American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory

BOOK: American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory
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PURGATORY

 

By Kathryn Le Veque

 

Copyright 2011 by Kathryn Le Veque
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any
manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Printed by Dragonblade Publishing in the United States of America

Text copyright 2011 by Kathryn Le Veque
Cover copyright 2011 by Kathryn Le Veque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Rob

Historical Note:

 

Louis-Michel Aury was a
pirate born in Paris about 1788. He served in the French navy and on French
privateers from 1802 or 1803 until 1810, when an accumulation of prize money
enabled him to become master of his own vessels. He sailed from a North
Carolina port with a Venezuelan commission in April 1813 and reached Cartagena
in May. In August 1813 he was given command over the Grenadine Republic's
privateer schooners, a service that ended in January 1816, when he reached Aux
Cayes, Haiti, after successfully running the Spanish blockade of Cartagena.

 

Although he was a compatriot
of Jean Lafitte, Aury was very much his own man and one of the great Pirates of
the Caribbean. What he did in Louisiana and who he spent his time with during
his peak of power is cause for speculation. Whether or not he set up roots
along the Black Bayou is also pure speculation. Legends of pirates, ghosts,
treasure and lost loves are steeped in Louisiana tradition, as thick as the
Spanish Moss and the Cajun accents that are so much a part of the region. This
novel reflects those thoughts, and much more.

 

Welcome to Purgatory.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

The Month of June, Present day

Ascension Parish, Louisiana

 

“Mom!” he exclaimed. “It looks
like the Haunted House at Disneyland!”

She fought off a grin as her son
snorted and giggled, banging on the dashboard of the car as if acknowledging
the greatest joke in the world. The eighteen year old man-youth was having a
great time at her expense.

“I told you it was a historical
house, Alec,” she said patiently, trying to get a glimpse of it as the gray
structure appeared in the distance, intermittently, shrouded by trees and dark
Spanish moss that was the heart of Louisiana’s mystique. “You knew it was going
to be old.  I showed you the pictures the real estate agent sent me.”

Alec Jentry suddenly rolled down
the window and stuck his head out, his blond hair plastered back against his
skull in the wind.

“Holy Crap,” he howled again.
“That place is scary. I don’t want to stay there tonight.”

Elliot Jentry bit her lip to keep
from laughing. “What?” she hissed in mock outrage. “How can you say that? What
in the world are you afraid of?”

Alec pulled his head back in to
the car and rolled up the window. “Zombies live in places like that,” he told
her flatly. “I’m going to sleep in the car.”

Elliot shook her head
reproachfully. “You’re pathetic,” she told him. “You play too many
zombie-killing video games.”

He looked at her, dead-serious.
“I do, right?” he insisted. “So I know what I’m talking about.  I’m going to
call Penny and tell her not to come.”

He began to pull out his smart
phone, the one he’d saved his money for from his pizza-delivery job back in
California, but Elliot put her hand on the phone and sank it back down into his
lap.

“Cool it,” she told him. “No
calling your sister.  She’s got enough on her mind right now settling in to
Tulane.”

“But I’ve got to give her some
warning.”

“No warning. Put the phone away.”

He pulled his phone from her
seeking fingers and put it back in its case. His blue-eyed gaze moved to the
house again, now looming larger as the gravel driveway began to straighten out.
In the distance, in the midst of the trees hanging with streamers of green
growth, they could see the peeling paint, enormous white columns facing them
down like the barred teeth of a snarling beast.

“Wow,” he hissed again as the
full impact of the old house came into view. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t
want to move to Louisiana.”

“Too late.”

“But look at that place,” he
pointed. “It probably doesn’t even have bathrooms, just a shed out back with a
half-moon carved into the door. We’ll have to pee in a hole with, like,
alligators waiting to bite our butts off.”

Elliot rolled her eyes at him.
“Enough, Alec,” she said, getting her first good look at the historical home
she had purchased based entirely on pictures the real estate agent had sent
her. It had always been her dream to own one of these grand old dames in
Louisiana bayou country. “It’s been a long drive so I’d appreciate it if you
kept your whining to a minimum. I know it’s a challenge for you to do that, but
try.”

“I’m going to cry.”

“And I’m going to beat your rear
if you don’t quiet down. I can still put you over my knee, Alec Robert Jentry.”

Alec began to roll down the
window again as if to escape his mother. “Child abuse!” he howled.

Elliot rolled the window up from
her side. “Shush,” she scolded softly, noting the real estate agent’s car they
were following down the driveway was slowing down as they approached the old
manse. “The real estate agent is going to hear you and think she’s sold this house
to a bunch of nuts.”

Alec grinned at her; he was an
extremely handsome boy in the image of his father, something that both grieved
and comforted Elliot. Rob’s expressions and mannerisms were genetically
engrained in his only son, and there had been times in her darkest grief that
Elliot would look at Alec and weep uncontrollably because he looked so much
like his dead father. 

