Sunday, December 14, 2008


Sitting in Charlie's darkened living room, the light from the street filtering in through the blinds, they passed it between them quietly, each inhaling deeply and professionally until the bomber of a joint was nothing more than a sticky tab of brown paper that would not light no matter how hard Charlie tried.
"Stop flicking that thing, man. You're giving me a headache." Rosa said, leaning back on the couch and nearly disappearing into her coat.
The window unit pumped heat into the room.
"Sorry." he said, putting the lighter down and scraping the resinated roach off of his thumb and onto the edge of the ash tray. The heater shifted gears and settled into a different tone. "Rosa," he continued, "I may be crazy, but I think all of this has happened before."
"Huh?" she said, almost asleep, her feet slowly making their way up onto the couch with the rest of her.
"I mean everything, everything that happens. Like elections and wars and death and, well, shit. . . just everything. . . Ya know?"
". . .hmmm, yeh. . . right. . ." she said through a sleepy haze.
"I mean the way we think of previous generations as backwards and uneducated, innocent, the whole nine yards. . . why should they be so innocent? Did our parents simply appear and POOF! there we were? No of course not. . ." He lit a cigarette as he spoke, pursing his lips, continuing to speak around the cigarette. "What. . .we. . .per. . What we perceive as just beginning to happen is really not just beginning to happen, it's just that we are only now beginning to perceive it. For instance, how long have people been sucking toes? Hmm? How long? You might think it'd be a relatively recent perversion, but I'd be willing to bet that hunch-backed, club carrying mongoloids were sucking toes ten thousand years ago. My point? Well my point is that people aren't as original as they like to think. . . People make a huge stink when there is a murder or a gang-rape or whatever, but what they don't seem to understand is that those things have been going on for so long that their outrage is misplaced. Benobo monkeys. Ever hear of them? They basically do nothing but hang from the trees and fuck all day. You should see the positions these things can achieve what with their prehensile tails and all. . . They have group sex, incest, anal sex. . . all of it right out in the open, right in plain view of the rest of the population, who if they aren't too busy fucking, often sit and watch while masturbating. Meanwhile, we, WE have laws against nudity, laws about who you can and cannot marry, what sex they have to be, exactly how far removed they must be from your family, etc. . . Who came up with these things? Us? Our parents? Their parents? Nope, this stuff has been going on for tens of thousands of years, since before we stood upright when our little rodent ancestors scurried around collecting nuts. . . But today we have law enforcement telling us that in response to recently growing problems, laws are needed such as laws against oral sex and exposure. . . I say that it's just a pretense to allow them to pull the noose tighter around our necks. These things are supposed to take care of themselves naturally. If an exposer keeps it up, he is eventually trounced. If the oral sex goes on, well, I still can't figure out what would be wrong with that, but what I mean is, these things should be left to nature. If someone exposes themselves to someone else and the person who is exposed upon, so to speak, does nothing about it, or doesn't have someone else do something about it, well then I guess someone got away with something naughty. Children are raised to hate and raised to follow their parent's example. Boys born to hunters would die for the right to have their guns. Why? Because they need them? Not likely in this day and age. They would die for them because their fathers felt that way. Why then, did their fathers feel that way? because their fathers felt that way, ad infinatum. Guns have never been an absolute necessity of life. The American Indians made it for many generations without them and did quite well, thank you, that is, until the Europeans showed up with cannons and rifles and bombs. . . Most every healthy young Indian who died for the next five hundred years was killed by a bullet. Why? Control. It's not necessarily bad to pass things down until it becomes almost a matter of course that the youngsters learn it. Lions all learn to hunt or they die. It's not a bad thing for them to pass down to their children, but humans have filled their children's heads with such garbage that it makes me sick. Is it just me," he asked the now soundly sleeping Rosa, "or do the same families seem to be the ones in control, generation, after generation. . . Kings and monarchies, presidencies, tribal chieftains, the whole gamut, there always seems to be that alpha-male thing going on like in those Jack London wolf novels. . . I grant that it's an entirely natural process, but it seems to me that we have pretty much rid ourselves of every other semblance of hierarchical bestiality, why not that one? We don't mate with our relatives because we know it'd foster regenerative traits, we research ways to make babies born without vital organs live long, empty and confused, unseeing, bitter lives, but we still have the same alpha-males making our decisions, governmental and economic. . . Why? Because by the time we are old enough to give a damn, the alpha male is firmly in place, his seed gestating and waiting to be placed onto the throne of power just as his father grows nearly weary enough for us to topple him. I hate to sound bitter, Rosie, but it seems like breaking that cycle, in any of its modes, not just political, is impossible. That barrier is thrown up everywhere. I go to the grocery and find the old man behind the counter, his son working in the stock room waiting for him to die so he can do some remodeling and really get the place going, when all that's really gonna happen is he'll pass it on to his kid. Where's a guy supposed to break in? What's to be done? All I've been left are two strong legs and this accursed mind. . ." He lit another cigarette, lost in thought. He had been sitting on the floor in front of the couch. His head leaning on Rosa's back. At least he thought it was her back, he couldn't be sure it wasn't a handbag in the giant pockets of her coat. Whatever it was, it was good and he could feel her breathing and smell her smell. He finished the cigarette and got up to get a blanket for her.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big Night

