“You want to do what?” one Lee
Benjamin Crane asked as he and his best friend, one Charles Morton, alias
Chip, were walking down the crowded streets of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Lee knew of his friend's quirks and hobbies, but this caught him
completely off guard. He darted around a couple and their three children
as he tried to keep up with Chip.
“I said I want to see Marie
Laveau’s tomb,” Chip was saying. Lee, until now, hadn't noticed they
were heading in the direction of the famed cemetery.
“And why are why marching to
visit the tomb of a dead voodoo queen?”
Lee asked, finally catching up to Morton and walking along side his
“Legend says if you mark the tomb
with three “x”’s, and ask a question, she'll grant you one wish.”
Lee was seriously regretting his
decision to go along with Chip's vacation plans. What had started out as a
simple couple of days to take in New Orleans and Mardi Gras was now
turning into a field trip to New Orleans St. Louis Cemetery #1, to scratch
some itch Morton had up his six.
“Can we talk about this?” Crane
asked, knowing that Chip had a full head of steam now, and nothing short
of an explosion would stop him now.
“I’m curious. What’s going to
happen? Nothing? I’m crazy not to come down here and try. Who know maybe
we’ll learn something.” Chip was saying as he weaved and ducked round
pockets of tourists and party goers.
Before Lee knew what was happening,
the two of them were standing before the white stone mausoleum reported to
be the final resting place of the legendary voodoo priestess.
From the pocket of his denim jacket, Chip pulled a large rock and
quickly etched three “X”’s into the stone, mixing in with the
hundreds of other on the walls.
“Now what?” Lee asked, skeptically.
Hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo, all this stuff sounded like so much nonsense
to him. There was no such things as ghosts. Chip was crazy for dragging
them down here.
“We wait. We don’t leave till
tomorrow night. Plenty of time to see if the legend is true.”
“What was your wish?” Crane
finally asked, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall of the
mausoleum. He let his hazel
green kissed eyes roam over the marble and concrete tombs of the cemetery
and suppressed a shudder. He
was twenty-three years old, too young to be thinking about death.
Chip ran a hand through his white
blond hair and with the fingers of his other hand traced the surface of
the rock he had picked up out of the gutter a while back.
“After knowing me all these
years, you have to ask that?”
Lee rolled his eyes. “I don’t
have to ask. I want to hear you say it.”
“Come on Lee, don't you ever
wonder where you're going to end up? We're busting our sixes in class, I'm
just one grade point behind you, and what's this going to get us? I would
like to know.”
“Of course I wonder, but that
doesn't mean I'm skulking around in grave yards vandalizing mausoleums. .
.what the hell . . .” That last came out a strangled whisper, Lee's gaze
drew up from Chip to a figure stepping around the corner from the closest
rows of tombs. Lee could not stop staring as he moved to stand closer to
The woman was dressed all in white.
Long white skirts, white petticoats, the tips of white satin shoes peeked
out from the ruffles. Long sleeved blouse with a boat neck bodice. Rows of
brightly colored wooden beads were strung around her long slender neck.
Her head was wrapped in a white turban. Her skin was like creamed coffee,
her eyes almost black. She was tall and there was a sense of power about
her that made Lee take two steps back, colliding with Morton, who seemed
“You have a question?” a rich
cultured voice asked.
“How did you know that?” Chip
asked, not sure if his voice carried loud enough to hear.
“You marked the tomb of the
Madame Laveau. Most who come and mark the tomb have a question. It's been
a long time since a man of the sea has sought my advice. Ask your
question, sailor. Perhaps I can answer you. ”
“Who are you?” Chip asked
laying a hand on Lee's shoulder. This was certainly more than he bargained
The woman regarded the young blond
man for a long moment. Time seemed to stand still before the elegant black
“Names are not important. You
don't know me,” she turned her head sideways, smiling slightly as she
gazed with amused dark eyes at the two young men. “Would you like to get
to know me?”
“How do you know us?” Lee asked
trying to gather his wits about him, trying to come up with a logical
explanation for all this. How did she know they were Navy?
“I know a great many things. Ask
your question. You came a long way for answers.”
Chip took a long breath, and forced
out the question in a rush of air.
“What's going to happen to us
“You are destined for much. I
will tell you what I see. Give me your hand, dark one.”
Long elegant fingers, slender and
smooth, pulled Lee towards her, and she grasped his right in
hers, palm up. She traced the lines of his palm with the tips her
her fingernails, lingering on the long life line that ran across the
center of his hand.
“There is man. Eyes like
sapphires, hair like the setting sun and four stars to his name. Fiery
temper he has, not one to suffer fools. A father figure he is, his first
born an elegant gray lady, a true queen of the sea. In fire and blood, she
will lose the first man chosen for her.” She turned her gaze to Morton,
her dark eyes narrowing in concentration.
“You and he, are light and dark.
Two halves, joined on this plane. You will be the bridge, the link between
this one and the other, an man with an old name of power. Together you
will be a triumvirate of men. The power of three, trust, devotion and
duty. Your lives are intertwined.”
She looked up a Chip, who stood with a protective hand on Crane's
shoulder. Her ebony eyes locked on Chip's glacier blue eyes and the young
man felt a chill that started at his toes and ran up his spine.
“Old souls, you are, having passed
through the ages together,” she said, her eyes now taking on a far away
look, as if she were looking beyond into something only she could see.
“Old souls? We’ve known each
other from another life?” Lee asked, not sure he was even having this
conversation. It was too weird.
“Long long times back, you have
been brothers, and now you are brothers of the soul. You must support each
other when the time comes. And the time will come.” Her eyes bored into
Lee's, and Crane felt something deep inside of him reach back. It was
unnerving and he pulled his hand out of her grip.
“You will both court death. Death
will call to you both like a lover, but your time in this life is long.
She will not claim you. The dead watch and wait. Some for good, some for
ill. Beware, Lee Crane. The dead are watching you, waiting to make you one
of them, or maybe just to walk among the living once again. So long as your brother and your father stand by you, death
will not have you.”
Lee couldn't stop the shiver that
ran up his spine. “My father's dead. How can he stand by me if he's
dead?” he whispered. He felt Chip tighten his grip on his shoulder.
A groups of giggling tourists made
Lee and Chip turn in that direction, distracted from the woman in white.
When they turned back, she was
gone, vanished as if she never existed.
“Lee, lets get the hell out of
here,” Chip said in a low, rough voice. Lee wasn't arguing.
Pacific Ocean-twelve years later.
The derelict hulk of the U-444
seemed to stare right at them through the observation windows. Lee Crane
was at a loss to explain it. A ghost ship? Come to life? Had the dead come
back for one last battle? What were they waiting for? Lee could sense the
Admiral's presence on his right, steadying, reminding Lee of his own
father. At the periscope, Chip stood and watched as if keeping eye on both
men at the plot table. Reassured by those two at his side and back, Lee
waited for what would happen next.
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