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Guilliot Thibodeau drove his rusty pickup down 47th Street. He would make a right onto North Causeway Blvd. He had to do this just so he could make the left onto 46th Street. Metairie was a pain in the ass. Every city was a pain in the ass. He had made his decision. He would bear with it. He made the left and looked for the address she gave him. She was standing right where she said she would be. She was lava in a cocktail dress- hot. The thought crossed his mind that this wasn’t right as the truck slowed to a stop. He didn’t have long to wonder. She walked right up and opened the door.
“You must be Guilliot, my prince charming for the night.”
“Ma'am, nice ta meets ya.”
“Do you want to head right to your place? It would be fine with me.”
“I would rather go through the motions if ’n you don’t mind. I brought you flowers.” He reached down onto the seat and came up with a grocery store bouquet. His Daddy said always bring flowers and that advice had never failed over the following fifty years of courting.
“They are beautiful. Thank you. You really didn’t have to do that.”
“Din’t have to. I wanted ta. That is what makes it sincere.”
“They are wonderful. You wanted to eat?”
Yes ma'am. I got reservations at Jaques-Imo’s on the uptown. Hope that suits ya.”
“Guilliot considering the circumstances you may have gone too far.”
“I judge that don’t I? This is my night. Let me live it well, right?”
“Sweet man, please feel free to live it to the fullest.”
They got to the restaurant and got inside with no problems. They made some conversation while eating, but nothing earth shattering. He had blackened redfish. It was excellent. He would pay for all that spice later. She had ordered shrimp and alligator cheesecake. He tried a bit and it seemed more like quiche to him. It was good but it was definitely quiche. They left with full bellies. Most of the forty minute ride towards Bayou Perot was in silence. When they turned left onto Jean Lafitte Blvd just as they were getting to the end of civilization, he broke the silence.
“You ain’t bother’d goin back in the swamps like this miss?”
“Not with you Guilliot. You have been nothing but a gentleman.”
“We don’t have ta do the other thing you know. I just needed the company. It had been too long.”
“I think I want to do the other thing. You are a nice man and bought me a nice dinner. You gave me flowers. You are probably more deserving of the other thing than anyone I have been with in a long time.”
They pulled down his backbeat road and arrived at his cabin. She hopped out of the truck, took her shoes in her hand and ran inside. He just made it through the front door when she attacked him. It was fun and silly, but primal as well. She kissed him like he had not been kissed in quite a while. Nature took its course. It had not done that for a very long time for Guilliot Thibodeau. Afterwards he fell asleep.
Guilliot rolled out of the queen size bed. He took great care not to disturb the woman next to him. She had more than done what she was supposed to do and deserved her sleep. He knew that she was just doing a job on her end. That didn’t matter because she did it with tact, dignity and compassion. They had met in Metairie because it was a place he was comfortable meeting someone. Adrienne had been gone a long time that didn’t change the fact she was on his mind. He had met her in Metairie. She would have approved of him fulfilling his urges. It is more likely she would have cursed him for a fool for waiting almost ten years. He had done it to see if he was still a man. It had satisfied a need, it truly did. The truth was he sensed that while it was fun it may have been unnecessary.
He stretched and began the trek to where the toilet was. There were only three rooms in this swamp shack. There was this bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen. That is all he had needed after Adrienne died. A bright flash caught his eye at the bottom of the closet door. He thought maybe he was just imagining it. It happened again as he questioned his sight. Guilliot shuffled over to the closet to see what was happening. He turned the knob. What was now on the other side was quite different though from the other thousands of times he opened that door. He had come to terms with having sex for money, but the strangeness of what was in his closet was too much to absorb. He was a rather plain man with plain beliefs. The door now lead to more than just a few sets of his hanging clothes. What was inside that arch was now unearthly. The closet now seemed to contain a vast warehouse. Visually it seemed miles long and miles wide. There were men of every color and size lined up rank and file surrounded by bubbles. They just sat there sleeping in these bubbles. There were thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands. Every minute or so a flash of light would happen and another joined the ranks. A new bubble would come through a lighted arch and take its place in the ranks. It seemed wrong and alien. He could not place what was disturbing about it other than its unfamiliarity. There was something else though. He just couldn’t put his finger on it. He was strangely calm seeing this though. He was a very pragmatic sort and would not be thrown off by something as minuscule as a rift in time and space. Almost everything in this world could be sorted out if you just applied a calm mind and a steady hand to it. The problem was he was sure this was not of this world.
