Joanna's mentor and family friend
Robert is a childhood friend of Joanna Burne’s father. The two men fled Haiti together in 1976 to escape the Tonton Macoutes, who had abducted Joanna’s aunt and a number of other girls from their commune. The men emigrated to Louisiana illegally. While Joanna’s father settled down, married an American woman and finally gained his citizenship, Robert never did. He instead traveled to different cities in the United States seeking odd jobs, eventually becoming a notorious hustler and pool shark. He was arrested for assault and deported in 1987, but quickly returned to the mainland, this time legally to Montreal, where he gained his Canadian citizenship in 1992.
When Joanna was a child, Robert would tell her ghost stories from back in Haiti that he swore to be true. Joanna’s father attested to the truth of these stories and told the young girl that Robert was a houngan, or voodoo priest. Joanna was fascinated by Robert and treated him as a mythical figure, whose next visit could never come soon enough. When Robert fell ill in 2000, Joanna temporarily dropped out of college to take care of him in Montreal, at which point he took her on as his student of the occult. When Joanna returned to college, Robert followed her to the United States, again illegally, and he has followed Joanna to different cities since then, eventually to Minneapolis. Robert still returns to Canada frequently to receive treatment for his medical condition.
Although Joanna has tried to bed Robert a number of times, he has always adamantly refused, only saying that Joanna’s father once practiced powerful voodoo as well and made Robert swear a very, very binding oath that he refuses to break. The oath is in effect although Joanna’s father has since passed away – ESPECIALLY since he passed away, according to Robert. Joanna finds this intensely frustrating.