This was a great opportunity to spring something truly weird on Philip Phipps, my stylist. “Philip,” I said, with just the right amount of hesitation in my voice. “I need a bag of hair.”
He didn’t say anything at first. I let him think about it for a second.
“I’m into voodoo,” I said. “Keep this quiet. Can you help me out?”
Philip is a live-and-let-live guy, but he’s also a proud Southern sportsman and a respecter of animal life great and small, so I figured I’d better cut the cute act.
“For my garden,” I admitted. “Rabbits.”
Saturday night I was home alone, just me and my two cats, listening to Boogie Bill Webb and polishing off a pot of viscous, French Quarter coffee, compliments of Chris “Big Easy” Kieffer.
Boogie Bill’s voice sang through the empty house: “I’ll tell you something – and this ain’t no mistake – I seen a Red Cross biscuit give a hog a stomach ache.”
Why this seemed like a nighttime chore I’m still not sure. Fall is, after all, an ominous time. Folks are busy planning pagan festivals and frantically hoarding up provisions for the winter months.
I clicked on my giant TV set to check the score of the Florida-LSU game, then I grabbed a flashlight, slid on my flip-flops and went out back with the bag of hair in my hand.
Spreading around hair is kind of like piling up water, and I knew I needed a plan. I stood pondering this under the limbs of a huge oak north of my garden. Looking up into the branches I felt dwarfish and mischievous, kind of like a Hobbit. My outside cat, Little Girl, crept up and rubbed against my leg.
I could see the glow of the casinos over the trees to the west, and I could hear the delayed thropping of a motorcycle gliding by on the highway.
I tore open the plastic bag Philip gave me, and the scent of perfume and shampoo rose up strong, like five strangers closing in on me.
I started to feel a little weird about the whole thing.
“Let’s get on with it, cat,” I said to Little Girl, and I must have sounded like the farmer in the movie, “Babe,” talking to his pig.
In the cool starlight Little Girl and I began circling my garden. Three times we went around, man and beast, circling the cabbage and broccoli, spreading behind us clumps of hair from people neither of us would ever know.
It was all a little too much for Little Girl. Even to my clumsy nose the human scent was as strong as if I was sitting in a crowded church, or maybe a movie theater.
To be honest, spreading the hair actually did feel a little like voodoo, like a kind of witch dance or shamanistic movement. There I was, in the dark, scattering pieces of other people to ward off things I didn’t want around.
I washed the strangers’ dandruff off my forearms at the kitchen sink and felt like I’d just buried a body.
Boogie Bill was singing carefree as a bird in my office.
I watched, on the bright, silent screen, as LSU hit that last corner fade, and I could picture old Tom Groome, 100 miles away, dancing a jig. Not far from him, Susan Gilbert was still weeping over the Alabama loss.
Boogie Bill sang on into the night.
“You can drank that liquor, you can drank that gin – We going out on the Indiana end,” old Bill sang. “Go for a ride, with me baby – Ain’t nobody driving but me.”
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal