The following excerpts are from two separate parts of the books I am working on. The first one is the character Genevieve Duquesne. The second excerpt is her father Narcisse Duquesne. Enjoy!
PS…I didn’t feel like reformatting it for this blog sooooooooo yeah…there ya go LOVE YA! lol
By the time I was 16, I had become quite the young lady. Well at least my father thought I was. That was the only opinion that mattered. Granpè; who really had no hand in the young woman I had become, took great pride in it. He always saw fit to have my father make me dress up to help him entertain hie Acadian French friends. Most of the time, I obliged without much argument. This one particular afternoon, I really just wanted to be left alone with my incessant need to read everything I could get my hands on. Apparently this was not to be today.
The year was 1792 and start of the Autumn season. The air was nippy, but quite refreshing from the stifle heat of the day. Granpè had some visitors from up in the northern part of the Louisiana territory. Their families had been here since the beginning of the French Colonial migration. They were quite bourgeois and stiff. So unlike the Cajuns we have down here in the south, their ancestors.
“Genevieve, please try to at least look like you are enjoying yourself this afternoon, hmm.” My father asked as we walked hand-in-hand up to Chateau Duquesne.
“Yes Papa.” I replied totally resolved not to make a fool of him. We walked inside of the home to the sound of one boisterous voice coming from the living room.
“I will tell you Gentlemen.” I could hear my grandfather’s French in the tone he usually bragged in. “my Granddaughter is quite the African. Nothing like her I have ever seen. I will say that I was of course against the union, but when you see her…you will know why I relented. She is quite spectacular.”
My father and I stood just outside the living room waiting on Granpè to take a break. He went on about how my African grandmother was herself violated by the Portuguese and how his wonderful son Narcisse took pity on her and helped her raise her daughter. I was the product of their friendship then eventual union. He spoke about my painful family history like it was just an incidental occurrence that brought us together. I was stuck in my place frozen in anger. Seething with literal heat, I knew to be my body reacting to my anger.
Narcisse feeling the heat emanating from my body placed his hand on the small of my back and urged me forward. I could feel his breath as he bent down and whispered in my ear.
“Facile, ma chère. Rappelez-vous qui vous êtes, d’où vous venez.” He patted my back and kissed me on the top of my head. Urging me forward towards the living room where Granpè was entertaining.
“Ahhh and here she is!” He exclaimed as my father and I walked into the room. He looked to his three guests. “Is she not the most beautiful African you have ever seen?” Granpè said extending his arms out to me to give me a hug he wouldn’t normally give me under different circumstances. My father; with his hand still on my back, urged me forward to Granpè.
“gbà möra òun.”[i] Narcisse said speaking to me in Yoruba so the rest of the guests could not understand. I obeyed and walked reluctantly to my Grandfather. He embraced me and held me at arm’s length so he could look at my face
“And how are you today, Granddaughter?” He asks me as if he actually cared. I could feel my father’s eyes burning a hole in my back expecting me to do as I was told. I wanted to ask him why the hell he bothered to ask in the first place when we both knew he didn’t really care.
“I am well, Grandpapa. How are you?” I replied pouring on as much sugar as I could muster under the awkward circumstances. I decided not to read what he was thinking. I could imagine it would not be anything I needed to hear in order to maintain this façade I was putting on.
“You remember these gentlemen don’t you, Mon Cher.” I stiffened at his usage of my father’s term of endearment for me. I resisted the urge I had to hit him in his mouth.
“Yes sir.” I replied. “Good afternoon, Mister Laurent, Mister Chablis, Mister Poisson.” I said in French and bowing to each of them. Mister Poisson was sitting there looking like I just spit in his face instead of bow as he did every time he was here. He tolerated me because of Célestin. He found my Father’s slightly olive skin offensive to. He was apparently mixed with something just like his daughter. Not the Frenchman Célestin pretended he was. I could read every single one of his small bigoted thoughts. I wanted to show him how much of the savage he thought I was and slap fire out him.
