Friday, December 24, 2010

New Orleans Story Part Eight and a Half: The Party

Short Story Part Eight and a Half: The Party
And the guests, they did arrive.
Hinch was at the door in his Casablanca outfit of fez and caftan, acting as doorman and announcer. I thought that each guest was going to either throttle, choke, knife or put a bullet in him. Petey was behind the bar making Mojitos, Caipirinhas and pouring shots of Agave liquor, also there were papusas, mini tacos and fresh fruit with Pico de Gallo laid out and ready for the taking. And, I’ll tell you, after Hinch’s introductions the guests had eager hands for refreshments, both liquid and solid.
There was a soft knock at the door and Hinch went to answer it. He re-entered, clicked his heels together and said in a clear, well enunciated tone: “Announcing the arrival of ‘Anne the Fair’” Hinch began “Mistress of the young knowledge seekers and those fortunate literary swains who find exposure and experiences in all that she readily imparts and makes access to in various parts of her repositories of information and repose.” and with a lewd wink, backed out of the room, the perfect smart ass.
Anne came in looking like a fresh flower and as innocent as spring. She had on a simple scoop neck cotton shift with no shape other than the one she gave it; and she gave it. Her figure started with the daintiest of feet encased, bare, in low-slung walking heels. Her shape followed up athletic legs and thighs to pear shaped hips, a whisper of a waist and on to small, but perfect, breasts that did their best to seek freedom from confinement. Topping that, if you could get that far, was a shapely neck leading up to a perfect face. Her shockingly blond hair framed ice Blue eyes, the prettiest of pert noses and one of the most sensual mouths that wore the only make up on her that was apparent. The color of her lipstick, as well as her thong panties, nail and toe polish could only be described as arterial blood red; she wore no brassiere. She radiated heat and sexual pheromones that washed over the room like a gosling feathered storm surge. She was so stunning that she was unapproachable, that is, until she turned her light upon you with that ethereal smile.
She took in, and glided into, the room, melted the ice cubes with that smile and lifted a small glass of Agave liquor to her perfect mouth and slammed it. She looked at Petey first and quipped: “Long time, Soldier,” and sprawled her hot body into a grey knit colored, mid century Kai Kristiansen, Danish modern lounge chair that I had purchased through the Scandinavian Mafia, crossed her legs revealing the alabaster of her inner thighs and dropped her shapely arms down to the outsides of the arm rests. “Phew, the fucking traffic is horrendous!” she said and asked for a smoke. “Nice to see you again, Anna.” Hinch sweetly called from the doorway.
“How’d you like a knuckle sandwich, midget?” she snapped back, took a Players Oval that I offered and a light from my vintage Zippo lighter.
Nonplussed, Hinch turned back into the room and announced: “I give you now, ‘William the Conqueror’, leopard of lovers and defiler of the unsuspecting, bane of the fair sexes and with his knowledge of how to quickly slay with every aspect of his fine tuned physique, brings us the cleanest of bodies and the dirtiest of minds.”
Billy stalked in on velvet paws, eyeing the corners of the room for prey or adversaries. He was about the same height as Anne, five foot nine or so, but looked taller somehow. His finely polished alligator boots, pressed form fitted jeans and black muscle shirt ensemble was held together by a military Garrison Belt and matching leather vest. He fairly rippled with animal masculinity. His square features were topped by three quarter inches of dark hair that came low on his brow, razor cut. He radiated a ‘don’t fuck with me’ aura and he snatched Calistoga water out of the air that Petey had tossed in his direction faster than the eye could follow. A small diamond in his right ear lobe and a vintage Submariner Rolex watch were the only jewelry that he wore.
The only chink in his armor seemed to come from the frequent batting of his perfect dark eyelashes that fell across dark chocolate brown eyes that was an effect of his ill hydrated contact lenses. Petey started humming softly: a Carly Simon song which was entitled “You’re So Vain” and Billy eyed him suspiciously, not getting it, but knowing that a slight had been slung.
Billy turned to Hinch’s retreating back and muttered “asshole” to which the gnome replied brightly:
“Everybody’s got one!” and sniggered his way back to his post at the door.
More food was getting passed around by a young Tica girl; the one that I had seen nursing a baby earlier in the kitchen. It seemed that the greasy bastards (I was getting to like the sound of that) were from Costa Rica; I silently prayed that she had washed her hands. Billy was leaning against a doorway, Petey was grinning from behind the bar and sweet, evil Anne was still slouched as the effects of food and drink began to make their magic on prevailing moods. I had seen the sober Billy Price (everybody’s got one) slip a small tablet into his mouth, surreptitiously (I’m sure that he thought) and he relaxed perceptively also. Small talk was served up and nibbled on. I decided that I was the one who should break the ice, so to speak, and started with the easiest mark:
“So Petey, tell me, if Petey Pappas is not your real name, how did you come by it?”
Petey told us about how, “after I met, and spoke with Anne (with a solicitous nod in her direction) and with the semi clandestine encounters with her that included several elevating forms of attention that she had guided me through, she and I formed a plan.”
The plan was this: Petey would find where his sister had stashed the purloined birth certificates and pick an appropriate one that would show that he was old enough to join the U.S. Marine Corps and that her ‘friend’ Billy would do the rest. The name on the birth certificate that he found most suitable was Patroclaeus Papracapolis.
Anne smiled promiscuously in his direction and joined in: “Yeah, Petey was one of my earliest disciples, eh? Remember the hallway closet and the break room? Yum…. Some times, eh?” You could just about hear Billy’s scowl. Petey was lost in thought with a stupid grin on his face, evidently reliving some smutty tryst or other.
“Yum, yum.” He agreed.
Hinch came back with our next caller: “You unlock this door with the key of your imagination” he said slowly; I had to give it to him, he was back to his natural rare form. “Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sight, a dimension of sound, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Brandi Zone.”
There was a smattering of applause as Brandi Mae entered; and she entered without seeming to touch the floor, you might say that she ‘swept in’. And she was here, the ocean’s daughter, dressed simply in sandals, jeans and one of those Oxford collar man tailored shirts open at the throat that she wore with her natural aplomb. Patricia Clarkson. Meryl Streep. Forgo formality and simply say that she was every inch Brandi Mae.
Her sable colored hair was cut shoulder length, with longish cut bangs and has natural curls, her eyes are wide, blue gray and set and open. Her hourglass figure spoke simply: ‘round, firm and fully packed’ and you knew that you had, in fact, always been her lover. She had Wayfarers perched on top of her head acting as a hair band and she matched Anne ounce for ounce in sensuality; even the sweet bangs of her hair set a fire going inside of me, her eyes drank in my being, and my inner animal screamed: “Dip me in honey and feed me to her!!! In fact my inner everything went on high alert.
She put her arm affectionately around Hinch who purred and molded himself to her right side, his head resting on her perfect hip.
“You know, Hinch” she quipped “I can help you out with that hump”
It was a famous line from Young Frankenstein and Hinch picked it up right away. He turned to her and looked up at her very seriously and replied: “Hump? What Hump?” They both giggled.
“And as they say:” said Billy sarcastically “they laughed like they didn’t have a lick of sense”.
“Now Billy,” said Brandi, flashing a most disarming smile “you’re not still angry at me are you?”
“Hah, Billy stays sore a long time, sweetie.” Threw in Anne
“But that was so long ago… “
There was another knock at the door and Hinch rolled out to answer it. In came Mo, I mean, Sylvinia.
Hinch came in, clapped his hands three times and said: “I give you now…”
The room fell silent; Hinch closed his mouth and backed up. We all knew what ‘snik’ meant. It meant that Sylvinia had let open her six-inch, pearl handled, Sicilian, early twentieth century stiletto. When you hear ‘snik’, you freeze; it is the sound of death. And dealing that fate with poker faced relish would be of course, Sylvinia Wolfpath. Syl liked to call it, the stiletto, ‘Little Zipper’ and none of us wanted to have a run in (no pun intended) with it. We had all heard tales of the thing.
She was dressed in the only color I had ever seen her in (besides au natural, but that’s another tale for another time): black. Flat, head to toe, unadorned and un-accessorized… black. Today it was leotard, turtleneck, leggings, hair-banded and light denim jacketed… black. She wore those eye glasses that changed hue from dark to light depending on the sunshine (or not) and on her feet a simple pair of Capezio dancing slippers, black of course. Her hair was back in a tight bun and she was a fine, lean and toned woman of about six foot four and a half. She reached back, seemingly to scratch her scalp and we heard the Little Zipper slide back up her sleeve. A collective sigh could be heard.
“You were saying, Little One?” She said to Hinch
“I am exalted by your presence, my Lady” Hinch bowed away from her and back to his post.
As Hinch turned he bumped into another, unexpected, guest. The room turned when we heard the little guy’s muffled exclamation. Considering their size differential, what happened, and what we saw was, Hinch with his face pressed against the crotch of our new arrival, she had her hands on both of his shoulders and was grinning from ear to ear.
“I love your approach, my little man, but shouldn’t I have a drink first?”
Hinch blushed furiously and our new guest smiled at the assemblage and cried out: “I was hoping that I’d find you all here; okay, who wants to be a millionaire?”
Petey was the first to speak: “why, as I live and breathe! What cat dragged you in and what scheme are you cooking up now?” He turned to us all and said: “I suppose you all know my sister Pearl and at this point my advice would be not to agree to purchase anything.”
“I take offense to that last remark and I’ll have you watch your tongue, Sir” commented Professor Morriarity, who had followed Pearl into the room.
Pearl pulled a small device from her shoulder bag and proceeded to reel us in like brook trout from an Arkansas creek on an August afternoon

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Valentines in New Orleans 2011