Charlie knew fun and had tried to remain familiar with it over the years, but somehow it always seemed to elude him now, seeming to just slip around the corners of his awareness, growing more intangible as the days and months passed him by. Often, he went to places where others seemed to enjoy themselves in one way or another, but he usually came away with little more than an empty feeling and a smile that sat like a prosthesis, disgustingly plastic, on his face.
Winter was coming.
He let the thought hover in his mind as he lay listening to the muffled news broadcast that was seeping through the wall and had awakened him. Eyes still closed, he tried to understand the flow of the reporter's words, but he could only catch a few here and there. He got out of bed and, sniffling and snorting, he fished a set of clothes from the hamper and set out for the neighborhood bar.
The neighborhood was an old one and as such, had seen both good times and bad. Lately it seemed that the pendulum was on an upswing. People were opening coffee houses and news stands, corner groceries were chasing the bad elements from their storefronts, the old cathedral was playing Amazing Grace on its bells. Still, people crossed the streets from each other and only the very old gave greetings if they happened to pass close enough to do so. But still in all, it was a pretty nice neighborhood. It was almost three hundred years old and had been built when New Orleans was nothing more than a little place where European sailors could get whores, whiskey and slaves.
Jonny's bar was a dark little place. The door, like many in the area, had steel grating over the window and required a buzz from the bartender to open. Charlie pressed the buzzer and waited. A camera scrutinized him from above and he looked up at it blandly. The door clicked and buzzed and he pushed it.
"Hey, what's up, Chuck?"
"Chuuuuuuck. . ."
A nod from someone playing pool alone that implied an invitation.
A tilt of the head, a slight spreading of the hands and a crooked tsk-tsk smile, two slow shakes of the head and Charlie graciously refused the invitation.
Pool balls resumed their clicking, the pool table resumed it's clunking and Charlie sat on a stool at the long, antique cypress bar.
He paid quietly and looked up at the tv mounted in the corner, sipping the foam that slowly rose from the neck of the bottle. Music videos filled with unnaturally perfect, bikini-clad women and shirtless, muscular men with chiseled features paraded across the screen between important messages from the sponsors--mostly beer, trendy garment manufacturers and automobiles. Charlie looked around with a sigh and noticed that everyone else seemed to constantly be in the process of either turning toward or away from the television or trying in some way to consciously to ignore it.
Charlie pulled out a dollar and studiously folded it back and forth on the bar in front of him, stealing glances at the bartender. Soon enough, he had four quarters and was standing before the jukebox. He played two blues songs by a long-dead black man. The tv volume was turned down and the music loped along, smoothing everyone's mood. He ambled back to his stool.
The pool player caught Charlie's eye and nodded approvingly as he shot and missed a maroon seven ball in the corner pocket.
Charlie raised an eyebrow, squinted, nodded, took a sip of his beer and returned to his spot near the taps.
At the bar again, making a concerted effort to avoid the television, his gaze moved from liquor bottle to liquor bottle, examining, appraising, remembering. . . listening to the man on the jukebox holler his woes over driving rhythms and a railroad train harmonica player that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
The reverie was broken by the buzz at the door.
The bartender looked at a screen under the bar that Charlie could see in the mirror through all the bottles. He could also see what looked like a sawed-off shotgun lying on the shelf, next to the little screen. When it came to security, they didn't play around at Jonny's. Not since the murder of a nineteen yr. old kid right outside the front door the year before.
The door buzzed and opened.
Charlie and the others at the bar all looked mutely at the mirror behind the bar and watched her come in.
She wore a long coat with jeans and tennis shoes showing out of the bottom. Her black hair framed a face with a slight south-of-the-border cast to it. Bustling her coat off, she sat down on the last stool at the bar, next to Charlie.
Charlie, careful not to look at her, lit a cigarette and pushed the ashtray to his right, her being on his left. Before he had taken the first drag, she was lighting one too, so he moved the ashtray back to his left into the neutral space on the bar between the invisible lines of their staked out spots on the bar.
"Thank you" she said, looking not at his face, but at his shoulder, or hand, or somewhere. Charlie couldn't tell, watching her in the bar mirror, her appraising him unabashedly. She followed his gaze and turned to stare right at his reflection and their eyes met for a second, Charlie turning away first, then furtively looking back, her looking away, then back, both of them looking down, blushing.
"Charlie. . ." he said, sticking his cigarette into the slotted ashtray and extending a warm hand.
"Rosa," she said, "but my full name is Rosalita" she continued, letting a slight, probably second or third generation, accent peek through.
"It's a beautiful name" he said, feeling her soft, tan hand in his. She had given it to him palm down, like a princess, as if she were expecting him to genuflect and kiss her knuckles. He just squeezed it ever-so-lightly and nodded sheepishly at her.
He could feel the stares coming from the other men in the bar and he couldn't blame them. He had become the only entertainment in the bar, other than the music videos, which remained soundless even though the juke-box had long since quieted.
"Like a beer?" he asked.
"Lite please."
"Fine, fine. . ." he trailed off as he tried to imagine her midriff through the multiple shirts that girded her against the cold. The bartender was standing in front of him before he had his wallet out. "Michelob and a McLite" Charlie said, dropping a five on the bar.
The beers came and they sat and sipped them in silence. The tv volume returned and they smoked slowly as the beers disappeared.
He was down to one last frothy sip when she produced a pocket book from within the folds of her voluminous coat and ordered up two shots of whiskey and more beer.
They sat drinking like that for the space of an hour or more. Neither of them saying more than two or three words at a time, occasionally nodding at each other in response to something on the tv. The pool player turned in the balls and chalk, the tv switched to baseball, no one in the bar spoke, blue cigarette smoke hung in the air and rose lethargically to be gently sliced by the two slow moving ceiling fans that were suspended from the high ceilings.
"You smoke?" Charlie mumbled the question in the quiet bar.
Rosa looked at him, time seemed to slow and Charlie fidgeted in his chair, puffing at his cigarette. "Yes, but first let me go to the bathroom." She got up a little wobbly and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. He put out a hand to steady her and he let it rest on the small of her back. He could feel the taut, parallel muscles and the pert curve that led downward. She regained her balance and turned, her hair flying past his face. The smell of strawberries and something else and his hand was left holding only empty air.
Charlie looked around at the other patrons. They looked like wax statues and he found himself imagining them with dust and spider webs like he imagined an old abandoned wax museum might look. He slouched back to staring straight ahead at his beer, sitting on the bar. He tracked the statues in his peripheral vision for a while and could feel his eyes glazing after a minute. The bathroom door squealed and slammed loudly and Rosa was soon behind him.
"Hey Chuck, you all right?" she ran a cool hand over his back.
"Yeah," he said blinking away the trance. "Let's go burn."
"Let's go" she said shrugging on her coat and buttoning it up.
The door buzzed as they approached and Charlie pushed it open for Rosa with one hand and waved to the bartender behind him with the other.
Outside it was cold. As they walked, they both stuck their hands into their pockets, foregoing cigarettes until they reached warmth.
"So you got it with you?" she asked, looking up at Charlie.
"No, it's at my house." he said, noticing for the first time that she couldn't be over 5'1.
"Where's that?"
"Three-and-a-half more blocks."
They walked along in silence, her heels sometimes giving her problems on the irregular brick sidewalks. After the third stumble, Charlie offered a piggy-back ride. She politely declined, watching the changing sidewalk pass more and more quickly beneath her feet like a treadmill gone wild.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Shitty Day Continues

