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Profanity And The Missing Daddies 11.3.98
M didn't even see the sidewalk poetry, she was put out with S before that, the capper being his cackling laughter as he tortured a neighborhood boy.
"Fuck the police, fuck the bitches, fuck the hores, Dumaine Thugs," and then the listing of several neighborhood names.
On Sunday, "No you can't go with us."
"Because you misspelled 'whore...'"
"Thats the way M told me to spell it..."
"And you wrote all kinds of stupid shit on the sidewalk, and you made it sound like there's a gang called the Dumaine Thugs, which is like advertising--I'm a gangster, I'm an idiot, come arrest me, my name is S, and these are the names of my accomplices. Big C and Big S ought to whip your ass for including their names."
Later on Sunday in the middle bedroom through the open window I hear this chanting and this crying, and more chanting and more crying. It doesn't stop so I get up and look out the front door and F is hunched over the hood on one side of Beulah's car, chanting, and T is on the other side, crying.
F: (singsongy) You a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty.
F: (singsongy) You a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty.
That's just part of being low man on the totem pole at Mama D's. T will have to learn to take some of that.
Today after the big boys kicked the little kids off the basketball court, Preston runs off down the sidewalk as Erica watches him go, and when he's about twenty feet away two things happened at exactly the same moment. Erica
pointed her finger and said "flip," and young Preston executed a front somersault/cartwheel looking flip, then kept on running, without looking back.
Kids are weird.
Coming back from the movies yesterday with L riding shotgun. A second line parade, just passed, is causing havoc with the traffic, so I turn right on Ursulines, and shortly come to a stop at Broad.
L said, "There go your daddy, F."
F ignores him.
"That's your daddy though, ain't it, F?"
F mumbles and slumps down in the back seat.
Never seen F's daddy. All the same, I did not rubberneck.
I'm Sorry, Its Empty 10.28.98
A year ago I was talking to this friend of mine. We were on the sidewalk of a shopping center on the east coast talking about the meaning of life, procreation, survival, and greater purposes in general, and I remember now, or actually last night after yelling at Shelton, that I said--and not hurting
people's feelings. I did not know why I said that, it seemed awkward, and still does, but teenage disappointment sure brought it back last night as Shelton lumbered past me with homework which would go undone after I told him, curtly, to reverse direction and get back in the front room with all the other kids. He was on his way to his "office" (the bathroom) to start his homework, but I'm against that tonite. Shelton is fourteen, not a kid, still a kid, and wants to be given special privileges in this house. I feel strongly against special privilege but my attentions to Erica, Shelton's neice, belie that attitude, and it is clear to everyone involved that truth be known, I like what I like, when I like it, and that my belief system is subject to an inconsistent moodiness (I wouldn't say manic depression), that reminds me of Fathers in general--Shut Up I'm Trying To Watch The Television. Followed by--Hey Son Wanna Play Catch.
A US Mail eighteen wheeler broke down in front of 2654 Dumaine last night, and has been there all day. A bunch of white guys are checking out the situation at sunset. A basketball rolls under this one guy's foot and someone from the parking lot/basketball court comes to retrieve it. But the white guy is like Beaver Cleaver and can't seem to get out of the way, and he and the young shirtless man do this little dance before everyone achieves their short term destiny.
School is in session. Poochie's daughter, Shentrell, is out on the porch with HP and a blond barbie puzzle. Mandy says not to give Shentrell anything until she apologizes to Terrioues. Woops, I was just trying to get her to stop ringing the bell. Lance (the former acrobat) is at the kid's computer playing
a game while he waits for Mandy to give him one on one in Algebra. Erica has finished copying the letter "J" and the numbers eight and nine. Terrioues is at the table writing something and waiting (in vain I predict) for an apology
from Shentrell, who earlier hit him and tore his paper. Mandy asks me do I remember anything about quadratic equations and parabolas. The vacant stare is my best answer. Glynn did his work and is gone. Bryan is still working on it. Lance comes over and asks me how good am I at math. Not as good as Mandy. Lance and I agree that Language Arts is more to our liking. "What do you want me to read?" says Lance, and I am caught off guard so I say, "I will think of some real fine stuff...before you turn twenty." This seems logical to Lance, he nods, and goes back to his computer.
