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Posts tagged ‘New Orleans’

Papa Noel

New Orleans was the Holy Grail for me. As a little girl, my Aunt Lorraine invited me to visit her there. The World's Fair. She was a teacher. Who knows what I would've learned?

But, I was eight. My parents were protective. They decided such a trip might harm more than hurt me.

I never forgot the city's mystique.

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You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin’

I wanted to tell you, right up front. I did everything I could to win my little girl back. Everything I had wasn’t much back in 1972, you know, but I shot through it all to get her away from Nadine. Us Dixieland guys, even the popular ones like I was, we didn’t jam for the money.

Losing it all was how I wound up here, in Nashville. I mean, what was the point of being in New Orleans? I couldn’t see Emmaline, ever. Dat Judge character and Nadine, well, they made sure of it. No matter how much I appealed, how high I tried to go, I lost. Every time, I lost.

Lost all my fans, too. It was like somebody was behind it all, whispering, because, one by one, people stopped booking me. The telephone dried up so, I thought it was disconnected. Look, I know I sound paranoid, but you try losing your sweet baby daughter and your livelihood in the span of twelve lightning-fast months, and see how you feel.

Oh, and I forgot to mention my friends, maybe because they, like, forgot all about me. At the end of dat whole business, I had exactly one friend left. One. He owned the oldest bar on Bourbon. You know dat one, right? It used to be a blacksmith’s shop, but nowadays, they just serve booze.

Well, he reached out to me and gave me this one lead. “Call Big Rosie up there in Nashville. She’ll give you something to do.”

I remembered laughing in his face. I mean, I wasn’t some sad sack, sorry-assed, hick-i-fied country music performer. Hell, I hated dat stuff. But, you know, when someone was desperate, when they felt like they didn’t have anything else? Well, adjusting things like ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ got easier. And, when it wasn’t easy, proper lubrication made the rest of it go down.

So now, strumming a damn guitar and singing hee-haw was all I had. No matter how much I tried to lose myself in the twangy chords, the words still tasted funny, like, foreign in my mouth. I mean, I been at it for almost two years now, but it still doesn’t feel…….real. I guess I use booze to blunt my ripped edges and women to feel less by myself, but when I try to write all dat, to pour all my anger and frustration and drunk-ass loneliness into the words, it all sounds so cliche.

Dat’s what I am. One sorry, hang-dog cliche who misses his little girl so much he’s afraid to write it down and sing it out.

 

 

Sleeping with Barry Goldwater

It was a day. Waking up in New Orleans can jolt the system, even when a girl has had a couple of days to acclimatize. Going to sleep in a rambling farmhouse in Natchez, Mississippi is quite a change. Especially with a pumpkin hunting stop in Baton Rouge thrown in for good measure.

 

I wore the socks to impress Cayleigh. How did I do?

I piled in the car with Alice and, MTM on our tail, we headed up the dark stretch of road to Natchez. Our destination: Historic Hope Farm, a rambling shard of The South. The proprietress met us at the front door, and I wanted to stay a week.

“Breakfast will be served in theah in the mornin’, and right after, we’ll have a little tourah of the haus. If you like a spot a coffee, it will be set up out heah on the porch. The air conditionah is new. I think it’ll stay at 69, but use those button things if it shuts off. And, why in the world would anyone from Charleston come to Natchez?”

I want to be Miss Ethel when I grow up. I loved her instantly.

Alice’s room was an homage to American politics, with Old South jewels like this one on the walls:

 

How would THIS play in a campaign today?

Another entire wall was devoted to signed photographs of American presidents and almost presidents. Meaning Alice slept with Barry Goldwater last night.

Don’t tell anybody.

 

The Bead Lady

Buy beads. Or you die.

The Bead Lady always came around when I played hopscotch on the sidewalk, outside my school. The Cathedral one with real nuns and everything. Usually, I played there when Mommy was having one of her high dramas. That’s what she called them. High Dramas. Always to do with boys and Mommy things.

It was easier to be far away during the High Mommy Dramas. I took a stick of colored chalk and drew on the blue stones outside my school. The Bead Lady always came. She tried to scare me into buying her necklaces.

She wore beads everywhere, the ones for Mardi Gras that ladies got for raising their tops and showing their boobies. Hehehe. She must’ve shown her boobies A LOT, because she was covered in beads. Around her neck. Knotted at her waist. Hanging from her hair. Wrapped around her arms. Sewn into her dress and glued to her shoes.

She talked funny, too, like she wasn’t from New Orleans. Aunt Bertie said to stay away from her because she was from that Hitler place, but since I don’t know what that means, I talked to her anyway. She always said the same thing to me: “Buy beads. Or you die.”

Until the day I did my hopscotch turn and told her we were all going to die anyway. Buying beads wouldn’t change anything.

She raised one eyebrow and got this funny look, right before she handed me a string of beads. Rainbow ones, with boy parts on them. She put them over my head and said “You live forever.” Her heavy voice hung in the air after she was gone.

Welcome to Mommy Dearest, a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment, go here for the second installment and click here for the third and go here for the fourth. Thanks for your feedback on fiction posts. Your thoughts will help me make a believable character.

Hell Hath No Fury

Daddy is not coming for me. I’ve waited. Since I was three. Since he and Mommy had that huge fight in court. He lost everything, so I’m told. Trying to take me away from Mommy.

I lost things, too.

My Mamou died during the whole business. She was my only other family, besides Mommy and Aunt Bertie. And Daddy.

She lived in a house on St. Charles. Twenty steps from the streetcar to the zoo. I counted, all the way to the Neutral Ground, when she sent me with one of the servants.

I remember seeing Daddy in that house. The way his upright bass matched his voice against the tall ceilings. Mamou played along, her fingernails tapping on her leg.

Sometimes, we made our own band. I was the lead singer. Daddy played strings, and Mamou pounded chords on the piano. We were a threesome. Formidable, Mamou said. We threw the doors open and let the Garden District in. Hearing that music, mixed with traffic and the streetcar, is the last time I remember being happy.

Now, Daddy’s gone. All the way to Nashville. Mamou’s gone, too. Stuck in one of those above-ground graveyards, where her body doesn’t get pushed underwater.

I’m managing. I smile at Mommy’s boys and try to charm them like she wants.

But, I’m waiting for Daddy.

To save me from this scary, confusing life of Mommy’s. Her cards and her boys.

And me.

Welcome to Mommy Dearest, a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment, go here for the second installment and click here for the third. Thanks for your feedback on fiction posts. Your thoughts will help me make a believable character.

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