Chapter 111:

Obtaining the voodoo handbook

The Y-files [GL]

After the meeting, Anna and I were up to our most dreadful task of the day. Visiting Josh and Nicole to try and get our hands on Louisa's voodoo book.Bookmark here

We had not yet told any of the other girls about our discovery. Well, can you blame us? I don't think anyone would believe us, even if we did. We needed something more tangible. We told everyone that we were going to visit Louisa's parents to discuss everything concerning the funeral and asked that they informed Ms. Stick if we returned late. Today was yet another packed day. It would be late before we got home, and I still had to prepare my speech for the funeral. I really wanted some time in my kitchen since it seemed that there would be no opportunities tomorrow either.Bookmark here

Anna and I drove to the address that Ms. Lourdes had given us. I rang the doorbell, and a short moment later, Nicole opened the door. It took her a second to recognize us, but as soon as she did she gave me a big hug and invited us in.Bookmark here

We were invited to sit in the living room, where Josh was sitting. He was watching home videos of Louisa, I could see images of when she was a little kid.Bookmark here

He invited us to join him. Considering the circumstances, we could hardly refuse, so we politely joined him on the couch. Louisa can't have been older than 5 or 6 when these images were made. It was filmed on a playground in Huizingen. These images looked all really familiar to me. Mom probably took us to the same playground at one point. While the images were playing Louisa suddenly pointed toward a girl and a boy in the distance and said “That's a really cute girl. I am going to marry her!”Bookmark here

I was shocked. That was Frank and me. How long exactly had she been following me around? I felt shivers in my backbone. Josh seemed to have noticed the same thing and said “I never realized, but that was you, wasn't it? Who would have ever thought that your fates were so interlinked? Nicole! Come over, I discovered a funny coincidence!”Bookmark here

Funny coincidence? We were long beyond that point, old man. Anna noticed me shivering and rubbed my shoulder to show me support.Bookmark here

Nicole entered the room and watched the discovery with her husband. She looked excited to have discovered another little thing. I looked around the room and it seemed that they had been doing nothing else but watching these videos and going through picture books for days on end. It was clear that the grief was still fresh.Bookmark here

I wondered how we could get our hands on the voodoo book. Just asking seemed like the wrong approach with these two. I decided to go with the first step and see from there. The book would most likely be somewhere in Louisa's room, so I asked “Could I see Louisa's room?”Bookmark here

Nicole and Josh looked a bit unsure at each other and then nodded. “I am sure Louisa would not have minded if it was you that entered her room. She was very stubborn about never letting anyone in. It had been a long time since the both of us were in her room before it happened.” Nicole looked like she could cave in at any second. Josh took her in his arms and comforted her.Bookmark here

I got up, but when Anna got up too, Josh said. “I'm sorry, we can understand Claire wanting to visit her room, but we only want people that were close to her entering there.”Bookmark here

Anna looked apologetic at me and said “ I understand. She sat back down in the living room.Bookmark here

Nicole led me up the stairs to Louisa's room.Bookmark here

“I'd appreciate it if you left everything just as you found it. I will leave you by yourself. Do take your time. I know that it is hard.” She hugged me, like I was the one about to start crying, but then started crying herself. How many times was it now that this woman had cried on my shoulder. It still felt as uncomfortable as the first time.Bookmark here

I entered the room and heard the door close behind me. I started to look around and was amazed. The walls were plastered with pictures and drawings of me. On Louisa's desk was a page with my name written over and over again. I thought I had all of these troublesome items in those boxes at home, but it seems like I only got a fraction of them. There was no way that I could take these from this room.Bookmark here

I heard some noise coming from the living room, reminding me of what I came to do here. I needed to find that book about voodoo. I had limited time. So I started searching all the books I could see.Bookmark here

I recognized a lot of the yuri novels that I had been reading lately. She even had Topoko's "How to bewitch a witch: An unconventional guide to dealing with a kidnapper" That book hadn't been out for long. She must have gotten it straight after the release. But after going over all the titles, I could not find what I was looking for.Bookmark here

