Lust and lost loves in New Orleans, LA
[ fiction - november 09 ]
Louis Armstrong: "I don't care if I never see New Orleans again." 
I walked the two long blocks from my hotel to Canal, then turned right for the one short block to Bourbon Street. Coming up to the corner, I heard the brass band; I saw the dancing man. In his lithe, long and high yellow look, the dancer was Honi Coles; in his syncopated contortions, he was Geoffrey Holder. In every way possible, he was drunk as a skunk, a dead man dancing.
I kept him in sight. As he moved faster, so, too, did I. He turned left; I turned left. We were on Bourbon Street. He turned around, walking, not dancing, back toward Canal, for he had more people to gather behind his dancing self. He commenced to do so.
On the near sidewalk, the brass band played: an even dozen horn players, teenaged Black boys to very young Black men: trumpets and trombones, one tenor sax which rarely sounded, drums and tuba laying down rhythm. The sound was raw, cacophonous and wonderful. Within one minute, I was longing to see the band get down to marching, myself strutting right behind. Within two minutes, I was seriously thinking about getting down in the street, dancing right in front of them. I don't drink and haven't for 15 years, but at the moment I was thinking hard about commencing dry-drunk behavior.
Then, from nowhere right, the woman came on the scene. She was spilling out of a slight polyester jump suit, fluorescent chartreuse in color except where the fabric had faded to urine yellow in the bodice, in the other over her ass. She moved haltingly but well, a one-time working dancer, I figured, now a semi-pro playing the nursing home circuit. I was checking her out, counting her tattoos: four in all, each red and green and, in pink, stenciled 'US Navy' over a Shimura dragon. Right wrist and left ankle were wallet size, easily visible. On her right boob, she sported a biggie, and on her ass, both cheeks covered, half visible as she writhed, an even bigger one.
She was toothless.
Drawing on memories from my drinking, drugging days, I was figuring her for a whore. I was seeing her in early evening, stationed in front of this dive bar or that, and she a thing to avoid. Then (I continued to see) came the 4am bar closings, and she'd be at the ready, flashing her gums, herself the greatest blow jobber ever. I imagined myself walking from some dive bar in nowhere and, drenched in drink, inside and out. I'd be on the street now, seeing her through glazed eyes, and would conjure up someone young and beautiful; eyes wide shut, I'd proceed to consider the excellence of the gummed blow job on offer. Maybe I'd buy.
I returned to mind's eye present tense and looked again at her. She was moving in jerky bits and pieces, nowise artful, not the least bit graceful. She beckoned the boys in the band to join her. None did. She reached into a Ford Taurus station wagon parked not too far from where I stood, and she grabbed a toddler from within. (Her son? Her grandson?) The kid could not dance and shouted out that he did not want to. No matter: she tried to provoke him into dancing; then she gave up and returned him to the Taurus. Alone once more, she continued to do what she meant to be dancing, continued to beckon for a partner. By now, she was approaching too, too close to me; I saw the toothless mess she truly was. At the same time, entirely unbidden, from nowhere, again there came to my mind's eye the young woman she had been, sexy, gorgeous. Whatever I was seeing, I could see for sure that she saw herself as still young, still beautiful, world's very greatest piece of ass out there for highest price. I recoiled from her, and she moved back to center street, continuing to seek the johns of yesteryear. At last, a male joined her, a Korean-Japanese mix, outcast to New Orleans. He, too, was both toothless and skunk drunk, but he was even farther gone than she. He must battle simply to keep on. He did keep on, prompting her to near frenzy.
I saw her jiggling body hanging loose and loathsome. I saw her toothless smile, flashing rot.
Then, also out of nowhere and for no reason, again I saw her as she was seeing herself. This woman making so gross a spectacle of herself was seeing herself to be young, high and big breasted, her every tattoo tribute to some sailor man or other, to every man capable of purchasing an orgasm. She saw herself moving as if she were Cyd Charisse, each tattoo an invitation that a man like me could not resist. I knew that if the woman she was seeing were she in fact, moving before me, I'd empty my pockets for her. As if she knew my mind, she ratcheted up the pace of her writhing. In my mind's eye I moved inside her skull, experiencing her reverie. I am old enough in years that I find myself unwittingly hard rarely if at all. Nonetheless, I was now as erect as if I were a teenager on the verge of his first nocturnal emission. Marveling at my boner, I broke her spell on me. She was ugly and old, creakily moving, a mess. My boner beat a fastest possible retreat. I saw the half-caste Oriental, still her partner. At this point he moved and staggered, no possible pretense to dance. He puked, long and loud. He collapsed. The dancing woman took a breather and grabbed a can the brass band lads used for contributions. She moved around, seeking money. The boys had placed before themselves a larger can. I moved swiftly, keeping far from the old lady mess. Leaving $5 in the big can, I moved farther down Bourbon Street, hearing the band, intermittently reflecting on the piece of ass the lady once had been, mourning the dozens of fine, sluttish asses I'd had on offer in my youth through middle age and how my bourgeois self had accepted none.
