This where Popovitch steps in.  The mind movies of which he was a character in that time in Biloxi before the war like a bad dream you wake from of a morning, souring your whole day, giving it a bad start, like a nagging doubt of something you need to finish, give some final absolution.  You see his wife left him after Nina was murdered, after his early retirement and the questionable suicide of Nina’s killer.  It was why he came to New Orleans, having relatives there.  He was an old man, an alcoholic, depressed and clinging to the past in what had become his lonely habits, which is maybe why he listened, why when he heard David Threnody’s first recordings he went looking for him, looking for that guitar, that Gibson ES-150 that he had given back to David, absent of a string.  And like a bad dream he awoke from, he saw himself as a character in someone else’s story, that mind movie David played out before the war explaining the love entanglement of his friend, Johnny Tribout, and why he returned to Mississippi.  But Popovitch couldn’t see himself as just a chapter in someone else’s life.  His pride and loneliness, his haunted addiction to memories from the past, would not let the dream sleep.  And so he went to a witch, to invoke spirits that were dead in order to ask them how to seek revenge of the living.

It was a door on St. Peter’s street, on the corner opposite Royal.  He knew she lived there and did her business from a card a homeless man passed to him on one of his walks through the French Quarter.  How she was a soothsayer, and for a small amount of money she could tell you your fortune.  All she needed was to look at your hand and some small article from the person you wished to know about, some trivial possession of the person you wished to do good or evil.  And so on one Friday morning in the middle of March 1946, at a time when David was still questioning the response to his first recordings and involved in an emotionally exhausting love affair with Bethany, she too tired of going through the motions being Pete Southhouse’s wife, in fact ready to tell her husband, ready to end it, though he already knew, Popovitch went to this voodoo woman’s door and awoke her.

“What you want, white man?”

“I need your help…”

“Hah! Here the trees are blooming and you need help.  I know what you want.  It’s written all over your face.  You want forgiveness from someone that won’t or can’t give it to ya…  But’s that’s for leaves fallin’ from the tree and wasted words.  Not for new leaves bloomin’.  Can’t you smell it?  Smell that honeysuckle and jasmine?  Now’s the time for flowers.  Not fallen leaves mournin’ what’s dead…”

She could have been Marie Toussaint’s older sister.  She had the same toothless mouth.  The same stars in her eyes.  Under the brim of a black hat.  Unwashed, stringy white hair hanging limp below it.  She ushered him in and down a long hallway, past closed doors to the back room where she did her business.  A typical house in New Orleans with its French architecture—not very wide, but deep in how you went into it.  Her back room with a table, the legs covered by an overflowing cloth, a rich purple with frayed gold ends.  Tarot cards played out from a last meeting not necessary for Popovitch’s visit.  Tall candles on black iron stands in the corner.  Thick red curtains covering the windows.  And a birdcage.  A small parakeet on its perch.  Next to a door that led to the old woman’s kitchen.

“Don’t you know you shouldn’t want something from what’s dead?  Dead things don’t help with living.  Ask that man—Lazarus.  He had to consider death twice—he, he!  And I can tell what you’re considering.  Ain’t no good to consider yourself livin’ to a woman that considers you dead.  You’ll never know if they’re lying to ya.   The lies they tell ya about another man just reflections of what they found wrong with you…  But you ain’t here for a wife—are ya?  Do you got it?”

“What am I supposed to have?”

“Money, fool!  Think I’d waste my time with ya otherwise?”

Popovitch reaches in his pocket and counts out his loose change, his folded bills, and hands it to her.  She motions for him to sit at the table, and after he sits she sits across from him, her arms reaching out and the palms of her hands face down.

“Now…  what can I do for ya?”

“It’s a man—a musician.  He was involved in something.  Something from my past—my daughter’s death.  I have some unresolved business with him.  Him and his friend—his friend my daughter’s last lover…”

“Yes, yes…  some secret.  Some deep, dark secret from your past.  Something you thought you did for your family, but it cost you that very thing—he, he!  Let me have a look at you.  Let me see your hands.”

And Popovitch stretches out his hands before her—palms up.  She grabs them tight at first.  Then relaxes her grip.  Letting go with one hand to lift the small round spectacles she’s wearing further up her nose.  Like she’s getting a closer look with them.

“Now I’m supposed to say somethin’…  Say, ‘Aha!’  But you already know—don’t you?  You know what I see.  You think seeking for forgiveness you’re going to find it?  Forgiveness from someone you hurt and that hates you now?  This ain’t no church!  You didn’t sacrifice what you should have sacrificed.  And now you want them to listen?  You want God to listen?  You used the power you had once, but you didn’t use if for good… and now you want forgiveness.  Forgiveness from what’s dead.  Something you only have memories of now.  It’s there—in the lines of your hand.  You carry the scars of a fool!”

“What can I do?  What can I do about this man?”

“You know what to do.  Bring me somethin’.  Bring me somethin’ of his…  And you know what you need to bring.  I don’t need to see it in your hands.  I see it in your eyes…  Bring me that guitar.  And you know I don’t even need that.  Just a string.  A string from it is all I need… a string will do.”

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