So anyway, we sat down to lunch. It was good, it was soup and the best damn turkey club sandwiches Delphine could prepare. My grandfather sat at the head of his table speaking about me to his Bourgeois trio of the all-knowing French Wise Men. I sat there seething as he spoke about my existence like my father had raided the slave quarters for pleasure and came away with a little more than he expected. I was incensed. I was so happy that my darker skin hid my anger. I looked at Granpè’ Duquesne, blue eyes ablaze like my Papa’s when he’s in challenge mode. Under the table my foot began to tap. My father reached under and put his hand on my leg to calm it. After one last jab at my ancestry, my patience and temper were on the edge. Easy, Mon Cher. my father thought as he patted
“Narcisse?” Daddy’s head turned from me back to his father’s direction.
“Oui Papa?” Narcisse answered
“How do you say your slave mistress’ name?” my Grandfather asked completely disregarding the simple, yet obvious gold band Narcisse wore on his left hand resting on the table. I looked at my Father; feeling the heat stirring in his soul. But never did that heat register on his face. I’m certain my face didn’t hold the same calm façade. There was a hurricane brewing and its evidence was sure to be there.
“Adanna, Papa.” Narcisse answered respectfully. All French and stoic on the outside, seething underneath. I sat there wondering how the hell he pulled it off.
“Yes, I would’ve changed both of their names to make it something I could pronounce if it were me.” Célestin said turning to his guests. “Narcisse doesn’t see it that way.” He continued now looking to my Father. I wanted to throw my glass of wine across the table and hit him right in the middle of his head. Daddy squeezed my leg.
“I am able to say both of their names with no pronunciation issues, Father.” Narcisse answered keeping his respectful tone. He was usually so short with Célestin. It was driving me crazy that he was actually trying to let this old bastard save face in front of his friends.
“This has proved to be useful mind you. He communicates my wishes well to the slaves. I have no concern about them revolting.” They are loyal to my Papa not you! I screamed in my mind. Daddy squeezed my leg again. I looked down at the table next to my grandfather, and Mister Poisson was looking at me with cynical eyes. She looks like any other diluted blood Creole out here. Probably uses that tongue that murders the French language. He thought without looking away from me. It sounded like it came from his mouth. I met his glare waiting for him to actually say what he thought out loud. He never did.
“Knowing their native tongue has proven to be very useful. My Father’s observation is correct.” Daddy said without an inkling of a smile across his beautiful face. I smiled to as pictures of his family rolled through his mind. Both of my Grandmother’s faces, then Mama’s, Charlotte’s, then mine as a toddler grabbing his face with my chubby olive hands planting a big wet kiss right on his lips. He hugged me close and inhaled my baby scent. Complete Joy. He thought.
“Geneviève understands that I speak only the language of my homeland and ancestors, and she appeases me in this.” Célestin said snatching me out of my father’s memory. I suddenly wished I had the ability to make him spontaneously combust. And his little bourgeois friend too.
“My son has affection for the African; I have never been able to comprehend his need for mixing.” Célestin said with harshness in his tone that drove me over the edge of the angry cliff. Venom on the tip of my tongue lacing every word that I spoke next.
I spoke in their Acadian French. “Grandfather, why is it not possible for you to believe your French, Indian and Spaniard bred son could not love my Portuguese and African mother? Is it beyond the scope of your narrow imagination to understand that they are more alike than he or any other woman could ever be? They are both of multiple ancestries whose mother’s virtue was taken by some Foreigner in their land, claiming it like they were not there first. Something not of their own choosing. Something your Puritan French mind could never comprehend, I suppose.” My father’s eyes shot over to me. Mon Cher, please! His eyes and thoughts pleaded.
“Child, you are being disrespectful.” Célestin said pointing his fork at me. I gritted my teeth against my rage. It was boiling over now. For 16 years, I had heard my mother being referred to as ‘That African’ ‘Slave Mistress’ and all these other things that she was simply not to my father. But yet, he thought that I was good enough to be paraded in front of his bourgeois friends because my eyes were blue. I’m well read and educated because my Father has taught me. Never hiding anything from me. Making sure that I know the truth about the way things are. He could not spare me these truths. It was not in his nature. He made sure that I knew he loved me more than anyone in this world and never to worry about his loyalty to me ever wavering because somebody found my skin tone offensive.
I had challenged Granpè Duquesne in front of his Bourgeois friends about his son’s love for my mother. His son’s House Slave he felt the need to marry after he gave her a baby. This was apparently how he felt. I only reminded him of the opinion he openly expressed. I was full up with the disrespect.
Not speaking above a quiet normal conversational tone. I continued.
