The Legend of Chickenfoot

I can remember it as if it were yesterday. The thought of the-- incident-- even now makes my blood run cold, as if a thousand cold invisible fingers running over my body. This old diner that smells of old grease and staleness also reminds me of another like it in my past. Believe me, I would not be telling you this story if it wasn’t driving me crazy, and your offer of a meal for my story is most---necessary right now. But make no mistake, I do not relish the telling of my tale.

It has been... 10 years? now since that day. It was getting colder, the chill was in the air on a sunny, clear day in early October. The clouds were forming wonderful shapes in the sky, and the birds were busy playing and singing. It was a happy time. Baton Rouge in Autumn is simply beautiful that time of year. The city was bustling and exciting and fun.... I had just moved there from up north and it was all so new to me. I couldn’t get enough of it, I just drank it all in.

I had found a decent job, and it was making ends meet. Let me tell you, there wasn’t much extra at the end of the month but I wasn’t complaining. I had made a couple of friends, and they were showing me more and more of the local culture. I was enthralled with the diversity of the city, it’s enclaves, it’s sub-cultures.... it’s secrets.

Part of my work took me to different parts of the city, and one day I chanced upon a busy diner in an old neighborhood. White, black, latinos, it was a little melting pot of people. I was particularly impressed with the heavy French influence around me, and I realized that this was a creole part of Baton Rouge. I sat down in the diner and ordered some lunch. I don’t recall what I ordered because what happened next was so incredible.

Across the diner, a beautiful young woman was working the counter. Did I say beautiful? No, she was radiant and for some length of time, she was all I could see. I was instantly and totally smitten with her. And she looked at me. I could feel her stare like a white hot needle, and she held my gaze for what seemed like forever. I know it was only a couple of seconds, but time really did feel different...strange.. for that however long it lasted.

I tried to push my way closer, past the lunch crowd, anything to get close enough to talk to her. And I made it. I was suddenly there. She asked me what I wanted, and I made some vague answer, but the truth was... I wanted her. Her voice was lyrical. Her smile was like sunshine. I had to move on and it felt like winter arriving early when I left that diner. I had found my salvation and her name was Jocelyn.

Over the next few weeks I tried to be at that diner as often as I reasonably could. I did manage to speak to her every now and then, but it felt like she didn’t really notice me among the crowd. Gradually, obsessive feelings began to emerge. If she couldn’t notice me during her work shift, I’ll simply show up at closing time. And that is exactly what I did. But it was not what I expected.

The sun was setting. The air had a chill. It had been a busy day. I arrived back at the diner, and very few people were around at that time. I was across the street when I saw Jocelyn emerge from the rear door. And there out of nowhere, a tall young guy comes around the corner to meet her. They hug each other. They kiss. It was shocking to me. I never considered, even for an instant, that she may already be in love with someone else.

Life after that day felt different. Changed. My thinking began to take an obsessive turn. I would show up at the diner at closing more and more often. Each time he would meet her at the door, it stung me, and I fantasized that it was me meeting her. Hugging her. Kissing her warm lips. Walking away alone.

One of my friends noticed that I was behaving differently, and eventually got the truth out of me. Once he understood that it was a female problem, he made a joke of it. Yes, it seemed funny at the time. Now I wish I had never had that particular conversation. But the idea was planted in my mind, and for me, it was just a little too late. He said-- and I remember it so clearly--”You need a love potion”. I laughed. The thought was comical. But he assured me that such things were not only possible, but he knew exactly how I could procure one.

He explained to me that his family was involved in the Santaria Religion. It was part Voodoo, and a curious blend of Catholicism. Gods and Saints all part of a greater reality. I dismissed the idea of course. I never believed in things like that. And even if Santaria was real, It sent chills up my spine. Now I know they were warnings, but that would be evident later.

It was January now. The days were much colder. My home in Ohio would be snow covered by now, but here on the gulf the weather wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t enjoy it, I couldn’t enjoy anything. I would fantasize about Jocelyn... what it would be like to be with her.... how it would have been me meeting her if I had just met her first. I was losing sleep. Little by little, the idea of a love potion was beginning to make more sense. I absolutely would reject the idea when I was thinking straight. But those times were growing fewer and fewer.

One very lonely evening, after drinking a little too much, I called my friend, and made him promise to bring me to his aunt. He arrived in a couple hours, saying it was all arranged. Perhaps if I had had a day or two to sober up and clear my head, things would be better today. As it was, I was in the passenger seat of an old car heading out of town, and down a series of dirt roads... into the dark.

Another hour of riding in and out of sleep, we pulled up a driveway and up to an old, dilapidated house. My friend took me to the door, and it opened. After a few phrases in French-- in a creole dialect-- I was led into a waiting room. Everything was in shadow on purpose. An old woman was there, but I couldn’t see her face. She spoke in english with a heavy accent, and I had an impression that she had been born in Africa, and come here when she must have been young. She spoke in a slow, low voice.