We interupt our story telling to post the February WhereY'at article before I lose it.
Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Hearts And Flowers
Hello, I Must Be Going
“ Love doesn’t come in a minit; sometimes it doesn’t come at all. I only know that when I’m init; it isn’t silly, it isn’t silly, love isn’t silly at aaaaaaaaallll.”
Yes Cats and Hats, it’s February and time to take love and Valentine’s Day for another spin around the block. So, kick the tires, check your gas gauge and fasten your seat belts.
To begin with: In the time of the Roman emperor Claudius the Cruel there was a priest named Valens or Valentine or something. Claudius the Cruel wanted to raise an army but guys didn’t want to leave their wives and families, so in a typical political maneuver the emperor outlawed weddings. He figured that if guys didn’t have wives and families that they would be more likely to give up their lives in battle for nuts like him. Typical political thinking. Rome was called a republic, which makes Claudius an early republican.
Well, Val was a priest that didn’t see eye to eye with Claude and went on marrying couples; so Claude had him bludgeoned to death with clubs and decapitated. The execution took place on February 14th, which was, by coincidence, the feast day of Juno, the goddess of childbirth and marriage. The Following day was the beginning of a festival called Lupercalia. (Actually Lupercalia was from Feb 13th-15th). Lupercalia was the celebration of purification and pregnancy, named for the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, for the Greek god Pan and all his lascivious antics, and for the cleansing ritual named Februatio (after the Roman God of purification and washing, Februus) for which the month February is named. What’s the point? The whole point of Valentine’s Day was for the church to subsume another pagan ritual with a feast day of a saint whom they would later defrock, along with others such as Christopher and Nicolas. In Euclidian geometry a point is something that has no parts. And if you think that I’m handing you a line, I’ll take it a step further by quoting Euclid again who said that a “line is a length without a breadth”. If you throw religion out (imagine) the whole pagan festival is like a big three-day pure nurturing love fest, complete with body fluids; or, a line with a point at both ends, a beast with two backs. It’s more like the arrival of spring weather and a reason to party like it’s nineteen ninety twenty-two. Think about it.
So, there you go; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. How’s your love life? Got your Valentine’s cards out yet? Got a Valentine? Want to beat them with clubs and cut their heads off?
Oh, before Val’s execution he passed a note to the jailer’s daughter, with whom he had developed a ‘friendship’ (yeah, right.); he signed it “your Valentine”. What was in the note is anybody’s guess. Supposedly, that was the beginning of the whole Valentines card thing.
So, let’s flog this horse another mile and touch on the subject of love. Love is, for the most part, a trickster, a shape-shifter and a mischief-maker; in all mythologies god and godlike beings personify these types of rascals and one thing they have in common is a proclivity and propensity for procreation. Like love, they also are not trustworthy. Eros, Loki, Kokopelli, Hermes, Ananse and Raven are prime examples. Not know many of those guys? Well here’s a story:
Once upon a time (it’s a ‘once upon a time’ story) there was a being born of the elements: fire, water, air and earth. This being was enormously unhappy because they did not have another crutial element, an element that was missing from their life, or so they thought---the element of LOVE.
This being was to wander the earth and spheres and witness the love that others had; the love of a mother as she suckles her babe, the love of a faithful and obedient pet, love to a just and merciful god, the love that comes from fealty to king and country and the love that the fortunate have for their local bartenders. There’s the love of arts and beauty, of food that is tasty and well prepared, and of the gifts of the muses: poetry, drama, dance and dirty jokes (just kidding); the love of a good book, a trusted friend, fauna and flora and a juicy piece of gossip.
Everywhere that this being looked they saw love: the love of toys and playthings, the love of a harmonic gathering of like minded individuals, of nature and of marshmallows toasted over a campfire at sunset. Then they saw the love that people have for being with other people: double Dutch rope jumping, card games, singing in harmony, playing dress up, playing undress up, doing shots together, group hugs and working together to achieve a common purpose.
Then they saw the love that a person has for themselves: in doing good deeds, in helping the less fortunate, in setting goals and reaching them, in tending the infirm, in preserving their natural surroundings, in those little ‘toys’ that are kept in the bedside drawer and in sticking it to BP for a butt load of money.
The being that was formed of the elements gave a big sigh (BBBBIIIIGGGGGSSSSIIIIGGGGHHHH!!!!!) and thought that there must be a down side to all of this love stuff, so they retreated to a mountain by the side of a lake and felt the breathing of the waves and listened to the whispers of the wind in the cool bright beatific shining of the sun and by the light of a pure moon and heavenly starlight. For a millennium they sat and pondered the human condition and came up with the insight and image of an insecure spirit trapped in a flawed body, greedy for power, materialistically oppressive, vindictive and cowardly petty; these belligerent bipeds, who infested the planet like a rash on a baby’s butt, thought that they were hot stuff armed with the belief that, if nothing else, being on top of the food chain made them something special.
The being that was formed from the elements came down from the mountain with this knowledge and was promptly bludgeoned with clubs and decapitated. It doesn’t pay to look too close at love. Happy Valentines.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Orleans Story Part Nine: the Caper

Short story Part 9: The Caper
And thus spoke Pearl: “Alright kids, this is the prototype, okay? That means there is only ONE of these babies, (plus plans). It’s like a kindle only this one actually reads to you and with you, if you hear a word that you don’t understand all you have to do is repeat the word and the machine will stop and explain the word; if you say the word and then say “thesaurus”, the machine will give you a lexicon. The machine is thin and the size of a folded newspaper and it is back-lighted, you sort of read along with it, you know?”
“Now”, she continued “the business section of The New York Times printed an article recently about a wireless router+ home backup hard drive+ digital picture frame. It (D-link DIR-683) will broadcast your internet connection wirelessly and will, with it’s strong Wi-Fi signal, turn your entire house into a Wi-Fi hotspot and give you port forwarding, Application Rules. Individual website blocking, a sophisticated firewall, UpnP, Multicast Streams, Wake on LAN, users and groups, network access lists, scheduled lockouts, log security formats like WPA and WEP and much more including the ability to inspect your router’s settings and the display of dozens of internet informational widgets; weather, headlines, sports, stocks, Twitter posts and- delightfully- photos from your Flickr or Facebook accounts. This baby kicks that one to the curb and spits on it”. She glanced around at suspicious faces: “ And guys, it’ll make a 6G network look like a field mouse in a Kansas wheat field! AND,” here she beamed a rare beam “ --wait for it”—“It comes with the option of background music!”
“It, also,” she continued “is ‘hand imprint’ operated; meaning that it is not opened by anyone but the owner who has been micro-chipped in perfect symbiosis with the thing. The machine can be kept as a diary, confidant, older sibling and shrink. It will tell you when not to drink and dial, correct you if you decide to text while tipsy and warn you if you’re about to facebook while you’re fucked up.
“A professor will be demonstrating the device as part of a panel at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival called… ‘Book Reading; Dead or Alive’”. She paused for a breath; “And that’s when we steal it… and him.”
She eyed the skeptical room. “My Chinese contacts will give me a hundred million dollars for it, no questions asked. Every kid in the world is gonna want one”
What she was describing was a system called ‘TUTOR’ it would make schools and learning institutions obsolete and the rest of the world irrelevant; you could be taught anything you wanted to learn by a patient teacher who would talk to you and not down to you and one that would explain again and again until you got your information in your own time; in you own language. You could learn to paint from the masters, read the sheet music of the maestros, fix your lawnmower or your love life and no, not every kid in the world would want one…. EVERYONE IN THE WORLD WOULD DEMAND ONE!
“Wait, wait, wait” interrupted Billy “before you go any futher, I got a few questions that you might want to answer.”
“Whoa, hold on Billy boy, let me finish.” Here she raised her hands and arms for silence and composure before she continued: “We can do this as a team or I can form another group but I really think that knowing eachother is important and we all have history together that I believe will act as grease for the gears that we’ll be spinning to pull this off. Of course, some of you will have to change your names.”
After a collective groan was heard she said: “just joking! But you see how you all act as a team already? How does two mil sound as a down payment for starters?” And she waved a small piece of paper.
There was a loud sound at this point that came from the bar area; it sounded like a POP (!) it sounded like a POW (!) it sounded like a BANG (!). Pearl hit the floor, Billy hugged the wall, Mo had a gun out and was at a crouch, Hinch had fainted and the girls, Anne and Brandi had their hands to their mouths in horror. Pearl went into a fit of Saint Elmo’s. It sounded like --and it was—the sound of Petey opening a bottle of champagne to make Pearl her favorite drink, a Kir Royale.
Petey jumped over the bar and yelled: “quick…Hinch!” and I sprang from my perch; together we pinned him down just as he went into spasms. Petey got some smelling salts under his nose and within seconds he was as right as rain, and everything settled back down.
Billy piped up again: “ that don’t look like no two million bucks to me!”
Pearl called for silence again “Okay, I’m gonna ‘splain it slow and don’t make me use no flash cards. We’ve got—assuming that we all agree to this—three months to pull this off. What we do is, we buy a house in the French Quarter and move in together and rehearse and train and plan our asses off until we can do this thing slicker than snot on a doorknob. We split ninety eight million dollars and fade to black, back to our lives or any other lives that we may wish. Now, c’mon guys, we’ll be perfect together, have some fun, some laughs and be rich by this time in April. Whaddya say?”
Billy piped up again: “ I don’t know where the big bucks are for starters and I don’t think that piece of paper that you’re waving looks like two million bucks; that looks to me like a lottery ticket, do you mean to tell me that the Chinese control the winning numbers on the American lottery?”
“Bingo! No flies on you Bill” said Pearl “This particular ticket will win the four mil pot on Wednesday and we cash it out for two and buy us a house, like I said, move in and work out the kinks for the heist. Perfect, eh?”’
“And who, exactly who, do all of us trust to cash in that ticket and not do a Houdini on us? Which one of us can be trusted enough to get the two big ones and not take a powder?” Asked Anne. “I’ll tell you right now, it’s not me!”
The company started eyeing eachother like curs surrounding a bone and with each second that pregnantly passed we all knew that none of us could be trusted.
Just at the time that the gang reached a unanimous stalemate, our eyes started focusing on the one person that we all could put our faith in; the one person that we knew would not double cross us. And then we all came to the same unanimous conclusion and our stares turned to the chump/champ that we could pick for our champ/chump; the one person that we could all agree upon. Hinch.
“Wha wha wha wha?” Hinch started to say
Brandi spoke up first and said it the best: “Of course! Hinch is the only one of us that has the capacity to put love before money.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Orleans Short story PartEight: Mo