“Grandfather, would you have more respect for my existence had I been lighter hued than I am. I imagine it would be a lot easier for you to introduce me as your Granddaughter. I’m so sorry if my Nigerian bloodline offends you.” I bowed my head slightly in a mock show of respect.
“You ungrateful little devil spawn.” Célestin spewed back at me. “How dare you speak to me that way after all I’ve given you. You have your freedom because of me.” My father’s eyes bulged and his head snapped to glare at his father. Both of us sat there glaring at him; our eyes hot like a blue flame. I decided I would say what he was thinking.
“You have not given me a thing but your contempt and resentment. My Father is who I owe my life to. If my father was not on that boat, you would’ve thrown my Grandmother in the Atlantic.” Daddy rubbed my leg to soothe it as hot tears welled up in my eyes. I was not sad, by any means; I was enraged. When I breathed it felt like a hot fire was burning through my chest. Daddy’s attempts at soothing were not working. I heard him think, OW, as he jerked his hand away from my leg. His eyes turned to me with a look of confusion and fear. Calm down, your skin is hot. I do not know what this means, Genevieve. He pleaded with me in his thoughts but his face remained a sea of calm. He was clearly in panic mode.
“You do not ever embrace me! This was the first time today you have hugged me since I was a little girl. Why is this Grandpapa?” I said making sure I said that last word with complete and unmistakable sarcasm. “Am I too African for you to embrace daily as you did today in front of your friends. As if you were the greatest Grandfather on earth. You treat people who are not your blood better than me. Your blood runs through me as much as my mother’s and my Granns Adelia and Afeni!”
“Geneviève…” my father half whispered with noticeable exasperation in his tone. I grimaced as I looked at him. I felt my resolve start to waiver again as I could not continue to fight when my father looked so…anguished. I backed down from the fight I felt Granpè had started with his flippant remarks about my Parentage to the Bourgeois.
Mister Laurent had a napkin to his face quite entertained with the little Creole girl and her fierceness. He thought; there are not many adults that are a match for this one. Oh how lovely she is. I want a Granddaughter just like her. I need to get Henri to see the benefits of African mixing. SHE IS EXTRAORDINARY! That passion. She loves and worships her father. What a good daughter! He was not fooled by my Grandfather either. And it amused him more than he would like to admit to see this beautiful little African Princess set Célestin Duquesne straight about a few things. His thoughts encouraging me to keep fighting.
“What an ungrateful daughter you have raised, Narcisse.” My Grandfather said to my Father with disgust in his voice. His insult riled me right back up. My father sat silently next to me stifling his fury. His anger at his father’s last statement was as volcanic as mine. I could feel it. I should just let her loose; he thought to himself. I didn’t wait for his permission. He knows his daughter; he knew he couldn’t do anything short of dragging me out of there by my hair. And he refused to hurt me. So he remained patiently silent as I continued my rant that I’ve held onto for the last 16 years. A rant he would’ve loved to go on, but he remained silent to protect the peace. I could give a damn about some peace! Célestin Duquesne has not given me peace since the day I was born. I was tired of walking around on eggshells and keep up this façade of him as the doting grandfather. He’s constantly insulting, degrading. He treats me like a step-child and not a Granddaughter. I wanted to spit in his face.
“UNGRATEFUL!” I repeated loudly. I didn’t look at my Father anymore. I knew if I did, I would not be able to continue. “Well thank you Grandfather. Thank you for taking my Grann Afeni from her home where she was to marry a prominent Yoruba chief. Had you not done that, we would not be having this delightful lunch conversation.” I said waving my hand around the table. Mister Laurent still had the napkin up to his face; eyes bulging in pure excitement. Extraordinary! He repeated over and over in his thoughts. “I suppose I should also thank you for not throwing her and her fetus into the Atlantic Ocean. I owe my whole existence to your kindness that day.”
“Indeed you do….” He started, I interrupted
“I was being facetious, Grandfather. I don’t owe you anything. My African brothers and sisters don’t owe you anything. Should we bow down and thank the French for stealing us -my people – from our homeland where we were Heads of State, Tribal Chiefs, Kings and Queens coming here and being reduced to animals and savages to help you build your fortune!” I heard Narcisse breath deep. I didn’t relent. I was incensed with fury. I could feel my blood boiling and my head about to explode. I struggled to keep my voice calm as I spoke again. “Tell me Grandfather, how much of that land out there have you toiled over sweating under the hot Louisiana sun! Hmm!” He searched for more words not finding any. “Go ahead, Grandfather. Think of a time, I will wait.”
