"Loup Garou as Shadow Companion," #176 Swapping Stories
Okay, this is a story I first heard when I must have been nine, ten years old. I remember the moment on the porch at my parents' house, and my parrain, my godfather -- who was also an uncle -- was the one who told it. But definitely he had heard it passed in his family.
And it was about days back, ooh, back even before the depression, and they were all oyster fishermen, because the family had been oyster fishermen for generations. And they would fish the oysters with big tongs, . . . like ice tongs. And they'd tong them into the boat. But that was only half the battle, because they'd be all grown together in clusters, and you had to break them up with a hatchet into single oysters, because that's the way they were sold. Which was a lot of work. And at night, the boats would all tie up together, and they'd stay in their fishing camp, this palmetto camp they had built and tell stories and pass the time and go to bed and slap the mosquitoes.
And it started happening that they'd come out in the morning and the oysters would be separated, and they'd be culled into singles for them. But also, half of them would be eaten. So you had a good thing -- a lot of your work would be gone. But you'd had a bad thing that the oysters would be eaten. And course, it scared them. They didn't know who was doing this. They could tell no other boats had come. There was no other house for miles around. It was open water. And one of the young men who was braver than most said he was going to stay on the boat and find out who or what was doing it.
Well, he stayed, but he didn't quite make it through the whole night, because somewhere in the middle of the night -- everybody had been waiting up, trying to see what would happen, but one by one they fell asleep. In the middle of the night they heard screaming, and he came running down the dock into the camp and just was frantic and could hardly explain what he had seen--this creature that was huge and hairy and moved very quickly. But that was the end of it. After that whatever it was stopped appearing on the boats, stopped breaking them into singles, stopped eating half of them.
Of course it was the end of it for everybody else, but the one brave guy -- who started telling the others that whenever he was alone, this creature would come to him. It would sit on his shoulders with featherweight touch. And he'd lie on his bed and if he was in a house alone, he was alone in the bedroom -- it would rest on the bed head. Never hurt him, but frightened him, because it haunted him. And time went on and people -- I mean nobody really believed his stories, and more and more, they kind of avoided him, because he was obsessed with this thing. And he had been engaged to be married, and his fiancée -- elle a cassée la paille [she broke it off] -- you know, she didn't want anything to do with him. And he grew older and the young kids used to follow him around and sing songs after him to taunt him, because everybody thought he was a little nuts. And he talked to himself -- or so they thought -- because actually he was talking to the loup garou -- the creature -- which never answered but sure seemed to listen real well.
And again, as time went on, he grew older until finally he became an old man and had to walk with a cane. And he'd still go and meet all the oyster boats when they'd come in, walking on those shells with that cane. The end of the cane would get kind of sharp. And one day, he fell. And that sharpened end of the cane went up and cut the loup garou and -- if you know about the loups garoux, you know that one way to get rid of them -- probably the only way to get rid of them -- is to draw blood. And when he cut it, and it drew blood, that was the end.
And the old man realized he had just lost the only friend he had ever had. After spending years trying to get rid of the thing, he had gotten so used to it that nobody else would have anything to do with him, that it became his only friend and now -- click -- by accident he had killed his friend. And he suffered in loneliness for a while and then he died himself.
Notes to the Teacher: Notes to the Teacher: Glen Pitre's storytelling skills are clearly part of his family heritage; but, like every great narrator, Glen makes this tale uniquely his own. Themes and episodes from Glen's father Loulan Pitre's loup garou legends, are reshaped in this version, which Glen learned from his uncle. Here, once more, the supernatural being is a lifelong companion.