“A place carved out for you and I, all of us...” Curtis ‘The Water Bug” Hollow

“The defeated slave owner, Elias Jakobi, a man of English and French descent, was buried on the property. An altar was made at his burial site, and every year, on the 12th of August, a bonfire was lit ritualistically and the Negroes of the area danced merrily around it.” – a passage from The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn

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Water Bug Hollow is a fictional bayou village featured in The Fable Avenue Saga™. The village is located in Louisiana, thirty minutes west of New Orleans. It first appears in The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn in the chapter Water Bug Hollow, Louisiana 1917. Water Bug Hollow’s early history is violent and bloody, spanning from its days as a brutal slave-run plantation to its even bloodier uprising that took the life of many black slaves, plantation owner Elias Jakobi, his family, and all the overseers.

Water Bug Hollow

The quiet rumblings of the Emancipation Proclamation filtered down South, all the way to Elias Jakobi’s plantation, stirring the interest of his slaves. Elias, not addressing his slaves directly, calmed the hysteria by saying the Emancipation Proclamation was a decree for the Irish workers in the North to receive equal pay. But one of his slaves, a young man named Curtis Jacobson, was inspired to action. Leaving the plantation one night, Curtis’ plan was to find a Union unit and lead the soldiers to the plantation to help free the enslaved blacks.

Rumors of Freedom Amidst Wars and Rumors of War

Dodging the presence of Confederate militia, Curtis got as far as Alabama before being captured by an overseer of a plantation. He was locked away in a large slave shack for the night as the plantation’s owner put out word to see if there was a reward for Curtis. But as luck would have it, this plantation’s owner, Lachlan Mackenzie, was putting together a deal that would swindle a self-proclaimed savvy businessman named Oscar MacRitchie who was newly arrived in America from Scotland. Upset at the shady deal was about to enter into, Oscar decided to get back at Lachlan (who he thought was of good nature because he was a fellow Scotsman) by freeing Curtis and all thirteen of Lachlan’s slaves. In a quick conversation, Curtis, who gained a knack for business by watching closely the dealings and goings-on of the plantation where he was enslaved, was able to work a deal with Oscar MacRitchie to do business with one another once he was truly free.

Curtis devised a plan to that would alleviate Oscar of blame for having freed him and Lachlan’s slaves. Oscar also told Curtis of a cache of Union weapons recovered by Lachlan and two of his overseers and stored in a nearby shed. Lachlan had been planning to sell the weapons to the Confederates. Rallying the thirteen slaves to fight, Curtis stowed away into the night with them as a small militia after securing the Union weapons. Curtis returned to Louisiana to free his wife, children, and her family. The battle lasted forty days, with Curtis’ militia growing in numbers as they freed more and more slaves. The battle ended on August 11th, with the death of Elias Jakobi, his family, and his overseers. Curtis (now known as The Water Bug, or ‘that tricky nigger’), had his army block the roads leading to the plantation while the battle ensued.

After his defeat, Elias and his family were buried on the property. Curtis reunited with Oscar MacRitchie in New York City and forged a trade deal that would bring goods to Water Bug Hollow. Runaway slaves eventually journeyed back to the area and became residents as the landscape changed and the might plantation houses were converted to apartments, and other buildings were erected for schools and local stores and dentistry and infirmary.

Every year, since 1864, the all-black residents of the former plantation celebrate their independence with a wondrous day that begins with games, stories, and reenactments of their bloody emancipation from the slave owner Elias Jakobi by the brave Curtis ‘The Water Bug’ Hollow.

Water Bug Hollow, and its history, was initially set to appear in a project outside of The Fable Avenue Saga™. Because of what author Justin Thomas called “intense research fatigue” from 3 years of fact-finding for A Company of Moors, it was decided to incorporate Water Bug Hollow and its history into The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn, and ultimately, the Fable Avenue Saga™. The setting for the plot points and events was initially New Orleans. Some research on black life in New Orleans in the early 1900s was conducted by author Justin Thomas, but this fictional area better serves the plot and allowed for leeway.

Curtis ‘The Water Bug’ Hollow is named after baseball player Curtis Granderson, Jr. He was referred to in notes only as ‘The Rebel’ up until writing began. While watching the Yankees one day and Curtis lead the team to a come-from-behind victory, author Justin Thomas then had a name for ‘the rebel.’

Water Bug Hollow’s initial development described it as a Mos Eisley-type sanctuary for former slaves’.

The celebratory day of August 12 comes from author Justin Thomas’ parents' anniversary.

Water Bug Hollow’s citizens were at first more conscious of the ‘magic’ surrounding the place. This idea was focused into the veil’s power that turns Theresa Amat into Mamma Indigo.

Although not mentioned in detail, Water Bug Hollow’s economy was mapped out thoroughly, and research on small black towns was done to give the feel of an authentic place.

Water Bug Hollow’s varying histories were written to be believable when spoken by characters so that the reader would not be able to tell which was which until the proper history is revealed.

Water Bug Hollow’s ‘rebellion history’ is the second black slave rebellion featured in The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn. The first being the central plot to the song/epic poem of The Sun Dial Tone.

Joseph Pepper IV hearing the history of Water Bug Hollow, as recounted by its residents when he enters the area on the annual night of celebration (August 12), was first written as narrative back story. That initially took away from Joseph walking into the area, so, in order to stay with Joseph Pepper ('tracking' alongside him as he makes his way to the jook joint and apartment complex named Eve's Hallow) the narrative was changed into dialogue with different residents recounting the history.

Water Bug Hollow is set to factor in more prominently in the remaining books of The Fable Avenue Saga™.

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