Now, one year, eight months, two
weeks and thirteen days after Rob’s death, the pain from his passing didn’t
grieve her like it used to and Alec’s handsome features now brought her solace,
not pain.  She didn’t know what she would have done without the kid. Her
brilliant, cheeky boy had been her saving grace.

“We’re from California, so
everybody thinks we’re nuts already,” Alec replied, cutting into her thoughts.
“California is the land of fruits and nuts.”

He was giggling as he said it,
thinking himself very clever, and Elliot couldn’t help but smile at him.  But
as the cars came to a halt and she put her vehicle into park and turned off the
ignition, she put her hand on her son’s arm before he could open the door and
eject himself onto the gravel driveway.

“Do me a favor,” she said softly,
seriously. “I know this is a big change for us but you also know how much we
need this. How much
I
need this. No matter what you’re feeling about
this house or this move now that we’re actually here, I would really appreciate
it if you could just keep the commotion down to a minimum.  Would you do that
for me, please?”

Alec’s comic disposition faded as
he listened to his mother. After a moment, he nodded. “Sure,” he said softly,
sounding a good deal like his father. “I wasn’t trying to be a jerk.”

She smiled at him. “You weren’t,”
she said.  “You were being your usual goofy, lively self, but today, I just
need a little peace. This is a really big day for all of us.”

He gave her a half-grin. “I
know,” he said, throwing open the door even though his gaze was still on her.
“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, bud.”

Alec bailed out of the Jeep,
stretching his long frame as he gazed up at the creepy monstrosity before him. The
day was mildly humid and he could smell the moist leaves and the bayou beyond.
It smelled like rot. He almost opened his mouth to point out the legions of
zombies that were undoubtedly waiting for them right inside the big, decaying
front door, but he kept his mouth shut. His mother had asked him to. 

With Alec settled, Elliot exited
the car, leaving her purse inside and locking it up just as the real estate
agent with the coif of teased blond hair climbed out of her white Mercedes. The
entire back window of the car had her name and phone number emblazoned across
it in a big, ostentatious font –
Louise Dawn Real Estate
.  Ms. Dawn
headed back towards them, her expensive high heels crunching against the old
rocky driveway.

“Well?” she said in her sweet
Louisiana accent. “What do you think of your new baby?”

Elliot gazed up at the structure
that was far bigger than she imagined it to be.  It had six massive columns on
the front of the house, once a brilliant white that were now a dark gray with
dirt and age. A porch encircled the house on the ground floor and then an
enormous balcony encircled the house on the second floor.  Instead of windows,
there were arch-shaped French doors, peeling and unkempt, but her overall
impression of the place was one of decaying magnificence. Still, it was
absolutely beautiful.

“It’s amazing,” she said
sincerely. “It looks just like the pictures.”

“I hope so,” Louise said, looking
up at the massive entablature and the disheveled roofline. “I took enough
pictures for you. How did you like the ones of the sunset over the bayou?”

“Beautiful,” Elliot replied as
she looked at the property surrounding the house and noticing what looked like
old glass bottles hanging in one of the trees. She pointed at it. “What’s
that?”

Louise followed the pointing
finger. “Oh, those,” she said, almost disinterested. “Those are spirit bottles.
They’re pretty common down here, stemming from superstitious slaves and beliefs
in Voodoo. The theory is that the noise that the bottles make when the wind
blows will keep the evil spirits away.”

Elliot thought it was all very
interesting but she was eager to get a look at her acquisition. “Oh,” she said,
turning to the house. “Shall we go on in?”

“Of course,” Louise giggled,
holding up the keys and jingling them.  They began to walk towards the enormous
front porch that wrapped all the way around the house.  “Now, if you remember,
this house was built in 1818 and is the oldest house in the town of Sorrento.
The same family has owned the house since it was built, but the matriarch died
about ten years ago and the house has been vacant ever since.  But even before
that, they sort of let it go, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the house
hasn’t been updated since the 1930’s.”

They had reached the front door
and Elliot watched the woman fumble with the enormous, box-shaped iron lock.
She peered more closely at it.

“That is the oldest lock I’ve
ever seen,” she commented.  “Is it original?”

Louise nodded, struggling to turn
the tumblers. “This is the original front door and the original lock,” she
said. “It’s two hundred years old.”

Elliot hissed. “Good Grief,” she
muttered. “I’ve never seen anything this old.”

The lock gave way and Louise
shoved at the door. “Prepare yourself,” she said as the door creaked and
groaned, opening wide like a yawning mouth.  It was dark and musty inside, the
bellows of dusty old breath sighing forth. “Everything in this house is old
like you can’t possibly imagine.”

Elliot took a step inside, the
oldness and mold of two centuries hitting her nostrils. Alec, pulling off his
sunglasses, pushed past his mother and on into the cavernous, derelict entry
hall that was long faded , now the color of dirty mint. 

There was an enormous door to his
left and one to his right, and then the hallway continued on into the dark
depths of the house and they could see the bottom of an enormous staircase back
in the shadows. Alec made a gun out of his right hand and began making firing
noises into the room immediately to his right.

BOOK: American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory
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