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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

That’s the man I have to marry – as far as God was concerned, I didn’t have to like it.

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – chapter 1

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taught thriller City of Human Remains, can be found hin full here

Beginning today, we are proud to bring you “Hoodoo,” the first novel by Caitlin Myer.  Hoodoo tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor.  New chapters will be published every Sunday.

Chapter 1

My daughter Megan’s first day on earth was her father’s last. The moment she was banging her way out of me and onto the floor of the Oldsmobile, he was already on his way to the next world. Once I picked her up I could tell right off, even with all the blood and scrunched up eyes, I could see she was his. The look on her face as she got ready to howl was an exact match; a mini Bob about to blow his stack.

You don’t have to believe me. Nobody in the whole world knows the truth, and Meg will grow up calling another man Daddy. I don’t know if I’m going to tell her about her real father. Most people back in Lemuel had forgotten about the Lemuel Lecher by then, but for a time it was all over the place, spilling out of lipsticky old mouths like they knew what they were talking about. Sister Brimhall standing up in church in her caftan and Aquanet beehive calling for his excommunication. Like she knew. They all had a picture of him in their heads, slinking around playgrounds, hands sneaky in his pockets, breathing hard over pigtails and knee socks. That’s not a picture a girl should have of her father.

He wasn’t like that at all. You should have seen him the day we met, in the gym at Parley P. Pratt Elementary, us graduating sixth-graders slouching around and lording it over the littler kids. We were supposed to be lining up in front of these tables where teachers from the junior high were sitting to register us for next year. A ways down from the Science teacher, I saw something– I swear I saw a glow down at that end of the table. All these kids were bunched up over there. I sidled closer to get a look.

Yeah, you should’ve seen him. He’d thrown his jacket over the back of the chair, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He had one arm curled like he was showing off his muscles, and one of the kids was holding on to his bicep, dangling off him like a Christmas tree decoration. More kids were jumping up and down, begging for a turn, so he went down on one knee and held out both arms, a kid latching on to each one. He growled, coming to his feet, the kids hanging and laughing hysterically. He had gray hair, but he wasn’t at all decrepit. His eyebrows were super black, and they came to a kind of a peak, like those cartoons you see of a devil with horns and a pitchfork. And – you’ll think I’m crazy – but that light, it was coming from him. He was scattering it around the room like party favors.

Visions run in my family. My father’s vision turned our whole lives around, so I knew enough to pay attention.

I sat down on the edge of the stage, where I had a good view, and watched from there. That light dimmed and brightened through the afternoon, but it never went away. Kids wandering away from his table would be all soft-faced and shiny-eyed like they’d just met Big Bird, or Jesus.

I pulled my feet up onto the stage and hugged my knees, wondering what it meant. I kept an eye on him while thinking a prayer, Heavenly Father, what art Thou trying to tell me, huh? Who is this guy? Am I supposed to take his class? Is he like a prophet or something? Please tell me what I’m supposed to do, please Father, please please, smoke should have been rising from my head I was think-praying so hard. When I was on about my hundredth please I guess He decided I’d finally prayed hard enough, or maybe he – as in Bob – heard me thinking at him so loud. Whichever it was, he turned his head and looked right at me over the heads of the other kids. And smiled.

The jolt that went through me hit so hard, one foot slipped off the edge of the stage and I had to rock back on my butt and slap my hands down to keep from tumbling right onto the gym floor. Zap! Like on Batman, when Batman was fighting The Joker, and comic book words flew out from the screen where fist met jaw. Ka-pow!

He was still looking at me, and now some of the other kids were screwing their heads around to see, and whisper, and nudge each other, and snicker. What is it, Father? I was demanding answers now. Please, Father, just tell me. What, am I supposed to marry him or something? I wasn’t really serious, maybe I should have been sorry for being sarcastic with the Lord, but a feeling crawled up inside me. A burning in the bosom is what our Sunday school teacher said you feel when you have it right. Like heartburn? one of the smart-aleck boys said, and they all laughed, Oh, is it the chili dog or the Holy Ghost? I feee-uhl the powuh of the chili dawg! But of course it wasn’t like that. Just calm and warm, like that light was inside me, now, and I knew. That’s the man I have to marry – as far as God was concerned, I didn’t have to like it. He’d turned his attention back to the other kids, but the crowd was thinning out. It was almost time to get back to class. I guessed I’d better go and meet my future husband, so I hopped down off the stage.

I was standing right in front of him, and he wasn’t all that bad-looking, close-up, considering he was pretty old. Maybe even forty. He looked up at me, and it was almost like he flinched – just for a half-second, his cheeks turned pink – but then he smiled.

“Junior high’s not that bad, I promise.”

I felt myself blushing in sync with him, and stared down at his hands.

“What’s your name, kiddo?”

“Oh,” I said, “Lott. Alice Lott.”

“Lott, Lott,” his pen ran down the paper as he looked for my name. “Alice. There you are, right where you belong.”

My name sounded different in his voice, round and warm.

“I’m the school counselor. If you’re having any trouble in class, you can come and talk to me. Heck, even if you’re not having any trouble.”

“So, are you like one of those doctors in the white coats?” I asked. I pictured a stethoscope around his neck, long needles, straightjackets.

He laughed, his eyes crinkling up, “I’m not a doctor,” he said, then leaned forward across the table, raising those black eyebrows at me, “but I play one on TV.”

I laughed out loud. Forever after, he was Dr. Bob as far as I was concerned.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.  

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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