Zombi Mene nan Lesklavage
from Soul in a Bottle
by Madison Smartt Bell
zombi mene nan lesklavage
They seemed to come out nowhere, out of the raw stone cliff that closed off the back of the hotel; how could they be going out now when no one had ever seen them come in? But most likely they had been passing a romantic afternoon in one of the smaller rooms upstairs. The girl was Haitian, perhaps nineteen, tall and lissome and doe-eyed, looking around skittishly as she flowed past the reception counter onto the balcony toward the stairs. The American officer was in late middle years, white-haired and burly, his well-trained musculature pushing open the vest of his fatigues. He walked a pace or two behind the girl, fanning his hands palm-down and swinging his gaze in an arc along the floorboards behind her heels. The movement of his hands and eyes seemed to propel her, force her along ahead of him, although they were not close enough to touch.
It was all so similar to the Fabien painting of the zombi led into enslavement: the bound woman walking at the head of the file, the proprietor following, holding the leash which connected him to her lashed hands. In the painting a third figure brought up the rear, grinning as he lashed the first two with his many-tongued whip, but if any such demon was present at the hotel that afternoon, he had rendered himself invisible.
There would be lots more of this sort of thing, I realized, as prosperity and tourism returned. But after the couple had left the enclosure, almost no one was there but I and the waiters; the sky was darkening, but it was not yet the hour for the general rentrée. The air was heavy, pregnant with the rain to come. I and the waiters drifted through the public spaces of the hotel, covering every area where the couple had walked with loops and circles and figure eights-- to erase all effect of their passage.