I had been working for the store about two years with this guy Scott. My girl says I’m not a great judge of character, but he seemed alright to me. We had a drink a few times. He liked lagers, if I remember right. He was talkative, but kind of pretentious, you know? He had a way of using his hands a lot when he said something and I would laugh sometimes.
He had been dating this girl, I forget her name. I don’t know. Whatever it was, he had bought this ring and was showing it to me before Thanksgiving. Was gonna surprise her for Christmas, he said. Boy, was he head over heels for her. It made me feel guilty sometimes when he’d talk about her because I don’t know anyone who was so sure of something. Which is why I guess it came as such a shock when she broke up with him. Said she knew he was going to propose and she didn’t want to marry him for some reason or the other. That’s when the weird shit started.
Being in New Orleans, we see voodoo shit all the time you know? It’s no big deal to me. To most of us. I don’t know whether any of that stuff is real or not, but I don’t go asking questions either. It’s always given me a funny feeling, you know? Well, the store did estates and consignments and so one day we go to this lady’s house, Birch or Cypress I think. Uptown, anyway. And we pick up her stuff and in one of the boxes is this book. Reminded me of Harry Potter, you know, really old book with metal on the front and back, you know, leather strap and all. Scott? He was like me. He tried to stay away from it, all that voodoo shit, and I don’t know why but he started flipping through this book on the way back to the store and he got real quiet.
Ever since that girl, he had gotten real quiet. I mean, at first he talked about her all the time, how sad he was, and I feel guilty about it now but I told him one day I was tired of hearing it. So he shut up. I kind of regret saying that now.
But I guess what you really want to know is what happened in February, right? Like I said, he’d been reading this book he found. I knew he was pretty religious and had talked about going to seminary one day, said he was saving money to marry this girl and they were gonna go out West. He’d read his Bible sometimes during lunch and sometimes we’d talk about it. Real good guy, you know?
I guess was why it was so surprising when he did what he did.
One day, we moved this butcher block. It was really nice, tall and… Well, anyway, it was a butcher block. Scott had said he needed a butcher block and I thought he was gonna buy it from the boss once we got back or something. But no. We get back to the store and he sets that block up right in front of it, in front of the store and starts yelling out about how he’s going to do some magic. Swear to God, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got really scared. My first thought was of that book. So, he’s standing there, calling people over, kids, parents, grandmas, anybody who’ll listen. He’s standing there calling people off the streetcar, anyone who’ll look his way.
About that time, you know , he gets a crowd going. He does a few card tricks and keeps saying the real magic is about to happen, just wait for it. Says it’s gonna be big and really freaky. Even had me starting to believe it. Now, he just starts with the cards and then he starts doing the whole coin thing, you know, he’s handing out money left and right and I’m starting to calm down. I mean, he was good and I never knew he could do all that magic shit. He never talked about it anyway. But the entire time, though, I’m thinking about that book and I’m thinking where’d he learn all this? ‘Cause he never talked about it.
Then he asks everyone if they’re ready for the real show, the stuff no one can do and by this point people are into him, he’s got a bigger crowd off the streetcars and all. I mean, there had to have been about a hundred by this point! He reaches in – hand to God- he reaches in his pocket and gets a spoon out and says he’s going to carve his heart out. Well, I mean people were just eating this up by this point but I got that funny feeling again like something ain’t right. But he takes that spoon, reaches under this shirt and I don’t know what to tell you except that’s exactly what he did. There’s like this – oh God, I’m gonna puke just thinking about it- there’s this sound – oh God…
He takes that spoon, reaches up his shirt and there’s this sound like it’s wet? And like he sighs or something at the same moment? And then he puts his heart, or what looked like his heart, right there on the butcher block and everyone is clapping. The kids are eating this up, the adults are grossed out, but Scott? Scott just wipes his hands on his pants, thanks everyone and goes back inside. Just leaves. Just like that. I’m having to lock the doors just to keep people out. They’re asking for his card, for birthday parties and stuff, you know?
But like I said, I lock the doors and I go after him. He’s in the bathroom, sitting on the floor and he’s crying and I ask him how he did that, and he’s turning paler by the minute and I don’t want to believe it, but there’s blood all over his shirt and I realize, holy shit, there’s like this puddle of blood he’s sitting in!
Well, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I kinda froze for a second there. I knew something was wrong and he wasn’t saying anything, but there’s also this part of me that’s thinking this isn’t possible. There’s no way this is happening. A man can’t just carve out his heart, you know? And so I ask him, because it had been on my mind that whole time, I ask him what he’d done and his eyes they dart over to this bag under the sink. He always carried that backpack with him. Always had it with him. So I open it up and there’s that fucking witch doctor book and I drop it ’cause – hand to God- I felt like there was such evil there. But Scott stands up, he takes his shirt off and wipes the blood off his chest and he smiles real weak, you know, and says something in French, I don’t know what ’cause I don’t speak French, and dies. Just like that. He collapses and dies.
I guess that’s the story you wanted, hunh? Voodoo alive and well in New Orleans? The only thing was, I brought that book to the hospital with us and when they opened it, turns out it was only part of the thing he was trying to do. Step one or something. Now, I don’t know if you believe me or not, all I know is a man doesn’t scoop his heart out with a spoon and walk around for a few more minutes like he did. And like I said, I don’t know if voodoo is real or not, but I know I felt it was real evil-like and I know he was never the same after… Well… I don’t know what to think anymore.
Believe it if you want to.