Tobit, Savannah and My Son Nick

Three years ago, I was deep into my manuscript Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South.  The basic Tobit and the Hoodoo Manstory had already been told thousands of years ago in the Book of Tobit, termed “deuterocanonical” by Roman Catholics and “apocryphal” by Jews and Protestants.  All I did was reposition the story from the late 8th and 7th centuries BC during the Jewish exile in Assyria and place it in Civil War America.  A bit of embellishment along the lines of what the Jews might do in the Midrash and I had my book.

The book holds a special place in my heart for many reasons.  I love the story that evolved, and I love the characters that I fleshed out and who emerge on the pages.  Somehow I think they have always been there waiting for someone to write about them.

Tobit and the Hoodoo ManIn the second half of the book Tobit’s son Tobias accompanied by Father Gabriel departs the plantation Nineveh in search of Cherokee Jack, the Hoodoo Man.  Tobias rides the Colonel’s warhorse Merlin, and Father Gabriel sits awkwardly atop the blind donkey he calls Mule.  The priest’s dog Caesar leads them to Savannah.

Recently, my oldest son Nick and wife Terri moved to Brunswick, Georgia where Nick works for aviation giant Gulfstream.  This week, he is attending conferences in Savannah, about 90 minutes north of Brunswick.  He just called to tell me that when the meetings are over, he plans to visit the Andrew Low House in Savannah where Tobias and Father Gabriel stay while Tobias seeks out the Hoodoo Man who has become quite the entrepreneur at his establishment Cherokee Jack’s Palace of Pleasure that I located at the corner of Drayton and Bay Streets.

I am delighted that my son Nick would take the time to seek out these places that appeared only in my imagination as I penned the book.  If he happens to take any pictures, I will be sure to pass them on.

I do like how the book ends.  Perhaps Nick will feel one of these special moments as he strolls the streets of Savannah that I only visited in my mind.

‘Today, I did what I told Jack I could not do.’
I pulled up that fence and added to it so it is just long enough to accommodate two more occupants. The soil is soft and rich among the flowers. I’ve not the energy to build my friend a coffin, but I trust his bones will lie in peace where I have laid his body. Better this than the catfish pond. As Gabriel would have wanted it, I place a cross above the mound that rises slightly above the buried body. On the cross I paint, “Cherokee Jack, The Hoodoo Man … my friend.”
‘I finish late in the afternoon with a single task remaining.’
I construct a final cross upon which I paint my name. I know the letters will fade in strong sunlight and heavy rain, but that is okay. As the afternoon turns to evening, I use my knife slowly but meticulously to carve deep letters into the hangin’ tree’s thick trunk, deep enough that no natural hand will ever erase them. I finish in the weakening light, and I step backward to appraise my work. In strong, heavy letters I have carved, “Tobit. I lived here and I died here. I was blind and I can see. Etienne was lame and he can walk, and Ben was deaf and he can hear. BELIEVE.”

Tobit

“I am all that is left.  I wait.  I watch.  I rock in my old caned chair.”

from Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South


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