been transported back in time. There was a feathered mask at the very back of the desk that could probably tell a thousand tales if it could talk.
"Mrs. Landry, I don't understand how you can presume I am your great-granddaughter. How can you think you KNOW this?" Julie stammered.
"Mon dieu, ma chere, there is no doubt. I saw the birthmark you carry and the scar on your arm. Ma dieu, there is another that carried the same." The old dame looked into Julie's eyes with cloudy, rheumy ones that undoubtedly had witnessed much in her years.
How can this woman know about my birthmark and scar. Well, I guess the scar wouldn't be hard for someone to miss. How many others have a distinctive scar in the shape of a dragon on their arm? It is ironic my strawberry birthmark is also shaped like a dragon. But it is on my upper thigh. How can this woman know about it? Julie's mind was overwhelmed.
"These papers will explain the beginning of your history, your ancestors as they made their way to this uncharted , new country. From there I will try to explain why you did not grow up in your natural family. Much I do not understand myself, but decisions were out of my hands on that day...the day you were born." A single tear slid down the old woman's cheek.
"What about Richard? Oh, my God! What must he think? I was to meet him and I just disappeared. Why have you had me kidnapped?" Hysteria was evident in Julie's quivering voice.
"Do not be afraid, mon chere. You will be free to go; you are not a prisoner here, but there is much you need to know first. One step at the time. First, you must read the papers here. Then I will explain as much as I can from there," Marie said as she handed the yellowed documents to the frightened young woman.
Amid the chaos of ringing phones, slamming doors, odors of unwashed bodies, and shouts of drunks being booked, Lt. Dumois was re-enacting the crime to his division.
"We have a case involving prominent citizens of New Orleans. I don't have to tell you the influence they wield. This is one time we can't look the other way. One of them is dead. Richard Bordelon is a journalist in our fair city..."
"I knew I had heard that name! I couldn't place where or when, but it was so familiar," Dumois said glancing at Officer Waller.
"Mr. Bordelon had documents that were centuries old on his person that indicate he was probably meeting the young lady who is missing. Our job now is to find her and her captors. In doing so, we hope to find our murderer if that is what it truly is. Our vic had a weapon of his own in his hand. Looks like the other guy got the first shot off though."
"What do the papers mean? What kind of documents are they?" Waller questioned, grimacing as she tasted the bitter scorched station coffee. She could smell the pot burning behind her.
"Do we have any leads on the guy in the blue flowered shirt and the woman with him that seemed to just evaporate before we could interview them?"Dumois asked.
"Not yet. We can reasonably deduce the woman dragged away by the shooter is one Julie Chiasson though. After the newscast of the event, a Ms Shasha Reynolds called to say her friend Ms. Chiasson was to meet Mr. Bordelon. No one has seen her since. I checked with the Chiasson family and she never returned home. What we don't know is what part she plays in the whole picture. Ms. Reynolds states the two had never physically met before. They met online," Lt. Ramone updated his officers.
Lt. Ramone laid the yellowed documents on the table for each officer to examine. "They seem to be a family tree of the Bordelon family. There are notations as to which member of the family was in charge of all major family decisions throughout the centuries. It seems the older female with pure lineage from France held the purse strings. Just as our New Orleans culture has progressed, in many cases in the old families the old rules still apply. The Bordelon's have been influential in politics, law making, and business enterprise since the 1700's. What we need to know now is who is in charge of the decisions now and see if we can get some information about Richard Bordelon from his family."
"On it, boss," Officer Dumois quipped.
"Oh, Dumois you and Waller need to get a search warrant for Bordelon's home. Get his computer and anything else he may have recorded things on recently," Lt. Ramone added.
A woman's shrill screaming voice echoed within the walls of the cabin, "Ricahar' was our cousin!"
"Don' you think I know that already!" the burly man snapped back slamming the door shut.
Dissolving in tears, Amie reached down to touch the red dragon tattoo on her thigh. "For the family, everything is always for the family. I even had this tattoo done to represent the symbol our family has associated itself with for centuries. But Ricahar' was not supposed to be hurt, Francoise. He is family too."
"I know. I know," Francoise paced the room as if looking for a way out. "I thought when he saw me he would back down. I thought if you and I sat at the table next to him and this girl he would remain silent about our family. Richar did not believe in the old ways I know, but he is still a Bordelon. I thought loyalty would win out with the stakes so high."
