Voodoo Love

By on Oct 1, 2012 in Fiction

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Shrine with woman's photo, magnet, coconut-shell candle and sheep's head

“You put the sheep’s head next to the lamp. The eyes should be looking toward a picture of you. In the picture, you should look the way you want Kip to see you,” Maman instructs. I am perplexed.

“I will be at work; I can’t set up a charm lamp at my desk. It’s too weird.”

Maman smiles. “Set up your lamp in your home. Find a private place to make your shrine. Keep the sheep’s head in a cooler filled with ice for obvious reasons.” Maman giggles in amusement as Legba spirals through her fingers.

“Where do I get a sheep’s head?” I am in a state of panic and ready to back out of my pact with Legba and Erzulie.

“Marie, you are Italian-American, aren’t you?” I nod my head.

“It’s called capozel. It has the brain, eyes, and tongue intact. You can buy it at an Italian pork store. Make your lamp; think about what you want and why you want it; there are no accidents. Celeste will show you out; I will take a nap.” Maman touches my hand, then reclines on her bed, with Legba.

“I hope my granny didn’t freak you out too much, Marie. She usually gets good results.” “Leave your donation anywhere on her altar.” I place a fifty-dollar bill under a candle, anxious to get into my car and go home to my mother.

* * *

Monday morning the office is buzzing about the layoffs. Celeste drops by my desk to tell me Maman has ordered a sheep’s head, from an Italian pork store called Mr. Sausage. We will pick it up after work, drive to my house, and construct the charm lamp.

At six o’clock, we meet at Mr. Sausage. Mario, the butcher, shows us the capozel. The head is partially cloven; there are two glassy eyes; the raw skin is pink and icy, resting on pristine wax paper. Celeste flirts with Mario, whom she seems to have met before. I pretend to be engrossed with the roasted peppers, cheeses, and coils of sausages. Celeste leans over the counter near the cash register, dropping her pillowing breasts on the wooden surface as though she were presenting Mario with twin veal roasts. Mario seems smitten.

“You know, we don’t get many requests for capozel, Celeste; most people don’t even know what it is. My grandmother used to cook it for my grandfather. She would rub it with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herbs. My grandpa ate the whole damn thing. He liked the meat inside the cheek the best. When I was a kid, he dared me to try it; I bit into a mouthful of the brains. Even now, when I think about it, I want to puke. It was gamy — the consistency was like peanut butter.”

“Oh, my granny has her own special recipe for this baby,” says Celeste, a fetching smile on her lips.

Mario’s eyes light up. “You know what they call organized crime bosses?” Mario looks in my direction, acknowledging me for the first time. “Capos; you know, heads!”

“Oh, Mario, you are too clever;” coos Celeste.

“Anything else, girls?” Mario asks, looking only at Celeste.

“What do you think, Marie, should we buy dinner?” Celeste takes out the twenty-dollar bill I gave her for the capozel.

“Sure,” I say. She orders a sausage, pepper, and onion hero. I get a Caesar salad. Mario makes Celeste’s sandwich on a large loaf of Italian bread. As we leave the store, I see Mario ogle Celeste’s ample behind poured into tight jeans; she looks over her shoulder and blows him a kiss.

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Michele A. Hromada is a special education teacher and educational evaluator. Her hobbies include reading, traveling and listening to classic rock and jazz music. Short fiction is something she loves and has been working on throughout her life. She lives on the Lloyd Neck peninsula on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband, son and her Jack Russell terrier. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Forge and Sanskrit. She is a regular contributor to Lloyd Harbor Life, writing restaurant reviews and general interest articles.

One Comment

  1. I love your story. I will pass it on to friends. I’ve always
    been intrigued by Voodoo, from afar, very afar…and I got several laughs…always a good thing. Plus, I’m terrified of snakes, and it took me many false starts to find a great guy in an orange convertible. Keep up the good work.