The Shadow Companion
Cut Off, Lafourche Parish
RealVideo clip (2:35)
Collected by Pat Mire and Maida Owens on September 20, 1993.
This other story was the one related to me by my father, but it was prior to the 1893 storm. There was this old man. He was kind of a cripple. He limped a little, and every day he'd do some beachcombing. He'd go walking on Grand Isle or the beaches at Cheniere come clear to Fouchon with his stick, and one day he noticed that he wasn't alone. He stayed out a little later than he should have, and he saw this apparition, this shadow. He always claimed it was a monkey. I guess that was the only -- or closest thing he could come to describe it. And he tried to chase it. The thing was fast. He tried to hit it with his stick. He couldn't do it. And day after day, he'd walk the beaches. . . . He found himself staying out a little later every day, so the thing would appear -- it wouldn't show up in the daytime at all. And sometimes it would jump on his shoulder -- this thing. No one but he -- he could see it.
So, the years went by, and the old man got older and hobbled along, and he got fond of the thing. He talked to it, and the thing would never change its pace. . . .
So, one day this man, coming back about seven in the evening. . . . Some vines were growing in the sand -- still do. And he stumbled, the old guy stumbled, and he had his stick in his hand, and when he stumbled, he did this [makes a thrusting motion with his hand, as if holding a stick] -- to hold himself up. Then he . . . pierced the skin of this thing. Here. Pointed stick got it. And the thing was all gone in a flash. And he never saw it again.
And the old man went walking more and more, and everybody thought he had lost his marbles. Because he spent all his time walking the beaches, and he actually pined away for his companion. He had grown so fond of it that and he died shortly after. And they believed that too -- that story.
Like Loulan Pitre�s other legend, An Oyster-culling Loup Garou, this haunting tale features a supernatural companion who is more friend than foe, a creature that shares the protagonist's time and his fate -- and perhaps his soul as well. Such creatures are sometimes known as "familiars" (in some English traditions) or as "animal companion spirits" (in some Native American traditions). Unlike the spirit described here, the familiars of American folklore are most often considered evil and associated with evil and witchcraft.
For more information about this and related tales, refer to the book Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, published by University Press of Mississippi.