Henry was in his hut when he heard the drums playing. He went to the doorway and looked out. The whole village was heading in the direction of the drums. The rhythm was slow and tantalizing, and Henry felt his heart race up, this time he would know a little of what to expect. He walked past the bonfire in the middle of the village and followed the crowd into the jungle. The bonfire lit up the village, wood popped and cracked as wind captured the sparks tossed it into the night sky. Henry stumbled and almost fell, a little girl behind him giggled and Henry turned around and smiled at her, she giggled again and ran past him. He walked into the clearing and stood looking around. Two torches lit up the dark night.
Henry stood next to Ampah and looked around at the crowd, they were all wearing white, and their faces were a strange combination of excitement and calm as they waited for the service to begin. Adofo stood in front of a pole stuck in the ground.
“That’s Poto Mitam, its where all the spirits walk,” Ampah said, Henry was surprised that the boy spoke to him. Adofo wore a white shirt cut off at the sleeves, and white pants that were cut off at the knees. He had a chicken in his hand, the bird flapped around.
“Chango, spirit of destiny, guardian of the crossroads, protector of women, we come to you for protection. We beseech you; protect Akosua as she seeks the help of the Bokors. Give us strength and health to free our people from the Ligaroos, this fowl I sacrifice to you,” Adofo said then stopped talking and began to shake. The drummers began to play faster; Adofo danced faster holding the chicken above his head, he twisted his limbs into positions that Henry thought impossible for human beings.
Adofo stopped dancing and stood quiet for a moment. The drummers slowed down, Henry heard the bonfire in the village moan as the heat intensified. A dog howled in the jungle.
“Beware of someone among you he will betray you,” Adofo said his voice a deep, raspy growl.
“Beware for he has an alliance with the Ligaroos, he was born of their kind,” Adofo said and stopped talking and fell to the ground, his body twitched causing dirt to float into the air. Ampah went to him and helped him up.
“What was that?” Adofo said, stumbled then fell. Ampah helped him up; he staggered a little, looked at the crowd and ran out of the circle.
“Where are you going?’ Ampah shouted after him. Adofo raised his hand and stumbled away. The drummers were playing fast again. Several of the older children were dancing, their bodies twisting into macabre positions. Then one by one they spoke asking Chango for health and protection. Henry looked around at the villagers. They were all dancing and smiling, the sweat on their faces glistened in the light. Their shadows entangled on the ground as they danced. He looked over at the table off to the side. It was ladened with vegetables and meats of all kinds. His stomach rumbled, he wanted to eat, but knew that the food was prepared for Chango. He felt a little out of place so he walked over to a mango tree and sat against its trunk. The stars above twinkled, the bonfire hissed, the sound of the villagers singing and the drummers playing resonated in his head, slowly lulled him to sleep.
Akosua and her companions had just finished eating and had continued on their journey. A flock of red robins swopped down and flew around them. Kwao swatted at them, and they hovered over him, as if taunting him. His green eyes were alight with annoyance. Akosua touched his shoulder,
“Respect all life,” she said as the birds chirped and flew around just above their heads. They kept walking until they came upon an orchard of Midecinier_Bebi trees. They stopped and surveyed the orchard. It was unusual to see so many of these trees in one spot. Akosua closed her eyes as a mild breeze swept through the trees, and the leaves rustled gently. Kwao closed his eyes enjoying the welcomed cool down.
A small man walked out of the trees. He had a Macoute sack that smelled like palm oil and corn. There was a small pipe hanging from his mouth, smoke twirled out of it as he puffed contentedly. His arms were covered with sores that disappeared under the sleeves of his rose red shirt. His black pants were cut just under his knees, and his bare feet were caked with mud. He stopped in front of Akosua and tipped his broad straw hat. Kwao open his eyes, lifted his spear, and was about to throw it at the man.
“No don’t, its Pa Pa Legba, guardian of the crossroads between life and death.” Akosua said and stepped in front of Kwao. Pa Pa Legba laughed and shuffled his feet in the dirt. A dog walked up behind him and sat next to his feet.
“Easy young man,” Pa Pa Legba said jovially. Akosua took a step towards Pa Pa Legba. Kwao grabbed her arm and she looked at him crossed eyed.
“Its ok, he has a message for us.” She said, Pa Pa Legba spun around doing a strange dance.
“Smart girl, smart Obeah Woman,” He said. Kwao lowered his spear. Pa Pa Legba sucked on his pipe, smoke escaped with each word he uttered.
“Beware of the Bokors, they practice in black magic. They Evoke Baron Samedi, the spirit of death. They will use him to get their vengeance. The Ligaroo King and his followers have also formed an alliance with Baron Samedi and his evil spirits, and now they are using one among you to sabotage your quest to get your loved ones back. Watch out for him, he will hide in the shadows, he will pretend to be your friend. Remember most Ligaroos are born into the tribe he is. But you should have faith, we the good spirits will always be with you.” He said then laughed, and the birds chirped, and monkeys barked an acappella that echoed among the trees. Pa Pa Legba sniffed at his Macute sack.
“Time to eat, “he said then turned and danced into the cluster of Medicinier_Bebi trees. Akosua stood motionless, the breeze subsided, and the leaves on the trees became still. Kwao touched Akosua’s shoulder.
“Lets go we need to get to the Bokor’s village as soon as we can.” Akosua said and started walking. Kwao pushed ahead of her as if he was her protector. Pa Pa Legba’s voice resonated through the jungle.
“Walk the straight and narrow, you will always find me at the crossroads. I will be waiting,” He said his voice slowly disappearing with the wind.