Welcome to the last day of Holiday Fiction Week! Today’s story features everybody’s favorite undead pirate, Jean Lafitte…
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“Pirate’s Alley” takes place in the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.
This story takes place one year before the events of Royal Street.
“Arrr, Matey, ask me who it is.” Megan leaned across the counter with a squinched eye and skewed mouth, trying—and failing—to look like a pirate chick. All it earned us was a few stares from the combination of business people and students stuffing down omelettes at the Camellia Grill. “Ask me who my guest is, Rhyn me girl, or I’ll lash ye to the mast.”
I hunched over my plate and pretended not to know my roommate. Meg hadn’t shut up about “Talk Like a Pirate Day” for the last month, planning her big party and teasing at her special guest. I didn’t do pirates. And unless Orlando Bloom showed up in a blond wig and tights answering to the name Legolas, I didn’t care who her special guest was, either.
New Orleans’ streetcars rumbled on the tracks behind us, and an occasional ship’s horn bellowed from the Mississippi River a block away. Black men in crisp white shirts and bow ties shouted to each other and bantered with customers across the counters as they flipped omelettes, fried bacon, and poured coffee.
“I’m not going to beg you to tell me who your guest is.” I downed my last bite of egg and dabbed at my mouth with a napkin. “If you want to tell me, tell me. Otherwise, I’ve got a finance test next Wednesday and that’s my priority.”
I’d put finance off till my last semester of grad school and time had run out. No finance, no MBA. I hated every second of it.
“Pffft.” Meg grabbed both checks and slid off her stool. “It’s only Friday. Party’s on Sunday. That gives you plenty of time to study.”
I shook my head and let Meg pay for breakfast. She could afford it. Scoffing at grad school, she’d gone straight to work after finishing at Tulane last year. She put her art degree to work designing floats at Mardi Gras World while I tried to understand the complexities of corporate finance.
We walked to the corner and waited for the streetcar, Meg in a pout, hands stuffed in the pockets of her jeans.
Finally, I gave in. “Okay, tell me about the special guest.”
She feigned indifference for about three seconds before caving. “Remember I told you I’d been experimenting with”—her voice dipped to a stage whisper—“my gifts?”
Good Lord. Meg fancied herself a witch or a warlock or some other kind of magic-wielding headcase. I’d never seen anything other than a good sense of intuition from her.
“So, I’ve figured out a way to summon Jean Lafitte—I mean the real Jean Lafitte, not an impersonator. Just think—New Orleans’ most famous pirate at our party!”
“Your party.” I groaned inwardly. She’d finally gone insane, and her family lived in Massachusetts. That left me to call the little men in white coats and have her committed. If the little men wore bad pirate suits beneath those white coats, she’d probably go without a fight.
“Meg.” I kept my voice reasonable, as if this weren’t the most ridiculous conversation in history. “Jean Lafitte has been dead for, God, at least two hundred years.” Arguably New Orleans’ most infamous citizen in the city’s long history of infamy, Lafitte had torn up the waters of Southeast Louisiana before the War of 1812, if I remembered my history lessons. “And he was a real pirate. I mean, he, like, killed people. Not exactly my idea of a party favor.”
She waved me off, climbing the steps into the streetcar and dropping her coins in the box. “That was just bad PR.”
I slid in the seat next to her. “Bad PR? Well, jeez, too bad Jean Lafitte couldn’t hire a decent publicist.”
“Look, I’ve read up on him, okay? He was the gentleman pirate. Really smart. He had pirate flunkies to do all the dirty work.”
We swayed as the streetcar made its sharp turn from Carrollton onto St. Charles Avenue and rumbled toward Tulane. “Great. He won’t kill you himself—he’ll just order someone else to do it.”
Why was I arguing with her? It’s not like she could really summon Jean Lafitte.