The trailer is opened, flashlights shine, Glynn peeks, its empty. The tractor disconnects and pulls away from the empty trailer. If it stays too long here on Dumaine it will become part of the scenery, and eventually morph into a
thing it never knew it could be.
City Park Hobos 10.12.98
Phillis invited me over for the Saints vs. Forty-Niners game, along with her sister, Evelyn, and Mandy. So this is football with three chicks, two of whom do not understand the deeper meaning of the sport and are of the type to make inappropriate, almost sacreligious comments during the game. Sure is a lot of hand holding, they notice; a lot of butt grabbing too.
Evelyn and I, however, scowled, and moaned appropriately, for the entire game. Niners 31, Saints 0. SF is pretty good but DeBartolo is a punk.
Before the game I took Bryan, Irvin, Fermin, Glynn, Marqin, Terrioues, and Erica to City Park. The first four boys are about 12, Marqin is 9, and Terrioues and Erica are 5. No two of these children are from the same mother and paternity is often a vague unknown. Shelton, by the way, is being
punished again. I heard Mama D yelling across to Mandy on the front porch yesterday--"Tell Jim not to take Shelton nowhere tomorrow. He didn't make his bed and..." some other stuff I didn't hear. Shelton is a pretty cool troubled
fourteen-year-old but the trips are alway easier when he doesn't come. His propensity for troublesome behavior extends well beyond not making beds.
The four bigger boys packed off together, Marqin tried to tag along with them, and Terrioues tried to tag along with Marqin. Erica stayed put and stared out over the pond near the sixteenth tee. I stared at Erica staring.
"Ducks," Erica said.
"Ducks," I nodded.
"I wanna follow them boys."
"Go on then," and that's what she does, looking back once to see if I'm going to follow.
Erica and Terrioues were standing at the curb waiting to be crossed but the big boys wouldn't cross them. Erica started to cry. "Don't cry Erica, it's not as bad as you think." But she wants to see what the boys are looking at. We crossed to the little circular pond with the shiny abstract windmill in
front of the Museum of Art. The boys took off for the big open meadow to the left and started playing football. Marqin stayed behind to explain about the big fish that he and the other boys had seen but that Erica and Terrioues could not see.
Some well-to-do matrons of the arts look down from the steps of the museum and think what a cute picture.
Marqin spotted the miniature train and ran off to chase it, yelling, "the train, the train."
Erica and Terrioues started yelling, "the train, the train," jumping up and down. I cross them over to the meadow, at the far edge of which the train is traveling along.
And they take off across the meadow, following Marqin who has caught up with the train and is running along side it, waving, and laughing at the passengers who are waving and laughing at him. Erica and Terrioues are all the way across the meadow now and have reached the tail end of the train.
Gosh, they sure are a long ways away, engaging in potentially dangerous behavior. I hope they don't do anything silly, or, you know, childish. I sighed with relief when they fell down exhausted, one after the other. Marqin was still near the front, and I think the "engineer" was yelling at him to
stay away, so Marqin fell down too.
Before the park I was out helping the kids clean the street, Rene was bending my ear, going on about something that had nothing to do with getting the street clean, and this guy in a blue work shirt walks up carrying a can of gas, and he's coming on to me, so to speak, wants something from me, I can tell, and so I'm acting impatient, saying--all right man, all right. But he just starts telling me what a good thing me and my "wife" are doing around here, and I'm nodding, yes, thanks, I appreciate it, but what are you really after is what my body language is screaming, but after he was all said and
done it turned out he didn't want anything at all except to say--thanks.
Sleeping Around--Slacker's Travel Guide 10.8.98
The present blurs. And the past intrudes to remind us of the days that made us old.
Sun on my face, tide coming in, bar under water. Two hiking girls are escaping the island before the bar disappears completely. I hope to arrive on the island before the bar disappears completely.
(The doorbell rings, a voice explains, and two more critters join the fray. Erica, with a new boy, a new name I won't be getting tonite. Sure, have some bubbles, have a party. Doorbell rings, Marqin has a problem, can't get into
Mama D's. Marqin gets the mop and cleans bubble juice off the floor. Phone rings, LuLu say--Mr. Jim?, Yes? Marqin there? Yes, would you like to speak to him? No, just tell him he can come home now, good night. Okay, goodnight.
