Excerpt from Chapter Three
I start thinking about the story of the curse my grandma always talked about when she was alive. She called it Un peu plus (a little more).
This curse was supposedly placed on our family generations ago by a woman named Dominique Bernard. She was the beautiful daughter of a plantation owner and his housekeeper. She was fair skinned with gray-blue eyes and reddish brown hair. Although she was beautiful beyond anything that could be painted on canvas, she was still a bastard child. Because she was rejected by the plantation
owner’s family and her mother had died during childbirth; she was raised down in the center bayous of New Orleans by a Creole woman named Lissette.
Lissette practiced voodoo and Dominque became her number one pupil. As Dominque came into womanhood, she also came into being very good at her craft. She soon was given the name Mistress of the Loa Spirits, and became renowned for her ability to heal. Although she conjured up many spells for others, she could not make them for herself. Even when Dominque had fallen in love, she could not make the man she loved, love her. The man she desired was Baptiste Trudeau. He was the target of many women’s affections and the husband of my great-great-great grandmother Sophie Trudeau. Baptiste was a handsome, tall, muscular, dark-skinned man who catered to Sophie’s every want and need. He worked hard tending to rich white folks’ horses to provide a magnificent home for them and their children. Sophie was a beautiful, majestic woman with sexual charms, and enough mystery about her to leave men wanting to know more.
Sophie and Dominique were the finest women in town. Growing up, there had always been an unspoken competition between them. Grandma always retold the events of Baptiste and Sophie as if she had been there herself. She told me that what caused the curse was Dominique’s infatuated rage. She had seen Sophie in town flirting with another man. Dominique was outraged! She never believed Sophie deserved to be Baptiste’s wife in the first place. So she thought what she had seen was her opportunity to take Baptiste from her. She decided to go pay him a visit. Dominique had taken extra care in putting on her make-up and dressing in her special homespun full skirt and tight bodice with several pieces of expensive jewelry. She felt sure Baptiste would see the passion and concern she had for him and fall in love with her. When she went to tell Baptiste, he was furious. Instead of her gaining his heart, he told her to go to hell and take her lies with her! Dominique’s heart was broken and she had vowed to show Baptiste that he had married a common whore. She placed a curse on Sophie. Sophie would never be sexually satisfied by just one man, and all of her female off-spring would also be cursed.
The way the story goes is that Baptiste had taken their children out for a walk one afternoon. On the path back to their home from a distance, he saw Sophie on their porch having sex with another man. He quickly covered their children’s faces and turned them around. He told them to go run and hide for a game of hide-n-seek. Baptiste turned back around and watched his wife. He stood still, unable to move. Sophie did not see her husband standing by the magnolia trees watching as she wrapped her legs around her lover’s waist, scratching his back, and moaning in a way she never did with him. Baptiste did not confront her right away. Instead, he took the children to a family member’s house. No one would’ve ever known what was going on because Baptiste acted as if nothing was wrong. He went back home to deal with Sophie. She and her lover had already left. So he sat on the porch, where it still had the stench of musk, sweat, and her perfume, and waited for her. When she returned home, it was late into the night. Sophie didn’t care about his feelings. She saw Baptiste sitting on the porch bench, walked right passed him, and into the house. He followed her inside. She went into the kitchen to get a glass of water.
My grandma told me that our family believed the curse made Sophie mistreat Baptiste. That the spell Dominique placed had an extra dosage of spitefulness. I remember my grandma acting out the story. She said that Sophie stood by the sink sipping on water and said nothing to Baptiste. His anger grew as thoughts of how long he sat and waited for her to come home raced in his mind. All she could do was drink water and not say a word to him! He was trying to keep the jealous rage from building up inside of him, but her cold-hearted attitude didn’t help. Sophie rolled her eyes at him and turned to leave the kitchen. Before she could take a step out, he grabbed her arm and stabbed her twenty times. He stood over her body and watched her bleed to death...