Short Story Part Eight: Mo, the story
It was a clear dark night in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The sky was the color that the Scripto Ink Company calls Blue Black, there was a riot of stars in the sky and a 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck, brush-painted silver, with the name ‘Lazarus’ printed on the passenger side door slid to a stop on the gravel driveway outside of the Saint Dymphna Church of the Quiet Mind. Saint Dymphna is the patron saint of nervous breakdowns… but that’s another story for another time.
The Mescalero Apache, a small post middle aged, grizzled man named Luke Crazy-eye, who was the driver of that truck that sounded like honeymoon bedsprings in a cheap motel, opened his complaining driver’s side door, stepped down, crushed his cigarette out in the gravel with a scuffed Tony Lama boot that had seen better days and pulled a bundle from the orange crate that was sitting on the front seat. He carried the bundle to the door of the church and rapped loudly. It was Christmas Eve 1975, there was a definite chill in the air and Luke wasn’t breathing too well; Luke didn’t know that he had lung cancer and would be dead before Easter. But that’s another story.
One of the two women who ran the church, Sister Miriam, answered the door. There was a small fire going in the kiva oven and the thick adobe walls were doing their best to insulate the sparsely furnished room; Luke, as he had planned, said nothing and handed the bundle over to the first person that he came into contact with, which was the woman who opened the door, who was one of the two ministers of the church, the other being Sister Françoise
There was not a big Christmas turnout at the little church that year since the Holy Christian Church of the Bleeding Tortured & Beaten Caucasian Redeemer across town had started spreading rumors that the ministers at St. Dymphna’s were lesbian lovers who sought shelter from society behind the protection of the church.
The hand that reached out for the bundle had a number tattooed to the wrist from an unpleasant stay in Poland a few years previously and she stepped back into the room as Luke turned silently, walked back to ‘Lazarus’ and slowly drove away leaving clouds of smoke from a perpetual oil leak, a faulty carburetor and the steam from the temperature differential.
Sister Miriam brought the bundle to a table where she and Sister Francoise unwrapped it. (And no, they weren’t hiding behind the skirts of St, Dymphna and yes they might be happier in each other’s arms than anywhere else; but that’s none of our business.)
Inside the bundle they found a very newborn baby with a shock of black hair, bathed in a thin coat of mucus and with the umbilical cord still attached. The baby was curled in a fetal position and it would be a few minutes until they could determine that it was a little girl. They were doubtful that the child would live but they did what they could; they milked their nanny goat (a very apropos name) managed to feed the child and, after turning out the lights in the church, brought her to bed to sleep between them. Three virgins. Three naked virgins.
The Sisters talked into the night and decided to name the child, whether she lived or died, in a combination of their favorite writers: Sylvia Plath and Virginia Wollf. They tried many combinations and finally lit on Sylvinia Wolfpath. Sylvinia would later tell people who asked about her parents that her father was a traveler named Lazarus and that she had two mothers. Then she would transfix them with eyes that the Scripto Ink Company would call Blue Black (the same color of the sky on the night that she was born) and say “but that’s a story for another time”, and leave it at that.
Somewhere in the middle of that first night under New Mexican chilled skies, the baby, whether from warmth or pure love, stretched to her full length. Newly born as she was, her head rested between the minister’s breasts and her tiny olive skinned toes touched just above their knees. Sister Francoise awoke briefly and muttered: “Mon Dieu, someone, I think, has given us an anaconda!”
Christmas morning came and the baby still lived.
In fact the baby, partially thanks to the warmth and care of the two Sisters as well as a diet of good goats milk, thrived, grew and gave all indications of being hale, hearty and healthy. At two years of age she had outgrown her foal-like appearance and carried on more like a spider monkey; all arms and legs. She possessed the uncanny ability to scale furniture, climb anything vertical and box with the sister’s Tom kitten without getting a scratch; this she did with no change of expression on her sweet, but somber face. Her hair was long, straight and blacker than night, her skin took on a café au lait/olive hue and her eyes were dark and piercing; her mouth appeared petulant but was actually the only way her mothers had ever seen her look. “It must have been the cold of that first night that froze her expression so” Sister Miriam often remarked. She potty trained early, although she preferred to use Mother Nature as her lavatory and she was late to utter any words with which to communicate her wishes. If little Sylvinia wanted anything she would sit and stare until someone noticed and guessed her needs correctly, more often than not it was Sister Francoise that could tune in most successfully.
By 1979 the small but perfect family had been driven out of the west by the good Christians of Las Cruces and had purchased a Creole Cottage in the Lower Garden district of New Orleans on a street named after the muse Terpsichore, the muse of dance.
Her mothers thought it fitting to enroll her in classes of gymnastics and ballet, which she showed an aptitude for and in fact excelled at. Later she took fencing lessons from the one remaining master in Exchange Alley.
By four years old she was reading, well, as much as her mothers could tell for a child that did not speak. She would carom around the rooms, up bookcases and into crannies to select things to look at, her favorites being Nation Geographic, the Times Picayune Metro Section and cookbooks that offered photographs of different dishes. It was Francoise that first gave her colored pencils and paper and watched her scrawl out words. Albeit primitive, her first written words were: “muthers good”, and drew a picture of their home as it had been in Las Cruces; she Sisters wept in each others arms, hugged the baby and put the masterpiece on the refrigerator with magnets. They, the mothers, worshipped their child and treated her with respect, patience and love. Sylvinia Wolfpath was a perfect child, gifted with natural intelligence and good sense with the self-actualized countenance of a poetess, which, of course she was.
At five years old she uttered her first words. She was perusing the obituaries in the newspaper and looked up to find Sister Miriam studying her.
She put her finger in the middle of the page and said: “These people are dead. Why are they smiling?”

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Orleans short story Part Seven: Me Me Me

New Orleans Short Story 7: Me Me Me
So now it’s four-thirty of the afternoon in question and the drugs have successfully kicking in; hell, they done kicked in hours ago and at this point they have taken me over. I looked over at the bed stand and saw the time and a half empty glass of Scotch. I feel good though, my head is clear, I feel rested and I’m only seeing one each of everything; however, I can still hear god laughing at what a fool I am.
Petey looked in on me from the bedroom door. “Morning Sunshine, rise up and join the world, you have a party to give in two hours.” He said cheerily.
“What the hell did you give me?” I queried
“A little thing that I mix up myself” he replied “kind of a variation of Desbutol*, you know Desoxin and Nembutal? This one starts with the downer, puts you out, mediates your nerve endings for relief of your sore-nesses and then time releases the upper so that you wake up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed. You’re good to go for another twelve to fourteen hours Chum, by which time, with any luck at all, you should be three sheets to the wind and ready for a good nights sleep. Now, at and up ‘em Soldier!”
“Swell” I said and jumped out of bed; I immediately got a vertigo rush, staggering against his waiting arms.
“Whoa there Kimosabe, you not want move fast, might fall back in canyon.” He sounded just like that frigging Indian.
“Whew, thanks Tonto. Where’s m’horse?”
Petey handed me a glass of orange juice and a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. “Juice for head, gum for breath, you smell like horse and look like buffalo dung.” he said sagely “Time to pow wow later, after long stay in rain room, go shower; Lone Ranger sweat much while sleep; remind Tonto two pounds crushed coyote sphincter.”
Well, how do you argue with a man who channels a faithful Indian companion? Short answer: you do not.
After twenty minutes in a scalding shower I was almost as normal as I ever was and Petey filled me in. “Okay Bud, nix the poultry party, likewise the use of this side of the house. I’ve got a cleaning crew working on the wreckage and I’ve called Los Tres Bastardos Grasientos catering company with dinner to be served—Voila—next door-- in the billiard room which, with the creative use of plywood and your Mama’s damask rose patterned linen, some candles and air freshener we now have ‘Chez Pierre’; the hottest ticket private eating establishment this side of Elaine’s. Oh by the way, you’ve had some cancellations so we’re down to five including me; I’ve got a call into Mo, so I’m really expecting us to be a sixer, you, me, Billy, Brandi, Anne and hopefully Mo. Sorry I couldn’t scare up Julia Roberts or someone of that ilk, they’re in Cannes or some such place watching movies and dancing naked by the pool…go figure.
“Mo, Mo?” I queried: “Really, Mo is the only one you can get? I’d even take Pearl over Mo; I’ve already had my maximum daily requirement of downers for the day; couldn’t you get anyone else?” I moaned. “Even Pearl would be preferable!”
“So solly Cholly”, Petey retorted, “Miz Pearl is either making her own movies, run off with the circus or in a slammer somewhere south of Peoria. You know that wacky sister of mine: at ease with sleaze. Besides,” he continued “what’s wrong with Mo that we can’t and haven’t dealt with? AND… you didn’t talk like that when you had her behind closed doors!”
Getting back to real time, reader, of course you know that Mo is not her real name. Onward:
Alright, alright… Mo and I had had a brief but intense ‘thing’ until I found out that she was moody, cynical, sarcastic, vindictive, armed and full-blown bat shit crazy; those are her good qualities. Her bad qualities would send a saint to Smirnoff, Seconal, and smoker’s cough. We affectionately, and between ourselves only, call her ‘Mo’ because she looks like a painting by Modigliani, if you get my drift. She’s extremely intelligent, creative, imaginative and a really great canoodler; and that’s a story for another time.
Now with mere hours to go, I hitched up my britches, put on a tie, a smile and a pair of cheap sunglasses and, ignoring the commotion of the repairmen, trundled next door to my saloon/salon. Once again, I was glad to be alive.
Over in the saloon that I had named ‘L’auberge ne relachez pas’ or ‘The Don’t Drop Inn’ Petey had been setting things aright as I could see when I wandered out of my back door, which, again, was in the front of the building and over to the back of the pub, which was likewise. The caterers were busy in the kitchen and the smell of freshly squeezed citrus mingled with the scent of burning animal flesh; a woman in the corner was making fresh tortillas while another chopped vegetables and herbs. They were joined by a couple of scruffy children in diapers; barefoot. Three burly, Hispanic looking, men were wreathed in steam and smoke from the cooking appliances and fat cigars, they were wearing matching grease stained wife beater undershirts that did their best to cover hairy bellies and the sweat flowed like wine from their pores into the food. I started to say something but feared for my safety and judging from the look of their jailhouse tattoos of old English lettering, saviors on crosses and virgin mothers, rightly so. I averted my eyes just picturing the pleasure that they would have taking a scrawny gringo in white duck trousers and burgundy velvet smoking jacket and playing ‘dunking for French fries’ in the deep fryer that they had set up outside the door using what looked like old furniture (I hoped not mine) for fuel.
I found Petey at the bar going through my mail and asked him about the seeming culinary chaos. “Who are those guys?” I hissed.
“Oh, you mean them greasy bastards?”
“Shhhh!” I whispered, “don’t let them hear you talking about them like that!”
“Hee hee” Petey laughed “That’s the name of the catering company, paleface, ‘The Three Greasy Bastards’, oh, I told them no chicken; I figured that you had enough fowl play for one day” He really got the giggles over that one.
“Very punny” I retorted, not feeling amused.
“Okay, okay. Boy, everybody’s a critic these days. Listen, folks will be arriving soon; by the smell of it, grubs about done. Take a load off, I’ve set us up in the mode of ‘Uber Comfort’. Here, smoke some of this."