“Célestin, are you going to continue to let this ungrateful little African speak to you this way in your own home?” Mister Poisson blurted out. Sticking his nose into family business. I wanted to tell him to shut the hell up. He was glaring at my Grandfather incredulously. “This is what you create when you mix with Africans. Little ungrateful children who don’t know how lucky they are to not be Slaves too.” His eyes surveyed me with disgust then looked to my Father. “And the Frenchman who decides to mix and marry an African is not any better.” I wanted to turn the table over at this point.
“Mister Poisson, I am French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian and African. If you are going to insult my heritage, try to use all my ancestries, Hmm.” I said politely in the sweetest French voice I could create. He sucked up his next words in a gasp. “And this is my Great Grandfather Alastair Duquesne’s home, which is willed to my Father! You do remember my Great Grandfather Alastair, don’t you Mister Poisson. He was quite fond of the Africans too.”
“Genevieve…” my father drawled out again in complete exasperation. He wasn’t angry with me, so I figured it was safe for me to keep going.
“Well I never…” said Mister Poisson holding a hand to his chest.
“Probably not, Mister Poisson; but Grandfather Célestin most definitely has.” I spat at the snooty Frenchman. His companions sat across the table from him with large curious eyes. Mister Laurent was rejoicing in his mind. Mister Chablis shocked into thoughtlessness. I turned my gaze away from Mister Poisson back to my Grandfather. “Tell me Grandfather, do you know exactly how many African Uncles and Aunts I could possibly have? What about Spanish? I’m certain my beautiful Grandmother was not the only one you have laid your seed in. Daddy was the only one you decided to acknowledge. I guess I should thank you for that. I have the most wonderful father in the world.” I said looking at my father and my expression softening.
I turned back to Célestin’s bloated pink French face; next to him, Mister Poisson had an identical color. “Although I’m certain Grann Adelia had more to do with that. Wouldn’t you agree, Father?” I asked. Daddy snapped his head around looking at me with what I though was amusement. I could be mistaken, semi-blinded by rage; but I believe my father was smiling a little. I pushed that out of my mind quickly and turned back to my grandfather.
“And how many tribes of Indian have you been through, Hmm Grandfather? The curiosity of it all is utterly unbearable. I cannot tell you how it irritates me.” Daddy buried his face in his large palm hunched in his chair like a man defeated. He gave into his amusement and his body shook with a silent chuckle. He had given up on restraint.
I heard a chuckle to my rear and realized that it was Delphine standing in the kitchen listening to everything. I heard her whisper “You tell em babygirl. Don’t you let them French make you feel less than!”
“Father, I apologize for my outburst, but I will not continue to sit at this table and listen to your father talk about me like I am not here.” I waited for his fury of French to scold me; he did not look at me keeping his head low to hide his laughter.
I turned to Granpè with a polite smile on my face and a deceptive gleam in my eyes. It delighted me to see Granpè Duquesne’s face turn so pink with rage. He was still trying to find the right words to reply to my statements; watching me in disbelief with a mixture of contempt and awe in his expression. His gaze turned to Mister Poisson whose face was still equally pink.
“Careful, don’t choke on that pride.” I said to both of them with a genuinely triumphant smile on my face.
Instead of saying anything further, I rose and excused myself from his table. Bowed to his Bourgeois ass friends and walked out of his house across the expansive yard towards my father’s home. Smiling the whole way thinking about his pale face turning purple before my eyes. He looked like a blueberry. My sharp hearing could pick him up shouting in French at my father about my lack of respect for him and his home, how I act as if I could possibly be superior to him…and a bunch of other nonsense I had come to expect from Granpè Duquesne. My smile morphed into a laugh of satisfaction as I broke into a full out supernatural run towards the small house while the material of my formal dress and petticoat billowed out around me.
[i]Translation: (Yoruba) Embrace Him
Back in the present, there is a knock on my door. I know that it’s Athena by its rhythmic beat. I smile.