Goodbye. Goodbye. Marqin? What? You can go home now. Okay.
The girl who is less pretty takes my picture. It must look like I'm walking on water because the two girls look like they're walking on water, what with the bar just inches below the surface now. We are approaching each other, the
three of us, out in the middle of the harbor, walking, it appears, on top of the water, and the prettier of the two is about to speak to me, this, I can sense. Me, I'm just hoping the bar is wide enough for all of us because they're mistaken if they think I won't push them over the edge.
"You can't spend the night on Bar Island," she said, as if she were used to being taken seriously.
The next morning, having timed the tide correctly, I crossed back to Bar Harbor, and shivered for two hours until the sun was high enough to give me warmth. I waited outside in the October cold until the first door unlocked, and then I entered quickly, and was greeted by a formal waiter with a white
cloth over his forearm.
"Goodness, did you camp out last night?" He asked me.
"Yes, on Bar Island," I said.
"We got our first freeze last night," he said.
"That doesn't surprise me, I was very cold last night."
"Breakfast will make you feel better."
Coffee and blueberry pancakes on heavy china over white tablecloth. Like a proper tourist, vacationing in Maine, out of season.
oitigygagysgasgagshhahhahhshhshgyhbxijyitirfi9ti r4ur4tiit5uuhrhhhhgh and I
are writing a story. I sent her away to get a chair.
afwngswtswstge3gwgsefgsegdf34gg3ew and now she's back erica lewis
its my turn now and now what are you doing
how old are you Terrioues?
five? are you big for your age?
erica's five and I'm bigger than her
but boys, are you bigger than the other boys in kindergarten?
yeah, 'cept for two girls, they twins.
Bad Day For A Good Boy 10.4.98
Dangerous times when the little stuff causes chinks in the armor--the serious and disappointed pout of Terrioues Black as he holds onto the support post and looks out over Dumaine. Dressed in miniature chino pants, rolled up to
show low heeled dress shoes over white socks. A blue and white striped dress shirt tucked in neatly. Sunday best. Terrioues (Terry-ahs) is staying by Mama D off and on these days. Several weeks ago he came with us to the movies and sat next to me for the Disney flick, Mulan. At eight or nine-years-old, he seemed to have a decent sense of humor, and was fairly managable. He began talking at conversational volume when the movie began but when I told him he could not do that, he stopped, and only made occasional, entirely appropriate comments throughout the movie. It always amazes me when children are good.
"So I don't know Terrioues," I said, after young Glynn explained who was going today. "That's six grown boys plus me in that little car, I don't think I can fit another boy."
This is the second time he's wanted to go that I have been forced to exclude him. He looks very lonely up on this porch, twirling himself around the support post, nodding to my words.
" I mean I'd rather take you than some of those older boys because you act better than they do but they been doing this longer than you so they get to go first. But you stick around because maybe one of them will do something bad before we leave and then you could go in their place." Sounds like a lot of maybes and ifs even to me.
But I can't be showing too much preferential treatment to a new kid (from the D clan, or otherwise) because he will be punished for it by the older kids, who know there's only so much attention given out at LeBlanc House (especially from
that grumpy old white man, Mr. Jim), and we were here first, so...tough luck kiddo.
Terrioues waits on the opposite curb with Erica, until the last minute, remembering what I said about not losing hope. He looks at me and I shake my head as the six boys cram themselves into the car. Terrioues stares back and I'm not sure he's getting it, but then he lowers his head, and runs away to disappear in the alleyway alongside Mama D's house.
Hard Headed Love Affair 10.3.98
There were no words spoken about it but four-year-old Juste Xander thought last year's "I'll show you mine anytime, how 'bout showing yours" episode with Erica was as good as contract; thought she understood that she was his girl
But Erica not waitin' for little red to show up now and then, with that shiny, hard head of his, and that goofy, wreckless smile.