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Orleans Story Part Six: Billy

Part Six: Billy
Okay, who is Billy? Well, consistent with the other characters in this story, Billy is not his real name; in fact Billy has had several names that he’s used that are other than the name on his real birth certificate, which is, believe it or not, Melvin Tennabruso. As I said, or at least inferred, Billy had gone by a number of different names since shedding the (he thought) hideous names that he was given at birth, in baptism, communion and confirmation. As a kid he wanted to be called Frosty the Snowman. He once saw a name on a wooden pencil: Mandarin #2 and wanted that one, he tried on ‘Esquire’ and that didn’t stick. He tried a one-word name of: ‘Face’ but nobody wanted to call him that, especially in the pool hall. Jack Frost, Brady Brady, Charles Wright (he dreamed of “Sir Charles” but that was also Teflon), Aaron Presley (Elvis’ middle name), Philip Mann (it was easier at the dry cleaners) and then he was Thomas Katt for a while, before stumbling onto Billy the Kid.
Well, he couldn’t use Billy D. Kidd (too obvious) so he settled on William Price, it had a nice ring and he could call himself Billy Price; his inside joke about the last name of Price was that he figured that everybody had one, a price that is. So his running joke was, when introducing himself, he would say: “The name’s William Price, everybody has one… but you can call me Billy”. He took great pains to introduce himself as often as he could; it never failed to bring a smile to his face. Not many other people got it, though.
Mel was raised in Hoboken, New Jersey where his folks moved when he was seven, much to their shame. His family for years had lived in New York City, in tenements and slums, and when gentrification reared its ugly head in their neighborhood (Greenwich Village) the poor people were the first to go. And being his family was racially and ethnically biased (They didn’t like anyone that wasn’t Italian or Irish and certainly no one that wasn’t Catholic), they had nowhere to go except New Jersey, which to them was like living in exile.
Mel and his friends and young fellow big city refugees tried to make the streets of Hoboken as dangerous as possible, just so that they could feel at home. They formed gangs, vandalized property, got into fights and stole things. They were the first kids to smoke cigarettes and drop out of school. They were mean to anyone that they found weaker than themselves. They were sneaky, crafty, brutal and without exception, cowardly. They bullied young girls into ‘putting out’.
Melvin being a typical Irish Italian Catholic became an altar boy and did his time at religious instructions; he was given (in his estimation) hideous middle names; one at baptism and another for confirmation. He felt that his family hated him and wanted only to humiliate him. His old man beat him regularly but that was no big deal; his father would get drunk and beat everybody he came in contact with: his wife, his kids and other drunks. Mel didn’t make no federal case about his beatings; he knew that someday he’d be out of that place called home or big enough to kick his old man’s ass, if for no other reason than the way his father mistreated his mother, whom he loved like a saint.
His chance came soon enough. One night Mel TennisShoes (as he was called on the street) and Tommy TooTall broke into the neighborhood pawn shop to rob anything that they could put their hands on. They broke in through the skylight. They dressed in black and put shoe polish on their faces just like in that Robert Mitchum movie. They brought a rope that they lowered themselves into the shop with and started looking around with flashlights that they held in their teeth. They made the mistake by pulling the rope in after them.
The silent alarm went off and they couldn’t get out; the front door was barred and the skylight was too high to reach. The police sat outside and laughed at them while they waited for the owner to show up with the keys to let them in to nab the two seventeen year old amateurs.
Their mothers cried at the trial, their fathers got drunk and got into a fight, the other kids laughed at how stupid they were getting caught like that. “Yeah, dere dey wuz, like rats in a trap, stoopid reeeelie fockin’ stoopid.”
The judge gave them a choice (some cherse!); off to the big house or volunteer for the armed services. Thomas James Joseph Tatarino volunteered for the U.S. Navy and Melvin Alfred Aloysius Tennabruso chose the Marine Corps. Tommy spent four years drinking and getting laid, he did as little work as possible and squeaked by with an Honorable Discharge. Mel (call me Billy) spent the first two years getting his ass kicked and the next two working at a recruiting center in New Orleans.
After completing his basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Private First Class Tennabruso considered himself a trained killer; unfortunately he had his father’s propensity for not being able to hold his liquor and lose his temper, so Mel (call me Billy) would regularly go off base, off sobriety and off his rocker and get into fights that he never won. One day a fellow Marine, Deanjelo Dagostino (call me Dino) took him aside, talked sense into him and inspired him to lay off the booze. Actually, Dino introduced him to drugs, which they both liked a hell of a lot better than whiskey. Drugs did what you told them to do, either waking you up or putting you to sleep; they invariably made you feel good about yourself. Billy and Dino became fast friends and Dino taught him the two cardinal sins of drugs; one: don’t get caught with them and two: use just enough and no more. Both sins were punishable by dishonor, which both buddies feared more than death. Dino was from New Orleans and he was conniving, wheedling and manipulating a transfer to the recruiting station there, where a couple of the guys he knew were due to be discharged soon. He planned on getting his good buddy Billy to be transferred with him and it did come to pass that they did serve out the rest of their time in New Orleans, were discharged together and settled down for a spell. Dino and Billy shared an apartment in the French Quarter even while they were in the service of their country. They liked to troll the quarter at night looking for women that were a little worse for the wear of strong drink and ergo easy pickings.
Pat O’Brien’s bar was a favorite because it was raucous, loud and made a drink called a “Hurricane’ there, whose sole existence was to get people fucked up. Billy and Dino would hang around the bar until they spotted likely semi-disabled women, and having the advantage of being sober (albeit high) they made their moves and culled them from the herd for some hanky-panky at their place which was only two blocks away. Let it be known here, that the good times that the boys enjoyed was by mutual, although inebriated, consent. The buddies were well versed in that special point of weakness that came before moods became maudlin, and generally, a good time was had by all.
Billy had turned into a good looking man and as these things went, having doubted his attractiveness for most of his life, was insatiable in his lust for conquest. He often wandered off on his own picking up shop girls, waitresses and even a librarian or two. But, Billy was having sex, he was not making love; and this, shame that it was, would not occur to him until much later in his life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Orleans Story Part Five: Brandi

New Orleans story part 5: Brandi
Beatrice Mae Buttons had always been a big girl. She was born on the Button’s family farm in Eagle Rock, Missouri. In those days Eagle Rock was no more than a cluster of failing farms with a post office, a fire station and a filling station next to a convenience store that sold hot lunches to migrants in a bend in highway eighty-six; Eagle Rock was a haven for Hispanic illegals because there were no police to speak of in the vicinity.
Migrants hired themselves out to the dirt farmers around planting and harvesting time before moving south or north following the crops. They worked for a little money or the barter of goods and services. You see, there is an unmarked migrant workers highway that stretches from Canada to Louisiana where camps are set up and abandoned as the workers move south to north starting in spring working down up to the Canadian border and then back to the Gulf of Mexico to catch harvests; in this way hundreds of undocumented workers could remain below the radar, make a living, feed and clothe themselves and raise their families. That song “On The Road Again” was not a hit amongst those who had no other choice.
There were waystations and wooded encampments, abandoned farm buildings and even a midwife or two within reach and ken of the growing, moving, traveling, gypsy hands that were an important part of making the best of bad land and low incomes in places like the one that residents called ‘Eagle Rock Misery’ and other small poor communities and properties that no one could afford to live on and nobody else was fool enough to want to buy.
The Buttons’ farm was no better or worse than any of the neighboring properties; there was one thing that Mr. And Mrs. Buttons did raise in larger quantities than their neighbors, and that was children. They had nine living children and they all got as much schooling as necessary and then worked the poor land from that age on. In prosperous times they had a milk cow, yard chickens and occasionally a pig in a sty. Prosperous times were few and far between. The farm was just east of the highway and just west of Fire Road 2285. Forty acres; no mule. Help from migrants when they could afford it.
In hard times they ate corn and potatoes cooked in lard. Mrs. Buttons planted a truck garden every spring and usually a good portion of the crops were eaten by insects, stolen by migrants or rabbits which Mr. Buttons took great pleasure in shooting at with an old Winchester rifle. They often had rabbit for dinner but never a migrant worker. The Buttons worked the land a parcel at a time, when one parcel got played out they would work another parcel that they had cleared; an acre at a time. With all the clearing and planting and harvesting, the Buttons had no end to work. Just as the last parcel played out, the first one was ready for replanting. So it goes.
This was the world that she was born into; poor whites, poor browns and had she lived further south, poor blacks. These are folks that we hear referred to as ‘dirt poor’. Beatrice Mae Buttons was the fourth youngest and only one of the two girls, her sister Bonnie Jeanne being the baby of the clan. Beatrice, or Bea as she was called, was born after a late harvest on a dark and stormy night; there was a chill in the air and a north wind whistled through the chinks in the wall and under the door. Mr. Buttons had long since given up on helping with deliveries; Mrs. Button’s body had so much experience birthing babies that Beatrice literally fell out of her cervix. It was Mr. Buttons pleasure to never have to plow hard to plant another baby Buttons into the Missus.
Little Bea was cute from the start. She was born a little dumpling with freckles and dimples all over her, she had a shock of strawberry blond hair that would soon turn to pure sable. She was born with blue-grey eyes which would remain the same color all her life; they shone with a fire from within. Upon reaching her mother’s breast for her first taste of milk she looked up at Mrs. Buttons and smiled with her entire face and being; an angels smile. Mrs. Buttons wanted to hold her close forever, in fact, Mrs. Buttons did not know if she could ever not be holding her this close… or closer, forever. Another fact was, Mrs. Buttons had never been more in love with any thing or person in her entire life.
That’s just the way Bea affected people throughout her life; to see her was to love her; to love her was to want to touch her. To touch her was to want to hold her. The only challenge that Bea ever had was that anyone that held her would want to own her.
But Beatrice Mae could not be owned. You see, Bea is what you might call a free spirit. She gave of herself freely and all to whom she shone upon felt blessed. To her it was a simple act of bodies touching, souls entwining and spirits joining. At puberty she also found that there were body fluids to contend with and she went on and on into her early twenties until a trip down south to New Orleans entranced her. Without a shred of guilt or misgiving she said good bye to her family and caught a bus back with her worldly possessions packed in an old Pan Am bag that she bought at a garage sale. Six years later she received that phone call from her second cousin Anna Marie.
And that was six years ago. She had been living across the river from New Orleans proper in a place called Algiers Point; she had saved enough money to buy the house that she lived in and Anna Marie had moved in and out close by in an area called Gretna. Pretty much Anna Marie, now Anne, played her cards close to her chest and except for the askance occasional piece of advice or wisdom, the women stayed as close as they could, being a little ways apart in more ways than one.
Bea, now Brandi, opined that little Anna Marie, now Ann, had an unnatural affinity for trouble and rough times, like that Marine sergeant that she had lived with for a spell; what was his name? Oh, Billy something; he was sure a piece of work. Brandi had dropped him like a hot potato, but Anne had scooped him up like an inside fly ball. He didn’t last long with her, either; although Brandi heard through the grapevine that they still saw each other from time to time.
Brandi wondered, one time while putting on her make up for her weekend job, what had happened to old Billy; and as fast as that thought lit on her mind like a gad fly on the rump of a French Quarter mule… that’s how fast she slapped it like a fly swatter on a kitchen counter. “Good riddance to bad trash’, she said as she dismissed him from her aura. You see, Beatrice had learned the value of her warm spots and had no time for pikers, losers or bullshit artists.
Brandi had grown into herself, a wise woman now in her early thirties she was, as they say, round, firm and fully packed. Women trusted her instinctually as much as they did not trust their men around her. Men instinctually wanted to move closer to her. Men talked in lowered voices about her, referring to her as many adorable things and knowing deep in their hearts that she was, at the end of the day, just an invitation to the blues.
Brandi worked weekend nights as a hostess at a restaurant named Blanche’s in the Quarter on Chartres Street. The restaurant was named for Blanche DuBois of Tennessee Williams fame; you know, the woman that relied upon “the kindness of strangers”? She made all the money that she needed at her job and made still more in her spare time giving solace to lonely ‘new friends’. People seemed happy to give her money; money made no earthly sense to anyone that Brandi came in contact with, it was just something that they had and they wanted to give it to her. If you think that Brandi is special, if you think that she is wonderful, exciting or amazing… think again; Brandi is a frigging miracle, and make no mistake about it.
If she could see Billy now, she would not have changed her mind about him though, for he had not changed much in the last few years; although he didn’t live but across the river from her, that was still too close for her memories of him.
It was an early afternoon somewhere within a few weeks ago and Billy was getting ready for his nocturnal adventures. He picked up his phone and dialed a number. “Hello Dino?”
Continued in part six and