“Come in Athena, I’m decent.” She walked in reciting some Hip Hop lyrics to a song on her iPod straightening up my room. She had one bud in her ear so she could still pay attention to what was going on around her.
“Unc, are you coming out of this room any time today?” She asked with both of her hands on her hips. Looking exactly like Charlotte did at 17 years old.
“Yeah don’t you see I’m dressed?” I say with sarcastic humor waving my hand over myself. I was still lying in my humongous yet empty bed on top of the covers. The TV was on Current TV and I was half listening to one of the anchors talk about the progress of President Obama’s re-election campaign. I had dressed already in one of Genny’s favorite Gucci short sleeve shirts. It was Dark blue pique cotton. She went on and on about how it went well with my eyes. My denim shorts were the color of my shirt were zipped up but unbuttoned. I had some brand new crisp white socks on my feet fresh out the pack. I never wore socks and T-shirts more than once these days. Some wasteful habit I picked up from some rapper Athena loves.
It was a Wednesday, and summertime in New Orleans. Which means its 735 degrees outside, with 199 percent humidity. A hundred percent cotton shirt was essential today. I had my white and grey Air Force 1 Pearls at the edge of my bed for my eventual departure from it. Athena spotted them and went to pick one up
“Daaaaang Unc, these is fly!” she said admiring them. “I see you keeping up with us youngins.” She said smiling at me. She walked away from the bed and begins snatching up my laundry.
“These ARE fly and I’ll buy you a pair.”
“Dang Unc I didn’t mean for you to…” I looked at her like she shouldn’t even fix her mouth to say what she was going to say. She laughed after she thought better about it.
Athena was not going to be my help forever. That girl had dreams of being a Doctor, and I backed up every one financially and supportively. She was just 17. She’s lived with me since her mother died of a Heroin overdose when she was 8. Her mother wasn’t the Dupree I was related to. Her father Donte was. He is still alive. Somewhere still sticking poison in his arms; but alive.
“Athena won’t you let one of your employees clean in here?” I say scooting to the end of my bed to put on my shoes. I was going to get out of her way since she was intent on cleaning on her off day. It was the Fourth of July after all. I may be French, but I still respect American holidays.
“Because I want it done right. That’s why.” She said matter- of-factly. I chuckled.
“You do realize you hired the help.” I joke with her.
“And I will never hire friends from school to help again.” She quipped.
“Why are you working today anyway? It’s the Fourth of July.”
“I don’t care about that American ass holiday.” She realized her swear, and looked at me sheepishly. “Sorry Unc.” I didn’t think it was proper for any young ladies to swear. Took away from their softness and beauty. “Anyway, that was America’s independence not mine. My people are still in chains. Self-inflicted chains mind you, but chains all the same.” I chuckled lightly at my little Angela Davis as she continued on with her Anti-America rant. “Besides, I’d rather celebrate Cousin Genny’s birthday. She’s 236 years old too ya know.” She said smiling at me with a wink.
“Athena Dupree.” I said in a serious tone. “If you don’t go take that Apron off and do something with yourself. Take one of the cars and go into the city. Have some fun, Cher!”
“I promised Cousin Genny I’d make her Shrimp Etoufee tonight for her birthday. I got shrimp to peel. You know I can’t disappoint her. She looks forward to my Shrimp Etoufee.” Genny was more like an extremely older sister than a cousin to Athena. Genny was the one that kept encouraging Athena to
I promised my sister when she passed, I would always take care of her family. I haven’t broken that promise in 200 plus years. My Genny has always supported that and helped me anyway she could. Then I think the relation to the Dupree’s gives us something else besides each other to love. I know that’s what it does for me. They are my family; they are here because my father raped their ancestor. Their muddy blue eyes came from their African mother and Rapist French Father. Something awful turned into a beautiful Earthbound family
When Athena came to my home, she had missed months and months of schooling. I was so concerned about her being left behind. It was Genny that helped her get caught up to her grade level. Once she did that, she excelled. By the time she hit high school, she was in all Honors and AP Classes taking some college credit courses, a National Merit Scholar, and now has Academic scholarship offers to almost every school in Louisiana. She wants to go to Xavier like Genny did. I had no objection to paying my money to XULA at all. She did however; she does not want me paying for everything. I told her, I had the money and to let someone else who had everything they needed for schooling except finances get that scholarship. This made sense to her Progressive Liberal activist mind.
