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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Haunting of the Red River House Ball, pt.1

My Halloween story, Part 1 that was on Tami Brothers' Live,Love, Write!  --
The Haunting of the Red River House Ball


"What do you MEAN he's got scaffolding set up over the dining room table?" Mignon stomped on the gas and hurtled us forward. One moment my boss, Mignon LeBoeuf, owner and head designer of Inside Out Interiors was a sweet, savvy, southern diva with more bling than one of her overpriced chandeliers.

The next - a screeching banshee with a lead Laboutin peeling off Canal and onto St.Charles 
on two wheels of an overloaded Escalade. What we, "Mignon's Minions," liked to refer to behind her back as "The Missile." 

Too bad it was in my job description to only ride - never drive. Leaves the design intern free to divebomb herself to protect the priceless antiques and collectibles and liquor in the back. 
"That ball is tomorrow night! Red River House is THE cover story for Halloween Orleans, and you're telling me that old fart who fancies himself an artist is going ROGUE on me?" 

I sink down in the passenger seat and absorb her glare. Just add it to the long list of malfunctions that happen when restoring a haunted house. Excuse me - an historical landmark reputed to be haunted. 
 Bat infestation? Guano covered walls? Charley's fault. 
Spontaneous bursting pipes? Gas leaks? Exploding toilets? Charley should've had that covered. 

Electrical fire causing firemen to peel open the roof and hose down a priceless 16th century Oriental ? My bad.

So I guess all fingers point to me for tracking down the 'old fart who fancies himself an artist' at St. Roch's Cemetery – but it was Mignon's big idea: "Let's get a painting of an actual, real life jazz funeral procession on the walls! With a body on a horse drawn hearse and the leader with the parasol and gloves and top hat ... everything!"
I winced. Besides being tasteless and crass, it was nearly impossible to find someone who had the knowledge, not to mention the skill.  Paint an authentic period piece in mural form on plaster walls in a haunted house in one week? 

Oh, but Mr. Joachim knew all about funerals - New Orleans' jazz, Catholic, Voodoo, ... even Jewish! He rattled off information about the Cities of the Dead until my skin crawled. Well, the plaster hands and feet and old leg braces hanging off the relics room walls, and St. Lucy holding her eyeballs on a plate – those all helped enhance the creepy factor.
“You know, some say voodoo used to be practiced right ‘chere.” He pointed to the floor where we stood, paved with bricks stamped with one word: ‘thanks’. 

And pennies.
Shiny copper pennies winked up at me from the brick floor.

I didn’t care about what he knew or what some said. Like my grandmere said, "Best to not know some things. Best to leave some of that stuff a lone." 
I offered him the job, and then I hoped he wouldn’t show up. That he’d be too frail to take on such an impossible task.
Not only did he show up – he stayed and made himself at home.  

"Charley! The Chulilly chandelier - Grab it!" Mignon barks before taking a hard right into Audubon Place. 
I scramble to the back and see the blue lights of shame hot on our tail. Screw the chandelier – I’m saving the Bollinger.
"Charley! The Chulilly chandelier - Grab it!" Mignon barks before taking a hard right into Audubon Place

I scramble to the back and see the blue lights of shame hot on our tail. Screw the chandelier – I’m saving the Bollinger.

"Mignon, you have to stop," I crawl back to my seat and secure the bottles in a safe place - between my legs. Perhaps it's been a little too safe lately.   

"I intend to – we’re almost there." Mignon continued to rant. “Travis - please tell me the table and chairs are draped -  Puh-Leeze!"

“No, Mignon – Now!” I try to sound urgent. “You’re the one the NOPD is trying to pull over.”
She just snorts and pulls her drama- diva move, raising her hand to her forehead and shutting her eyes, throwing her head back.

The SUV’s alignment pulled left.
 I panicked.
Leaning over I correct us back to the right. A little too far right. We jump a curb and snag the banner and its metal stand that announces the date and time of the Masque’d Ball. Sparks fly ; the evil looking mask  on the banner grins luridly at me through the window.
I push left, well and truly panicked now. 
The Missile takes out the Showcase Home Expo Ticket Tent.

"Give it to me!" Mignon finally grips the wheel, pulling us up to the door of Red River House.
Two police cars and three private security cars promptly surround us.  
Totally ignoring the policeman’s ‘Stay where you are!’ demand, Mignon alights and stalks through the double cypress and leaded glass doors.


Copyright2011©Pamela V. Mason, all rights reserved

copyright Dawn Carl all rights reserved

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