Grimm Valot was a Cajun boy with a heavy bayou accent when I first met him. He spent most of his youth fishing the Mississippi River from the levee in Old Algiers, but I don’t ever remember seeing him in the market selling anything with his family. My daddy always tried to get me to stay away from him, but he was a damn good friend and I think some of my happiest moments were hiding behind the trees, sitting on the grass, and watching him throw his line in.
I think part of the reason my daddy didn’t want me near Grimm was because his family lived in the Lower Ninth Ward and we lived in the French Quarter. He said that I was too “upper class” to be seen with anyone from the Wards, which I didn’t agree with. I never did define people on what they had or where they lived, but he did because he worked so hard for everything we had.
We left Louisiana the day before Hurricane Katrina swept through and destroyed the Wards, leaving me wondering if he and his family had made it out safely. That almost eleven years ago and I found myself back in New Orleans for a visit with my parents in their fancy French Quarter home. In two days it would be Mardi Gras and the perfect time for me to slip away and see if I could find out whatever happened to him; if he was still alive or if he lost his life like so many others.
I’ll admit that I’m scared. Dark things happen in the deepest corners of New Orleans and there are whispers of magic, sex, and death. Ritualistic killings to appease spirts and gain power. I never believed in any of that and I knew I would have to swallow my fear to find him. I felt in my bones that he was still alive and I knew that I would have to be strong to find him. I would have to hold onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, Grimm was looking for me too.
It was all I could do for now