"Well, he's dead now. Oh, my God, Francoise, he's dead now and the girl is gone. What do we do?" Amie dissolved into tears.
"For now we must stay quiet and remain here in the old cabin. It is far enough in the swamp no one dares come here without a reason and we will see them coming. We will wait, just wait until Papa sends us word it is okay to come out."
The smell of the swamp was soothing to Amie. It was a place she, Francois, Richard and Emilie had spent many of their childhood days laughing and playing together. In those days, Grand did not seem so intimidating. She was just a grandmother who loved to spoil her great grandchildren shamelessly. They had family reunions and what Louis, her Papa, had called family business meetings here. Uncle Phillipe, Tante Regina with Emilie, Uncle Antoine, Tante Sylvia with Richard along with Mama, Papa, Francois and herself formed a security blanket Amie innocently thought would always be there. She could hear the screech of the owls at night, the cry of the alligator's during mating season. Even the damp smell was enticing to her. It was a place filled with the good memories, before she discovered how ruthless her family could be when retaining their precious old wealth, family secrets and the Bordelon name.
"Okay? Okay! Francoise what will Grand and Papa do to us? We don't still have the girl." Panic filled Amie's voice.
"Oui. I know Papa is furious we messed up, but still we are family. We will be protected."
"Like Richar' was protected?" Amie's voice permeated with contempt.
"No! You know that is different Mon Chere. Richar' was going to tell the girl who she really is and you know that would change our whole family. It just could not happen. There was too much at stake. Besides, I would not have shot him if he had not shown me his gun first. We played as brothers when we were little. Do you really think I could have killed him otherwise?" Francoise's voice broke.
"What of the girl? How will we find her again? Who was the man that tripped you in the alleyway and knocked you out?"
"I don't know. Where were you looking when it happened? I had almost made it to the car with the girl. It couldn't be someone else in the family. I don't know. How did anyone else find out? How?" Francois shook his head in comptemplation.
"I heard a car speed by and it startled me. Mon dieu! My heart almost burst out of my chest. I was afraid we would be caught. When I looked back you were on the ground and the girl was gone. I had a hell of a time dragging you to the car and getting you in. I didn't know what else to do but come to the cabin."
"You did fine. This is the safest place for us." Francois said. "Maybe Papa or Uncle Antoine can find out who else wanted the girl and for what."
In profound silence, Julie stared at the ancient documents. They felt so fragile. The paper seemed to crackle at her touch. They even emitted a musty odor of a time long gone. There were records of family trees showing the lineage of the Bordelon family from the 1600's until 1982. Gabriel Laurent Bordelon, born1696 at Notre Dame, LeHavre, France. LaHavre is a port town on the English Channel in northwest France. He later lived at Rochefort, France. His father, Jean Baptiste Bordelon was in charge of supplies for the French navy. Gabriel Laurent married in 1730 a St. Louis Parish, New Orleans, to Anne Francoise Roland, native of St. Germain l'Auerois , Parish, Paris. She had been sent to Louisiana by the nuns from an orphanage. they lived most of their lives in New Orleans. Their son, Antoine is shown in the 1785 census of Avoyelles. He was a leader of the Pt. Coupee Militia during the American Revolutionary War. Antoine married twice, once to Marie DeCuir, then to Marguerite Leonard, who may have been the granddaughter of Antoine Drapeau, the latter whose birthplace is marked on Rabalais Street in Fontainay le Compte, France.(Nelson Gremillion) The last entries were of Philippe Bordelon who had married Regina Landry-Broussard and his two brothers Louis and Antoine.
There were pictures of many of the ancestors recorded in the documents. A chill ran through Julie's body as she looked at the pictures. It was like looking into a mirror. There was no denying the resemblance her own face had to these unknown people.
Marie spoke softly to Julie, "In the days when Louisiana was first formed there were many French, Spanish, and Indian Tribes to settle here. There were those of my own family who were French, yet Acadian. Oui, we became the Cajun influence in our new home when we were ousted from our native land. There are also the Creoles who are French and Spanish origin who intermarried many times with the freed blacks and Native Americans. That is the background of your Papa's family, the Borderlons."
At that revelation, Julie's eyes became round and she could not withhold a sharp gasp of total astonishment. Her whole world had become bizarre.