I opened the door in a pair of old swim trunks and a stained, white T-shirt. In retrospect, sopping wet and stinking, I mustn't have made a very good impression.
The young couple at the door were very nice. They explained that they were looking for a friend of theirs who hadn't been seen in a while. Apparently, he had lived in my apartment and they thought he still lived there. I could imagine their surprise when the door opened on the scene in the living room, not to mention my condition.
They politely apologized for intruding and disappeared around the corner.
Two hours later, waiting for Earl and charging my telephone battery, I found a cop at my front door.
He handcuffed me, made me kneel, and pushed my face down to the floor.
His safety assured, he proceeded to question me.
"What do you know about Carmen LaTrobe?", he demanded.
"Nothing", I replied.
"So, how long have you lived here?", he asked almost conversationally.
"Two months."
"Who did you rent this apartment from?"
"The apartment people downstairs."
"W H O!!!!?" He yelled so loudly that he spit and his face turned red. From my vantage point I could see that he might even have had an erection.
"I don't know the old lady's name. She should be down there right now", I said as calmly as I could.
"We'll see", he said ominously and stalked out of the apartment.
So there I lay. Hog-tied on my sopping living room floor.
I tried at the cuffs. It hurt to change the rotation of my wrists in the least. I resigned myself to lay there in the toilet water.
The day had started out so pleasantly and now here I was. I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. Just to be safe, I made a mental note to never wear glasses while shitting.
I managed to crawl like a caterpillar myself over to the couch. I was just about up onto it's heavenly, dry surface when the cop came splashing back in with the old lady.
"Get back on the fucking floor!!", he screamed in his way.
I assumed the butt-fuck position and waited.
He pranced around me like a drill sergeant inspecting the stance of a new recruit at attention.
I remained perfectly still.
The old lady just gaped at the apartment.
"She says she doesn't know who the hell you are and has stated to me that you are not currently a tenant here", he said, pointing at the stooped figure of my landlady in the doorway.
"What do you have to say to that?"
They exchanged a knowing glance and then both stared down at me.
"So, um, am I under arrest?", I stammered.
At this point, the officer kicked me in the side, hard, then he went on a delirious rant about justice and the weak willed being amongst us, or something along those lines. Sweaty and winded after his speech, he picked me up by the cuffs and yanked me along all the way to his squad car.

In the cell I sat talking to a self-professed career mugger. He told me how he made an easy living mugging people. He'd travel all around the country; city to city, state to state. He'd go all around the city mugging people at night. Taking buses and sometimes cabs after particularly good takes. By day he lived the good life playing the tourist wherever he went. He never had to injure anyone, he said, and he always tried to drop the stuff other than money (like lipstick, wallets, etc) near by and therefore, possibly locatable.
He was full of reasons why he wasn't a bad guy. I just sat and smoked and listened to him.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lafayette's Own David Egan

There really isn't anything else to say through the melancholy tears:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tips On Tubing:

"When the water's shallow, be prepared for penetration by submerged roots. Clench tightly. The first time I encountered this, I almost started lisping."

- Anonymous

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This is Your Life

"I look for uncommon flavors relative to the caloric investment. Recently I have been buying a single small Olive loaf roll for less than a buck, and then a slice of an interesting Terrine for $2, combined into a sandwich. The bargain enhances the dining adventure. Next I may start adding cheese. yum."

- From cyberspace

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In honor of The Sazerac

I consumed a sample of the newly crowned 'Official Cocktail of New Orleans' last night at the historic Hotel Driskill Bar in Austin, TX. It was, in a word magnificent despite the dearth of authentic and traditional ingredients Herbsaint and Pechaud's Bitters. Sazerac, I salute you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

From Intolerance to Mere Dislike

"I keep a bag of the Jelly Belly mixed jelly beans at my desk at work for a quick candy snack. I usually throw out the black beans because I usually dislike the combination of sugar and anise. Every once in a while I will pop one in my mouth to expand my palate. Through this effort I have moved from intolerance to mere dislike."

- Anonymous Food Freak

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Party Time in Party Town

"The hurricane party is
winding down and we're
all waiting for the end.
Hell, I don't want another
drink, I only want that
last one again..."

