Anna and I drove into town discussing what we were going to tell Jeanie, and how much we thought she might know.
We were not sure whether she was telling us the truth or just trying to seem important, either way I had a feeling that she knew more than we did.
Anna and Jeanie had been pretty close friends at one point in their lives.
Anna was pretty sure she would be able to spot it if Jeanie wandered into the world of make believe.
“Jeanie is a wonderful and caring individual. She wouldn’t try to lead you wrong, so much as allow you to take her speculation as fact. If we impressed upon her how deadly this is becoming, I think she will be straight with us.” Anna told me as we parked across the street.
We entered the shop quietly and seeing customers went to the cafe and sat in a corner.
I was surprised at all the business she was doing.
People were sitting and chatting while on their laptops.
Food and tea were being served.
I was very impressed. The emptiness of the shop before had lead me to believe she was not so busy.
Jeanie’s daughter was a blonde beauty called Gemini Rayne, most people called her Gemma Rae.
Gemini was helping out in the cafe half of the shop. She walked over to us and let us know that her mother was waiting for us in the back room.
We walked through a beaded curtain to the back and entered a spa-like area with tables and recliners the aromatic scents of white and green teas, orange blossom and jasmine filling the room and revitalizing me.
Jeanie placed a few more stones on a man’s back and wiped her hands on a towel.
We watched, as she said something too quiet to hear to the man and stepped around the table towards us.
Anna and Jeanie smiled and hugged. Then those blue eyes turned on me.
“So are you ready to be a little more open minded? ” Jeanie asked pleasantly. I bristled “I came for help once before.” “No, you came because you were scared and wanted to reaffirm that you didn’t believe any of it, and you weren’t crazy” Jeanie replied to my snap with smooth aplomb.
I really had nothing to say in response to that, so I stood and watched her place rings on her hands and a memory of my mom tried to surface.
“Well answers is why we are here now.” Anna inserted smoothly breaking into the silence.
Jeanie removed her white smock revealing a black camisole and took up what looked to be a length of fabric.
“Things have happened that have forced us all to reevaluate the situation.” I admitted.
Her movements with the material, which she had began looping and folding were fascinating.
“I have a couple of customer orders to fill before I can give you my full attention, but have patience and I promise you won’t regret it.”
She made another loop.
“A saree’.” I burst out and immediately turned red.
Anna looked me like I had cursed in church.
Jeanie laughed aloud and looked pleased “Yes it is. I find the Saree a more convenient dress than jeans and shirts when moving between cafe and massage therapy. I don’t want to wear the same clothes to make a sandwich that I wore touching someones naked back.” Here she shuddered illiciting a like reaction from me.
“Not to mention I don’t want to bring the smell of food to the therapy room. The saree is quick and easy solution to a quick change.”
She spread her arms putting the wrapped and folded garment on display.
I loved the foreign beauty of the saree.
Anna cleared her throat. “We will wait in the cafe then.”
Jeanie nodded, as a elderly lady approached and asked for an arthritis cream, again I was impressed with the level of confidence and trust everyone seemed to place in Jeanie.
We returned to the cafe, and our coffee. The aroma of baking cinnamon lead us to order an amazing pecan filled coffee cake while we waited.
We watched as a few more customers went into the back and came back out with teas or salves.
Finally, Jeanie arrived with a large bag in hand.
Upon seeing our confused looks she winked and whispered “If we don’t leave to have this conversation, we’ll never have it.”
As if to prove her point a short middle aged man could be seen making a determined attempt to circumnavigate a chattering Gemini who kept accidentally stepping in his way.
We got the hint, stood and made our way to the exit.
I turned my head to see the now red faced man bumping a table spilling hot tea on himself as he tried to duck around Gemini’s wildly gesticulating arms.
He let out a howl and the ladies at the table screached.
The last I saw of him he had two very upset ladies berating him for clumsiness and impatience.
We fairly sprinted to Anna’s SUV laughing all the way.
Anna started the car and raised a questioning eyebrow at Jeanie
“Head to my house.” Was the response. We backed out and were on our way.
I leaned my head back and let the exhaustion that had been dogging me catch up and claim me.
With my eyes closed my external senses became stronger.
First, my nose.
I could smell the Chanel #5 Anna was wearing, she loves the older perfumes. Next, from Jeanie.
A confusing mix of fragrance out of which lemongrass, lime, and sandalwood stood out the strongest. Underlying these from the breeze coming in the window, were the sharp accents of sun heated pavement and cut grass.
With the suggestions of outdoor smells came sound.
A lawnmower could be heard gaining in volume, then, receding telling me we passed the diligent mower.
The absence of the lawn mower allowed me to hear the excited barking of dogs and squealing of children.
Recess at the elementary school I guessed.
Eventually, even these faded to nothing as the sound of tires on pavement and smell of ancient trees took over.
The coolness of shade and bright warmth of sunlight alternated on my face as we passed overhanging cypress and oak.
After a while, the car slowed and stopped the smells of basil and thyme announcing the presence of an herb garden.
I opened my eyes and enjoyed the sight of a large plantation house with wide verandas and a wrap around porch, at the end of a long pecan orchard hung drive.
The herb gardens were planted between rows of trees and the house was surrounded by useful and fragrant flowers.
Jasmine, chamomile, rose, marigolds, honeysuckle, hibiscus were just a few and the ones I knew.
It was beautiful and peaceful.
Once again I was forced to rearrange my thoughts about Jeanie.
As we drove on to the property I felt a brief Sensation of something watching me then it was gone.
The welcoming relaxing feeling was back.
Jeanie was watching me out the corner of her eye. I looked directly at her and she began to speak.
“My family has been on the land for a century and a half. The original owners had gone bankrupt right after they had purchased the land and built the house.”
Here she turned to look at the house.
“My ancestors were primary owners but came over with a group of people that had money invested, so there was very little use for the slaves that came with the property.
They were kept on but none new were purchased.
The people who came were fleeing the troubles in Ireland and Scotland. Some were French who got caught up in Good Charlie’s War.
Almost all had family members that had been taken into the white slavery called indentureship.
Therefore, they had more sympathy for slaves.
Freedom was not an option for a slave at that time so there they stayed.
A balance was reached and the land was worked and cared for.
Intermarriage eventually blurred the lines of family and race into a community. Over time only my family remained on the property.
Caretakers of a trust.”
She stopped here, and shouldered her bag.
“Let’s go in. ” she said and led the way to the house.
We stepped out of the car into Louisiana heat. The humidity wrapping us in it’s blanket.
The presence was back, a feeling of curiosity surrounded me.
It felt like somebody had just asked me a question and I was trying to think of the answer.
Jeanie pulled out a set of keys with the celtic knot on the chain she held it up as if showing it to me and the questioner was gone from my mind.
Anna Must have thought what happened was odd too because she turned to me with questions in her eyes.
I shook my head not knowing myself.
Jeanie unlocked the door allowing Anna to enter. As I stepped through the ornate carved doorway; glass shattered in my head bright light filled the world I tasted copper, then blessed darkness enfolded me.