Athena spoke as her classes Valedictorian this year graduating with a perfect 4.5 GPA and you couldn’t hear anything else but Genny Duquesne hollering when her name was called. Genny cried and cried and cried as she watched Athena make her speech, then accept her diploma. I did too remembering where she had come from. I know that she will probably make a fuss about the “Titanium Silver Metallic” BMW 650i xDrive Convertible that will be delivered here on her birthday next month. I couldn’t send my Thena Wena off to college without a car now could I?
“I’m going out to lunch don’t worry about my meal this afternoon. I feel like taking a drive into the city and strolling through the French Quarter.” I say putting on my Nikes. I stood and buttoned my shorts up. When I finished, I turned to Athena.
“How do I look, Thena Wena?” I asked turning around in place.
“Like the flyest white man alive, Unc.” She says laughing. I laugh too. Feeling slightly out of place and extremely old, I study myself in the mirror. Nothing has changed much. I still look like a 25 year old Joaquin Phoenix. My muscular build fills out the Gucci nicely. I’ve tanned quite a bit and my skin was darker than usual. I looked damn good, I thought.
“You don’t think I’m trying too hard, do you?” I ask her smoothing out absent wrinkles in my shirt. She looked at me confused then understanding came across her face.
“Unc, you the coolest, blackest white man I know.” She says hugging me. I hug her back knowing she only says these things because she loves me. “You got more Swag than a little bit.” She said after she released me from her embrace.
“What is this Swag you keep saying I have?” I ask curious. I’ve heard her say it about me more than once. I figured it was positive because she always wore a smile when she said it.
“Swag is Swagger, Unc. It means you have an air of confidence about you that is very attractive to the ladies. It’s the fine line between confidence and cockiness few men can achieve. But you got it, Unc.”
“Pretty fly for a white guy, huh.” I joked repeating something else I’ve heard her say before. She threw her head back in laughter.
“Yea Unc! Indeed!” She was still laughing when she walked up out my room with a basket of my laundry. Yea, she would not be my help for long. I almost wanted to get her down to Xavier right now to start her life.
I get to the large garage that holds all my vehicles and decide on the Aston Martin Vanquish. I would turn on my police deflection gift so I could speed down River Road with no interruptions. I get in and hook turn on the Bluetooth for my phone. I let the garage door up and start up the engine. The purring sound vibrates through my body as I gun the engine. The engineering on this vehicle was a marvelous one. It was a 2013 model that I had purchased about 2 months ago. It had been my go to vehicle ever sense. It hadn’t been released yet in the United States, but I always found a way around that small detail.
I sped out the driveway not considering hitting the brake as I turned the corner at the end of Duquesne lane onto River Road. I pushed the Vantage to its top speed enthralled yet completely aware of my surroundings. The Robert Glasper Experiment blasts from my speakers sounding like a live show. Athena turned me onto it a few months ago. She knew I would appreciate it. I more than appreciate it.
The Hip Hop I’ve heard as of late isn’t really impressive to me. I was there for the start of it when Gil Scott Heron rapped over jazz beats and sounds. It was beautiful to me. The voice of the angry and disenfranchised. A voice everybody was overlooking. I have a few artists that I have listened to for a long time. Just a few. I have quite the aversion to Kanye West, Genny loves him. He just bothers me because he’s so talented, but so stupid. He has been rather silent this last year. So I’ve been able to just appreciate his music.
I used to understand Hip Hop. The anger in it. I had seen what Slavery, and then Jim Crow, then Civil Rights, then Post Civil Rights had done to them. Then never really quite getting their respect everyone who had a sane mind knew they deserved. The Black President of the United States can’t even get the respect of his office he is entitled to and deserves. It’s quite disgusting to me. I’ll be voting for him again as Narcisse Duquesne VI.
The problem seems to me, that the further they progress in this world, the further they don’t progress. If that makes any sense. I probably shouldn’t have any thoughts about it as my life is made easier as a European. My Indian and Spanish blood allows me some color, but I’m seen as a white man. This much I do know. Another thing I know about the African, is their ability to overcome and their potential at extreme brilliancy. I know that I would not have been able to survive some of the things they have survived in their quests to becomes equal and I am immortal. I would’ve ascended a long time ago.
