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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

The Legend of Blue Moon Bayou

This short story was originally published in The Times of Acadiana, Lafayette, Louisiana. It became part of my second book of The Viola Valentine mystery series, "Ghost Town."

Legend has it that in LaSalle, Louisiana, the first person you see upon the rising of a Blue Moon will be the one you will love forever. Old Eraste Simoneaux married Marie Landry following his rendezvous with Eros, moon dust still fresh on their eyelashes. Sheriff Tate always had eyes for Candice Nereaux, who loved the star of the LaSalle High School football team, but when the Blue Moon of 1942 lit upon the resplendent face of Lulu Mathern, Bobby Tate was smitten until his dying breath.

Celestine had heard them all, including how her mother had fallen out of a tree at 13, landing herself in the clinic at dusk where she promptly fell in love with Matthew Blanchard, the son of the local doctor.

"Hey Boo," Patrice called out at Celestine from behind the receptionist counter. “You here to see your daddy?”

"Is he here?"

Patrice shook her head and the collection of hearts hanging from her earlobes chimed. “Marilyn thinks she’s in labor again. He won’t be long.”

Celestine fell into one of the clinic’s chair, picking up the February issue of Oprah magazine and flipping through its love-filled pages but registering nothing of what she read. The same question kept revolving round and round her mind as she gazed at the happy couples sipping champagne and eating chocolates. How would she tell her father that she had broken off her engagement?

“How’s Steve?” Patrice asked, which made Celestine jump.

“Fine,” she answered all too quickly.

Patrice raised a graying eyebrow ever so slightly and Celestine sensed that the woman, who knew Celestine almost as long as her parents, was guessing her predicament.

“Wanna talk about it?” she asked.

Celestine's brain raced to find the words to stall her inquisition when her father burst into the room. “Marilyn’s right this time and the baby’s coming fast. I’m heading over to the hospital.”

Despite her sixty-five years, Patrice Waquespack could bolt into action faster than any seasoned ER professional. In seconds, she grabbed the doctor’s bag and change of clothes and followed Dr. Blanchard out the door.

Celestine almost thought she had been missed, when her father stuck his head back into the waiting room and smiled. “Hi baby. See you got back from school for the long weekend. Ride with me and give me the news.”

Celestine followed her father into the ambulance that held a moaning Marilyn Whitley, accompanied by a pale husband. “Marilyn, Jack, you know my daughter Celestine.”

They all smiled like family. “How’s vet school?” Jack asked, as if they were talking over nails at the hardware store and not about to bring a child into the world. “Your dad says you’re an honors student.”

Celestine cringed, thinking back on the last semester when she had found Steve in the arms of a Golden Girl. While Steve had begged for forgiveness and smothered her with roses, Celestine had refused to see him, instead of immersing herself in schoolwork and cracking her first A honor roll. At least one thing had been successful during the horrid year.

Again, Celestine thought to tell her father of their breakup — her father practically considered Steve a son — when Marilyn experienced a hard contraction. Dr. Blanchard calmly coached Marilyn to breathe, while Jack aided her, but Celestine could see a small tuft of hair beginning to crown and knew it would be only minutes before their baby arrived. Her heartbeat madly wondering if they would make it to the hospital on time.

“How are we doing back there?” the ambulance driver asked

south louisiana

as if he read Celestine’s mind.

“Fine,” Dr. Blanchard answered in a loving and patient tone. Years of delivering babies and he never sweated a one.

As the contraction receded, Dr. Blanchard glanced at Celestine and winked. “Michael McKernan is our new driver. He’s from Boston.”

Celestine stole a glance at the rearview window and spotted two blue eyes starring back. “Cape Cod.”

Dr. Blanchard shrugged. “Boston. Cape Cod. Anyway, Michael’s new in town and doesn’t believe in our legend.”

The conversation kept Jack grounded. A little color appeared in his cheeks. “We have a Blue Moon tonight?”

Celestine couldn’t believe it. Marilyn was about to birth a child on the road and they were discussing local myths? Just as a contraction began and Marilyn grasped the sides of the gurney for support, she turned her head to see the Yankee driver. “You have a girlfriend, Michael? If not, you will now.”

Celestine watched the driver shake his head, but those blue eyes looked back in alarm as Marilyn fought off an intense contraction. “We’re there,” he shouted, and Celestine felt the ambulance turn a corner and roll up an incline.

Suddenly, the back doors flew open and several hands grabbed the gurney, leading Marilyn and a loving, attentive Jack into the hospital. Dr. Blanchard followed suit, pausing only briefly to touch Celestine’s arm.

“Mom said you wanted to talk. I’ll get Michael to take you home and you can tell me everything over dinner, okay?”

Celestine didn’t have time to answer for her father quickly disappeared inside the electric doors.

The adrenaline rush subsided and Celestine deflated on the back of the ambulance. Was it the emotional high of the birth, the love she had seen shared between Jack and Marilyn, or the knowledge that she would be alone this Valentine's Day? As she watched the moon rise on the horizon and the sun leave the sky, a darkness fell upon her heart and a tear trickled down her cheek.

“You don’t believe in that myth, do you?”

Celestine looked up to find those blue eyes sparkling inside a friendly, handsome face. For an instant, she imagined babies with blue eyes, a first for her Cajun family.

Shaking her head to dispel such thoughts, she stood up, only to find the ambulance driver twice as cute eye to eye. He held out his hand. “Shall I take you home?”

Celestine accepted it, enjoying the warm but firm feel of his large hand on hers. Suddenly, Valentine's Day looked infinitely brighter.

Cheré Coen writes mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

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