Marie continued, "I have a letter written by your mother, my great grandbebe, Regina. Richar came to me a few days ago and gave me this. He had found it in family documents he previously had not had access to. But Richar' had a conscience. He wanted to try to make things right. He told me of meeting you on the computer and we both knew you had to be a Borderlon, there is no doubt. That is why he wanted to meet you. He wanted to tell you of your heritage, your inheritance, then let you choose what to do with it." Marie handed Julie an envelope with a letter inside with Marie Landry scrawled on the outside.
Dear Meme, the letter began.
Meme was the name Regina had for her Cajun grandmother. Tears fell relentlessly down Regina's face as she wrote this letter to the woman she knew loved her more than anyone else.
My heart is so heavy. I have lived such a confused and strange, secret life. I could not tell a soul, no not even you who I love so much. Had I shared the secrets of Phillipe's family my precious daughter Emilie would have been forever taken from me. She is so beautiful and she is my life.
I do not even know how to begin. Phillipe and I were so happy, so in love. I could not imagine my life without him. He was so attentive and we lived a dream. Perhaps, Grann, that was the problem. Perhaps, it was all a dream that turned to a nightmare.
We went to Paris and my life was all I could ever hope for. I believe this is where I conceived. Everything changed when I became pregnant. Phillipe was obsessive with my health when we found out I was expecting a girl. This child would be the heir to the Borderlon fortune and as the last direct female child she would have dominion over the Bordelon companies, the fortune, the decisions when she became twenty-one. He was so overjoyed.
Then we found out I was carrying twins. One was much smaller and it appeared that they were joined. Phillipe's grandmother was astounded. She wanted to have the babies aborted under silence. She is such a devout Catholic I could not understand this at all. My babies! She wanted me to harm my babies! I just knew Phillipe would soothe her feelings on this. Mon dieu! The old dame said it would be a disgrace to have Siamese twins. It was a curse. We no longer live our lives for ourselves, but for the Bordelon family led by the Grand Dame herself.
I begged Phillipe to make her understand we did not care about the fortune. We did not want their money nor their businesses. We did want our babies. I pleaded and pleaded for him to tell her we did not believe in the voodoo or curses.
My dream became a living nightmare from this minute on. Phillipe slapped me with such force blood poured from my nose. I fled the room to pack and leave. I was restrained and kept prisoner in my bedroom for a week. Phillipe was someone I did not know. It was as if because our babies were joined I had torn everything away from him.
Within the next months, Phillipe seemed to soften and we began to try to put our life back together. I did not see or talk to the rest of the family. We lived in our home and made preparations for our babies. Phillipe still seemed a little disturbed but blamed it on worry for me.
When I started into labor, the family doctor was called and instead of going to the hospital, Dr. DuFour came to me. I was given medication that caused me to be so groggy I could not attend to myself. Phillipe was instructed by the Grand Dame to carry me to the Bordelon cabin deep in the swamp for the birth. I could not fight, but begged that at least I be carried to my own cabin inherited from my family. It was closer and Dr. DuFour concurred that would be a better choice, yet still obscure from the rest of the world.
I do not remember much else of that night. I remember the babies being born and hearing two cries. I was so happy my babies were alive. When I awoke, Phillipe said one of my babies had died. My heart was broken, Meme. But my Emilie was so beautiful. She and her twin had been joined only slightly at their upper arms. Dr. DuFour separated them. It must be a sign of some kind for though I never much believed in signs and prophesy, Emilie's arm bears a scar in the shape of a dragon. Ironically, she also has a strawberry birthmark in the shape of a dragon. Phillipe's family all carry with them an amulet of Samson's hexagon flanked by two dragons.
Phillipe was his old self after this. I remain ever wary of the rest of the family and do not want to know of their business goings and comings. I am forever a prisoner of the family. If I attempt in any way to leave, I have been assured I will never see Emilie again. I know in my heart of hearts it is so. The Borderlons have much power over court processes, their money and power reign even in this day and age.
Even this letter must be only my secret. Writing it helps. While it is not the same as talking to you, it is as close as I can come to expressing the feelings bottled up inside. If only I could come to you, have you wrap your arms around me and just let me lay my head in your lap again.
Meme, you know I still hear the cry of Emilie's twin. I don't know why they wouldn't even let me attend the funeral. I ache for my other baby. Emilie has grown to be a beautiful young lady. She is so close to the age of becoming the one to take over for Grand Dame. I want a life filled with less responsibility and stress for her. She wants to have a career in broadcasting or writing like her Uncle Richard, yet her father and the family pressure her to focus on business. Maybe some day I will be able to tell you of these dark scars on my heart.
