|For the rest of that week, Jaynie drove to and from work and every
day the woman was there on the bridge. Jaynie wasn't sure when she
stopped dreading the apparition and began to look forward to it, and when
she realized she was anticipating its appearance, she circumvented Dr.
Williams and her talk of refocusing and made an appointment with her counselor.
The counselor asked Jaynie if she had ever had blunt trauma to her head
or seizures. She conferred with Jaynie's doctor, who ordered a series of
tests measuring her brain activity (normal and otherwise), all of which
came up negative. The counselor then asked if the black haired woman looked
like Bobbi. When Jaynie said no, she wrote a referral to a psychiatrist
and dismissed Jaynie as beyond her medical jurisdiction. Jaynie left the
office and dropped the referral slip in a trashcan outside the clinic.
She was seeing Lou for a reason that wasn't medical. She would wait
to see what happened.
For 2 months, Jaynie saw Lou on the bridge both coming and going from
work. On Parent's Night, when she passed over the bridge at 9:30
P.M. in full darkness, Lou appeared in the headlights. As an experiment,
one day she wore her old glasses... the ones that Bobbi helped pick out
so long ago. No Lou. Jaynie began to doubt her sanity when
the next day, wearing the new bifocals, Lou appeared in her windshield
Then, on the afternoon of the day before the Thanksgiving holidays,
there was a change. As Jaynie approached the bridge, her head full
of plans of the packing ahead so she could leave that night for her family
in Baton Rouge, Lou appeared on her knees in the road and didn't disappear.
Heart pounding, Jaynie slowed and stared as Lou looked up with a tearstained
frightened face and reached her arms to Jaynie... and Jaynie burst
into tears when she saw Lou's lips form the words, help me, Jaynie.
Help me. As the truck stopped, Lou's hands covered her face and the
image shimmied and was gone.
Jaynie pounded the steering wheel in frustration. 'No!' she screamed.
'Tell me! Tell me where you are, tell me what you need, oh sweet
Jesus, where are you?' She put her head down and cried, feeling lost
and helpless and very alone. Then she grimly dried her eyes, drove home,
and called her mother in Baton Rouge, telling her that she couldn't make
it home for the holidays. Pleading a stomach virus, she promised to call
the next day.
Jaynie didn't sleep that night. She sat up in her old rocker, in her
living room lit only by a candle, drank wine, and for the first time in
years, she prayed. Not any certain prayer, and no certain deity... just,
'Please. Please.' Over and over again she repeated her mantra
of desperation. 'Please, let me find her before it's too late.'
By early morning, Jaynie realized that she was in love with the apparition.
God help me, she muttered, and she showered and dressed as the
dawn streaked delicate pink tendrils across the horizon.
She dressed warmly and headed for the truck... and froze, keys
in her hand. No. She couldn't leave yet. As
if in a dream, she went back to the house, filled a thermos
with coffee, grabbed a blanket and first aid kit, and once again
headed out the door. 'I'm coming, baby', she whispered
into the cold air, and began to cry. 'I'm crazy', she
said. 'I'm crazy. It's Thanksgiving morning and instead
of going to my family, I'm driving to a bridge to save a hallucination.
I'm crazy', she said... but she headed her truck towards Houma
As she approached the bridge, her Episcopalian upbringing and
her reptilian reflexive brain combined and she found her hand
crossing herself, her mouth whispering, 'Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for
thou art with me...' She drove to the top of the
bridge, pulled over, and parked by the rail. Getting out
of the truck, she began once again to cry and she choked, 'Please...
I can't be too late... don't let me be too late... ' And
then she was still, looking around, when she heard from the
darkness below the bridge, a faint cry.
She ran unhesitatingly across the bridge and down the slope to the bayou,
following the faint voice that called softly, 'Help me, Jaynie....
help me....please.....' When she stumbled and fell to her knees,
she swore and then she looked up to see Lou, kneeling in shallow water
and reaching for her with shaking arms. 'Oh, thank god,' Jaynie quavered,
and went to her.
With Lou wrapped in the blanket, sitting in the truck drinking coffee
and warming herself with the old heater blasting, Jaynie gathered her courage
and asked slowly....'Are you real?'
Lou laughed thinly and looked at Jaynie, and then her tears came.
'Yes,' she said. 'But I didn't think you were. I've dreamed
about you for the last couple of months, but I thought you were just a
dream. This morning my car broke down on the way to Houma and a man
offered me a ride to a mechanic, but he took me out to the swamp instead
and tried.... ' she sobbed, a ragged sound that tore Jaynie's heart......'well....
you know... but I got away and ran into the swamp. I got this far
and was trying to climb up to the road but I fell and sprained my ankle.
I couldn't make it any farther, but I just kept calling your name. I don't
know why. I just knew that if anyone would save me, it would be you.
I knew you'd come for me. I don't know how I knew it... but I knew.'
She fell silent.
Jaynie put the truck in gear and asked, 'Where in Houma were you
Lou hung her head and said... 'My lover and I...we broke up...
and I was so lonely, I was going to Houma to ask her if we could
try again. You know...you already know, don't you, that I'm
a lesbian,' she said hesitantly.
Jaynie smiled and said, 'Yeah, me too. So...do you still want
to go to Houma?'
Lou met her eyes. 'No. Please...no.'
Jaynie put the truck back in park and reached for her; Lou curled into
her embrace and shivered. Jaynie said, softly, her voice a caress, 'Come
home with me?'
Lou sighed, her wet black hair a Rorschach print against Jaynie's old
shirt. 'Yes, please...oh, yes, please.'
As the truck pulled onto the highway, a tiny sparkle of fairy
dust flashed under the wheels and was gone.
----Marcia Wickes ©