Erica is five now, and into her second year of preschool. She's out in the world meeting all kinds of new people. Juste just have to understand about that. About new boys she meetin' and all. Like the boy stay next door to Van and Beulah. He ain't like all the sixth ward hard heads she
been knowin.' He's nice, and pretty, and don't talk too much. Not to mention that he stay on her side of the street so nobody has to be around to cross her if she wants to go a visitin.'
Last night: "Spending some time with your new boyfriend, Erica?"
"He hee-hee-hee he ayn-ayn ain't my boyfriend." But the truth is in her smile.
"Who that?" The young boy asks.
"Oh, that's Jim," Erica says in her best woman of the world voice.
Oh it's "Jim" now is it, young lady?
So today the new boy is sitting out on his steps with his family, Ma and Pa, brother and he. Van is sharing his steps with Chilly (who jumped from second story window with Yonda to begin the year), the closest thing to a guardian
Juste will have here on Dumaine while Mama Yonda hangin' at Maury's, showing off her new tattoos and designer gold teeth.
Erica shows up and becomes a part of the new boy's family, and Juste appears from behind the meat locker, which juts out from behind the Magnolia Market (Jack's) and provides privacy from the street for private barbecues, drug dealing, crap games and urination.
Juste, dressed all in white, struts up to the scene. Chilly, smiling with less teeth than God gave him, looks on with pride. Erica is quite the picture in her bright yellow shorts, white sandals, and red sleeveless top. "Oh, hello there Juste," she seems to say with a toss of her head. "How do you like my new boyfriend?," she goes on to say by ignoring Juste completely.
Juste misses a beat or two, but will not be put off quite so easily. He reaches into his pocket and retrieves a dollar bill, and with little ceremony, presses it into Erica's hand.
Erica does not seem to understand the significance of the gesture (or perhaps she does) and tries to give the dollar back. I have heard people scream and fight for twenty minutes over a dollar around here, and Erica treats it like a
piece of trash paper. Juste won't take the dollar back though, so Erica walks over to Chill and tries to stuff the dollar into his pockets. But Chill's pants pockets are too tight so she turns around and throws the now wadded up dollar at Juste. Juste is finally getting the message and stoops down to pick up his dollar.
Strutting back to the corner of Dumaine and Broad, seeking solace among the hard heads gathered there, Juste's disappointment is experienced vicariously by his street daddy, Chill, who, perhaps remembering similar moments in his own life, shakes his head, and grins sadly.
Erica Met A Boy Today 10.2.98
A horrible thing happened to me today. I was at work when I suddenly realized my mistake. "Kevin, what day is this?" When he said "Thursday," I thought I might cry.
"Why, what day did you think it was?"
Friday, of course.
"I'm going to be in a bad mood for awhile, and it is going to take everything I got to make it through this week now, what with the extra day being added."
"No one added a day..."
I interrupted with, "Don't lie to me Kevin, I know
you're in on it." Kevin suggested I smoke marijuana and when I said I didn't bring any he offered me his but why would I want to do a mild psychotropic on a day when the time-space continuum has folded in on itself? "No I do not
want any of that devil's weed, Kevin. I want to be clear headed, crisp, alert, cognizant, on the ball, on the right page, at the right time."
"Why?" Kevin asked.
He stumped me with that one.
Let me share this with you, and this is important, so pay attention--football, The Saints are 3-0, LSU is 3-0, Tulane is 3-0, 5A High School St. Augustine, starring junior outside linebacker Eddie Green, is 4-0. Baseball, the New Orleans Zephyrs last week won the AAA World Series. The Texas Rangers are playing the NY Yankees in the first round of the recently reorganized baseball playoffs. And, it doesn't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.
Maury was letting some amateurs run the parking lot today. Open drug dealing, and car washing. Kojak was watching it go on, and Corey was around today after an extended disappearance. And Kojak discusses the progress of
their contemporaries, while Corey wheezes, and grunts, "Eddie doing eight, Stink doing three, and Jamal, he doing fifteen."
Jermaine checks in today affecting a preppy look, with backpack. Looks good until he smiles, and then it still looks good but he loses the preppy effect with all that gold in his mouth.
Erica met a boy today, and I think she likes him.
Georges Cometh 9.27.98
And I admonish, "HP, don't make love to the women in the drive-thru."