Tears flowed freely down Julie's face as she looked up at Marie. Her heart felt as if it were exploding within her chest cavity. Who was she? She had grown up a happy child, loved even though adopted. Yet, with all these revelations, for the first time Julie did not know who she was.
Marie gently reached out to hold her. "The same day this was written, Regina, Phillipe and Emilie were involved in a car crash on the bridge crossing Lake Ponchetrain. They are all buried in the Borderlon cemetery."
Jacques Landry and his daughter Lisette entered the police station to an atmosphere of day to day chaos. As Jacques approached the desk to request to speak to an officer, Lt. Ramone caught sight of the blue flowered shirt. The man wearing it was with a young lady in a bright yellow sundress.
"I'll take this," he quipped to the receptionist, as he motioned the two to enter his office. Closing the door, he picked up his phone. "Dumois, I need you and Waller in my office ASAP!"
The two officers appeared in Ramone's office as if the hounds were on their tails. They had seen the blue-flowered Hawaiian print shirt and bright yellow sundress as they entered the station too. It just couldn't be a coincidence.
Three sets of eyes looked at one another then to the couple that had been ushered into Lt. Ramone's domain. Clearing his throat, Ramone's deep voice filled the room, "I don't believe I got your name."
"Jacques. Jacques Landry and this is my daughter Lisette."
"Are you aware of the untimely death of Mr. Richard Borderlon?" All ears were open; all eyes on Jacques.
"Oui." Jacques dropped his head.
"And were you and your daughter dining at The Old Coffee Pot on that date?"
Jacques began speaking hesitantly. "Marie Landry, my aunt, knew the danger the girl was in. She asked if I would go to the restaurant where Richar Borderlon was to meet her. She wanted that me and Lisette follow them and make sure no harm come to the girl. Mon dieu, I did not know there would be gunfire. Richar was shot by his own cousin. What is our world coming to? Family killing family and all for money and politics. I don't think the young lady and man what done the killing and kidnapping knew who I was, but I knew them. When Francois grabbed the girl, Lisette and I rounded the opposite corner and I ambushed him taking the girl from him. I have carried her to Marie's deceased daughter's cabin far in the swamp. She won't be safe there long if the story Richar told is true . The Borderlon's won't take kindly to one who has not grown up in the old ways being in charge."
"You say Francois shot Mr. Borderlon; does Francois have a last name?" Lt. Ramone briefly glanced at the other two officers.
"Oui. It is Borderlon. The woman with him is also a Borderlon, Amie Borderlon." Jacques offered.
"Any idea where they might be now?" Ramone asked as he made his way across the room.
"No, but if someone doesn't stop them before they find the girl..."Jacques only shook his head.
Having remained silent until now Lisette added, "She will be as dead as Richar if they find her."
"Is Ms. Chiasson still with Ms. Landry?" Officer Waller asked Jacques.
Lt. Ramone opened the door and ordered his officers to go to Ms. Landry's and pick Ms. Chiasson up immediately.
Under cover of unmarked vehicles, Lt. Ramone and the two officers made their way down the winding road flanked on either side by magnificent oaks with Spanish Moss hanging from every limb it seemed. Officer Waller could never get enough of the beauty Louisiana offered. Amid the odor of the swamp was the delicate flowery smell of gardenias and magnolias in bloom. God must have been really happy when he made Louisiana.
Lt. Ramone had telephoned ahead speaking with Mrs. Landry giving her notice he would be arriving shortly to check out Jacques story. As he reached to knock on the door, Marie opened it inviting him in to the kitchen. The nutty, fragrant aroma of deep, rich chicory coffee reached his nostrils before he stepped over the threshold. Over steaming cups of the brew, Marie and Julie answered all the questions they had answers for. Marie, of course, had more than Julie who was still stunned at the turn her life had taken in such a short while.
Still she was adamant she didn't want to hide out. She just wanted to go home, or wake up from this nightmare or something!
