When I had returned to my home after the War Between the States had drawn to a close, my mind was blank of everything that had gone before my injury. There were few individuals who had made an impression deep enough on my psyche that I could recall anything of them, and fewer still I remembered in any detail. One of these was my mother, who had raised me with her memorably fiery spirit. The other was Petión, a Haitian household servant who had lavished me with his peculiar brand of fatherliness after my own father was flogged to death by a mob of angry investors.
Petión seemed frail now, but in good health, and his tolerance for liquor remained as outsized relative to his diminutive frame as was his great booming voice. It was late, but we had much catching up to do and a well-stocked liquor cabinet to drain. We were both quite intoxicated, I on bourbon whiskey, and Petión on his rum, when I broached the ticklish subject which had prompted my invitation in the first place. I blurted my entire plan in abstraction, offering some detail as to his role in the undertaking.
"I b'lieve you have taken leave of your senses, young man," he replied with a sober expression on his face. "This is not a plan, but a badly crafted horror tale. I know enough only to tell you it cannot work!"
"But are you not skilled in the vodoun arts?" I pressed.
"Yes, I am a houngan, it is true, but I am no bokor, and I have never performed a reanimation ceremony. Besides, even a zombi needs a body, my boy. A zombi is a mindless thing, undead, without volition, you see? Now tell me, Phinny: Of what use is a mindless head?"
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