- J. Mcmurtry

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


"People who don't understand destruction
should be DESTROYED!"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Burn the Flame...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


ALBERT GYPSUM SAT upon a piece of driftwood down on the batture of the Mississippi river among the tall weeds and weeping willows that grew there. The solitude of that narrow strectch of wilderness between the man-made levee and the river appealed to him. He could hear the occasional vehicle as it rumbled past on the old highway but he was hidden from view and nobody bothered him. He had three old cane poles set out in a shady spot where the water ran deep near the shore between a stand of bald cypress and a couple of Chinese tallow trees. The hooks were baited with small pieces of chicken gizzards that he carried with him in a yellow and blue plastic bread bag. In truth he could have baited the hooks with anything, even spittle, because he was after catfish and those scavenging bottom-feeders weren't picky. Nowadays people told him that he shouldn't eat fish pulled from the river because of the pollution but he still ate what he caught, mostly hard-head cats. And those suckers were big and meaty, healthy looking. Albert had eaten them all his life; they tasted fine enough when seasoned and cooked properly. His wife Cherry was one hell of a cook. Lord have mercy, the woman could bitch and moan enough to fray any man's nerves. He shook his head and looked heavenward in mock atonement. Still, he admitted to himself that she had good qualities and baked creole catfish with tomatoes, shrimps and okra was one of them. Cherry and Pearlie both knew their way around a deep-fryer. Man, they fried those catfish fillets to a golden perfection. On Fridays the smell permeated all through the trailer court and beyond. They weren't at all greasy, you could plunk those suckers into your mouth with a little tartar sauce and they melted away like butter. But damn it all, he couldn't taste much of anything since he lost his taste buds. But he still had his memory of the flavor. And that, at least, was something.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


CHESTER AND ELVIRA squeezed past the impatient crowd and exited through the glass doors of the welfare office. They turned south down the old State highway and began walking along the worn rut in the grass between the levee and the road where a sidewalk should have been. The baleful sun beat down forcefully and a lone katydid chirped in the weeds. Dump trucks and industrial vehicles rumbled past kicking up dust and belching exhaust fumes. The humidity overwhelmed the pair and soon they were sticky and drenched. Chester's threadbare shirt clung to his bones like a second skin and the perspiration picked up the brown dust. They knew enough to let the work trucks pass unmolested but whenever an old car creaked past they stuck out their thumbs in hopes of a ride. Nobody stopped but Cherry Gypsum, whom they knew from the trailer court on Dead Man Lane. She told them that she needed a few bucks for gas and had to make a stop halfway down the Parish at the old clapboard house of worship. She wanted to speak to Minster Thurgood. It was he who told her about the universal food stamp reimbursement in the first place. That's what he called it, 'a universal food stamp reimbursement.' The minister had an excellent vernacular grasp and enunciated his words clearly when he spoke. As pastor of the First New Risers Baptist Missionary Church, he was held in high esteem by almost everyone in the lower Parish. And as a result of his benevolent candor, Cherry didn't have to wait in line all day and might even catch the tail end of her stories. She wanted to thank him, keep in his good graces. Chester and Elvira passed on the ride. They wouldn't have jutted their thumbs out in the first place had they recognized her beat sedan. Chester held a grudge against her because Cherry often made a stink about the late night ruckus they kicked up at the court, mainly when her husband Albert joined them. Hell, they'd find a ride eventually. Why waste money on gasoline? What they needed was a good stiff drink anyhow; a nip of something to slake the thirst. Cherry drove off muttering under her breath, engine sputtering, struts and shocks ready to cough up the ghost, exhaust fumes blackening the air. Chester and Elvira walked a bit further to the dilapidated Ajax Bar, which stood like a sentinel and the gateway to the lower Parish proper.

Chester's pockets were empty except for the packet of food stamps that Mister LeFluer had given them but he padded himself reflexively to be sure. Elvira had some dough, he knew. She always saved a bit for just this purpose. It was a big trip up and down the only highway in the Parish when you didn't own a vehicle. There was no bus service, or public transit of any kind.

“Let's get a nip and rest our dogs,” Chester postured with bravado.

They limped past the faded, handwritten Ajax Bar Sign and down the oyster shell drive toward the sagging and rotted porch. It was almost as hot inside as out but the lights were dimmed and that made a difference. An old ceiling fan slowly sliced through the thick air and squeaked with each rotation. There wasn't a soul in the place save for Jim, the old barkeep who was a permanent fixture. The warped wooden floorboards creaked under their feet as they sidled up the the bar. Chester ordered two shots of bar brand whiskey and a couple of Dixie drafts. The barman nodded and poured the drinks without saying a word. He was a part of the place like the jukebox and barstools.

Doctors say: Grapes are Packed with Sugar

So, it was an uneventful Sunday afternoon. My little daughter (5 years old) had a playmate over for the afternoon and it was coming up on lunch time.

The wife looked at the fruit basket and suggested that I hit the grocery store for some grapes to feed the kids. I figured I'd grab some beer and other sundries as well.

The store was pretty quiet and I got to the checkout counter with my purchases pretty quickly. I set them on the conveyor belt and waited.

As I stared absentmindedly at the tabloids, the guy in front of me chatted good-naturedly with the checker.

I wasn't paying attention to his conversation when he decided to turn around and assess my grocery selections. He frowned and advised me in an honestly concerned voice that his doctor had told him grapes were really high in sugar and not really very good for you.

I gave him an 'aw shucks' look and said they were for the kids at home.

He said something about that being even worse and tried to get the checker to agree with him.

