A Witch In the Church: A Novelette By Sinclere Lee

This story takes place in La Grange Georgia during the year of 1947.  There were two best friends. Malcolm and Kevin — both twelve years old and their mothers’ made sure that they were church going kid.  In fact, their mothers saw to it that they were in church every Sunday.  Mount Calvary Baptist Church was the only church for the colors and most of towns’ people of color attended the church.  Why used the colored church as a victim in this melodrama?  Simply, because this congregation is a symbol of weakness, and the lose fate in their faith.  The church was an old abandon one-room schoolhouse that the member had converted into a church. 

Malcolm and Kevin were first cousins, the sons of two sisters, and they were both born on the same day. Like most colored kids in the community, they had fun fishing on the local creek and playing baseball.  On this particular Sunday, there was something that happened in church that got their attention and the attention of most members of the church. 

It was a woman who no one knew of, or ever seen before but the pastor —Pastor Jacks—was introducing her as a visitor and suggesting that she join the church as a new member.  But, when it was over she was gone, and many members of the church were found dead.

Editor’s notes: This the first part of a Novelette by Lee, special to “Black News.    

When we were in church, Kevin and me always sat together.  I was sometimes a junior usher at the church and he would something sing in the junior chore.  This Sunday, we ignored our church duties and sat behind Deacon Millsap and his wife.  They always talked laud in church; even sometimes over the Pastor Jacks voice.  When Pastor Jacks got to the lectern on the man-made stage, his introduction to us was always the same.  He welcomed all the church members to the Sunday services, prayed for the sick and shut-in and announced the collection for the morning services.  The money you were asks to put in for the morning service was never seen out of church.  He seemed more interested in the collecting money than the congregation he was trying to get the money from.  Usually, Pastor Jacks introduced the guest at the end of his sermon — right before he dismissed the church, and after the final collection.  Now, it looked like the Pastor Jacks was going to introduce this strange woman to everybody in the church before the service started.

“My fellow member Mount Calvary Baptist Church, we have a guest visiting us this Sunday.  She’s from Macon County, and her name is Sadie Isalove.’  The pastor said pointing at the strange woman sitting in the front row.  She stood and bowed her head out of respect for our pastor.

I noticed the woman before Kevin did, and perhaps before anyone else in the church did. She looked old-aged, maybe in her mid sixties.  She was black as cold, a broad nose and ugly features. She looked a wreck, and had hate all over her. 

She was dressed in all black and wore a black hat with a large brim.   As I was making her out, she turned and looked at us as if she knew we were checking her out.  How did she know that I had her in my glance?  Did she know me?  I thought to myself?  Next, she gave me a hard stare, and her eyes were all Black like cat’s eyes.  I turned my head because I couldn’t stand her staring gaze!

“Kevin, did you see that?” I turned to Kevin and he seemed asleep. “ Kevin, did you see what I saw?”

“See what?”

“How she looked at me!”  “Who!" Kevin asked?

“The new woman!” I said.  “She looked at me like she knew what was on my mind, and my thinking about her.”

Pastor started his sermon:  “Let’s take out your Bible.  I want to talk about forgiveness to day.  So, turn to First John Chapter One, Verses Nine.” The pastor asked of the congregation.  “We all at sometime want others to forgive us for our sins but Jesus is the great forgiver.   While we want our sins forgive, sometimes it’s hard for us to forgive others.”

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Pastor Jacks announced while pointed to the congregation who was sitting in dead silence.   “Now, turn to Psalm Chapter 103, Vers, 10-14’,” The Pastor said, and by now he was getting into his rhythm. And, he was dancing on the man-made stage   “God has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”

“Amen pastor, Amen Pastor, Amen!” Was the response from the congregation. “Amen pastor, Amen Pastor, Amen! Preach!”

