For many years Baptiste was the most popular person around although there were many strange stories that swirled around him.
Maybe it was because he was such a generous person and he was well known around the area that no one really wanted to believe anything “bad” about him.
Very little or nothing was known about Baptiste’s past. What was well known was that he had gone to England in the late 50’s and it is said that while there he won some kind of lottery, took the money and returned to Dominica. That was about it.
What was well known was the fact that upon his return, Baptiste bought a piece of secluded land, surround it with a high fence and started to build his house. It was a project that would literally consume the rest of his life.
And there were rumors that the house went up rather quickly although he hired virtually no one to work for him.
But no one paid any attention to any of this because since Baptiste’s return from England he had became very popular in the area: he gave children sweetie on their way to school; he paid for funerals and weddings; he helped with school tuitions; was very popular at the rum shop since he generously bought rum for everyone and was always present at nine nights and wakes.
But somehow there were many things about Baptiste that gave reasons for the arousal of suspicion.
For example no one has actually ever seen Baptiste on the road despite the fact that he is always at nine nights or wakes or at the rum shop at nights. He would just suddenly appear from behind a bush or from underneath the house or from behind the kitchen. What people saw before Baptiste appear were a dog or a cow and occasionally a rooster but since these animals were common in the area, no one thought much of any of this as a big deal.
During one nine night, somebody said he saw a big black dog disappear behind a clump of plantain trees, a minute later Baptiste emerged and the dog was never seen again. But Baptiste bought a half bottle of rum for the person who saw this and the incident promptly forgotten until sometime afterwards.
Another person said that he saw Baptiste naked at a crossroad at midnight “on four legs like a dog with his bottom in the air.” The person said he was so scared he immediately ran away but no one believed the story.
But probably the most compelling story concerning Baptiste came from Alphonse. Late one night Alphonse said he was going home after a heavy night of drinking at the rum shop. Thinking that the road home was too long he decided to go across Baptiste’s property as a form of a short cut. So he found a hole in the fence and stumbled along to his home.
He was approaching Baptiste’s house when he heard something which sounded like the rubbing of oars in a boat. He quickly hid behind a bush and to his amazement he saw a boat in midair, floating out of the darkness. On board the boat were ten dog-like men, which Alphonse later said were lougawoos. The boats floated pass him, landed in front of Baptiste’s doorstep and the lougawoos climbed out. Baptiste came out of his house, greeted them and they immediately set to work on the house.
For his hiding point Alphonse remained frozen both in fear and amazement as the lougawoos worked on Baptiste’s house and after couple of hours, Baptiste and the ten lougawoos entered his house. After a couple of minutes eleven dog-like men emerged, climbed into the boat and the boat disappeared into the darkness.
Alphonse remained hidden frozen in his hiding spot until he got the energy to run home in great fear. He told everyone who would listen what he saw and that Baptiste was a lougawoo but no one believed Alphonse’s story because they say he was drunk and maybe some la diabless was playing tricks on him.
Despite this compelling evidence, Alphonse’s story was reduced to a tool used by parents to frighten misbehaving boys who would say to them, “if all you doh behave all you self, we will call Alphonse la diabless to bite all you toelee.”
And Baptiste’s house continued to go up at a rapid pace for several months and then without warning he became dreadfully ill and was taken to the hospital in a deep coma.
Everyone was baffled and could not understand what happen to their benefactor until one of Baptiste’s few workers told one of the most bizarre stories that was ever to be heard in that part of Dominica.
The story was told by a fellah who everyone called Passit. No one had actually seen Passit sober for he was a great lover of rum. No matter what level of drunkenness he was in, he never refused more rum and would only say, “pass it, pass it” when offered another shot, hence his name.
According to Passit, Baptiste had become very obsessed with the construction of his house and was exploring every possible avenue to have it completed. Passit said he heard Baptiste had used lougawoos to assist but one day he came up with the most twisted of all schemes: he decided to hatch a ‘ti dyab’ or what some people called a ‘demon.’
To do this Baptiste bought some white chicken and waited until one laid an egg on Good Friday. The egg Baptiste placed under his left arm until it hatched but what was hatched was no chicken but the demon which Passit said look like a tiny man or dwarf.
The demon grew by the hour and Passit said it was supposed to live for three days and within that three-day period it was to build Baptiste’s house. But after the three days had transpired, greed overcame Baptiste and he refused to get rid of it. To make matters worse the demon depended on Baptiste’s blood to survive and as it grew it demanded more and more blood.
Passit said many a night he heard Baptiste and the demon in fierce struggles inside the house but still he refused to get rid of it. Until one night the demon sucked so much of his blood, he fell into the deep coma and had to be rushed to the hospital.
No one knew where the demon went after that since Baptiste could no longer feed it but people say it would always have its revenge somehow. He eventually recovered fully.
However there was one room in the house that Baptiste built which could never be completed because every year a strange mysterious force completely demolishes it. This happened no matter how many times the room was rebuilt.
And people said it was the demon taking its revenge.
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