She said nothing but raised her eyebrows a bit in the direction of the conveyor belt. I followed her gaze and checked out his purchases: four quarts of ice cream, a bottle of rum, and some toothpicks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


THE PAIR STANK a bit and dressed in tattered rags. One got the impression that they could have cleaned themselves up easily enough and probably had decent enough clothes in the chifforobe at home. They defiantly chose to wear the rags. Plus they had sense enough to dress down for welfare appointments. Despite too many routine encounters over the years, Cyprian had never seen them sober. They were blunt and crass toward each other but in a good-natured and jovial sort of way. Cyprian represented State Authority with a capital A, which meant plenty of Yes Sirs, No Sirs and the like. Elvira was especially obsequious in his presence. She whined and squawked in the hopes of furthering her cause. Despite her ingratiating mannerisms and her rail thin frame, there was something pleasant and attractive about her. Chester, garrulous and unshaven, dramatically inhaled puffs of his cheap cigarette and blew plumes of blue smoke into the air. But he toadied to the man as well...this day he walked with a pronounced limp and wore no shoes upon his malodorous feet. He carefully unwrapped a bandage from the big toe of his left foot. The appendage was swollen to triple the normal size, purple and crowned with a cracked yellow toenail.

Elvira said, “Look at it will you? I tell you it looks bad. Don't it Mister LeFluer? He needs to see a doctor but he don't listen. They'll have no choice but to cut it off before long.” She winced. “Gangrene will set in, I keep on telling him. And then where will he be?”

“Shut your pie-hole, will ya?” Chester barked at her. It was a grand bluff, an act. He grinned and laughed aloud as he said it. The three of them did.

Chester began to pick at his gangrenous toe and Cyprian watched fascinated. While in a drunken stupor during the storm, he fell into a drainage ditch and busted the toe on a pipe. He lay there for some time, oblivious to the howling winds and the rain which pelted him. Elvira thought he was lucky not to have drowned. The pain was negligible thanks to the liquor and, once he came to, he brazenly walked on it until he sobered up. Initially bloodied, it had since hardened into a solid mass of scab. He was scabrous; little flesh wounds pockmarked his face and arms. It had been on hell of a tumultuous hurricane party. Chester's breath stank of cheap cigarettes and malt liquor.

Elvira wrung her boney hands nervously.“O Mister LeFluer, do you think we can get more stamps on account of Chester's toe? We ain't got nothin' to eat in the trailer since the lights went out. We go hungry our borrow from neighbors. That's the truth. All our meat went bad. Sausages and everything. And now with this toe can't neither of us work. I got to look after Chester before he cripples himself.”

“Elvira, I'm warnin' you...shut your trap!” Chester snarled. He feigned a readiness to backhand her. Cyprian dreamed of aiding him in that endeavor . They shot each other humorous and conspiratorial glances. Elvira began to chew at the quick of her thumbnail.

“But Chester baby, you know it ain't fair. The blacks get everything handed to 'em on a silver platter and poor white trash like us get nothing. Here we are starvin' to death in the breadbasket of America. I mean, it's a shame Mister Lefluer. What we got to do? I'm tellin' ya from where I sit it looks bad. And now this toe...Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”

“Fill out this paperwork in duplicate, for starters, Miss Logan, and I'll see what I can do. And for the love of God, take care of that toe, Mister Monsoon. It looks bad.”

Chester breathed a sigh of relief and an intoxicating whiff hit Cyprian in the face. Elvira made the Sign of the Cross. “God bless you!” The six-month old light bill passed unnoticed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


CYPRIAN LOATHED HIS position with the State. He'd been there too long. That's the way life goes if you haven't much drive...youth slips away in a fashion. As the months stretched into years, his vocation became monotonous and unbearable. Thus with time he fell into a dull torpor and developed an irrational hatred of poverty and the poor. Not once did he encounter the Joads and their Grapes of Wrath. Nor the struggling hard workers of Sinclair's Jungle. The poor he knew were a downright shiftless, cantankerous breed. His was an odious task: pacify, preen and mollycoddle a population of ne'er-do-wells. To become hardened to the actualities of poverty and all of it's ramifications was the vilest of tortures. He longed for the days of compassion. As a boy, on his trips through the old French Quarter, he never failed to place a coin in an up stretched palm if he had one to spare. Once he even volunteered at a soup kitchen, and in the shadow of his memory he remembered handing a steaming bowl of thin turkey gumbo to one of the unfortunates. “Thanks,” the man muttered, his breath redolent of wine. “You're welcome,” Cyprian quickly responded out of habit, more than anything. “I know damn good and well I'm welcome,” the man snarled back at him with vehement hatred. “I'm in a soup kitchen!” Flecks of white spittle gathered in the cracks of the man's meaty lips. Cyprian stared at him blankly for a minute, turned away and never forgot.

One thing for sure, the clients kept him on his toes. Cyprian jammed Cherry Gypsum's paperwork into a tattered brown cardboard accordion file, tossed it onto the floor near his feet and glanced toward the door. Next up were a couple of maudlin drunks. They squeezed into the room before he could air it out. Chester Monsoon and his shack-job, Elvira Logan. They cohabited in a fairly new trailer down the road, just off the highway in a trailer court on Dead Man Lane. Chester purchased the trailer with the proceeds of a lawsuit settlement. A rare but sage financial move. He liked to boast that there was a four-burner stove in there, a flushing toilet and even a small shower stall. The poor bastard had been injured in a barge collision on the river. Half-drunk on the job but never proven in court. Lawsuits were like the lottery to them- why not take a chance on winning? The same concept held true with Life Insurance policies. Once in a moon one of them croaked and the survivors hit the jackpot. They usually blew it in a fortnight...who's to say they were wrong?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Black Kettles

"Every store in America should have a black kettle filled with hot cracklin waiting for their customers when they walk in the door..."