It wasn't in the drawers of her desk either. I skimmed through her wardrobe but there was nothing but clothes in there. I looked around the room and then my eyes fell on the bed. I looked under it, but there was nothing to be found, I picked up her pillow, nothing. I started feeling the mattress and noticed something hard on the side. I removed the bedding. There was a slit in the middle of the mattress and there it was, the book I had been looking for. I quickly hid it under my blouse and started making the bed again, while I was doing that, Nicole entered the room again. I felt like I got caught doing something naughty. After all, she had asked me to leave everything the way I found it.Bookmark here

Nicole looked at me, and then she said “I do the same thing now and then. Just getting her smell, if even for a second allows me to feel that she is in the room with me. If only for a second. So don't be ashamed.”Bookmark here

She held Louisa's pillow in front of me and took a deep whiff. Then she passed the pillow toward me and looked at me “Go ahead! You will feel a little better!”Bookmark here

Dear God, I really did not want to smell a dead girl's pillow! I couldn't say that I was just putting everything back in place after skimming the place for a book that I was trying to steal, so I just nodded and hung my head low, so she could not see the look in my eyes.Bookmark here

Nicole completely misunderstood the gesture and thought that I was crying. She hugged me again and said “I know honey, it's terrible. She was way too young to leave us. I am sorry for pushing you.”Bookmark here

I hugged her back in a way that she would not feel that I had the book under my blouse. She misunderstood my fidgeting as sobs and caressed my hair. “There, there honey. If you ever want to talk about Louisa, know that you are always welcome here.”Bookmark here

I nodded and looked down again. Now I could not let her see that I hadn't been crying or she might bring that pillow back.Bookmark here

We went back downstairs, I gave a little wink to Anna to let her know I had obtained the book. She got up and said, “Well, let us take no longer of your time, I am sure the two of you have a lot to prepare for tomorrow.”Bookmark here

While we were moving toward the door, Nicole grabbed Anna's arm and said: “Be sure to have a good talk with Claire, she was really emotionally unstable when I went to get her, and I might have pushed her a little too much. We don't want a repeat of what happened.”Bookmark here

It happened again. I was the one suffering all the embarrassment once more. My face flushed a little red.Bookmark here

Anna looked at her and then at me. I rolled my eyes. She wasn't taking her seriously, now was she?Bookmark here

Anna seemed to have gotten my hint and said “I will give her all the attention she needs.”Bookmark here

That brought relief to Nicole's face. “Claire, remember, you are always welcome here!” she shouted behind us while we were making our way to the car.Bookmark here

Once in the car, I said “I got it, let's hop in at Femme Fatale to take a look at it in my room. I don't want the other girls to know just yet. They will just think I am crazy.”Bookmark here

Anna nodded while she started the car.Bookmark here

“What was all that stuff with Nicole about?” Anna asked me. I could hear by the tone in her voice that she felt uncertain.Bookmark here

“Don't ask. It's too embarrassing to say.” I really didn't want to go in on all those embarrassing details. If that got out at the bureau, I would never hear the end of it. They already had enough fodder to make fun of me.Bookmark here

Anna looked at me with piercing eyes behind her glasses. I realized she wasn't going to give up. “I can always call Nicole. She wanted me to talk to you.”Bookmark here

“Oh, fine! She thought I was sniffing the bed!”Bookmark here

“Were you?”Bookmark here

“Of course not. Who would want to sniff a dead girl's bed?”Bookmark here

“Then why did she think so?”Bookmark here

Anna was giving me the third degree. Was she being jealous of a dead girl?Bookmark here

“Because the book was in the mattress. I could hardly tell her that!”Bookmark here

“Oh!”Bookmark here

Anna started laughing. I was once again the source of her amusement. How come it was always me and never her that landed in these situations. “I can see it before me. This is a bit like a manga, isn't it? You certainly attract those situations in real life. Everything used to be so boring in 3D before I met you.”Bookmark here

The feeling was mutual. However, a boring quiet life with Anna without all the embarrassing situations would be fine with me too. I wondered when I started adding Anna to all my plans for the future?Bookmark here

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