Chapter Seven: Bargains:
-December 31st, 1997-
Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
Melinda sat alone in Bar Gonzo. She didn’t want to go back to her room. Tobias’ words still echoed in her head.
“We don’t have to child,” he told her. “Our life is perfect without them.” That wasn’t the point. She wanted a kid. Melinda had everything else that she could want. A nice condo, money, power, respect, friends, and a loving husband.
Why couldn’t she have a child?
This became a strain on the marriage. Melinda always wanted to be a mom. She tried everything. Fertility treatments were no object for her. Melinda went to the doctor’s office to make sure that everything was okay. She even made sure that she would be the perfect candidate if she would have to turn to adoption. Everything had been set up just fine.
Melinda couldn’t figure it out. She had done everything right but still not pregnant. Tobias and Nathanial tried to be supportive.
“It will happen when it happens,” Nathanial told her. “Just trust in God.”
“We can adopt if it doesn’t work,” Tobias said. Two years later and nothing. Her father offered to pray with her. By the hundredth time, Melinda wanted to scream.
“It isn’t working!” she screamed around Christmas. Nathanial gave her a sympathetic look.
“These things take time, dear,” he said. Melinda sneered at him.
“I’m sick of hearing you say that!” she snapped.
“Melinda,” the old man said.
“Just stop,” the woman said. Melinda got up and grabbed her coat.
“Where are you going?” Nathanial asked.
“Out!” she shouted.
“Melinda!” her father shouted. She slammed the door behind her. Her husband just had to make it worse this evening. Now, Melinda just wanted to be alone.
She happened to look up when she heard noise further down the bar. A young woman stood on a small stage near the exit. She looked like a typical goth chick in the nineties. Her pigtails made her look so much younger. She held up a sheet of paper in her hands.
“Everyone!” this woman shouted. “Let’s play a game!” All eyes fell on her. Melinda rolled her eyes. Lame. Still, this girl drew people in with her words. Melinda was only half listening over her drink.
The goth woman tacked a large piece of paper on the wall. How was the bartender allowing this? He seemed disinterested. As was Melinda. Just a stupid bar game, she thought. The goth woman drew a big black circle on the paper. She began to add strange symbols in and outside of the circle. The pentagon was what caught Melinda’s attention.
“Wait, is that…?” she began to ask.
The goth woman stuck up her hand in the air.
“Papa Legba, Papa Legba are you here?” she asked. “Papa Legba, hear my cry! Papa Lega! Papa Legba!” More people joined in with the chant. The energy in the room felt like static. Suddenly, the temperature in the room started to drop. The goth woman threw back her head, laughing. Melinda covered her mouth.
Suddenly, the room went black.
Melinda looked around. She fumbled for her pager in her jeans pocket. The hairs on her arms stood up. The woman froze when she heard a low laughter behind her. Melinda couldn’t move even if she wanted to. Against her better judgement, the woman turned around.
His was face so ashen. The glowing red eyes made her feel so small. His black fancy suit and top hat couldn’t hide the terror surrounding him. Were those hands or hooves by his side? His silver teeth made her want to faint.
“Good evening, my dear,” the man purred. His voice was smoother than olive oil. Melinda couldn’t turn and run. The man chuckled to himself.
“I apologize, do I scare you?” he asked. She tried to speak but the energy of the room forced her mouth shut. The man took off his hat and bowed.
“Allow me to introduce myself,” he said. “My name is Papa Legba. What is it that you desire tonight?” Melinda quickly shook her head. Papa Legba raised his eyebrow.
“No?” he asked. She toughened her resolve.
“No,” the woman repeated. He gave her a curious look.
“You want nothing?” Papa Legba asked.
“No wealth? Power? Love?”
“I have all that stuff already.”
Papa Legba had a curious look on his face now. “Interesting.” Melinda looked like she was ready to run. How long had it been? She couldn’t see the exit anywhere. Papa Legba had his focused locked on her.
“You must have something you desire,” he said. “Now, what is it?” Melinda began to tremble.
“A… A… A…” she said.
“A?” he asked. Melinda gulped as she felt herself shrinking.
“A baby!” she shouted. He gave her a perplexed look.
“A baby?” he asked.
“Yes!” Melinda yelped. Papa Legba had a curious look on his face.
“Is that it?” he asked.
“Yes!” she said again. Her body itched to run away. Papa Legba took a moment to think about it. Melinda gulped as she looked around for the exit one last time.
“Very well,” he said. Melinda up at him confused.
“Huh?” she asked. He smiled, showing off his silver teeth.
“And with that, the final wish is complete,” he said.
“What? But I didn’t make a wish!” she said. Papa Legba bowed and tipped his hat.
“Good night,” he said. “And Happy New Year.” He vanished into thin air. Melinda looked around as the life in the bar returned to normal. Only, things were much quieter. The patrons stood around chatting to each other in confusion. The goth woman smiled to herself as she took down the paper. Melinda trembled as she swallowed down her sick.
Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven… Six… Five… Four… Three…
Happy New Year!
Months later, Melinda became pregnant. Then on April eleventh, Iris Nicole Marie Carter was born.
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