He heard rustling behind him. He didn’t turn because he knew it was her waking. Whatever was going on was in motion and if she had a part in it so be it. If something was amiss she was young and he was old, if she was even human. Chances were his fate was set. She didn’t sound as if she was in a rush. The sound of the bedding made him think she lingered. This was more telling than anything else. She knew he wasn’t running. He probably could not fathom the biological advantages that allowed her to be laissez faire. He knew one thing for sure. Old Cajuns didn’t run they faced their fate. He stood looking into the closet because it was a miracle even if it spelled his end.
She was lingering in the sheets. It was evident. He let her stir. Most women would have stirred like that after such a night. He had no idea that he had such energy left. He had not experienced that kind of vitality for forty years. He knew she was awake. She knew he knew that. That made them about even by his count. He didn’t know what was coming but he wasn’t scared. The fellas in the warehouse didn’t look like they were in pain. A good sense of judgment he had developed over a long life made him believe they weren’t dead either. Whatever was coming he would take it. That was the way of the world. That was the way of other worlds too it seemed.
She finally got to the edge of the bed and rose up. He turned then to look at her over his shoulder. She was too lovely and too young to think he could have known her without paying. Maybe that is why she had him pay. It would have been suspicious if she offered herself to him in any other way. A used old Coonass fellow like him wasn’t lucky enough to stumble on someone that looked like her that was willing for free. It had been so long since Adrienne had past. The cancer took her badly. He did feel a little slighted that the first time he broke down something this bizarre happened. Well, “que sera, sera” he figured. It don’t signify none anyhow. He was just marking time till his final day lately anyhow.
She approached him from behind. Her hips swayed in a way that was almost audible. “Guilliot, it has been a pleasure, but you must have figured out by now at least some of what is going to happen.”
“I sure did. It ain’t no thing. Don’t fret for me. It don’t look dat horrible. Looks a sight better than dying in pain. I seen that and it ain’t pretty.”
She scooted behind him and kissed his shoulder. It seemed tender yet odd. He knew he wasn’t walking out of the cabin. He did appreciate the affection though. There was no hatred in her act, it was warm and embracing.
She brought her kisses up towards his head. He saw in her peripheral vision that her jaw unhinged. A film began to protrude from her jaw. It seemed as if she were blowing a bubble. It engulfed his head. The film moved down his body and expanded. His body got tranquil and invigorated as each segment was covered. He felt no pain. There was no fear. It felt quite similar to when he had his gall bladder out when he was a young man. It reminded him of the feeling of anesthesia before you lost consciousness. He did wonder what purpose this all served. If he had to go this was better than so many other ways. It wasn’t cancer like Adrienne or consumption like his father. It ultimately was kind of nice. It was certainly more interesting an end than most folks, no?
Once the bubble was done she was able to speak again. She was magnificent in her nudity. He could both see and hear her but yet he could almost asleep.
“Guilliot, my love, you will serve a greater purpose than you ever could conceive. The human race is genetically viable with my race. Our males fought each other to the brink of extinction. There are not enough of them to breed. Those that are left are crippled and are former warmongers. We have decided it is better to live on through mingling with the best of your race than to die out entirely. We have come here to find the most adjusted and actualized among you. You will help rebuild the greatest race in the cosmos. You will help build it to be better than it was. You are bigger than the sum of your individuality. You are now fuel for the reinvigoration and salvation of the universe.
He wasn’t sure about all that. He did know that this seemed a sight better than his Adrienne got wasting away with the cancer. All that pain and medicine just came to a bad end. He had no complaints. He wasn’t going to last much longer anyway. He might as well serve a purpose.
The girl came around the bubble. “You are older than we usually harvest. I know the character inside you. You will be a great addition to our cause. What you have inside you must be carried on. You serve a great purpose.”
He thought her words rang true. Ultimately it didn’t matter because his lot was cast. It was good to believe it though. She pushed him through the closet and he went through the portal. He took his place in the rank and file. He was another space in a row and a column. He did feel special though. He only wondered if the others knew how special they were. Well, it didn’t signify much. It is what it is. That is what his last thought was before he fell asleep.
Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
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