Sisters of the Mist, French Quarter Mystery #6
A silent moan died in my throat as my cat Kisses awoke me from a recurrent nightmare. She was standing on top of me, kneading dough on my chest as she licked my face with her emery board tongue. My heart raced and I wondered if she could feel it. When I’d regained my senses, I gave her a full-body stroke that ended with the tip of her mostly missing tail.
“Did I wake you?” I said.
After arching her back to maximize my caress, she stopped licking and kneading and jumped off the bed. Grabbing my old robe, I followed her to the door leading to my second-floor balcony. Wind had blown it open sometime during the night and a chill breeze greeted me as I stepped out onto the little terrace overlooking Chartres Street. Though it was dark, the lack of visibility resulted from more than just a power outage.
Thick fog rolling in from the river had all but engulfed the French Quarter thoroughfare. Headlights penetrated dark gloom as I stared up the street. A slow moving taxi, searching for one last fare, passed beneath me, honking its horn at a stray dog. The taxi swerved to miss the dog, and then disappeared into murky darkness. The foghorn of a passing freighter on the nearby river sounded muted and far away. Feeling a damp chill in the air, I pulled the robe tightly up around my neck.
Kisses stood at the edge of the balcony, her head protruding through the wrought iron railing, staring at something I couldn’t see.
“What is it, girl?”
Whatever she was staring at was invisible to me because of the dimly illuminated rolling fog. It didn’t matter. Cats can see in the dark. I had no doubt something had focused Kisses’ attention. It was then I saw it: another set of headlights shining through the fog as it moved toward us.
Unlike the glare from the taxi, this was as dim as the fog itself. I watched, transfixed as the long hood of a ghostly white limousine penetrated the fog. It passed beneath me on the street. More vehicles followed. Except for one, all were ghostly white, their passengers but gray outlines through the smoky windows.
A black carriage pulled by a prancing stallion, tendrils of steam wafting from its nostrils, appeared through the dense fog. In the back of the carriage, wreaths and garlands of white roses draped a gold coffin. The carriage was a funeral hearse. It had no driver.
One last vehicle followed the black hearse: a pearly white, stretch limo. Its tinted windows were closed. All except one. As I stared at the passing vehicle, the young woman in the window with snowy white hair gazed up at me. It was a person I recognized. Rushing to the railing, I leaned over and called to her.
“Desire, is that you?”
She followed me with her eyes; bewitching eyes I had never forgotten. Sadness masked her face, and she didn’t answer. The limo had disappeared down the street when I realized the passing funeral procession had never made a sound.