This went on for about a half an hour and by now Kevin was asleep.   By now the people were shouting and Pastor Jacks was dancing, doing his little two-step on the man-made stage.  He stopped, took out a white handkerchief and wiped his face.  Now, the ushers were up walking around for the final collection.   This was the time you tithe, giving up 10% of your earnings.  A tithe is 10% of your income given specifically to your local church.  Because the custom of tithing is biblical, many Christians and Jews practice it as part of their faith.  No one ever gave up 10% percent of his or her earnings; it was more like 1% percent at the most from people.

“God loves a generous giver, so, to please God from your heart, God knows your situation, and you can’t cheat God!” The pastor said, trying to convince the congregation that God is watching them if they didn’t tithe 10% of their earnings.

“Kevin moved over so I can hear what they are saying.”  I whispered to Kevin in a low voice so the Millsap’s couldn’t hear what we were saying behind them.  When Kevin scooted over, I was sitting right behind Deacon Millsap.  Him and his wife would say anything about the way pastor was running the church the pastor didn't like.

“I don’t think Pastor Jacks should be inviting just anybody to our church.”  Mrs. Millsap said.   “We don’t know anything about her and as far as we know she could be anybody.  Even a mass-murderer. She could be anybody”

“Mrs. Millsap, the pastor knows what he’s doing, and by the way this is God’s house, and anyone and all are welcome.”  Deacon Millsap said to his wife in a sternway.  Suddenly, the woman the pastor called Sadie turned from her seat and looked at the Millsaps as if she knew that they were talking about her and saying bad things about her too.

“Did you see that Kevin, did you see that?  She looked at them like she knew every word they were saying about her.”

“What you talking about Malcolm?   Kevin said looking straight ahead at pastor. “Sometimes you just talk crazy," He said to me.

After church, Kevin and me rushed home for supper.  It was fried chicken every Sunday.  Chicken for breakfast with gravy, rice and biscuits.  And for supper, it was fried chicken, rice and gravy, fried green tomatoes; squish casserole and pound cake for dessert.   We had sweet tea and lemon-aid to drink.  We ate so much that the only thing we thought of was to go to the creek and fish.

When we got to the creek, we saw the man Jacob fishing. When we threw out our lines, Jacob the fisherman was already there fishing with his nets.   Jacob had been it town for about two-years, and I remember because Kevin and me had a birthday party that year together.  Nobody in town knew too much about Jacob; we only knew he was from New Orleans.  He was a professional fisherman and the fish he caught, he sent back to New Orleans for sale. 

When he pulled in his nets, he had scores of fish; Walleye, Sauger, Smallmouth bass, White bass, Catfish, Perch and Crappies. He caught the biggest Catfish I ever seen.  Jacob would catch the fish and pack them in barrels of salt and take them back to New Orleans where he got good money.

Once he pulled in his nets and loaded the fish into the back of his wagon, we started to talk to him.

“Hey, Mr. Jacob what you gone do with all them fish?"  I asked while Kevin went to the wagon to check out Jacob's haul.  “Them plenty lots of fish. We been out here for over an hour and we ain’t caught nothing.”

“You need to learn netting.  That’s the best way to fish in a creek like this.” He said and went to his wagon and came back with 5 large Catfish and a bunch of Perch he gave to the boys.  “I know y’alls mommas, they go and get salt for me sometimes.  They help me load the fish in the barrels too.  They some good Christian girls and hard workers.” 

“You boys— once you skinned the Catfish, you got some mighty good eating.  The Perch, I never give away ‘cause I can get a dollar per pound in New Orleans.”

“What’s your real name, Mr. Jacob?  Kevin asked while separating the Catfish from the Perch, and placing them in our large nap sack that we used to carry our fish.  “We only know Jacob.  What’s you full name?” Kevina asked.

“My name is Jacob Laveau.  My momma was Marie Laveau a great lady of New Orleans.”Marie Catherine Laveau was approximately 1/3 each African, Native American and European. 

Marie Laveau, started a beauty parlor where she was a hair-dresser for the wealthier families of New Orleans. She used the information she knew about wealthier families to convince people that she was fortune teller.  Of Laveau's magical career, there is little that can be substantiated about her life, including whether or not she had a snake she named Zombi after an African God.  Laveau was also known as a female religious leader, community activist, and herbalist.

