Ciji Ware

Ciji Ware by Midnight on Julia Street Read Free Book Online

Book: Ciji Ware by Midnight on Julia Street Read Free Book Online
Authors: Midnight on Julia Street
Their strong, distinctive fragrance now competed with the acrid odor of burned oatmeal.
    “California crazy” is what King Duvallon would call her.
    What she’d just experienced seemed very different from ordinary dreaming. The scene that had unfolded before her eyes this morning had been more like watching a movie. However, she reminded herself, the events she’d “seen” supposedly had taken place 150 years ago, if they’d happened at all!
    Furthermore, who the hell was Henri Girard — the stiff in the coffin?
    In her mind’s eye she recalled the black-bordered card sitting on the cherry wood sideboard announcing the date—1837—and the location of Henri Girard’s funeral, Saint Louis Cathedral. She suddenly remembered the name of her boss at WWEZ-TV who’d employed and then fired her: Victor Girard.
    Girard! The same last name as the dead man!
    “Oh, Jesus…” she murmured, grabbing her kitchen counter for support. She must really harbor more resentment toward the guy than she realized. But it had all seemed so genuine, as if she really were right there, watching events taking place “live” and in living color in 1837!
    Her reporter’s training kicked in. She could always look in the city’s official birth and death records to see if a Henri Girard had died on that date in New Orleans.
    And what if Henri Girard actually existed? What then?
    It was a dream !
    She headed for the gallery to check on Cagney just as the smoke alarms mercifully fell silent. As she crossed her living room once again, she gazed with a jaundiced eye at the red Persian rug that her great-aunt had described as a precious family heirloom. It had been handed down from the woman whom Marge had insisted she be named for: Corlis Bell McCullough. She and her husband were the only members of the Scottish-American McCullough clan to ever live in New Orleans.
    How nice, she thought grimly. My very own magic carpet.
    She leaned against the window jamb and stared absently down at Julia Street’s dew-slicked pavement. Perhaps this strange apparition had been a kind of self-inflicted morality play. Maybe she’d merely dreamed that the man who’d fired her so unceremoniously last night would come to a bad end.
    But in a winged collar?
    And besides, the dead guy’s first name was Henri. Her boss was Victor. Worse yet, in the dream she’d had a good look at the corpse’s face. Except for his arched Gallic nose, Henri Girard did not look at all like the man who had just given her her walking papers at WWEZ-TV.
    Meanwhile, Corlis began to worry that Cagney Cat might come to an equally bad end if she didn’t get him to come back inside. Disconcerted by everything that had happened in such quick succession, Corlis again stuck first her head, then her torso out of her living room window. She gazed with increasing frustration at the willful feline who remained perched on the gallery’s wrought-iron railing.
    “Oh, stay out there, for all I care, you big brat!” she declared finally. “I’m going round the corner to the Hummingbird for breakfast!”
    At this point, Corlis thought grimly, a hearty meal in her stomach seemed her only hope for putting a stop to all this nonsense! Filled with resolve, she marched down the hallway, grabbed her purse and keys off the bed, and swiftly ran down the stairs and out her front door.
    ***
    A loud series of short buzzes from the apartment intercom penetrated the fitful, caffeine-laced doze that Corlis had fallen into following her breakfast of pancakes and cane syrup. Whoever was downstairs on Julia Street changed tactics and held a heavy finger on the button.
    “All right! All right!” she protested as she padded down the hallway in her sweat socks and pushed the “speak” button on the intercom.
    “Hello!” she barked.
    “Corlis McCullough?” A deep masculine voice sounded as irascible as she felt.
    “Bin-go!” she said.
    “It’s King Duvallon. May I come up?”
    Corlis sagged against the

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