Earlier in the day, Katt Hall’s battered BMW had swung into the circular drive before the great house on the Hall plantation. It was imposing still, this mansion, just as she had remembered it, a massive remnant of the antebellum South, with stately white Greek Revival columns and shaded porticos. It backed up on once rich cotton fields, which spread as far as the eye could see. Now, they lay fallow.
Katt and Spud had eaten plenty of road dust on their hurried exit from the high deserts of New Mexico. They’d been careful to take their daily regimen of tea brewed from the herbs the old Indian shaman had given them, herbs that would lift the apparent “curse” of the coyote, a curse that turned them into lusting sexual savages. Yes, they had beat it out of there fast and sought refuge in a place more familiar to Katt Hall -- her old childhood home. No more high desert madness for these two -- it would be the rich, deep earth of the South this time. Or so they naively thought.
Yes, they found themselves in a different world, a world of mysterious bayous, of woods and winding country roads, of shanties on one side of town and large mansions with their expansive cotton fields on the other. Yes, they were back in the place that Katt Hall knew best -- the Deep South.
“Oh daddy, daddy, daddy, your little baby is home.” Katt threw her arms around Josephus, the gray-haired patriarch of the family, and hugged him with all her might. Even pushing eighty, Josephus’ cheeks had a fresh luster to them, and there was an eager sharpness in his eyes.
“Let me look at you, baby. Yes, you’ve grown into a fine specimen of a woman.” It had been twelve years since Katt had been home to see the family. Twelve years and one and a half marriages later. “Your mother should be down any minute. And now, let me see the man you’ve brought home to daddy for breeding purposes.”
“Where is this virile beast, the one you call Spud? Already rumors of his masculine prowess are feverishly making the rounds.”
“Ah know my little girl wouldn’t bring anyone into this house who was anything less than a powerhouse in the lust department. If I know you, and I surely believe I do, honey, this beau of yours is firing on all cylinders, and comes slickly oiled to boot.”
“Summon him here, honey.” “Spud, darling?”
Spud entered the room, somewhat diffident in the presence of Josephus, a man’s man. Or perhaps a man’s maniac, madness running somewhat rampant on every which side of the Hall family. This was indeed the great great grandson of another Josephus Hall, the one who had come to the New World and made his fortune in cotton. Yes, this
BAYOU KATT MURDERS7
thrice-removed Josephus was somewhat mad, but he did have this going for him -- lucre. Good old filthy lucre. Actually, riches handed down from the days when the fields were busy yielding cotton, and the gins were humming. Now he examined the man his little baby had brought home to him from some high desert wilderness and wondered if this fellow could measure up to the Hall standards. “You gonna make my baby fat with offspring?”
“Uh, well, at our age, well, you know --”
“Nice four-poster up there in the guest room. Oiled and adjusted for maximum leverage. The Hall women are legendary for their pelvic gyrations, isn’t that right, honey?”
“I normally sleep with my earplugs in, so you go right ahead and pile-drive your way to heaven. There isn’t a neighbor for miles.”
This guy sure doesn’t pull his punches, Spud thought. And he and Katt exchanged looks -- my God, was daddy expecting them to produce offspring? Was he nuts? They were pushing fifty, and pushing hard.
“Old age -- advancing age, that is -- has its privileges. And one such privilege is ever the hope of grandchildren. You’re going to provide those grandchildren, Spud -- you and this passionate girl of mine. First, you’re going to join me for a drink at the club. I love a man who drinks hard and loves hard, and I sense you’re that kind of a man.”
“Uh, daddy.” Katt took him aside, murmured in his ear, reminding him that Spud had a slight drinking problem, slight being a euphemism for the fact that he liked to get really, really loaded. Indeed, alcoholic might be a more appropriate term.
“Nonsense,” daddy said. “We’ll hit the club later. I like my stuff hard and straight. Hard and straight, my boy, get it? That’s what gets a man across the finish line.”
Spud got it all right. His beloved Katt had a wild side, and it was getting clearer and clearer where that came from. He was still trying to get his bearings in this new and different place when Katt’s mother, Adelaide, entered the room.
“Oh Katt, baby.” There were hugs and messy kisses and tears. “Your mama has worried herself sick about you.”
Like hell, Katt thought. You’d like to kick my teeth out, given half the chance. Always battling for Josephus’ attention. And it was always the younger sister that mama had given the most love and attention to.
“But then, you always liked to torment your mama. Now who in the world is this bear of a man?”
“You know who, mama. This is Spud, my second husband.” “Welcome to Baton Rouge, Spud. Welcome to the Hall family.”
Not quite so welcome, however, back in the present, were the police standing at the door to the Stephens residence, where they were about to become the bearer of bad news to poor Curtis Stephens’ poor, hapless wife.