Laveau's only had two children to survive into adulthood. Her son Jacob and daughter Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau. Marie Laveau was a dedicated practitioner of Voodoo, as well as a healer and herbalist.  She was said to have traveled the streets of New Orleans like she owned the place.  Her daughter, Marie Laveau II displayed more theatrical behavior by having public events including inviting attendees to St. John's Eve rituals on Bayou St. John.  It is not known which mother or daughter had done more to establish the Voodoo Queen’s reputation.  Her son Jacob, was a well-known fisherman.

“Wow, your mom was Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen?”   “We heard a lot about her and New Orleans from our moms.” I said while amazed at who Jacob was.  I helped Kevin load the fish and we left our fishing and headed back home to tell mom whom we met.

On the way back home, we noticed lights on at an abandon house that no one had occupied for years.  We went to the house to look in.  We saw it lit with kerosene lanterns, and a potbelly stove was aflame.  At first, I didn’t see nobody, but Kevin said look.  “There she is,  that Sadie Isalove coming into the kitchen, and she is cooking a cake.”

“Be quite, she may hear us!” I said to Kevin.  “She is putting something in the cake batter.  It was a green liquid and she poured it into the mix and put the cake into the oven of the pot-belled stove.

“What is she doing?” Kevin asked “What is she doing?”

“Be quite!” I said and she heard me and came to the window and looked out.  We ducked down to the ground, and when she went back to baking the cake, we ran fast as we could back to my house.  “What was she was putting into that cake, Kevin?”

“I don’t know!  It was something that looked green!” he aswered.

“Boy that was a close a call Kevin!” I said. Then, Kevin went home, and I went to my room to get some sleep.

The next morning on our way to school, we saw Sadie Isalove with a cake taking it to Deacon Millsap’s house.  He opened the door and let her in, and she left without the cake.

“We got to tell Deacon Millsap not to eat that cake. It might be poison!” I said to Kevin.

“Do you think they will eat it?”

“Sure, deacon loves pound cake, and his wife do too!” I said.  “Lets’ go and warn him not to eat it.”

When we got to the deacon’s house, he had cut the cake and they were about to eat it.  I knocked on the door and yelled!

“Don’t eat that cake! It may be poison!”  I said as the deacon open the door.

“What you talking about Malcolm?  You kids should be in school!” The deacon said with anger.  “Get outta hear! You just want some for yourselves, but this cake is for me and my wife.  Get outta here ‘cause y'all ain’t gone get none!”

“I hope it ain’t poison!”  I said to Kevin and we went on our way to school.  After school, we saw the High Sheriff’s car parked in front of the church.

“What’s going on?” Kevin asked me.  We looked but hurried home from school.

“Pastor Jacks, I have some bad new about Deacon Millsap and his wife.” The sheriff said to Pastor Jacks who was standing in the middle of the church.  “They both were found dead at home this morning eating cake.   For what we can tell, they died from natural causes. They were eating breakfast when they died.  Since they were in their seventies, and when you get that old, anything can happen to you.” The sheriff tried to explain.

"That's impossible!"

“Them both dying at the same time seems odd to me sheriff.  I know they were both old and had health problems, but how often does two people die at the same time?” Pastor Jacks was confused.

“We're still investigating the cause but it looks like they died of natural causes.” The sheriff said as he turned to leave.  “We’ll take the bodies to the undertaker, and you and the church can handled it from there.”  Pastor Jacks was in disbelief because he just saw them both in church Sunday, and they looked in perfect health.  He walked back and forth shacking his head in disbelief.

“This can’t be true!  I just saw them yesterday!” He said.  Pastor was obviously upset.  “I just saw them both yesterday!”

“Here yesterday gone today!” The sheriff said and left Pastor Jacks in wonderment.

Part Two: In the final Novelette Sadie Isalove kills more people in the church. She even killed the sheriff. Now, Malcolm And Kevin with help of Jacob, the fisherman knew they had to stop Sadie. With Voodoo, spieals herbal concoction and magical spells, they had a chance.

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