I checked my watch. I was in New Orleans in the first place to meet up with Judge Macy, who, at age 55, had opted for Full Pension Retirement after 25 years of New York City service, returning to the Mississippi Delta of her childhood. Settled in now for six months, she'd been phoning me regularly, proclaiming she was living large. On the bench and off, Judge Macy Stephens brooked no tardiness. We were to meet at Le Club Jazz Hot and Cool, on Dauphine Street just past Esplanade Avenue in Faubourg Marigny. I had five minutes to walk five blocks.
I ran the first four, fast-walked the last.
Macy was sitting by the window. She waved. I joined her.
"Never late," she said, "always winded. How are you, Attorney Stone?"
"Could not be better, Judge, now I'm here upside your lovely assed self."
"You beside, Attorney, not upside."
She was stocky now, formidable, "handsome." 30 years ago - she just out of Harvard Law, Summa Cum, me five years from Yale, Bachelor of Laws, Dean's List in booze - she was something to behold: mahogany black, Caucasian features, built buxom, large and firm. Back then, we'd played slippy-dicky a couple of times. But she liked her men big, black and good for all night, and I was sickly white, one quick shot and out. We became friends. Right now, in her new hometown, New Orleans, we were friends reuniting.
After Katrina, the Orleans City Tourism Board devised 'SatchmoFest', to be held the first weekend in August. Macy knew I fiercely followed jazz, my latest thing being brass bands. She bade me come on down. "I got a singer for you, a real shouter. Afterwards, your brass bands." Now we were sitting and waiting for the singer. Propelled by two canes, a tall, fat black woman came on stage. No more obese than Etta James or Koko Taylor, but slow moving: she waddled.
I listened. The gal was one part shouter, one part soul chanteuse. She was really good. "And didn't I tell you," said Judge Macy.
I nodded. I smiled.
All the while I was staring to my right at this long, tall blonde, looked like Darryl Hannah but was half a foot taller. She was dressed in short shorts, halter top, highest heels, midriff bare, bosoms sparely but tightly contained. Her legs never ended, and her 'abs' were so firm, fine and rippling that they belonged in an 'Infomercial'. Macy noticed me staring. She said, "You still an old goat, Stoney."
I forced my gaze back to Macy. "I only have eyes for you," I said.
"You got your Old Man Hard-on; you got your own hotel room. You use it on that hussy, you want."
"I think she's a man."
"That no man."
"A transsexual then. All the girl parts move girly good. But you see those beads covering her neck? Has to be that whatever she is, she ain't taken the final step, still has the Adam's apple."
"Find out yourself, then. Be a man, he-man; caress that neck."
I was contemplating it, in the midst of which a short, tank-shirted, Danny Devito lookalike of a drunken man staggered over to her. He fell on her, flailing left and right. She resisted skillfully, forcing his hands off while still managing to stimulate the rising of his dick. Shorty and My Gal Darryl chatted a bit. She commenced to kissing him top to bottom. That was it for me (I thought).
I turned back to Macy. Before either of us got a word out, I felt arms caressing me. I looked right. It was Darryl. She loosened her grip and spoke low. "I saw you looking," she said. "I feel a mystical bond with you. May I kiss you?" She waited not at all. Her tongue was inside my mouth, then mine in hers. I do not like the French Kiss. She was proving fluent in it, and I was loving it.
It was I who pulled back. I simply had to check for an Adam's Apple. I sensed one through the beads, but she gave no further possible sighting. She took my hand, placed it on her flat, smooth belly, placed it on her smooth and never ending legs, left to right to left to right high up.
I still could not see through the beads. I dare not raise my hand farther up, and she was doing nothing to move it up. She said, "My name is Kimberley. What's yours?"
I told her.
She said, "I want more of you. All of you."
