“No way, check this out.”
John waved the book he was reading in Chris's direction.
“It says here, that Marie Laveau is supposed to have held hidden rituals in the bayou with her followers. And that she danced naked with a giant snake . . . called Zombi! How fucked up is that?”
Laughing, Chris reached out towards the bed where John was currently lounging. “Let me see that.” He grabbed the book, and then sank back into the love-seat by the window. “Ok, so it actually does say that.”
“Of course it does.” said John. “Why would I make that up?”
Chris tossed the book back over to his friend, who caught it easily even from his lazing position, and then discarded it onto a bedside table.
“You make stuff up all the time, and I always fall for it.” Chris grinned.
An overstuffed pillow sailed towards his head and Chris had to dodge to the side to avoid being hit. The pillow missed him and landed on the window sill, knocking a vase of dried flowers onto the floor.
The hotel that they were staying in was a classic French style building, and all of the rooms had dark wooden floors, with the occasional expensive looking rug dotted about. It gave the place a very traditional feel. Sadly, it also meant that there was nothing to break the vase's fall as it toppled from the window sill, and it smashed on impact.
The sound of breaking glass ripped through the serene morning tranquillity, and both John and Chris cringed.
“Wait for it.” said John.
The door to the en suit bathroom flew open, and Emma came rushing out. Her long, dark hair was tied up in a pony tail, and her face was shiny from freshly applied cream.
“What the fuck was that?” she asked, immediately turning an accusatory stare onto John.
“Oh, Chris broke that vase on the window sill.” John shrugged his shoulders. “It was an accident though.”
Emma sighed, loud enough that Chris expected to feel a rush of air. “God Chris, can you try to be more careful please. We're going to have to pay for that now.”
There was no point in protesting his innocence; it was just part of the unwritten rules of his friendship with John. Chris often took the blame for small things, as it was easier than listening to Emma embark upon some disappointed reprimand.
“You know me, accident prone and all that.”
“Don't worry about it.” She smiled. “It just scared me a bit is all. At least it seems to have gotten John's nose out of that stupid book.”
John had moved from the bed to stand behind Emma, and he placed both hands on her shoulders, guiding her back toward the bathroom.
“Why don't you finish getting ready, so that we can get going on our exciting day out?” He kissed her lightly on the back of her neck. “And leave my book alone, it happens to very interesting.”
“It's voodoo porn!” she cried playfully, as John shoved her forward and pulled the door shut before she could protest.
Walking over to the love-seat he clapped Chris comradely on the back. “Cheers mate. She already lectured me for using a saucer as an ashtray last night.”
This might have seemed funny, if Chris hadn't had first hand experience of how irritating Emma could be. It wasn't that he disliked the girl. After all, she was dating his best friend, so that scored her points automatically. She was just very . . . well, irritating pretty much was the only word that seemed appropriate.
As if in silent protest, John lit a cigarette and took a drag, flicking the ash onto the floor at his feet. “Seriously mate, what the fuck am I supposed to do if they don't provide me with an actual ashtray?”
The two friends smirked at each other.
“You're going to clean that up before she gets out of the bathroom aren't you?” laughed Chris.
John looked down at the grey and white flecks of ash. They stood out quite noticeably against the dark stain of the wood.
He rubbed the ball of his foot over the offending ash until it was gone, then leaned past Chris and opened the tiny window. Perching himself on the back of the love-seat, he took one more drag from his cigarette, then flicked it outside.
“I should probably quit anyway.”
Chris just laughed.
Across the hallway, in another hotel room, Eliza sat cross legged on the end of the bed and stared at the piece of paper Daniel Babineaux had given her.
Directions to the cemetery where the infamous Marie Laveau was buried.
Eliza felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. She was certainly as fascinated as anyone by the stories of the voodoo queen, but something in her gut told her that stories were often very different from real life.
Hey, what's life without a little danger though?
Despite a few half-hearted protestations from Emma, it had been decided that a trip to the old cemetery was top of the list for today.
Although Daniel had seemed reluctant at first, to tell the four friends where they could find Marie's grave; once they had agreed to visit during the daytime he had come around to the idea. Maybe his reluctance was genuine, or maybe it was just more spook stories for the tourists, but Eliza was pretty sure that she didn't want to be caught there after dark anyway.
The door to her hotel room opened, and Chris walked in. He slumped against it, rolling his eyes, and held his hands out in a questioning gesture.
“How John has not just taped that girl's mouth shut by now, is a total mystery to me.”
Eliza laughed. “Oh come on, Em's okay. She's just a bit . . .”
“Irritating?” asked Chris.
“No, I mean she's just . . . well . . . oh fuck it. She's irritating.”
Chris bounded forward, grabbing Eliza into a hug, and rolling them both backwards onto the bed. They laughed as they toppled dangerously close to the edge, and then Chris planted a huge kiss on her lips.
“Please, please, please never change into a “girl”. Just remain a cool bitch forever.” He kissed her again, and then rolled over, landing on the floor with a thud.
“You are such a freak sometimes.” Eliza jumped up off the bed, and dumped a pillow onto Chris as he lay on his back. “But I suppose, at least you are my freak.”
Tossing the pillow across the room Chris sat up. “Why do people keep throwing these things at me?” He shrugged and got to his feet.
Leaning against the wall opposite the bed, Eliza pulled on her black converse, and laced them up. She took a band from the pocket of her jeans, and tied her shoulder-length brown hair into a loose pony tail. Glancing around, she spotted the piece of paper she had been studying, and snatched it up off the floor.
“Better not forget this.” she said, folding the paper and putting into the pocket she had taken her hair band from.
“Yeah, if we get lost then Emma will have another reason to complain.” said Chris.
Eliza frowned. “If she doesn't want to go then we shouldn't make her. Has she said something?”
“Oh, just the usual picking apart of every idea to make it seem life threatening.” Chris was holding one trainer in his left hand, and scouting around for the other. “I told her that nothing is going to happen. Even that paranoid bloke from the shop said we'd be cool if we went during the day.”
“I guess. I just don't want her to feel like we bullied her into it.”
Chris was crouched down at the foot of the bed peering underneath it. “A ha!” he proclaimed, pulling out his missing trainer. Sitting down on the floor he slipped both on and tied the laces. “Ready to rock and roll?”
Eliza held her hand out and helped Chris to his feet. “I'm game if you are.”
“Then let's go baby.” He winked at her and reached for the door with one hand, still holding onto her hand with the other.
Once out in the hallway, Chris locked their hotel room door and pocketed the key. He was about to knock on the door opposite, when Eliza stopped him.
“Hey wait.” she said. “Are you sure that Em's not going to be stressing out all day over this trip?”
“Don't worry about it, she'll be fine. Who are we going to bump into there anyway? Zombies?” he laughed. “Besides, it's not like we're sending her there on her own.”
“Yeah good point.” Eliza smiled. “Safety in numbers, right?”