October 31, 2011

Bawon Samedi's Halloween

I know you won't believe me when I tell you this. But you should. Your life depends on it.

Last Halloween Bawon Samedi, who can take any shape he desires, left the tent cities in Haiti, was detained in Krome, and then, moved into our neighborhood. When we heard he was looking for a partner, everyone was scared except my mother.

"He's just one of God's children," she said. "Like you and me."

But I didn't believe her. I've never had any faith in the stories she told me about why she left my father in Jamaica and took me with her. I don't think she knew how much it hurt me when the other boys teased me: "Where's your father?" they would say as they laughed. "Look, I just saw him coming out of a window and running down the road."

Yet, I remained devoted to my mother. She has been the only woman in my life. Even in her seventies, she was still a good-looking woman. So when Bawon Samedi came to court her, I made sure I bought new locks for the front door.

When I told her I wanted to install a security system, she said, "It's good that you're protecting me now and you can take care of yourself."

I called Brinks Security and a salesman with a funny hat came to my house. "Trust me," he said. "State of the art. No one will ever harm you or your mother with this system. And you won't have to pay anything up front. I can set you up on our credit system."

I refused to bow to the temptation. I paid the full cost and we slept soundly every night.

But little did I know, my mother was betraying me.

Late at night—the neighbors just told me this—she would disarm the system, unlock the door, and invite Bawon Samedi into her bedroom. Or on some nights, they would steal away into the backyard, sit in the swing under our umbrella tree, and admire the moonlight.

That was how I found her when the paramedics came this morning. She was wearing a necklace he had given her and a wedding gown I thought she had donated to the Salvation Army. She clutched a handwritten note in her right hand:

"Don't be upset, my son. My darling says I've always looked pretty in white. So I searched and I searched until I found my old dress. This only goes to show, as I've always told you, 'Nothing is ever lost in God's vineyard'"

And for once, I believed that old woman. For once.

So, this Halloween I'm not taking any chances. For Bawon Samedi loves to entice the unwary. And especially those who don't believe in him. 

I'm leaving an offering of peanuts, a glass of rum with twenty-one Scotch bonnet peppers, and a Cuban cigar by my doorway.

How are you protecting yourself?


"Bawon Samedi and his Bride" by Christina Philp
© Christina Philp 2011

"Bawon Samedi's Halloween" by Geoffrey Philp

© Geoffrey Philp 2011

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