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Orleans Short Story Part Four

Short Story Part Four: Anne Kenney
Anna Marie Kowalski came from Ville Platte, Louisiana. She was the middle child of five attractive and gifted children that graced the lives of Maude and Paul Kowalski. The family had moved to Ville Platte from Eureka Springs, Arkansas when Mr. Kowalski’s company opened up a branch office in Ville Platte. Paul Kowalski was a mortician who specialized in body contouring, which meant that his specialty was making people, dead people, fit into the coffins that had been picked out and purchased by miserly next of kinfolk. “You wouldn’t believe how many cheapskates want to carve off savings by putting a size eighteen body into a size nine casket” he would tell his wife and children over one of Mrs. K’s wonderful home cooked meals. A transfer to the facility opening in Ville Platte meant a sizable raise for Mr. Paul and the Kowalskis bought a roomy house with an equally sizable mortgage on West Main; three bedrooms, two baths. There they settled were fruitful and multiplied.
Ville Platte was the home of the Louisiana Cotton Festival. Anna Marie attended school at Sacred Heart Academy where she had average grades and a reasonable amount of friends both male and female. At fourteen she went out for the cheerleading squad and was accepted; it was one of the happiest days of her life, she loved Sacred Heart Academy and she loved being a cheerleader. It made her feel like a goddess.
On a late night drive, after the football team suffered a bitter defeat, while with the fullback of the team, she was informed as to what was logically expected of her as a cheerleader of the mighty Sacred Heart Trojan football team. She was kind of excited when she was told that she would be giving ‘succor’ to the team as part of her duties. The fullback explained patiently (his forte) how much pressure and stress a football team member is really under. “You can’t believe how much of a load one of your team’s players carry” he told sweet Anna Marie. Anna Marie felt tears coming to her eyes as she pictured the poor brute hulks, wearing the Trojan uniform, weighed down by such strains and burdens.
She wondered aloud if she really knew what ‘succor’ was, and the fullback kindly offered to show her. They drove to Hope Park, which is on the corner of Lincoln and Railroad Avenue and she learned on a picnic table, under spreading oaks, about ‘succor’. There was a bit of alcohol involved, but just a bit. Nor did Anna Marie know exactly what a Trojan was; her new friend obviously didn’t know either or didn’t care because he didn’t use one and Anna Marie was with child six months before her sixteenth birthday. She reasoned that, although she far from minded giving her all for the team, she probably wasn’t prepared for the consequences.
Anna Marie wondered, as she lie awake in the bedroom that she shared with her two younger sisters, what course her life should take from here; she hadn’t yet informed her parents of her dilemma, and she knew that in time her condition would avail itself to wiser eyes. Already some of the older cheerleaders had noticed, and told Anna of their experiences with that ‘succor jive talk’. Most had been suckered into ‘succoring’ at least twice; once by mistake and the second with the succor-er of their choice. “You should have seen the silly look on that quarterback’s face when I looked into his baby blues and said ‘ohhmy ohhmy Johnny, how ever can I ease that heavy load you’re carrying? Do, oh please do, show me all about succoring” one of the star cheerleaders told her with a laugh “but ya know, ya gotta take precautions!”
Anna Marie decided to call one of her second cousins who had moved to New Orleans to work with widows and orphans and ask for advice. Beatrice Mae had always been like the big sister Anna Marie had always wanted. It only took a few moments on the phone with Cousin Bea before Anna Marie was sobbing out her story.
“You mean that you actually fell for that succor line?” was Bea’s first impulsive query before her voice softened “I guess you fell for it hook, line and succor, eh, sucker? Now, now, you just relax, honey, and call me in the morning. I’ve got to rush off to some poor Merchant Seaman’s rescue; he’s locked himself in his hotel room and will only talk to a trained professional therapist, and that’s me, baby; by the way, it’s Brandi… I’m callin’ myself Brandi Mae now, that’s Brandi with an I”. As it turned out, Brandi Mae was in a succoring business of her own.
When Anna Marie called the following day (“not before noon, hon”), Brandi had a plan. “Listen hon, it’s almost Christmas break; why don’t you tell your folks that you’re comin’ down to see old Beatrice ‘cause she’s feelin’ a mite bit homesick for kin company. Act like it’s a big inconvenience, but say how much I’ve been such a good friend to you and that you can’t stand for me to suffer and be lonely after all I’ve done for you, and besides which, I can’t leave my job as a therapist during the holidays, can I? You got that?”
Brandi told Anna Marie that she had a “cute little place” in an area called Algiers Point and that she was welcome to stay with her while she made some phone calls and “set something up”.
And so it was that Anna Marie Kowalski went further down south on her school break and stayed there, explaining to her folks that Beatrice Mae had gotten her into a school that was training her in the field of Psychopharisaicpharmacology, for which she had scored high marks as an applicant and seeing how Beatrice was a recent graduate who could help her with her studies in a school, one not found anywhere else in the whole country, she would work hard and do her family real proud. Naturally her family, good god fearing country folks that they were, was flummoxed, confused, impressed…and gave their consent. “Imagine, Mrs. K told the ladies at her quilting bee, “my daughter in school to become a psycho-Para… something or other. I’m sure she has a fine and secure future ahead of her; oh, I do hope she meets as wonderful a man as her father is.” To which the other ladies could not but roll their eyes, Anna Marie’s true story was common knowledge to everyone but the Kowalskis.
What happened next was, at Brandi’s encouragement Anna Marie Kowalski became Anne Kenney and got a job shelving books at the local library. She got her GED and met a Marine Corps recruiter that she liked well enough, and with adequate protection, occasionally ‘succored’. His name was William Stratford Price but everyone called him Billy. Billy had an apartment on Spain Street in the Faubourg Marigny; Anne would sometimes visit him when she thought that he would be less boring than whatever else she had going on. Brandi had introduced them; Anne considered him (as had Brandi) a failure as a lover.
Billy Price was also a failure as a Marine Corps recruiter, and was in danger of being shipped out to the prevailing war, wherever that might be, because his ‘numbers’ were too low. Anne could not let that happen to her; after all, she had boring Billy trained to behave her way and she didn’t want to have to start over with training a new, boring, boyfriend. So Anne, when she saw an opportunity, found recruits for Billy… in likely young boys that she picked up at her job in the library. Anne had grown and prospered. She had taken courses in Library Sciences at Delgado College and had matured into a lovable, but well seasoned, credit to her gender. She still shared a house with her second cousin and sometimes to relieve her boredom with Billy, went on house calls with Brandi as an ‘assisting therapist’.
Anne had visited her family from time to time and on holidays she would send many presents, but she was damned if she would ever move back to Ville Platte. She received word regularly on boring subjects like births, deaths, marriages and babies. She had made up stories about how she decided to forgo the career in Psychopharisaicpharmacology and pursue a cerebral career as a librarian to the public. She told her family how she took the ferry across the Mississippi river each day and how exciting her life was, dispensing knowledge and wisdom to the underprivileged.
Actually, Ann Kennedy was pretty bored with her life and just about the only thing that got her juices going was the effect that she had on the boys that she picked up at the library. They clearly could see the goddess within her.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Possible New Orleans Part Three