I reached to caress her neck, back to front. Instead she got her arms around me, staying my hands - I could not tell how - and she was all over me. I recalled how she'd maneuvered the little man drunk, realizing (believing I'd realized) she'd just done the same with me. "I want you," she said.
From nowhere to my mouth came the words I was whispering into her ear. "I'm a gentleman," I said, "too old to change." I nodded back toward Judge Macy. "You're the sexiest, most beautiful woman I've ever seen, but I've got to dance with the gal I came with."
I reached again for the beads. She grabbed my hand, led it to a tattoo on her shoulder, a bracelet saying "Property of the US Navy."
"I was in the Navy," she said. "You're sweet. Remember me."
There was no getting to see her neck, certainly no way to touch. I nodded left toward Macy.
My long tall gal returned to the Danny Devito lookalike drunk
As soon as she had moved beyond hearing, Judge Macy said, "You could have had that one. Might have cost, but you could have had."
"I couldn't tell was she male or female. I'm too old to get down to doing the dirty only to discover she's a he, and I got dick in my face."
The massive singer returned, better than before, meaning the words more and now playing a bit with the beat.
I listened to her, but my mind kept coming back to the creature I'd allowed to walk. Kimberley had not smelled, not her breath, not her tongue, not the inside of her mouth. True: she was the same girl who'd run off with a stunted drunk. Perhaps, she'd thought him the better mark and me no kind of mark at all - or maybe even, when giving it for free (as with me she would - free!), she did not deign to wait, and I'd fucked up a blessing of a fuck.
The fat lady had sung. Macy and I chatted a bit, then she told me she was tired and had to leave, would see me (she hoped) tomorrow or the next day. "Meantime," she said, "let go the blonde. Promise me you'll let it go." I promised and then sat there, giving Macy a good ten minutes to clear from sight. Immediately, then, I began looking for my long, tall Darryl Hannah. She was nowhere to be seen.
Next day I roamed through Cemeteries St Louis One and Two, $35 mugging money in my pocket, $200 for spending concealed in my shoe. Wandering in and around the cracked and fallen sepulchers, I kept getting shocks, of ghoulish deaths and dancing ghouls. Abruptly, I'd turn my eyes back to the now and here and see the St Louis Projects to my right, its many loiterers. Most chatted quietly. Some few black males seemed to have their eyes locked on me. In daylight (I was thinking), the expensively dressed white man (and I wore 100% Brooks Brothers) exudes an alert and watchful mind. For him, any city's cops, even New Orleans's, are on the ready to come round and protect.
Such considerations brought no ease. I continued to think back to the long-legged, ripple-bellied blonde, my Darryl Hannah lookalike more beautiful than the archetype. Then and there, were she there, I'd fuck her on a first available gravestone, never to leave or leave off for the fucking of her.
I returned to the hotel, took a swim in the rooftop pool, then put in twenty minutes in the exercise room, finally napping a bit. I was leaving sleep and closing in on wakefulness when Macy phoned. We chatted a bit. She said, "You sound tired. Rest. We'll catch up tomorrow."
I did not bother to tell her that I was only a bit foggy from sleep and not at all tired. Instead, I let things ride; I knew what I'd do: Look for the blond, that is. I returned to Bourbon Street.
There was nothing. I saw teenaged strollers in G-strings and titty pasties, and I saw their older sisters, equally undressed, also on the stroll. I walked on.
The same club where I'd seen my Darryl now featured a two-bit jump band more suited to a 10th rate high school prom. I left the club. I spotted and entered the she-male stripper joint next door. An old guy, maybe my age but seemingly decades older, beckoned me to sit beside him. I begged off, checking the near-naked bodies on stage, each writhing in throes of boredom. There were five in all, one blond, none Caucasian. Their tits added up to three sets of softballs, two sets of cantoloupes. They wore panty-sized bikini bottoms, tightly wrapped. The hostess, old, ugly and all too female, asked, "See anything you like?"
I walked further up Bourbon Street. A fat man, maybe 400 pounds, was sitting and singing. I'd heard and seen him the night before; he'd stunk out the club. Tonight he was equally awful, but he no longer had solely guitar and drums accompanying. I heard a harmonica, good enough that it forced me to stop and listen, and, listening, I heard what seemed the second coming of Little Milton, but more fluent than he, more frantic in flights of fancy. I went inside and saw a little Japanese girl playing mouth harp. I sat down at a small table, midway back, paid my dues with a $5 Diet Coke, and I listened.
The girl could not be stopped. The musicians who, the night before, had shown no signs of giving a shit, were jamming now, playing close to Free Jazz Texas Style.