I explained my problem to her, and I couldn’t disguise the fear of her when I spoke. Still, she made sure that I was sincere before she offered me a “prescription”, more like a recipe, for a potion that she claimed would work for me and give me what I desired most. She wouldn’t make it for me in such a short time frame, but she would give me the directions for $500 cash immediately. And I took it. I gave her the money and I took the paper from her shaky hand.My hand was shaking too. Then she got up and walked toward me, bending down to my ear. In a whisper that I could feel like a snake slithering close to my head, she said “remember, there’s a ritual too.....” and I listened as she pushed the words into my head. I began to feel dizzy and so, so sleepy, as someone helped me out of the house and into the car. I don’t remember the ride home, but I awoke the next day feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. And I could feel her words in my brain.

A week went by. The image of the beautiful Jocelyn seldom left my mind, and I would take out the paper, look at it, put it away again. Then one night, after another bottle of wine, I thought, “why not”. After all, it cost me $500, and I should get something for that bundle. I looked at the ingredient list. Some things, like the herbs, I could get at the store. I would need a live chicken, I could do that. There were a couple of exotic ingredients that did not look so easy. And the next day I tried to find them, I really did. I called a couple shops in town that specialized in occult items, but no one had what I was looking for, and I just didn’t take the time to find them.

I resolved to do the act on a Friday night. I cleared a large space in the middle of the room. I went into the kitchen and, according to the recipe, I mixed all the ingredients that I had on hand. I simply trusted that it would work without the two things I couldn’t find. Next, I started making the symbols on my floor, I made a small doll to represent Jocelyn, and I turned off the lights and lit the candles. I won’t go into any more details of that night now. One dinner doesn’t buy all of the story. There was blood from the chicken, incantations to recite, a potion to use. I did the best I could. I never had any experience with this sort of thing. I had no real confidence that it would work, or that anything would happen at all. Logically, I knew that leaving some ingredients out could be a problem. Logically I knew that mis-drawing a couple of the symbols could possibly be a problem. Logically I knew that not knowing how to pronounce the names of two of the voodoo gods I was supposed to call definitely could be a big problem.

But I wasn’t thinking logically.

Nothing happened at first. Then shadows began to move past the candle light. A certain kind of heat was starting to build up in the room. I was beginning to show some anxiety. Instinctively, I reached for the two things that were closest to me, as a defensive measure: A long knife, and a chicken foot because of the sharp talons. What’s that?! I swore I could see faces in the shadows! Low level sounds became voices in my head! I was wracked with fear over the things I was seeing and hearing. I lashed out with the knife and the chicken foot. A heat built up in the knife, and I dropped it, pain searing into my left hand!! I slashed wildly at the shapes with what I had left--- the chicken foot. I screamed at the shadows to go back where they came from, I was sorry, I made a huge mistake!!

The things grew quiet. Some of the shadows were gone. In a few minutes things seemed like they were back to normal. I sighed in relief. I left my guard down. That was probably a mistake. But then, it was all a mistake. I heard a creaking sound. A small gust of wind. Where did that come from? A voice from far away speaking in some African language I couldn’t understand. And all of these things, the creaking, the wind, the voices all grew louder and louder and more powerful by the second. I panicked--- it was NOT over!!! Before I knew it, I was wracked with pain, so, so intense-- that I knew I was going to die from this. My right leg went completely numb, and I could tell something about it was changing. But every muscle in my body was being stretched, twisted, stabbed. I must have blacked out, mercifully, because I just couldn’t take any more pain.

It was the next day. I woke up to light streaking into the room from the window. The room was a shambles. Chicken blood, my blood, blood everywhere. And-- a strange sensation in my right foot, It felt so weird, still partially numb. I was afraid to look at it, checking my hands and arms first. Gradually, I sat up. And then I saw it. My normal foot was now replaced by a human sized chicken’s foot! I passed out.

That was ten years ago. The ritual failed, I never got Jocelyn, and my sorrow multiplies each day that I remove my boot and see that that damn chicken foot is still there. No matter how much I pray that it was all just a dream, it’s still there. I could never find the old voodoo lady on my own, and my “friend” had mysteriously disappeared. I wander as an outcast, a freak, since that time, and I am cursed to this day and to the end of my days.

What? You don’t believe me? You think I would make something as horrible as this curse, up? Oh, I see. You’re very skeptical, just as I used to be. For you, only proof will do. Yes........ you want me to remove this boot, don’t you? You want to see for yourself. Well, my young friend. That..................... will cost you another meal.

An Original Story by Michael Rahm
Written 01/19/13 (all rights reserved)
mendoguy mendoguy
56-60, M
2 Responses Jan 20, 2013

That story was so captivating. I couldn't stop even when kids were screaming😊. On pins and needles. I know not to leave anything out and to listen exactly to witch doctor. Thank you

I just love being called sweetie lol