Part Three: Petey
Petey Pappas told me that he never used his real name because he didn’t know what his real name was. He was raised in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans by mute parents and a mean spirited older sister. He knew his sister’s name. His sister’s name was pearl. Whenever Petey asked his sister what his name was, she would give him a different answer…every time. So, Petey, finding it easier than contradicting her, stopped asking and accepted whatever name his sister gave him at any given time. Because his parents were mute, they could not repudiate his sister’s edicts. His sister’s name was not really Pearl either. It was a name that she adopted.
She had come across the name ‘Pearl Prentiss’ in a batch of birth certificates that she had stolen from the mute parent’s doctor. Petey’s parents were named Moe and Marsha. Moe and Marsha McMannis; Mister and Mrs. That was not their real name either, in fact, they were not his real parents.
Petey didn’t know when his birthday was either; he could only go by what Pearl told him. Pearl would change his name and his birthday on impulse. One day Petey came home from school and Pearl had a cake waiting for him. The cake said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT!” It had an icing drawing on the top of the cake of a cowboy on a rearing black stallion with a lasso that he was twirling right around the name ROBERT. The side of the cake had the sweet white flesh of coconut on it and a spiral trimming of azure blue. The lettering and the drawing of the cowboy, stallion and lasso were on a snow white background; it smelled like heaven.
As she lit the candles, she explained to Petey that his real name was Robert and that today was his birthday; Petey believed her and wanted to know what the day’s date was so that he could mark it down. Pearl exclaimed (as she always did) “April Fools!” and Petey, now Robert, believed her; the actual date was June 12th. At the birthday table a chair had been set for Maureen, a headless doll. Pearl told Robert that Maureen was his other older sister and that she, pearl, had decapitated her (Maureen), because she refused to obey her (Pearl). Naturally Petey/Robert believed her. Pearl also told him that the new kitten that she had found could actually speak to her in English. Petey would take a long time before he disobeyed Pearl or questioned her. That’s how it was when Petey was growing up; at least that’s what he told me. He also told me never to believe him about anything.
Pearl was a kleptomaniac that had St. Elmo’s Fire seizures, that’s how she came to be in Moe and Marsha’s doctor’s office. While the doctor and nurse were trying to get information from the mute parents, the young girl was thief enough, even in her starry eyed condition, to glom a fistful of the doctor’s documents, among them couple of dozen copies of stillborn birth records and stash them in her book bag. One of the certificates was in the name of ‘Pearl Prentiss’; the rest was herstory.
Mr. and Mrs. McMannis, along with Petey and Pearl, lived in a camel back house on St. Maurice St. Saint Maurice is the patron saint of infantrymen, armies and oddly enough weavers and dyers. I say oddly enough because the McMannis household was a household of weavers. The adult McMannis’ were weavers of bath mats, you know, the kind that are made from scraps of materials braided together in an oval shape? Pearl wove fabrications and Petey grew up weaving possibilities.
Moe McMannis roamed the streets and alleyways late at night, gathering rags to bring home to the missus. Marsha cleaned and disinfected them with the vigor of the demon possessed; of which she was one. Later into the evening the adults would weave the scraps into mats, Pearl would fashion falsehoods into realities and Petey would fantasize about the meaning of life and the workings of his universe.
Petey used to fantasize about his other brothers and sisters. Pearl had told him that he had four other brothers and three other sisters and she pointed with pride at the seven cigar boxes by the space heater in her room where she kept their ashes. Each box was labeled with the names of the departed siblings. Pearl often told Petey of the tortures that she had inflicted on each one before she killed them and cremated them in the space heater, prior to labeling and boxing them. She told Petey that if he ever looked into one of the cigar boxes that the spirit of the dead child would escape in a cloud of ashes and choke him to death. She also told Petey that she wasn’t quite done with Maureen yet and that Maureen was still alive and that if Petey listened closely, in the dead of night (pun intended), he would be able to hear poor Maureen’s screams as she begged for death. She also showed him two empty cigar boxes that she said were reserved for him and Maureen. She also told him that her pet feline had revealed to her that his name was Professor Morriarity and that if he (Petey) crossed her in any way the Professor would tell her straight away and there would be hell to pay.
Moe and Marsha often wondered why little whatshisname slept with pillows covering his head. Moe and Marsha didn’t know Petey from a turkey giblet, and no matter how many times Pearl had used sign language to explain his presence they remained baffled at his presence. They finally eased their confusion when they decided that he probably came with the house. The condition of miscommunication occurred because Pearl signed in the English language and the McMannis’ only understood sign language in their native language. It was a language that they had made up because neither one of them could get the hang of their native language signs, which were in Macedonian; and who could blame them.
Petey came to a sad realization on his fifty fourth birthday when he was sixteen; that is to say that Pearl had given him fifty four birthday parties, an average of three point five per year. Pearl was a real nut for birthday parties and she bought birthday cakes at the day old bakery counter and fashioned Petey into whatever name was written on the cake; on occasion she would regress Petey’s age, like when she bought a cake that said “HAPPY FOURTH BIRTHDAY LITTLE RALPH” when Petey was eleven.
Anyway, Petey’s mournful epiphany was this: Petey finally realized that his sister was lying to him with every breath and that she was using him like a frigging tool for her own warped amusement and that he was destined to be her plaything for the rest of his miserable life because he was too weak to do otherwise. Truth be told, it had taken the cat months to get Petey to answer the ‘get-a-clue phone (you know, “ring ring? GET A CLUE Petey!). Better late than never, you say? Well, that was before Petey met the librarian.
From the time that Petey was little, Pearl had dropped him off at the Martin Luther King branch of the New Orleans public library system and told that it was school. He was also told that if he misbehaved that he would suffer a worse fate than his sister Maureen, and Petey wanted ever so much to keep his head on his shoulders.
To Pearl’s credit Petey did not lack for education; she schooled him at home and gave him lists of things to take from library shelves to read and understand. She started him easy and advanced him as required, even giving him diplomas and graduation parties with her and Maureen. The cakes that were served had nothing written on them. Petey advanced through the grades and sections of the library until one day a young librarian stopped by the corner of the library that Petey had used for years as his desk and workspace. He was reading a book called The Art of War by Sun Tzu. By this time Petey was a long gangly youth with peach fuzz and acne on his face; his ears, nose and feet were four sizes too big for his frame. When he was older he would learn that this life stage was called ‘adolescence’ and was quite natural.
The librarians name was Anne Kenney. Anne Kenney was twenty years old, willow thin and as pretty as a speckled pup on a red rug. She gave Petey’s pheromones an olfactory stimulation as fresh as a soft breeze in springtime and as intuitive as rutting season in the Rockies; and just as nature intended in situations such as this, all the blood in his body rushed to his face and his groin. And also, as nature intended, the winsome Miss Kenney was as oblivious to her affect on an adolescent boy as a female mantis is to her doomed lover.
Anne was wearing a light cotton dress with daisies and black eyed Susans printed on it, at her waist was a cinched patent leather belt. The sun was streaming in a window behind her and cloaked her in a radiance that Petey had never seen before; the sun was also shining through her dress, outlining her shapely legs and torso. She stood with her legs slightly apart and Petey had never dreamed of seeing anything so stimulatingly exciting.
“Can I help you with anything?” asked Anne.
"Grummasigamafrackers". replied Petey softly.
Anne didn’t miss a beat “I’ve seen you in here before, haven’t I? What’s your name?”
Petey was able to blurt out that his name was Billy and that he had just had his thirtieth birthday two day ago.
“Well… my, you look young for your age” said Anne, sitting down beside Petey and glancing over his shoulder. Petey inhaled a breath of the sweetest aroma he had ever taken into his lungs; the earthy aroma of a female in estrous.
Anne put her dainty hand lightly on his forearm. She gently started asking more questions and slowly Billy/Petey opened up to her like a lotus and emptied the contents of his soul and mind; for an hour and a half.
He told her of taking law courses by mail (he wanted to be a lawyer), how he had just about mastered chess except for the famous problem proposed by Edward Laskers and how he had taught himself four languages and could navigate by starlight.
Anne asked about his future plans and told him about a friend of hers that was “looking for a few good men”; just by coincidence, his name was also Billy and he wore a very manly uniform that she was sure that he would look “just dreamy’ in. She turned her sloe eyed Alice blue gaze deeply into Billy/Petey's big brown cow orbs and sighed.
About that time Pearl came in to fetch Petey.

Friday, November 19, 2010

addition to possible New Orleans story part two

Part two.
Anyway, while my dog was being dogged by druggies, my kitchen helper was drinking and toking deeply and consequently went into a dream-state. As I mentioned before (or did I?), Hinch’s personality changes upon any type of slumber: naps (including catnaps), daydreams, nod outs, beddy-byes, space outs and any sustained states of drowsiness. In these states of semi-somnambulism he is prone to mischief, mayhem and maliciousness of an advanced order, hence the straightjacket. It is for his own protection, believe me.
That being said, at the moment that suspicions (“it’s ALL his FAULT!!”) were dawning upon me, I was busy bleeding and heading for the dining room for some first aid; as I passed the bathroom I saw (and heard) the fire engines pull up. I quickly dropped to all fours and scuttled back to the laundry room to look out of the front windows leaving a trail of blood behind me. I cursed the day that I rescued Hinch from the Oompa Loompa casting queue at a Hollywood soundstage.
Here I must segue a moment to explain my living arrangements; hold these thoughts and images though: zonked out Hinch, Hector and Hermes in hiding, howling Hercules, smoke, shots fired, fire detectors clanging, police pounding, chiming clocks, screeching cockatiels, fainting canaries, speed bump tortoises, half awake bleeding heroes (me), stepped upon felines, fire trucks, thunderclaps, phones ringing, Petey Pappas rushing to my rescue and not one of us had a clue as to what was happening. ‘What else could happen?’ you might ask. ‘It’s just getting started’, I would answer.
I live in what is known, down in New Orleans, as a double shotgun house; meaning there are two apartments side by side in straight lines and named so because, the way the rooms are laid out, you can virtually fire a shotgun in the front door and hit whoever might be standing at the back door. Let me clarify that I don’t actually live in New Orleans; I live in a place called Gretna, across the river. Neat, huh?
This building as well as a small trust fund was left to me by my parents who deserted me on my twenty-first birthday and went to live in the south of France with the instructions that I never try to contact them…ever. My precociousness as a tot and young adult obviously did not impress them; but, that’s another story for another time.
One half of my ‘double’, as we call the structures, is a fully ‘operation ready’ private (mine) saloon and pool hall which I open on whim or when I feel the need for entertainment. I hire staff for the evening and simply go out… next door. No driving, no last call, no spending out of pocket (except for impressive tipping); AND, I live in the other half! Five enormous rooms that I have aligned so that the back of the house is in the front of the building and you have to go around back to be let in the front door.
At the moment, I was crouching in the back of the house in the room that was in the front of the building, in my Star Wars pajamas, bleeding from my left temporal lobe and holding a silk handkerchief on the wound to stem the flow of vital fluids. I then backed into the darkened kitchen just as my neighbor reset the circuit breakers and I reached out and came away with a handful of electric wires and slid on dead chickens and what turned out to be bullet shell casings; I was thrown against the 1928 Magic Chef stove that took four men, big men, to carry in. The corner of the stove caught my lower back, chickens fell on my feet and one hundred and ten volts coursed through my body until I, as a faulty conductor, blew the breakers again and the imported Italian bakers rack (another two hundred pounds) crashed into a spot directly between my shoulder blades.
The clock chiming had mercifully rung its course and the windows had been opened by my neighbor, Petey Pappas, who was also my lawyer and who was at this time explaining to the police and fire department that this was all one huge misunderstanding and that they could leave with a large donation to their widows and orphans funds. The birds and beasts had quieted and there was only a soft guilty sobbing from Hinch in the dining room which I would shortly sooth with sweet approbations and heartfelt forgivenesses. The Hispanics had blended into the shrubbery and disappeared
“I thought you said the party wasn’t until six-ish” was the first thing Petey said to me as things started to die down.
“Call for the doctor, call for the nurse, call for that metaphorical lady with the alligator purse!” I replied with all of the self control that I could muster.”My back is in excruciating upheaval, I cannot straighten from the fetal position and, even in my semi-conscious condition, I canassure you that I am in need of strong medication, it feels like I’ve been run over by a school bus of gibbering capons. Mother Superior, jump the gun!”
I was still bleeding, my head was still pounding and my shins were still barked, my back was beyond injured, but it was quiet at the homestead and I was grateful for that. I had tried to find out what happened from Hinch but he was no help, having been in an altered state of mind at the time the catastrophe was occurring. Petey and I again reset the circuit breakers and crept to the kitchen to put some of the events into perspective.
We found five naked chickens hanging from ceiling fans (three on the floor), two fans, one bird on every blade that had not broken. With the electricity back on the fans began to turn and we quickly shut off the wall switch. It was a good thing that we did, for we discovered that Christmas twinkle lights had been wrapped around, and inside the twirling birds as well as ribbons and a red Sharpie marker had been used to draw targets on their little chests: little heart shaped targets. We knew that they were targets because there was not one but two guns, as well as spent casings on the floor by a barstool and bullet holes in the birds and walls and appliances. All this time I thought Hinch’s guns were toys. Idiot Moi.
The image came to me of an inebriated Hinch, up on the stool in his cute cowboy suit with two guns, firing wildly at the spinning birds and causing a short in the electricity, starting a fire, setting off the alarm and it all going south from there. I was grateful that I had no sprinklers.
“Well, that’s it for the party” I said to Petey.
“Nah” he said “we can salvage this, I’ll make some phone calls”. He handed me a tumbler of single malt Scotch and two little blue and red pills. “Now, take these little helpers of mother’s and go lie down; I’ll call you when all’s well.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Possible Short Story from New Orleans

