#ExcerptWeek: “Bayou Fire,” by Sharon E. Cathcart

M&M frt Verson 1I’ve decided to participate in this little activity, put on by The Write Stuff.  That’s why the title looks a little different.  Anyway, here is an excerpt from my latest novel, Crowned Heart award recipient Bayou Fire.  The tale is a historical paranormal, set in both modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.  Enjoy!


Later that evening, Amos and a slew of other men stood off to one side of the deck, smoking thin black cigars and drinking Abita beer straight from the bottle. Diana stood off to the other side, looking out over the railing and thinking, while the men talked and laughed. They gabbed away in a dialect of French that bore little relation to what she’d briefly studied in school and she could only catch a few words here and there. She understood why Amos felt so protective of his culture; it was more than just food and language. It was part of his identity.

Her offer to help tidy up was refused by Pauline. “We can save the dishes without bothering our guest.”

Annie’d explained that it meant washing and putting everything away.

How was she going to fit all of this into her article? Her editor was going to think she’d lost her mind.

And did she even want to put it all in her story? Maybe Pauline was right about her falling in love. Or maybe she needed to write a different kind of article entirely: one that showed the sense of pride that she’d seen everywhere she went in Louisiana. She hadn’t seen anything like it since her sojourn in Paris.

Amos broke away from the group and came over to join her. “You all right, Diana?”

“I’m fine.” She turned to face him. “What language were you fellows speaking just now?”

“Kouri-Vini … Louisiana Creole. Not too many people speak it anymore, so we like to practice. Besides, it comes in handy when we don’t want the kids to know what we bought for their birthdays. Thanks for asking. Would you like to learn a phrase or two?”

“Sure; I’m game.”

“Okay. Let’s do something easy. I live in Lafayette is ‘mo rès a Lafayette.’ The syntax and pronouns are different from French, but some things are the same.”

“So, I would say mo rès a Seattle, to tell someone where I’m from.”

“Well, the phrase for I’m from Lafayette is ‘mo sor a Lafayette,’ so it’s a little different.”
Amos paused for a moment; when he resumed, his voice was quiet. “You surely do look pretty in the moonlight, Diana.”

“And in Kouri-Vini?”

He could tell she was teasing, but he looked deep into her eyes and whispered “To bèl” as he caressed her cheek. It was “you’re beautiful,” not “you’re pretty,” but he wasn’t in the mood for quibbling over niceties.

 

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3 thoughts on “#ExcerptWeek: “Bayou Fire,” by Sharon E. Cathcart

    1. Believe it or not, I’m about 75 percent fluent! I learned that the language was dying and took a couple of courses, in hopes that I’d be better able to understand some recorded oral histories as I researched the book since I’d be unlikely to find someone to translate for me. The best estimate is that there are fewer than 1,000 speakers nowadays. I enjoyed working it into the book, too.

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      1. That’s impressive. When I lived in the 7th (what realtors like to call Esplanade Ridge) I knew one very old man who spoke LA French. And, that was it. That number may be low. When I hung out with the upriver musicians, they would take me to these backwater places where we were the only English speakers.

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