Her and her posse laugh at the amorous old man driving around with the white boy, but the last laugh is on them as I point out the drops on the windshield, "look HP, Georges is here."
By the time we travel the five or six blocks back to Dumaine with the chicken sandwich and the cheesburger, Georges is making his introductory statement by soaking the area with brief but intense rain. Nettie flags us down in the street and makes HP give up his cheesburger, and comes down on him for the money he owes her. And this appears to be an eye in the mini-hurricane so I gently suggest that we get out of the car and find our shelters while we can. Goodbye HP, thank you for a lovely evening.
This is Saturday night I'm talking about and the "flee while you can, you're all gonna die" media blitz has everyone of us (underneath various facades) truly spooked. At least in part because all day Saturday has been idyllic, with gentle breezes and blue blue sky, and a destructive hurricane simply cannot be nearby.
But the Sunday paper this morning says N.O. PREPARES FOR DIRECT HIT. And then a bunch of storm model graphics showing how Georges appears to be on track to become the one this area has long feared, coming up the mouth of the Mississippi, pushing water from the marshes and the river, forming a fifteen foot tidal wave that will wash over the levies, and, combined with 10-20 inches of rain, force all of us who stayed behind to crawl into our attics and wait, along with the rats and giant cockroaches, for the water to recede. But then in the bottom left corner is a small headline--There Is Still Time To Prepare. Okay now, thank god for that, we may be saved yet. The glimmer of hope fades somewhat when I realize this isn't one of those feel good articles but rather a "this is no joke" list of recommendations for those of us who stayed. Number 1. Make sure you have a hatchett in the attic in case you need to break through your roof to escape rising water. No joke, that is number one on the list.
I think that one did it for me. My desire to experience the mighty force of a hurricane has diminished. The floor of this attic at 2646 is about fifteen feet above street level. The idea of water in my attic is causing some of my circuits to sizzle.
Returning from Evelyn's on Orleans, she had just called, three times, to ask would I come over and nail a piece of wood across her bay window, and bring her son Fermin if I can find him. When I step outside, BeBe, from over at Mama D's calls across to me that Fermin is inside and,"wait, 'cause he comin' with you." As Fermin and I walk up the sidewalk along Broad we see Evelyn up near the corner of Orleans, lurking. When we come closer she disappears into the alleyway between two buildings, both of which are the property of the Zulu Social Aid And Pleasure Club. "That's where the wood is," Fermin informs me (lost the last part of this one. jml)
We Three Men 9.15.98
Where'yat dudes, dudettes, citizens, felons, all you ne'er do wells, and you do-gooders.
"Everybody got a drink?" I say pulling up to the curb today. Van and Monk are taking charge of the shade at 2646.
"We all right," they say. Monk has gin and juice, Van has a Busch.
I go across the street, get myself a 16 ounce Bud and some peanuts, and a Busch for Van. I pay Freddy for the beer and then I look down at the cooler in front of me and say, "Oh the Bluebell came in, I must have some of that." Evelyn walks in and looks at my pints of White Chocolate Almond, and Butter Pecan sitting on the counter next to my two beers and, perhaps feeling a little guilty for my ability to afford luxuries, I blurt out, "I'm buying two pints of Bluebell ice cream, Evelyn," and she responds, "I can see that." I say, "I gave up cigarettes and I'm going to have ice cream whenever I want it," and I pound the counter for emphasis. Evelyn just stares at me, and covers the ten I left on the counter. "I don't wanna hafta kill you Evelyn," I say in the direction of her hand on my money. Jack sees me with the ice cream and says, "They didn't have Tin Roof, Tin Roof." Jack, like Freddy, has a Palestinian accent and he's not sure he's saying "Tin Roof" properly but I assure him everything is just fine because I am standing over a cooler looking at 50--75 pints of ice cream, and everything really seems fine to me right this minute. I see some new flavors. "I'll just try all these new flavors in here, Jack, and we'll see how it goes." Tin Roof, Butter Pecan, Caramel Fudge, White Chocolate Almond, Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, and Rocky Road are the
flavors I have tried recently. "This is Van's change from earlier," Jack says. I accept the change.