Casual Encounters
Phil LaMancusa
It all started when I organized a chicken dismemberment party; another in a long line of my culinary travesties and here’s how that fiasco occurred: news was out that the local super market had whole chickens on sale for sixty-nine cents a pound, meaning that I could purchase some at couple of dollars each. Such a deal; I decided to call seven of my pals to show up at my house for a lesson par excellence in the art and science of bird dissecting, bidding them to bring themselves, implements of destruction (knives) and adult beverages of their choice. The evening promised to be one of blood, sweat and beers;
I replenished the first aid kit. I cleared the dining room of debris and furniture except for the dinner table, which I added leaves to, stretching it to its eight foot maximum length. I laid floor tarpaulins and removed artwork from the walls. Little did I know that I would be laid low because of a two buck cluck.
Did I listen to my instincts? No. Did I stop to the read signs and portents suggesting the day’s occupation would be one of endemic, ominous and prophetic significance? No. I was the man, I had a plan; the man with a plan, that was me. Oh, was I to be brought up short; and oh, how the mighty did fall.
The plan was to deliver naked shivering dead birds (one per guest) and perform avian surgery together, laughing and scratching and imbibing and generally just have a hell of a grand evening. The plan was sever the wings first to get started, disjointing them as South East Asians do for appetizers: deep fried and served Buffalo style with ranch dressing and celery sticks. Next we would filet out the breasts and pound them savagely for cutlets sautéed in Madeira wine and mushrooms, bone the legs after breaking them at the hip joint and cut them small for a Bolognese sauce, a la cacciatore, over homemade fresh basil rigatoni and lastly make a scrumptious stock from the skeletal remains and vegetable peelings to be served as a veloute diffused in Russian vodka laid over coddled eggs (mother and child reunion) with a mousse prepared from their delicate livers and a confit of giblets and neck bone renderings. Red, white and amber colored drinks, with high alcohol content would incite the mood and excitement like a goosed locomotive belching steam until all would be madness unchained and culinary lunacy unleashed. I was to be aided and abetted by my faithful cohort, Hinch the hunchback henchman, and that was the plan in a nutshell.
On the morning in question I walked the six blocks to the store with a song in my heart and gluttony in my soul, imagining the pullets served eight ways from Sunday; a gourmands dream come true. I bought the birds, celery, vodka, wine, French bread, ranch dressing and several other items and cursed myself for not driving, for dubious were the chances for a public conveyance at the ungodly hour of the morning that I had chosen to deal with my consumer issues.
The market was crowded at dawn’s crack with cretins, insomniacs and dazed unquiet minds on weekend passes. The pace remained dreamlike and frenetic throughout the experience with scattered flurries of cosmic debris falling and uniformed, obviously over-caffeinated, stock clerks rushing at erratic frenzied paces to complete sinister and mysterious errands. I was caught up in the maelstrom and weighed down a capacious shopping vehicle in record time.
As you all know, the grocery stores seem to possess an unlimited supply of plastic bags to burden one with. Evidently the persons chosen to do the bagging have been told to limit items placed in these petroleum based abominations to two per bag, at most; and, before I could say ‘pheasant under glass’ I was homeward bound as oppressively encumbered as an overzealous Sherpa, and looking, as I pictured it, as encumbered as a wandering Albanian refugee. I sensed that everything was packaged individually for the express purposes of humiliating me and insuring that any taxi driver in their right mind would speed up rather than stop for me; if you ask me, the super market service industry human resource department is rife with moonlighting comedians. Naturally, I took this affront on a visceral and personal level. Bravely I was determined to maintain, what my Indian chums call, ‘a high vibration’ and keeping a stiff upper lip, I soldiered my way back to my digs.
And so it was that I managed, bravely, to stagger and struggle home with every muscle wracked, every bone aching and every last nerve worked. To my dismay, Hinch had already been hitting the Herbsaint as a chaser for his prescripted antibiotics and antidepressants, a ghastly combination I ventured to surmise. I unloaded the bags and cursed the eight chickens one by one as I unbagged them, gulped four aspirin and a juice glass of absinthe and went to lie down with spasms in my sacroiliac. It was ten in the morning and the gang was due at six. I had decided on an early night so that they would be relatively sober, arriving and departing (who was I kidding?). A nice quiet nap would be just the thing. I left Hinch in charge of putting the kitchen in order; he was dressed in his cute little cowboy outfit. I asked myself: ‘what could happen’?
I awoke to shots being fired, the smell of burning pungent foreign substances and the sound of the smoke detector clanging like a prison break. Clouds of haze wove through the room like giant cuttlefish tendrils, and the acrid aroma of bloody, battling rodents in a convenience store Dempsey dumpster assaulted my senses. The gaseous miasma of werewraiths unleashed from hell assaulted my senses; My vision refused to focus, I was supremely disoriented and I struggled to assert myself master of the situation. Oh, woe.
“What mischief is afoot?” I shouted, trying to rise, and swatted at a scuttling, shrieking, delirious midge that was bouncing on my half prone unfocused carcass, clawing the air and raining spittle upon me.
“Hold, Sir!” I cried, for I recognized the form of Hinch (an obviously hallucinating, Herbsainted, hypochondriac hunchback henchman) who slathered and railed, as against the coming of a lubricious and apocalyptical catastrophe. Hinch was inconsolable and raved in his native language (Hungarian or Hawaiian or some such heathen twaddle), flourishing his little arms and slinging his stilted legs as if caught in some advanced form of Sydenham’s Chorea (St. Vitus Dance).
I managed to get Hinch into his straight jacket, usually reserved for his naptime and strapped him into his custom constructed cushioned highchair to query him further; hopefully he would explain in a language that I would be able to understand. Placing a raving stunted hunchback into a highchair is difficult enough, but when you’re seeing them in twos and threes… it is a challenge. I was indeed attempting to thread moving needles with undulating threads.
It’s important to note that Hinch is, most times, a docile little fellow (except when he’s sleeping); one of our most simple and uncomplicated of thinkers; to wit, he raises plush toy unicorns as in a family atmosphere and not as a playful past time or hobby. He actually wonders why they never seem to grow and only to age. He tries to feed them, worries that they might be catching something debilitating and sings little unicorn songs to them. It is heart rendering; the burden and curse of too much parental devotion cannot be overstated.
I jumped as the phones rang and my collection of cuckoo clocks chimed the noon hour. I have five land based telephones and they ring in tandem, letting me know, in whichever room I happen to be in, that a verbal communication is at hand; also, I have fourteen chiming wall clocks that I have lovingly synchronized to ring in scatological sequence. What with the phones and the clocks and the smoke alarms and Hinch shrieking, cacophony reared its ugly head and prepared its assassination.
It started to thunder outside, the dog began a primitive howling and just as I started up, I stepped on the cat’s tail who reacted with slashing claws and razor sharp fangs. This state, from a rapid eye movement slumber, zonked on absinthe, without my eyeglasses, was further exacerbated by what I thought was a pounding in my head. It turned out to be the local gendarmes that some concerned citizen had called hammering on the door, rounding out my experience with blue and red lights pulsing into every cranny of my house and fiber of my being. I roundly cursed the chickens again and told Hinch to shut the fuck up. I needed to think. Just then the electricity went out, taking all available light with it.
My matched pair of Peruvian cockatiels were screeching at my fainted canaries and my head was pounding like a Grateful Dead drum solo. The only cool head in the situation was the giant land turtle that had befriended me on one of my desert retreats; unfortunately he/she/it had chosen to withdraw into itself (all 300 pounds) center stage and quite par for the course, I tripped again, banged my shins and getting a nasty gash on my temple thanks to the placement of my imported teak Maru tea table.
To make a long story longer, what had happened was that Hinch (the hallucinating, Herbsainted, hypochondriac hunchback henchman), upon my departure, called an acquaintance of his: a Honduran named Hermes. Hermes and his brother Hector have a cottage industry business selling Humboldt Hemp; they have a process in which they transmuted the hemp into a heavenly hashish. Hermes and Hector paid a visit to Hinch. Hermes had brought Hector along because, although he spoke enough American to get by, Hermes had a harelip. So, Hector had self-appointed himself as helpmate in matters of translation and high finances. They had been at my place when I had returned from shopping but were in the back yard baiting my hound Hercules; the self same hound that was now howling as the Hispanics hid from the heat in the hedges, who were hammering on the door of my house. It is safe to assume that Hinch had partaken Hermes’ and Hector’s Hispanic Humbolt hemp heavenly hashish as well as my Herbsaint! I’ll halt here and let you imagine the other possible repercussions of what I found when my rest was so rudely interrupted with the (I can’t help myself)… havoc.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Years in New Orleans 2010