Saturday, May 3, 2008


IN THE BOWELS of the welfare office, behind a locked door marked Employees Only a narrow hallway with cracked linoleum flooring led to a row of diminutive offices filled with gunmetal gray file cabinets and old wooden desks. In the last of these cubicles, Cyprian LeFluer ran a napkin across his lips. The day had him harried, nerves in tatters, so he ate his lunch while standing up. An oyster po-boy. Punch in, punch out. Five days a week. And never a moments rest when the vultures are circling. The welfare office, what a place to work. He gobbled down the last bite and took a swig of water as his speaker phone buzzed: a plethora of clients still waiting to be seen in the lobby. The jobless kept themselves busy in this Asshole of the Earth. No wonder they seldom found time to work. Between visits to the doctor and the police station, making groceries, courtroom appearances and the welfare office they scarcely had time to think. If they did find a little time on their hands, they hopped under the sheets for a little recreational venery. And to hell with prophylaxis. Cherry Gypsum wanted to speak to him for a moment. Urgent, she says. Cyprian dreaded encounters with this bitter woman. Life dealt her a shitty hand...what had he to do with it? Ah, the words which spewed from her mouth: endless, coarse, guttural. Death would be a favorable turn were you to take her words at face value. But as you get older and death nears, life becomes more precious and you hold onto it no matter how miserable it's been to you thus far. Cyprian belched and walked toward the door. There's no reasoning with those whose minds don't function in a rational manner.

He brought her into one of the little rooms just off the lobby and motioned her to sit down. A buzzing fluorescent tube light cast an eerie glow onto the peeling lime-green cinder block walls. As always, he took the chair nearest the door perchance he had to bolt. Oftentimes they looked about ready to stab him with the pencils stubs he gave them. Mrs. Cherry Gypsum refused to take a seat, said her bad hip bothered her. She stood there and began with it:

“He all big down there, Mister LeFluer.” She wore flip-flop sandals which exposed crusty heels and yellowed toenails. Her hair was up in curlers beneath a clear plastic cap and she wore a shocking pink housecoat. A few renegade hairs sprouted from her upper lip; her mouth she scrunched into a continual scowl.

“All big? What do you mean by that?”

“He swoll up like a baseball. His testicles. Them doctors, they don't know what's wrong but I tell you one thing: Albert cain't do no kinda work. He too swoll up.”

“How big?” Cyprian inquired.

“Big. Swoll up. He cain't do nothin' but lay in the bed. Moanin' and groanin' is all he do.”

Cyprian knew Albert as a lazy son-of-a-gun, albeit justified. At his age, no one would find much comfort in menial labor. He had already been wrung through the system: one shitty low wage job after another. Yet we've all got to eat, it's a biological fact. One simply plays the cards dealt until the bitter end. Old Albert suffered one malady on top of the next. In truth he had a weakness and a propensity for port wine. And a gambling habit which kept him up late nights. As a youth he worked on the boats where the wind carved his flesh and the sun baked his brain. As a result he resembled a dried-up septuagenarian by the age of fifty. Nevertheless, he was a likable fellow, full of piss and vinegar. He still had spunk and enjoyed getting his kicks in. Always a smile and a good tale to spin. And what a raucous laugh! From the very core of his soul, from the gut. Laughter as only the poor know it. Cyprian pitied him his termagant wife.

“All my meat done gone bad with this storm, Mister LeFluer. I just stocked the freezer full of steaks and gizzards and now they rancid as can be. And they 'bout the cut the lights out for good, Albert ain't paid the bill. I don't know what we gonna do.”

“Fill out these papers for starters.”

Her eyes got big in mock surprise. “All these? I hope it ain't gonna take too long. I got to git home to watch my stories...” And she began checking off the boxes: no, no, none, n/a, nothing, no...”Albert cain't do no kinda work,” she added defensively.

“Did Albert get a statement from his doctor?”

“Huh?” She pretended not to hear but then went on, “No, we ain't got no statement...But I'll tell you he swoll up big. And now he say somethin' wrong with his taste buds. He cain't taste no food. No matter what I feed him, he say he cain't taste it. Them doctors don't know what's up. Bringin' Albert to 'em just waste his medical card.”

Cyprian sighed. The entire family was stricken with acute lazybones. Two corpulent ill-mannered daughters and their common-law husbands plus a plethora of grandchildren all living under one small roof. None of them ever lifted a finger more than need be. On the books, understand. Except old Albert, ironically. Once in a moon he would put on his shrimp boots and pick up scrap metal from around the Pogie fish plant. He cashed this in for a fresh supply of port wine and a few bucks to the wife to shut her trap. One son-in-law did receive disability payments from the State on account of a gimp left leg, the result of a barroom brawl over careless love. It ended tragically with a single bullet. All the family's hope were pinned on Boo Williams, Pearlie's husband, who sat around strumming an acoustic guitar all day in fantastic idleness. Years prior he worked off-shore on the rigs and got himself stranded on a sandy barrier island for a couple days in the midst of a tropical rainstorm. Lawsuit pending. Work in the Gulf and on the river was fraught with peril. A rusty trawl boat sat on cinder blocks in the front yard. To use it would negate the prospective settlement. The shady lawyer eked them along on a stipend which lowered the potential return on the lawsuit. And to top it all off, Pearlie found herself with another bun in the oven. The family couldn't afford another mouth to feed but the strictures of their belief system prohibited abortion. The duality did not phase them: religion played a role of convenience.

An idea germinated in Cyprian's crop. “Mrs. Gypsum, I saw Albert just last Thursday before the storm picking up scrap metal on the side of the road near the Pogie plant. I blew the horn and he waved...”

“Huh? Oh, he felt a little better and wanted to git out to stretch his legs. He don't like being cooped up all the time, you know. Them grandkids drive him batty...the way they scream and holler. They work on his last nerve.” Her lips moved mechanically, as if she were chewing the cud.

“That income must be reported.”