"You doing good Van, I buy you a beer and Jack gives me this money for you."
We three men sit and luxuriate in our grown up maleness, drinking beer and gin and talkin' sin, while children approach but do not tresspass on our company.
Another Dumaine Day 8.13.98
I thought yesterday was Sunday but this, the day after, is really Sunday.
I am up sometimes as early as six or six-thirty on a Sunday but four-thirty is an all time record. And that because of all the pounding of door and ringing of bell.
"You better move it if you don't want to lose it again." I can't even see who it is what with the wetness reflecting light every whicha way.
"Huh," and then, Oh, shit, not again. The street is a body of water. "OK, thank you, brah."
I take the car out to Broad, with the big boys, resting high on their neutral ground, but this little car ain't hopping that curb, so I U-turn on Broad and come back up Dumaine the wrong way and park in the parking lot/basketball court behind Maurices hair cutting establishment. Where I parked only took about a foot of water on Friday. Compared to almost three feet which collects at each curb.
At seven-thirty a slow moving vintage white Cadillac, with tinted windows, is followed by an impatient Asian boy in a gray Altima. When the impatient Asian boy honks his horn, the Cadillac slows down so I can count the spokes in his
gold rims, and then makes the wide right onto Broad.
At eight-thirty the water has receded, and I'm thinking about getting the car out of that lot before Maurice come and block me in with his new Shiny Black Lincoln Navigator.
At nine-thirty I have two scrambled eggs, two pieces of buttered toast, and a pint of Bluebell strawberry ice cream.
At ten-thirty Fermin has taken me literally and has shown up with a portable wet/dry vac and is sucking the water from Lolita's carpet. I give him five dollars because that's what I said I would do if he could find a wet/dry, and so he and Hunter will be in candy for the next two hours. The sun comes out and I open all the windows and the hatchback.
Jacque helps me rearrange the pile of garbage in front of Yolanda's.
"You could just throw the small pieces back in her house, Jacque. Better than having that stuff scattered all over the sidewalk. Someone might yell at you but you could always point your finger and scream--'Mr. Jim he told me, he
told me, it wasn't me, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but Mr. Jim told me...'"
"Nah, I wouldn't do that," Jacque says, while flinging a piece of scrap particle board into the center hall of Yolanda's house. A piece of plaster crown molding drops from the fourteen foot ceiling and lands in a puddle of rain water formed by a dip in the wood floor.
At eleven-thirty it starts raining again so I close up the car, and before I know how it happens, there are six children clustered on the porch with me. Erica makes a seat out of my squatting knees, and I hug her because I think she may need it but then I realize it was me that needed it. Ralston refused to go with the ambulance last night so he is holed up at Mama D's. Word is, he needs to be in a hospital. Ten minutes later all the children are gone.
After the tuna casserole, (one of my specialties) there is little left for me to do on this Sunday, so I watch football, read, and sleep.
Another Great Flood 9.11.98
The car has started floating a bit towards Broad.
Hot Fudge Sundae 8.31.98
Started the day with an hour of bumper to bumper on the return trip from dropping M at a Regional Medical Center where she acts as a grant writer/journal editor. Vacations are not always free of trafffic. I take many deep breaths until I finally turn onto Dumaine and find myself behind the garbage collectors. Amazing work. Guys should be given medals. "Hey, watch how you throw my can around you effin bum." Rolling towards the curb I grab the handle of the trash can formerly owned by Yolanda, which is standing in the street in the middle of my parking space, and fling it onto the sidewalk while continuing to roll up to the curb. I am not without talents.
I want to take myself out to eat breakfast but I'm afraid my social skills are ebbing low so I throw half a pack of bacon in a pan on slow fry and chop up some already baked potatoes and throw them in another pan with butter and olive oil and then the phone rings and I tell the credit card solicitor that Jim Louis is not home. But if they call back later he will be sure to ignore them entirely.
And then I take a quick bath while the doorbell rings urgently, which I almost always ignore as well, but the kids should all be in school by now and a part of me is believing it could be Ed McMahon and I just cannot afford to lose out on the chance for that miserable fortune. I hurry the bath along, I can shave later, and go to the door, but no one is there. I show myself on the porch in case anyone wants to yell out to me, but no one does.