They had to fight for something they deserved and should’ve already had; Respect. I gave it to them from the first time I saw an African on my Grandfather’s plantation. They were men and women, like my European Ancestors were men and women. And some of the hardest working, loyal group of people on the planet. Many people used to think I hired the African for reasons most Europeans back then made them Slaves. I hired and PAID the African because of their endless and almost limitless capabilities and abilities to learn any and everything I taught to them. Their African American descendants were just the same. Training was never an issue for me with them. A lot of people think Duquesne Industries is a Black owned operation. It pretty much is. I have maybe 4 white CEO’s.
As I drove aimlessly, I thought about all I would need to do at the start of business tomorrow. I was in a zone and I had on tunnel vision as I rode. I had not taken this CD out for months. I hadn’t planned on doing it anytime soon. So little music these days had the ability to be listened to all the way through and not worry about the skip button. I ended up almost missing my I10 highway entrance. I take the entrance and weave in and out of lanes; heading into Downtown New Orleans. I find some parking close to Iberville thinking I might want some Oysters from Acme.
As I’m getting out my car, there is a Mercedes pulling in a couple of open spaces over. I pause to admire the machinery as it parks.
The door opens and a very familiar leg with a Red Bottomed shoe on the end of it sticks out. I’m intrigued so I continue to pause. The other leg swings out and the occupant slides out of the car in the most graceful way possible. She pulls her short hair cut in the most stunning bob behind her ear. The sun hits her cinnamon skin and sparkles like that boy from that Vampire movie.
I gasp and my breath catches in my throat. She fumbles in her purse and ends up dropping it and most of its contents. I’m there before I can think about it to be of assistance.
The next few seconds happen like scenes that I’ve seen in movies. She looked up and into my eyes with familiar grey ones. My heart races and my blood rushes to other parts of my body like it used to when Adanna looked at me. And this beautiful woman, this woman was a spitting image of my Adanna. Adanna with a most adorable bob hairstyle I would’ve loved to see her in. I wanted to grab this woman and press up against her with all my might and kiss every part of her beautiful face. I restrained myself and managed to speak.
We rise after collecting all of her contents from her bag that fell out. Our eyes locked in a stare down. I would be the one to lose this one.
“I…you…” I get frustrated with myself for losing my composure in such a way. She smiles at me. I wondered if she thought I was mildly retarded by the way I couldn’t form a coherent thought.
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you it wasn’t polite to stare? She asked with the same mocking smile Adanna used to joke with me and my knees buckle. “I must look familiar to you. I see recognition in your eyes.” Her voice sent shivers through me. She sounded like Adanna to. How is this possible? I’ve heard in my lifetime that everyone has a twin. Mine happens to be an actor. But I never thought I would ever see Adanna’s twin. I was convinced there was not a woman out there like her.
I finally gather my composure enough to speak again. My usual unflappable demeanor recovering from the blow it was just given. “As a matter of fact she did teach me that. And you do look very familiar. I apologize for staring.” I said looking down and away from her face. I had goose bumps. I started looking at the grey Nike check on the side of my shoes. I see her hand extend in front of me. I felt like a child instead of a 271 year old man that I was. Very much grown.
“I’m Zulima…Zulima Fazande. And you are?” She was Creole, this delighted me. I was curious about her ancestry right then.
“Narcisse Duquesne, Mademoiselle.” I said satisfied as I took her left hand into mine that there was not a ring on it. I brought it up as I bowed and placed a kiss on her hand. She smelled like Lavender. Adanna’s favorite scent was lavender. Jesus; this was so unfair. I feel like I’m being punished for something.
“Duquesne? The Narcisse Duquesne?” She asked looking at the casual way I was dressed. There was a purpose for that. She looked at my shirt realizing it was casual but still Gucci. She was impressed. After she looked at my shirt, she took in my face fully, my dark hair and blue eyes. A flicker of curiosity streaked across her face. She wondered about me naked. That tickled me. My smile got bigger as I took an infinitesimal step closer to her. Small, but enough for her to notice. She leaned in slightly.
“What, you think I walk around here in a three piece suit all the time? I do live in New Orleans.” I said leaning on her open car door trapping her inside the small space. She didn’t seem to mind.
“I pictured you much older.” She admitted.
“And black too, huh?” I say looking at her with smoldering eyes. Smile never fading.