“O help me Jesus!” And she looked skyward.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


A RUMOR SPREAD in line that you had to have a copy of your light bill in order to prove the loss. Plus you had to sign an affidavit estimating the value of the food you lost during the outage. Almost everyone in line had hopes of claiming their entire monthly allotment had gone bad and spoiled in the heat which followed the storm. Some folks ran or sent children home to retrieve crumpled utility bills from the trash. Chester and Elvira had only a stained copy of an old bill which Chester found balled up in a corner of their trailer near the garbage pail. He took it with them not on a whim but because he knew the routine. The lights to their property had been cut off for lack of payment six months prior. They both hoped that the welfare worker wouldn't notice the old date on the bill. Chester scraped at the printed date in the corner with a fingernail which smudged it and made it almost illegible. He figured that would cast enough uncertainty on it such that they would get the stamps. Besides, they weren't greedy and were only going to claim that half of their monthly benefit was spent on perishables lost. One thing was sure, he was sick of eating canned goods from the food bank and the first thing they were going to do on the road home was stop at Me-Maw's Superette for a nice plump roaster chicken or two. Some dirty rice, mustard, and maybe a few links of good andouille sausage. And with the cash that Elvira stuffed surreptitiously into her tank top, they would buy beer, wine and cigarettes. Chester smiled a half-smile but winced a little when he put too much weight on his sore toe. The day wasn't starting out too badly, but they seldom did if one didn't expect too much. Roll with the punches, that's the mantra he chanted to himself and indeed lived by.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


ONCE THE STRONG winds abated and the clouds parted, a piss-yellow sun crept out and hung low in the chalky blue sky. A long line of people snaked through the lobby of the welfare office and out the glass doors to the parking lot beyond. Chester Monsoon and Elvira Logan stood out under the rising sun with bare feet already burning on the asphalt. They shuffled their body weight from one foot to the other, as the situation required to abate the sting. Chester had a dirty white cloth bandage wrapped around a wound on his left big toe which made him wince every time he shifted to that foot. Elvira glanced at it nervously and chewed her bottom lip. With heads throbbing and still partly stewed from the night before, they stood in vigilant silence and with the patience of Buddha. A tropical storm grew in the Gulf over the weekend and whipped across the Parish, but just the tip, a near miss if ever there was one. A handful of residents were without electrical power until Monday, a minor inconvenience. The State boys in charge of the matter convened in their dull brown Capital offices but were unable to determine who lost power or the duration of the outage. An executive decision was made to authorize a full month's Food Stamps to everyone on the dole to cover the loss of victuals which might have spoiled in refrigerators and freezers during the aforementioned storm and subsequent power outage. Might congenial indeed. Word spread like lightening and by mid-morning everyone in receipt of Public Assistance in the Parish was aware of the windfall, which accounted for the line of quiet desperation which continued to grow and writhe like a plump earthworm on the sizzling pavement.

A Good Night's Musing

" we all die, that's no big trick, but the miracle never quits; therefore we must not until it finally closes in."

- Charles B., from a correspondence

- PiGbOyFaCe

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bean Wars

"I love pintos, black beans look like poo on toilet paper, when spread on a flour tortilla!"

- from a heated debate on a foodie message board regarding the relevance of pinto vs. black beans