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
New Jeers Leave
Never Too Late
It seems incongruous by rhythm or rhyme for us to chose to label our days with numbers on pieces of paper, catalog them into some nebulous kind of order and give meaning to their sequences and individual merit.
Likewise strange is our inclination to separate life into camps of ‘my ways’ and ‘your ways’, of boundaries and borders, of mendacities and integrities? How is it, at the beginning of (what we’ve decided is) our periodic calendar, we can become inspired and intimidated into asking ourselves if we are good enough for ourselves and exact from ourselves vows to become the person that we would rather be or become? Well, Cats and Hats, fools that we are, we can and we do. We call those absurdities New Years Resolutions; and, like it or not, we hold those truths to be self-evident that not all of us are created in god’s image until we shape up or are shipped out.
In a perfect world, resolutions (the process of re-solving) is merely our way of raising the bar for ourselves with a firmness of mind and purpose. Of course, you live in a perfect world; unfortunately, I do not.
My resolutions now are not to make any resolutions because my past resolves were selfish, harebrained or so far out of my reach and attainability that they were simply self-indulgent horseshit. Lessons in the futility of ego and ability; it’s almost like me asking myself what I want to be when I grow up, never admitting to myself that I will never grow up. I don’t have the ability or the inclination to mature, it’s enough just to be able to be responsible; I’m afraid that that’s as good as it gets for me. Of course, you’re different.
So, what’s it gonna be for your New Years resolutions? What do you want to change in your life? Your home, your partner, your job, your family, yourself or all of the above? Diet? Exercise? Quit smoking, go back to school, join a club, get a fleur-de-lis tattoo, go traveling or get a phone booth?
To want to change is a dissatisfaction with who you are and what your behavior is, right? Right. So, what you do one day out of the year is to sit down and give yourself a report card with those god-damning words scribbled at the bottom: “needs improvement”? Good move for you, I say, but not for me. You see, I make all of those resolutions…every day! Along with immortality, intelligence, integrity and the ability to make a butt load of money! In short New Years resolutions have got nothing on me. Every blessed day I want to hit the lottery, lose fifteen pounds, have twenty-twenty eyesight, and have… a phone booth!
But wait, to illustrate that illusive elucidation; here’s ‘the Superman myth’ that I/we was/were fed as kids: Take Clark Kent (please). Clark Kent is a wuss; he wears glasses, is unsure of himself in conversation and behavior and Lois Lane treats him like the lint on her impeccably tailored jacket. What’s his cosmic retaliation? His phone booth. He’s got a friggin phone booth!
He ducks inside (after doffing his fedora, loosening his cheapass tie and taking his glasses off so we can see his finely chiseled features) and comes out: “ Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. !!!!!!!” music crescendo, “LOOK, up in the sky; it’s a bird… it’s a plane… It’s SUPERMAN!!!!!!!!!”
Yes it’s Superman-strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands and WHO (disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper) fights a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! AND The American Way!!!
{oh, by the way, I was able to write that Superman stuff from a memory etched into my brain of a television series that was on from 1951 to 1958. What are the chances?}. Question: What was the difference between Supermen and young mild mannered me? [Already I had girls treating me like lint, but that’s another story.] Answer: The phone booth!
NOW what do I have? Do we have phone booths any more? No, we hardly can find a public phone anywhere. So what would happen if I achieved my old New Years resolutions of stronger/faster/harder? I’ll tell you what: nowhere to change! Not that that would make a difference to me, I wouldn’t change out of that suit; it never stays dirty, it has great boots and a cape that I’m sure is hard to hide under your cheap mild mannered suit and tie. I’d probably look like “hey, look at that mild mannered guy with a hunchback!” It has that flashy S right in the middle of my now muscular chest. Nah, I’d stay in the suit, sleep in it, swim in it, walk on the beach with Lois (in her Victoria’s Secret bikini) and even go out for super cocktails in it; for, if anyone smarted off at me or stepped on my cape or distressed some damsel… boy, I’d give them a super ‘what for’! That’s what I’d do!
Every year I made the same resolution, the same wish on a star, the same birthday ‘blow out the candle and make a wish’ wish. The four-leaf clover, the golden ticket, the lottery ticket and that bet on the nag that never crossed the finish line. I even read a book titled The Phantom Toll Booth, thinking that it would give me clues to that phantom phone booth that I wanted and was looking for.
I even thought for one second that, maybe, in the movie The Birds, Tippi Hedren was gonna rip off her clothes, shake her hair out, reveal chiseled features and emerge from the phone booth to give those damn pesky birds a what for. She could have, but, she didn’t. Wrong phone booth, I guess. Gee, she would have looked great in a cape and tights, sigh.
Okay, okay; I’ll give it one more try. Ahem: this year, once again I make my New Years resolution to only use my x-ray vision properly, fight for truth, justice and the American way, and to find that damn phone booth!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Early Xmas in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Sweet Baby Jesus
Fools and Mortals
Okay, this is not a holiday article about Joe and Mary on a Harley looking for a room or three fat men on a bicycle with gifts of Frankenstein and Mirth. What do you think I am, an antidisestablishmentarianista? Not me. It don’t pay to make no fun of peoples fates or faiths; if I did that, the Pope would have a hit put out on me quicker than Salome can shed a veil.
And so this is the Christmas season where good Christians everywhere proclaim ‘Peace on earth, good will towards men’ as if that has been a possibility since the riding of Tamerlane’s horde. Think about it.
Here’s a question: how come you can write the word ‘Xmas’ and not Jesus X? Is that what Malcolm X was thinking about when he took that surname? Work with me here; this may get fast paced and require a little more knowledge than your GoogleTexterPedia can keep up with. I hope that my editor doesn’t correct my spelling or my voice; I actually make both of them up as I go along… much to his chagrin.
How about A Christmas Carol a-la-New Orleans? Scrooge can be played by anyone you’d like him to be (played by); preferably someone that pisses you off because they have a power over you and misuses, abuses, or uses it without it with a shred of honor. Someone you would love to see an epiphany of biblical proportions come down on (him, her or them) like a can of WhupAss on an irritating drunk. Like white on rice. Like ugly on an ape. Like a cheap suit on a used car salesman.
So, here comes the Ghost of Holidays Past looking like John Goodman in biker gear saying: “back in the day, Dude, you were stand up! Remember hangin’ at the Seven Seas with Sonny Dupre and Lady Blue?” and he takes Scrooge back to the French Quarter that was, when it was genuine and there were no parking meters. There were phone booths on the street and vegetables at the French Market; you know, when dinosaurs and hippies ruled the world. On Christmas, the saloons and public houses would serve huge holiday meals; everyone was invited and no money was asked for or expected.
Jimi, Janis, Jim and Joni were on the jukes. There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air. The Quarter was a candy store and the kids were in charge, rent was cheap and the grass was greener and more plentiful (or was that: ‘the rent was greener and the grass was cheap’?).
“Hey,” sings John Goodman in leather and now lace as well, “remember how we rolled? Reelin’ and a rockin’, we was reelin’ and a rockin’ way ‘til the break of dawn.”
Exit, John, exit stage left, let sleeping dogs lie and leave the past to fade….
BAM! Then comes the Holy Friggin Ghost of the Future played by James Carville; the economy has flat lined, there’s nutria swimming in the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel and all electronic devices have been rendered useless.
Other horrors and acts of depravity pervade the city on a scale that would make a category five storm seem like a walk in the park. Boats are sunk in the river, one on top of another and smoke and ashes cloud the sky. City Hall is housed in a FEMA trailer surrounded by razor wire; Chris Rose is now mayor and can you guess who is Chief of Police? Chris Owens? John Besh? Fats Domino? Some dude named Emiril?
“Don’t get me started!” yells James “you blew it, FEMA blew it, the Corps blew it, God blew it and even I blew it! The reason that you have drive by shootings is that there’s no place left to park! Kids have Ichips put in their heads at birth and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has declared New Orleans a hazardous teenage wasteland; AND, now you’ve brought down the wrath and curse of the Bloody Blue Blazing Ball Busters! Oh woe! Oh calamitous unharmonic convergences! I told you that you shouldn’t have been nicer to good old whatsername!” here old James takes a deep breath.
(This is James taking a deep breath: “whuuuuuuuyuup!”…) “What you see around you is desolation, loneliness, hunger, darkness, madness, frenzy and a weariness of the soul. Despair and desperation from the lack of love, and the pains of broken hearts litter the streets like go cups on Sunday morning after a Saints game. Right now, it would suck being you!”
Well, needless to say, Scrooge is taken aback, dumfounded, and flummoxed. “Nay, nay I say!” he screams: “show me no more, Great Spirit, for I am humbled and will surely change my wicked ways!”
“What the !@#$%^&* are you talking about, Ebenezer” says James, “this is what happens when you do change your ways! You see, the world needs rat bastards like you, and you are a rat bastard of an epic proportion. And, had you not been so bad… others would have not been so good, just to have the satisfaction of not being like you!” Fade to black.
Next, Scrooge wakes up in his own bed in a cold sweat; there is a knock at the door, a knock a little louder, and then a banging to beat the band. “Let me in Scrooge, I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” (Brad Pitt)
“Screw you,” says Ebenezer, “go tell those worthless pricks that I’m raising their rents, their vet bills and their taxes, I’m lowering their wages and their expectations. I’m not going to repair their streets and roads and I’m going to feed their babies pickles! Bwahhahahahahahahaha!” And rolling over in his covers… smiling peacefully, Ebenezer Scrooge goes back to sleep.
Oh, by the way, that’s you, in the future, tied to a red ant mound on Monkey Hill while your best friend steals your Jazz Fest posters! Mend your ways now; there’s enough rat bastards in the world. Happy Happy and Joy, Joy in the holiday season.
Has anyone seen my life; I left it around here somewhere?