“Narcisse isn’t exactly what I would call a European name.”
“As a matter of fact it is, it’s French.”
“I learned something new today.” She said touching me lightly on my chest laughing lightly like Adanna again. My hair stood up on the back of my neck. I knew that I was being less than a gentleman, but I felt like I knew this woman already. Like we’ve known each other all of our lives. I was conscious of the fact that I did not really know her, and I backed up a little; the flame in my eyes still blazing. “So you are French?”
“And Spanish and Houma Indian…and you?” I felt it was a good time to ask about her ancestry since she asked about me.
“My mother’s Nigerian, not sure about my father.” She said smiling. I knew the Nigerian was in there, she was my Wife’s twin. “You have very pretty eyes, Narcisse.” I looked at her like I could see through her soul, I could. If I got the gold digging vibe after she recognized my name, I would’ve ended this conversation right then. But she is one of these new 21st Century independent women. I find them very attractive. Which is why I pushed Genny out my house.
“You have some nice ones yourself.” I said deciding just then to get past the small talk. I wanted to spend more time with this woman…right now…this minute. I had to figure out if it was possible. “Zulima, are you free? You look like you are headed somewhere.” I said admiring her figure in her pencil skirt. It hugged her pretty thighs in the most wonderful of ways.
“I had some hoity toity function I just came from with cucumber sandwiches and finger foods for skinny white women…” I chuckled lightly as she caught herself and looked at me. I wasn’t offended at all. I was amused if anything. Genny always talked about white people around me like I wasn’t European myself.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t find skinny white women and cucumber sandwiches appealing either.” I said looking square in her eyes. “Could I interest you in a much more filling meal?”
“I have my mouth set on a Shrimp Po Boy.” She said looking in the direction of the Acme Oyster House. My kind of woman. “I hope that is not beneath you, Mr. Duquesne.” She joked
“I was actually on my way there, Miss Fazande. Might I join you?” She smile and nodded in affirmation. I was thrilled. I put my hands in my pockets to keep from reaching out and grabbing her to walk down the street like I wanted to.
Lunch was most enlightening. Zulima was an Engineer. Graduated Tulane University, Suma Cum Laude. My instant thought was to offer her some outrageous salary for my engineering firm, but I hesitated.
I let Zulima talk all about her mostly to avoid talking about me. I was most intrigued with everything she had to say. She was most confident and secure. With a lot of Sisters, they get to the top of their game and get a little brittle. But not Zulima, she was as earthy as she was beautiful. She enjoyed simple things. Peeling and eating shrimp, Fish Fries, Church on Sunday with her family and dinner afterwards. The kind of things that I was into with my family. I imagined her fitting into my life nicely.
Zulima came from Nigeria with her mother in the 80s. She was 8. Her mother made a wonderful life for her here in New Orleans and they’ve lived her ever since.
“So Narcisse, how old are you. I’ve talked about only myself. You must think I’m so full of myself.”
“Quite contrary, I find your story very interesting.”
“You speak differently. Like you were born in a different time. But then sometimes you get all colloquial and N’awlins like.” She said after finishing her last bite of her po boy. “Have you heard that before?”
“Yes, I have. It comes from years of education conflicting with my Cajun sensibilities.” I joked. She found this very funny. I was most pleased with the progress I had made with Miss Fazande. I wondered if I would be able to have a chance to spend my time with her again. I decided to ask.
“This was all very casual Miss Fazande, I would not like to leave you with the impression that I am not a gentlemen in the least. I would like to take you on a proper date.” I had successfully deflected her from her age question. I wasn’t sure what to say.
“I thought this was a proper date.” She said tone full of seriousness. I couldn’t help but smile at her genuine interest in me.
“Touché Mademoiselle, however, I can do better.” I say returning her serious gaze.
“I do not doubt your abilities at all, Monsieur.”
“Oui. J’ai appris à parler au Nigeria. Pas très bien.”
“I would be honored to give you free lessons.” I say reaching out instinctively to rub her hand that was on the table. She looked at it and back up into my eyes.
“I would be honored to learn from a teacher as gifted as yourself.” She returned with as much flirtation as I had put into my statement
“I’m not that gifted.” I reply humbly.
“Somehow I feel that is the most untruthful you have been with me today.” She says laughing at me. I shake my head at her attention to small details. She truly had no idea.