Many Waters, page 1
The Stones of Song Series: Book Two
A Curse-Breaker Book
By William Woodall
©2013 by William Woodall
Many waters cannot quench love,
Neither can the floods drown it.
-Song of Solomon 8:7
Prologue - Cody
Love has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes, especially when you least expect it.
So does evil.
I certainly never expected to find both of those things in the space of a single summer, but sometimes life is really strange that way.
I was mucking out the horses’ stalls when it all started. Every now and then I had to stop and wipe the sweat off my face with my shirt-tail, and I think I would have traded my firstborn child for a cold Dr. Pepper right then. If you’ve never shoveled horse manure for two or three hours under a blistering Texas sun, then you’ve missed out on one of life’s truly memorable experiences, buddy.
I wasn’t expecting visitors that morning, so when I saw a black truck come bouncing across the cattle guard I was understandably curious. Strangers can be good or bad, but they always have to be watched carefully till you know which kind they are. I put down my shovel and started walking toward the front drive to meet whoever-it-was, secretly glad for the chance to take a break for a few minutes.
When I got close enough I noticed that the truck had Louisiana tags, and even though that’s not such an oddity, it was unusual enough to elevate my curiosity another notch.
I was just in time to see a young man getting out of the driver’s seat. He looked to be about two or three years younger than me, maybe eighteen or so, but I’d never seen him before in my life. He was wearing ratty jeans and a chocolate colored t-shirt that matched his hair and eyes, and he had the athletic build of a dude who runs or swims a lot.
“Can I help you?” I asked, when he was near enough to use a normal voice.
“Yes, sir, I think you can. My name’s Matthieu Doucet, and I’m looking for the owner of the Goliad Ranch,” he said. He had an ever-so-slight Cajun accent that marked him as coming from somewhere a lot farther south than Shreveport, and I wondered again what he could possibly want.
“Well, that’d be me. Cody McGrath,” I said, offering my hand. Matthieu nodded and shook it, with a surprisingly strong grip.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. McGrath. I’m afraid my business might take a little bit of explaining. May I come in for a few minutes?” he asked politely. I couldn’t think of any reason not to hear him out, so I took him inside to the kitchen table and sat down. It’s the place I always gravitate whenever there’s a serious conversation afoot.
“I know you’re probably busy, Mr. McGrath, so I’ll get right to the point. We think your family might be in danger,” he said.
That put me instantly on guard, of course, just like it would anybody, but I didn’t let it show on my face.
“What do you mean?” I asked carefully, and Matthieu looked at me for a second, like he was sizing me up. I hate it when people do that; it almost always means they’re trying to figure out how to get me to do whatever it is they want. I braced myself to be even more wary than usual, but what he said next totally blew me away.
“Mr. McGrath, do you believe in magic?” he finally asked.
Well, now that was a question I wasn’t expecting. I did believe in it, of course; the Scriptures are chock full of stories about real-life witches and sorcerers. But they’re also full of warnings about how we’re not supposed to have anything to do with those kinds of things, so Matthieu’s question alarmed me to say the least. I don’t mess with stuff like that, and I don’t allow it in my house, either.
“I think it’s real, if that’s what you mean,” I said carefully.
“Well, then, maybe you can also believe it when I tell you that my job is to track down evil things like that, and put a stop to them whenever I can. That’s why I’m here. Your name happened to come up recently during a fight with some especially cruel and powerful sorcerers, and that could mean you’re a target. I don’t know that for sure, but I’d be careful with strangers for a while, if I were you. Evil may not always look like you think it will, so please keep your eyes open,” he said, cool as a cucumber. He seemed absolutely earnest and serious, like it was the most ordinary thing in the world.
“I see,” I said, unsure what else to say.
“I’m also here to offer you some help if you are attacked at some point, but that’s entirely up to you. I hope you never need to call on me, but if you do, please feel free,” he said, offering me a business card which I took without thinking. It was cream colored, with shiny dark blue upraised italics that said Matthieu Doucet, Avenger, with a phone number listed at the bottom. I didn’t know quite what to say to that, either.
Matthieu saved me the trouble of having to think of an adequate answer, because he got up from the table with an air of finality.
“Anyway, that’s what I came to tell you. I hope you’ll take it to heart, Mr. McGrath. Good luck, and God be with you,” he said, offering his hand. I shook it, and that was that.
I stared at the dust trail from the disappearing truck, thinking to myself that I’d just experienced one of the strangest conversations of my entire life. I slipped the business card inside my billfold just in case, but honestly I hoped never to see or hear from Matthieu Doucet the Cajun Avenger ever again.
I went back outside to finish mucking out the stalls while I still had time, uneasy and full of foreboding. Mostly because Matthieu’s warning wasn’t nearly as much of a surprise as he probably thought it was.
You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had dreams.
I don’t mean the kind that everybody has. I’m talking about true dreams. Visions. Glimpses of things yet to come. Most of the time they’re incomprehensible; strange, vivid, unbelievably realistic tales that leave me baffled as to what they mean. Only rarely do I get a clear look at the future. But you better believe I pay close attention either way, just in case. Mama has always told me they’re a gift from God, like the prophets in olden days used to have. All I can say is, if that’s really true, then sometimes gifts are hard to bear.
Oh, not always, of course. I remember one time when I was eight years old and Mama lost her wedding ring while she was cleaning. That night I dreamed I saw it up under the dryer, and sure enough, when we looked the next day, that’s where it was. It was a little bit uncanny, maybe, but nothing exceptional. That’s how things were for a long time. I rarely dreamed at all, and even when I did they were usually fairly ordinary things like that.
But lately my dreams had turned dark and grim, full of monsters and blood. I didn’t know quite what to make of them, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever they meant, it was nothing good.
That’s why Matthieu’s warning was no shock to me. He was a little more specific about it, maybe, but I’d already known for weeks that I had some kind of ominous danger hanging over my head.
And then purely aside from the spooky stuff, it hadn’t rained a drop since March, and the drought was killing us. We were losing money hand over fist, in fact, and even though you can run a business at a loss for a little while and still have a chance to make it up later, you can’t do that forever. If something didn’t change soon, I didn’t know what I might have to do. Thinking about all that was enough to keep me awake at night sometimes, even if I didn’t dream at all.
So what with one thing and another, I guess you could say I was pretty stressed out and preoccupied right then, jumping at shadows and inclined to think there were monsters hiding behind every tree. When you don’t feel safe even in your own bed at ni
In fact, I can safely say that I needed romance right then just about as much as a rooster needs a pair of socks. Maybe even less.
Which I guess goes to show what a really strange sense of humor God must have sometimes.
Mama came outside about ten-thirty to bring me a glass of tea and to make sure I hadn’t collapsed from manure inhalation, I guess. It wasn’t quite a Dr. Pepper, to be sure, but I was way past caring about that.
I drank the whole thing at one pull, then used the cold glass to wipe my forehead.
“Thanks, Mama, that was really good,” I said, handing the glass back to her.
“Well, I thought you might need something cool to drink, it’s so hot out here. Are you just about done?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m finished now. Fixing to go load up some cows to take to the sale barn, as soon as Marcus gets back with the trailer,” I said.
“Oh, all right. I don’t guess you’ll be back in time for lunch, then, will you?” she asked.
“No. Marcus said something about going over to his sister’s place, and I’ll probably stop in Ore City and grab a burger at the Dairy Dip on the way home. Don’t worry about cooking anything,” I said.
“All right. I hope you do good with the cows,” she said, and I nodded. I hoped so too; God knows we needed the money.
I crossed my fingers and prayed for a good day, and never had the faintest clue how that prayer would be answered.
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