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I awoke slowly. The beers had flowed the night before like a dam burst open. I sat on the edge of the bed staring blankly down for a long time. I sat thinking of absolutely nothing. I looked from the carpet to my pot belly to my erect penis. My muddled mind figured out that I needed to get up and take a good long piss. Must be some of that beer still fermenting in there, I thought.
As I sat thinking about standing, I realized that this would be a shit, not just a piss. I got up and stumbled to the bathroom, still fighting the residual drunkenness of the night before. I sat heavily on the cracked seat. I reached back and got the copy of Love is a Dog From Hell by Bukowski that currently lived on the back of the toilet for people to read while using my facilities.
I sat reading. One poem told me that to become a good, no a GREAT writer, you must drink a lot of beer and fuck a great many whores. Well, I had the first part covered. I read a couple more and stood to wipe. I turned, crouched and wiped. As I did, the spectacles fell from my face and into the bowl. "Shit." I thought and shit I saw. I looked at my glasses sitting on a bed of shit and at my hand holding shit-covered shit-paper and there was still some shit on my ass too.
I froze for a bit while I decided what to do.
I certainly couldn't go waddling around the house and if I just reached in and got the glasses, my weak stomach would lose its' contents. I needed to finish wiping, but what of the glasses? I couldn't cover them with shit covered wet toilet paper.
I crouched there, thinking.
Finally I threw the paper into the waste basket and finished wiping doing the same with the rest of the paper. The whole time I stared at those glasses resting on their bed of shit.
Done with wiping, I stood to face the problem. My Idea was this: If I flushed, the shit would get sucked down into the abyss, leaving the glasses stuck across the opening. I had to time it right though. Just as the water sloshed at the bottom of the bowl, I'd have to reach in (lightning-fast) and snatch the glasses. I figured I'd have to disinfect them in some way, but that was another problem.
I positioned myself. Right hand perched above the bowl and left on the flusher.
I flushed.
The shit and glasses both spun around and around and around. I watched helplessly as it all flushed down the toilet.
The bowl refilled, the back refilled for a bit longer and the thing finally stopped running as I crouched there dejected. My glasses were gone for good.
I sighed and plucked the used paper out of the waste basket and deposited it in the toilet. I flushed again and they spun around and went down. As it cycled, the toilet made a tortured THUNK and something underneath burst with great sprays of water all over the floor, up the walls, and right in my face.
I panicked. I tried to turn off the water, but it was no good. The pipes were done for and there was no turning it off. I jumped up, got a headrush and fell to the wet tile floor. On the way down, I smacked up against the edge of the tub and must have broken a couple of ribs. I lay there for a while before trying again. I got up more slowly and tip-toed out of the bathroom closing the door behind me. Water was pouring out from under the door in waves. I reached into the closet and grabbed an armload of towels. These I threw on the floor and kicked into the crack under the door. This abated the flow for about 30 seconds.
I yelled at the door and slammed a fist into it. It went through like paper and hurt like hell. I extracted my bloody fist from the jagged hole and shook it in the air. I screamed obscenities at the ceiling and stalked out, blind, stinking, and naked into the living room. I stumbled around the room looking for the cordless telephone.
I finally found it stuck between the cushions on the couch. I flopped down and pressed the TALK button. It beeped three times and flashed a little red light labeled BATT at me. Exasperated, I threw the phone across the room and thrashed helplessly on the couch for a while. Once my faculties were recovered, I located a moderately dirty towel on the floor and wrapped it around my waist. Thus clad, I left my apartment in search of a phone. I walked to the next door in the complex and knocked.
No answer.
I walked to the next one.
No answer there either.
I tried the knob. Finding it unlocked, I walked inside and looked around. It looked worse than my place. It was littered with bottles of all kinds. Beer, whiskey, and wine bottles were strewn all around. Mixed in with these were cigarette butts, garbage from fast food restaurants, slips of paper with scrawled phone numbers, junk mail, Ed McMahon proclaiming that Edna Croush had won a bundle, and various other waste products of modern american life.
I tried to figure out which of the people I nodded at on the way to and from the laundry room and out in the parking lot was Edna Croush. I couldn't pick her out to save my life.
Soon enough I remembered that I had a mission here and abandoned my reverie. Locating a phone and phone book, I looked up Plumbers. All the pages from H though L were missing, but the P's were still there. I sat in an old bean-bag chair sending plumes of little styrofoam balls flying and dialed 'AAA Plumbing'.
"Hello, Earl here, what ya' need?", a gruff voice asked.
"Uh, yes, is this Triple A plumbing?", I asked the voice.
"Yeah it is, you got a job for us?"
"Well, yes I do, and it's kind of an emergency. You see, my toilet's busted and water's going everywhere. It's seeping into the rugs as we speak. Can you get a guy out here to do something about it?"
"Have you turned off the water?", he asked, like a baboon.
"What the hell do YOU think!? The pipes are busted! I can't turn off the fucking water!"
Dead silence on the other end of the phone.
"Hey look buddy, I'm sorry", I pleaded, "I'm having a bad morning, the toilet's busted and I need someone out here. Please Earl."
The guy finally agreed to get someone out to take a look at it for me. As we were straightening out the particulars, this woman of about maybe forty-five years came out of the bedroom.
She was naked and had what looked like dried puke on her big fleshy belly. She blearily stumbled into the kitchen and began to fiddle around with a bottle and a glass from what I could hear. I sat in silence, hoping that she'd not notice me and go back to her bedroom with the drink.
No such luck.
I hadn't hung up the phone. It started making a terrific noise. Apparently, Earl had hung up. I heard a glass drop in the kitchen and she came running out.
When she saw me there, she froze. She just stared all wide eyes and shivering flesh.
I took her in.
She was a big woman. Maybe two hundred fifty pounds. She tried to cover herself with her hands. She didn't have big enough hands to cover anything.
I gave myself a mental shake and tried to think of what I could do or say to not get arrested or shot as a result of all of this. I smiled up at her from the beanbag and opened my towel to expose my cock.
She looked at it as if she'd never seen one before and I guess it gave her a start because she flew into action. In one swift move she unfroze, ran into and then out of the kitchen, and threw an apple at me.
It hit me with surprising force right in the belly. I rolled out of the chair and across the garbage littered floor. I found the door under a hail of rotten fruit and smashing bottles.
Gripping my towel like a relay baton, I ran clumsily back to my apartment where I beheld the carnage. There was water in the living room submerging the carpet under about an inch of water. The kitchen was in a similar state. The bedroom, however, seemed to be holding up well until I noticed that all of my clothes had soaked up water and worse yet, the bed, which sits directly on the floor, had become entirely waterlogged.
Something had to be done.
I waded to the bathroom and opened the door on much deeper water. I sat in it and waited for it to pour out enough to see the pipes.
It did and I spotted the broken pipe. Just a big hole really. I stuck my thumb into the hole and the flow stopped, but the pressure was tremendous. I had to push constantly to keep it back. It kept spraying out on the sides of my thumb, catching me in the face, across the shoulders, everywhere.
I sat there filthy and naked hoping that Earl hadn't forgotten me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mardi Gras Music For the Head

Press Play ---->

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snack Tip

"When I go on long road trips, I get a great big bag of sunflower seeds in the shell. I get the salted ones, not the "flavored" ones that contain godknowswhat. This keeps me busy and awake and fuels me up all day long. I spit the shells on the floor of the looks like a canary cage at the end of the trip. I've also noticed that at the end of my trip I'm not hungry."

- anonymous foodie message board poster

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Thrilled It's Over

La ta da dada da da (singsong)
La ta da dada da

I never had the chance to tell you
You never gave me the time to say:

Baby I’m thrilled that it’s over
But I’m still glad we had our fun
And even though I still miss you
It’s like you said what’s dead is done

In my time of mighty sorrows
And as I hung upon my cross
I reached out because I needed
You turned your back and walked away

And so I never had the chance to tell you
You never gave me the time to say:

Baby I’m thrilled that it’s over
But I’m still glad we had our fun
And even though I still miss you
It’s like you said what’s gone is done

La ta da dada da da (singsong group chorus)
La ta da dada da

One more time!

La ta da dada da da (singsong group chorus)
La ta da dada da

(repeat & fade out)