Cornell Woolrich

“The sun goes down and it's night-time in New Orleans. The moon rises, midnight chimes from St. Louis cathedral, and hardly has the last note died away than a gruesome swampland whistle sounds outside the deathly still house. A fat Negress, basket on arm, comes trudging up the stairs a moment later, opens the door, goes in to the papaloi, closes it again, traces an invisible mark on it with her forefinger and kisses it. Then she turns and her eyes widen with surprise. Papa Benjamin is in bed, covered up to the neck with filthy rags. The familiar candles are all lit, the bowl for the blood, the sacrificial knife, the magic powders, all the paraphernalia of the ritual are laid out in readiness, but they are ranged about the bed instead of at the opposite end of the room as usual.

The old man's head, however, is held high above the encumbering rags, his beady eyes gaze back at her unflinchingly, the familiar semicircle of white wool rings his crown, his ceremonial mask is at his side. 'I am a little tired, my daughter,' he tells her. His eyes stray to the tiny wax image of Eddie Bloch under the candles, hairy with pins, and hers follow them. 'A doomed one, nearing his end, came here last night thinking I could be killed like other men. He shot a bullet from a gun at me. I blew my breath at it, it stopped in the air, turned around, and went back in the gun again. But it tired me to blow so hard, strained my voice a little.'

A revengeful gleam lights up the woman's broad face. 'And he'll die soon, papaloi?'

'Soon,' cackles the weazened figure in the bed. The woman gnashes her teeth and hugs herself delightedly. ("Papa Benjamin" aka "Dark Melody Of Madness")”


Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
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The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich (Alternatives SF Series) The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich by Cornell Woolrich
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