Two nights ago, I was watching an episode of Kolchak the Nightstalker in which Kolchak tracks down a Louisiana bogeyman called Père Malfait. He’s a swamp monster that supposedly crushes people it finds out late at night. Being curious, I looked up the legend and near as I can tell, it was entirely manufactured for the series. If you have any other information, I would love to hear it.
Growing up in California, we didn’t really have a specific bogeyman legend that I remember. I just remember kids whispering vaguely about some mysterious bogeyman who would do unspeakable things if he caught you out late at night. Given that I was in Southern California, this kind of monster seemed all too possible, and it didn’t have to be supernatural at all!
When I moved to New Mexico, though, I learned about La Llorona. There are variations of the story, but as I heard it La Llorona was a woman who drowned her own children so she could be with the man he loved. When he spurned her, she drowned herself. Her ghost roams near the river looking for children. If she finds them, she will drown them. Here in New Mexico, during flash flood season, the idea of children out late in the afternoon getting drowned for being where they shouldn’t doesn’t seem so far fetched either!
As it turns out, I adapted the La Llorona legend for my novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order. In this version, La Llorona was a young mother named Mercy, seduced by the vampire Rudolfo. When she’s turned into a vampire, she goes into a feeding frenzy and kills her children and her husband. As a result, she’s not altogether sane, and Rudolfo leaves her as well. She’s left wandering Southern New Mexico and West Texas for all eternity.
As for Louisiana, the one bogeyman I was able to track down was Loup Garou. He prowls the bayou and has the head of a wolf and the body of a man, very similar to his French Canadian counterpart.
I find regional folktales like this fascinating. Do you have a local bogeyman? If so, drop a note in the comments and let me know. If you’d like to read Vampires of the Scarlet Order and see what becomes of the vampire Mercy, you can find the novel at Amazon and direct from the publisher, Lachesis Publishing. The ebook is a mere 99 cents.