"We need to keep you consealed until we can question the Borderlons and get to the bottom of this matter," Lt. Ramone said in an attempt to reassure Julie. "Miss Chiasson, I don't think you grasp the danger your life is in until we have the killer or killers in custody. The Borderlon family has had power and wielded it for much less with no consequence since before Louisiana was Louisiana. People do still disappear in the swamps without a trace. From the information we gleaned from Richard Borderlon's computer, you are Julie Borderlon. With the old Dame of the family on her deathbed, you would be heiress to petroleum companies, extensive agriculture holdings, billions of dollars and power over media and political figures. Stranger things than disappearing have happened under such circumstances."
Julie relinquished and allowed Officer Waller escort her to the unmarked white Crown Victoria sitting under the expanse of the century old oaks draped with its cape of wispy Spanish Moss. It would be a beautiful, mysterious place she would have loved to explore for it's historical value under a different setting. She stopped suddenly and turned.
"Marie, Mrs. Landry, I'm not sure what to call you," she stammered gazing at the wizened old woman behind her.
"Meme, will be fine, mon chere, unless you prefer to keep a distance from your old Grand'Mere."
"Oh, no. I wish to get to know you. I am not sure how to break all this to my parents yet, but God will provide, will He not?"
A silent tear slipped down Marie's cheek. "Oui. He will indeed," she said as she reached out to embrace Julie. Marie's heart so chilled by the death of Regina and Emilie began to feel love's warmth again. Perhaps, that is why God allowed her to remain, to know this child given away at birth.
The tantalizing odor of freshly brewed coffee wafted toward the heavens floating from within The Old Coffee Pot. Julie was seated across from her mother on this day, not waiting for a gentleman to arrive and no owl hooting in the distance. A soft warm breeze seemed to caress her. This is where it had begun for her, where her life had in an instant molded her into someone else. How was it possible for so much to happen is such a short while?
Sasha arrived flopping a newspaper down on the table to display the headline: Lost Dragon Twin Heiress Found. Sasha read aloud, "While the Borderlon's of the moneymaking generation were merely selfish and bullheaded, their descendants - prisoners of the widows' control of the trust income - made a fetish of scandalous behavior. Petroleum monguls now, Borderlon family riches began with cotton, and sugar cane and had strong voodoo connections. Ohhhh, we have our own Cinderella without a prince story."
The article was dedicated to Richard Bordelon, who had attempted to right a wrong that had been made by his family years before.
"What's the verdict?" Julie asked. "Am I a good twin or a bad twin?"
Julie's adoptive mother reached for the paper as she took a sip of her cafe' au lait. "Well, let's see. It says this article is an exclusive, the elusive heiress wishes to remain silent for the time being, yet, has approved of the facts being published by The Times-Picayune, New Orleans' only daily newspaper."
The article went on to tell a tale of enchantment laced with horror. Richard Borderlon, known journalist, was murdered in an attempt to be a knight in shining armor by telling Julie Chiasson her natural parents were actually Phillipe and Regina Borderlon making her heiress to a fortune. Ms. Chiasson's birth had been shrouded in secrecy until he found documents proving the twin believed to have died at birth was still living. At the time of Ms. Chiasson's birth, Regina had been heavily drugged. The smaller twin had been placed immediately with Ursulian Nuns who were sworn to secrecy. Ms Chiasson was adopted by a local couple, Jim and Laura Chiasson.
Ms. Chiasson was kidnapped amazingly twice in the same day. Once by the Borderlon family who did not, under any circumstances, want her to find out about her past. Before they could get away from The Old Coffee Pot with her drugged and in tow, two members of the Landry family stole the Dragon Twin from them. Oh, what a tangled web we weave! It was discovered Julie Chiasson's (Borderlon) natural mother's family were Landry's. Julie's Great-grandmother, Marie Landry, had been informed of the truth about the missing twin by Richard Borderlon. Knowing the danger she was in, Ms Landry had the young woman brought to her for safe-keeping.
The New Orleans Police Department recognized the danger Ms. Chiasson was in when Mr. Jacques Landry related Ms. Chiasson's location to them. Without delay, she was placed under protective custody until all guilty parties were arrested.
The Borderlon Dynasty is under new leadership as this story prints. Ms Julie Chiasson has elected to keep her adoptive name, but is anxious to use her newly aquired business degree to oversee her inheritance.
A radiant smile appeared on Julie's face as she rose from the sidewalk table. "Mom, I'd like for you and Sasha to meet my Great-grand'Mere, Marie Landry."
Marie embraced Julie and joined the merriment as a silent wise old owl flew overhead.