Katacha Díaz is a Peruvian American writer. Wanderlust and love of travel have taken her all over the world to gather material for her stories. Her poetry and prose has been published internationally in literary journals, print and online magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent credits are: The Galway Review, Ethos Literary Journal, The Pangolin Review, Sleet, Voice of Eve, Muddy River Poetry Review, Harvests of New Millennium, Poppy Road Review. She lives and writes up in her perch in a quaint little historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, USA.

Happenings in the Vieux Carré

By Katacha Díaz

Rico is fascinated by old houses in New Orleans. There is a really interesting house in the Vieux Carré, French Quarter, that has seen a lot of paranormal activity over the past two centuries. People say that strange things happen in the house at night — locked doors open and close on their own, as do the windows; shadowy figures, ghosts, groans, thumps, and objects make noise and move. They say that it is the most haunted house on Bourbon Street, not a place for the faint-hearted. Rico is not at all deterred hearing these stories. 

As the sun sets on a hot, humid and muggy summer evening, Rico walks along the shadowy cobbled streets, making his way down Pirate’s Alley, alongside St. Louis Cathedral. Suddenly he feels a chill running down his spine, even though there’s not a whisper of a breeze. When Rico turns around he catches a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of his eye of the old Capuchin monk dressed in a black robe with long pointed hood and sandals, walking down the alley, deep in prayer. Is it Père Antoine or Père Dagobert? People swear they’ve also seen the priests’ ghosts in the altar sanctuary and walking down the center aisle of the Cathedral. 

Rico’s haunted stroll takes him to the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. The popular watering hole is visited by ghost hunters and paranormal TV crews from around the world. Rico sees the bartender looking at him and walks over. He senses something eerie is going on in the quirky bar with unusual furnishings — monkey lamps and glitzy mirrors throughout. First the barstool where he is about to sit, mysteriously moves from one end of the exquisitely carved and beautifully polished mahogany bar to the other. The bartender grins and nods. He quickly grabs the two glasses floating in mid-air, takes out several bottles from the cut glass liquor cabinet, and ceremoniously goes about mixing and preparing the city’s iconic cocktail, Sazerac. The mix of rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe is a must-have happy hour libation to sip and savor with local luminaries, joining some of the friendliest Southern ghosts of the Vieux Carré. 

Rico feels a cold draft, even though no door or window is open. Then out of nowhere the legendary French pirate and smuggler, Jean Lafitte, full of swagger and flash, pulls up a stool next to Marie Laveau, the beautiful Creole voodoo queen. Shadowy figures flit about past windows and doors. The spirit of Truman Capote, a rather colorful character, is seen walking through a glitzy stargazer mirror to join pipe-smoking Tennessee William’s ghost for a literary tête-à-tête at the other end of the bar. 

Rico is sipping Sazerac, mingling with the locals and listening to the bartender’s Southern tales of the best of both worlds when a stunning little minx with bewitching green eyes sashays around the crowded haunted bar. Rico immediately gets up and floats toward her. 

“Happenings in the Vieux Carré” by Katacha Díaz.  First published in Poppy Road Review, March 5, 2019.  Copyright © 2019 by Katacha Díaz