I crank up the heat on the bacon and potatoes. When the bacon is done I scrape the pan pretty clean, add some butter, and two eggs, and then get some bread to toasting.
It turns out to be a bacon and egg sandwich with hashbrowns. And I crave ice cold cranberry juice but craving is as close as I'm going to get, so I pour me some Dr. Pepper.
The doorbell rings again and it's Mama D and she knows she's never done this before but can she borrow twenty until tomorrow, this man selling a case of silverware.
I call Buddy and he says if I come over and tighten his neckbrace for him he'll smoke a joint with me. Deal.
We smoke in Audubon Park underneath the biggest live oak tree either one of us has ever seen but before that we have a beer at one of those places that serve 500 different kinds of beer. The Budweiser cost $2.50 a bottle. But it is the closest place to Buddy's new crib and he is known there, and they seem to tolerate his sometimes intolerable bullshit, and the barmaid it turns out is one of the dog walkers down at the bayou. I don't always like it when the world gets smaller. Buddy shows me these (relief?) carvings they have hangingall over the bar and says how you have to be dead and famous to be up there and how the one of Sister Teresa is holding a bottle of Bishop's Finger beer. I guess that's cute, or something, but I'm not really getting a feel for it, and, as I point out to Buddy, we left our beers at the bar.
After the beer and weed we hit one of the pricey uptown ice cream shops and have hot fudge sundaes.
"Where should we eat now Buddy?" and he suggests Ye Olde College Inn, and as we enter, all the oldtimers who are occupying every seat at the bar, turn and stare at us, and I say to Buddy that it looks like we are the only ones not at home here today, so we mosey on. Back to Cooter Brown's, with all those beer choices, and I have two more Bud's and a truly mediocre ribeye sandwich, and Buddy has a rootbeer and cheese fries.
There are a few college girls at the bar, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer. The Barmaid is yucking it up with them and says--"and Mother Teresa is holding a Bishop's Finger," which gets a pretty big educated laugh
Death Defying Acrobats 8.7.98
The pigmentation and emaciation give me no advantage that I can see, walking up Orleans towards Broad from the Claiborne bridge. It was a starting place for my walk home that offered Bossman the least contact with the scary black people. I find it neither offensive nor funny that Bossman finds this place scary, as most right minded people would.
The three story brick buildings which make up the Lafitte Projects will backdrop the left side, across the four divided lanes of Orleans, for about eight blocks, until I get to Rocheblave. On the right side, where I'm at, the sidewalk is fronted with stores and houses. It is not necessarily a threatening experience, even with the walking knowledge that a lot of blood has been spilled on these corners: at Johnson, at Galvez, at Miro, at Tonti, at Rocheblave, and Dorgenois, and Broad. Mostly it is knowing that you are being checked out, and sized up. Tall, skinny, long haired white boy equals crackhead.
At Johnson, "Whereyat red?"
"Not looking," I say.
At Galvez, "What'sup slim?"
And I could turn right at Rocheblave, or Dorgenois, and walk the two blocks into Dumaine but instead I stay to the outskirts, right on Broad, past St. Ann, and then home sweet Dumaine. As I turn the corner the boys are in front of Yolanda's trying to stack three mattresses so that they can perform death defying acrobatic tricks...
...Which is where they are today as I pull up with Kevin (I'm not afraid to
drive you to your home), and Jacque says, "Who is that, your brother."
"A friend from work," I say.
Lance says, "Watch this Mr. Jim," and he takes off running, catapulting high off the mattresses to perform a beautifully executed front flip, and when his feet (instead of his head) hit the sidewalk I am impressed and relieved.
"Wow, cool," I say, and so they all line up--Shelton, Glynn, Fermin, Jacque, and Lance, and do flips for their new audience.
Later, waking up from a nap cluthching my pillow lover, I am aware that M is being followed into the house by two very quiet pint-sized desperados.
I told him awhile back, "you just have to be patient Shelton, you'll see M again, it's all about waiting sometimes."
And when I enter M's room Shelton is playing Venus, Goddess from Mars on the computer, and Jacque is on the couch trying to hide behind a small green flexible Gumby figure so that I won't see him and throw him out.
"Boy, you kint hide behine sumthin it ain't bigger 'n yur haid," and I cuff him a few times upside his natural, and throw in a body blow or two, while he trys to figure out why one day things are this way, and the next day they ain't.
Nine Inch Brains And Packin' 8.8.98
"Its not that bad around where you live," Kevin said. No single assessment of this area says it all, not the rap lyrics--"Man this world we livin in ain't nothin but drama, everyone wanna harm ya," nor me saying--"The corner of Dumaine and Broad has a long history of criminal drama, some days it seems like a post-apocalyptic nightmare out there, and then we might go for two or three weeks running where there is no visible activity at all."
Last night sitting on the porch listening to Van go on about Isaac (aka. BB), who is the latest in a long line of tenants over at the hitman's house. BB is no longer an official resident of the house as his mama threw him out for stealing twenty dollars from her purse. Some days BB and J Nixon run around together and other days BB and Van are best pals.
"He don't come back with my money or that inner tube for my bike and I'm gonna hurt the motherfucker, and J too if he wanna stand behind it."
"Oh, J's talking like that?"
"That would hardly be an afternoon's work do you think?"
"Nah man, waste of my time and energy, but this the third time BB run this game on me."
"Hard to be friends with someone always taking you for a fool."
"That's it, slim."
BB's a pretty likeable drunk and he goofs with the neighborhood kids, which is nice, but we had a long talk the other night and I quickly put him in that category called--Trust him as far as I can throw him.
"Like sometime maybe you come home from work and I see you and I buy you a beer, and we be chillin' out here, and then sometime when I need a beer or somethin' you would be there for me."
"It may work that way BB, or it may not."
"Okay, okay," BB laughs, realizing I may be a chump of a different order.
But last night is pretty quiet, very little traffic. And the teenage girls across the street are probably bemoaning this, but when Van goes around the corner for a beer, the scene changes abruptly, and there is in front of me five or six shiny new cars driven by young men, and the girls, perhaps over eager, jump to it, and are out in the street performing flirtation services. Now the first two cars, the Maxima, and the 4Runner, seem pretty happy about this turn of events as they are surrounded by teenage girls, eager to please or tease. The third car in line, however, a gold Saturn occuppied by two handsome, yet surly and ignored youths, quickly go from interested to impatient.
"Niggers be rolling around here," I hear the driver say, and watch him as he surveys the street. But as the girls do not seem to know these boys (which makes me a little nervous), and surly angst seems to be their only stock in the charisma trade, the boys, not knowing what else to do, get angry and start honking their horn. The first two cars join in thinking this is all good fun, and the girls are laughing and screaming and the Dumaine Symphony is short lived as the passenger in the gold Saturn steps from the car and...the Maxima and the 4Runner take off for the corner, where, with super revved engines and squealing tires, they fishtail onto Broad and into the night. The other five or six cars follow suit and quick as that Dumaine all sleepy again.
Cinematic Misbehavior 8.13.98
So how come if you take those boys out every Sunday we don't get a boy story every Monday?
Often I am disappointed or appalled by their behavior and do not wish to spend Sunday night recalling it.
I am waiting for Fermin, Hunter, Shelton, Jacque, and Glynn after the movies let out. I saw Horse Whisperer and bought them tickets for Titanic knowing that they would be roaming between all the theaters. Fermin and Glynn with the more shy Hunter backing them up tell me that Shelton got into a mild altercation with a woman in the theatre and called her "a white B." Racial and gender intolerance are two qualities I have really been trying to instill in the boys over the last two years so you can imagine my pride.
I don't say a word and neither does Shelton, which does in a way make me proud--to know that at least he has that much sense.
"And Fermin peed on the seats," Jacque said.
That's some sort of euphemism I'm thinking. And then they all join in and it seems that maybe all of them are guilty of "peeing" on the seats. Were they jacking off in the theatre?
"You could hear it when it hit the seat, Fermin," Shelton said.
Maybe they were really peeing, or jacking off, good god. Help.
I'm very quiet as they go on about all of this, fully detached, floating high on a cloud above the Aleutian Islands.