They all retained enthusiasm for an hour (maybe more). But they were old; the gal young; everyone ran out of steam except for her. So they quit playing. They talked of her among themselves, the fat man adding his take. She'd wandered in off the street, spoke maybe ten words of English, raised her instrument, and, unasked, she'd played. There was no stopping her, and no one wanting to.
She was packing up, one large duffle bag with wheels, filled close to bursting, one regulation sized handbag for the mouth harp. Playing her instrument, she appeared beautiful. Close up, she was pretty. I spoke to her. "Lovely," I said.
She said, "Thank you very much." somehow getting across that she'd been in New Orleans for thirty days and meant to stay forever.
"I wish you well," I said. "I mean it."
She bowed, sounding equivalents to "Thank you."
I left the club, walked a little further, then turned right. After three blocks, I heard silence only. I was behind the Cathedral of Saint Louis; I walked to its front. There was a promenade, some dozen souls in it, half of them telling fortunes, the other half taking maryjane spiffs and, now and then, guitar riffs. I went past one forlorn little girl who offered to read the Tarot Cards, "Five dollars only."
"I'll give you the $5 not to read them." I proffered the bill, and she took it. I asked her what was a kid like her doing here now, and she responded that she was no "kid," was 26, the mother of four (all of them adopted by her aunt and uncle). She was there to earn a living (she said) and she did, $100 a day on average.
"You're in a better business than I am."
She giggled just a bit. She said, "That's my old man over there." She pointed out a lanky male figure, covered in fluorescent silver paint. "This is his first day as a mime."
"I saw him," I said. "I've spent time in Barcelona; I hate mimes. Can he keep the stillness?"
"Yessir. He's practiced." She returned to her cards, and I turned from her, walking back the way I'd come, this time skirting the mime. Close up, he looked to be in as good enough shape as he'd appeared to be from afar.
I walked on, and a couple of benches later I saw her, another blond. She looked lean, hard and, from a distance, more than a little desirable. I came close to her. At first sight, she gave off the look of a fitness trainer, at next of a Speed Phreak. I sat down next to her. "Good evening," I said,
Her eyes were glazed. Sleeplessness or drugs or booze (I could not tell). She had a large pimple (more a boil) on her left cheek. All my life I've fallen into fits of nostalgie pour la boue. Her midriff was bare, not particularly on display as was last night's lanky blond's but even more tightly muscled than hers. I wanted very much to run my hand over body. I asked her, "What's your story."
She told me: another mother with children given away. (I could not tell was it two kids or four; I'm not sure she could either.) Hers were grown and on their own. I looked closely again. Her teeth were white and perfect, therefore no Speed Phreak she. I asked, "Why are you here?"
"My old man's locked me out. I go back; he'll rave and rant. It's a nice night. Best I stay here." She said, "I'm Ann (no ‘e') - Mary Jo Anne (with the ‘e,'), but I answer only to ‘Ann.'"
"Ron," I said. "If you want: ‘Ronald.'"
"Pleased to meet you."
Her hand still rested in mine. I drew her story from her. She was a child of the streets, no father in the household, put out early by her mother - at age 14 going on 40 - ever since "dependent on the kindness of strangers."
"Nicely put," I said. "Your words?"
She took her hand back. "Come on, Mister, you know they're Tennessee Williams's."
I laughed. "I condescended," I said. "I apologize." This provoked more of her story.
Her old man was a disabled Vietnam Vet, his pension apparently large enough to support both a major drinking habit and herself. They fought a lot; that very night they'd fought. "Does he hit you?"
"He can't. The drink, the wounds: he can barely move. He locks me out is what he does."
"You're a battered woman even so," I said.
"And don't I know it," she said. "I've had worse, though, lots worse. I get me a job, things'll be better." We were talking on a Friday night. "Monday I've a job interview. Clerical."
I asked did she have shelter, did she have clothes, did she have a place to make herself up. I offered to provide, "any and all."
She said, "I make do. I'll make do. But thanks, Mister."
"Thank you, Ron."
I returned to thinking about feeling her over and up, wondering how tight she'd be down below (what with the four kids and what had to be too many forcible penetrations. She was purely female; I had no doubts.) I asked her, "Do you need money? I could give you money. Something extra so you can come in rested and nicely dressed on Monday morning."
I was speaking caritas but feeling only lust. She said, "No, thanks, Mister - Ron - I'm okay."
Now compassion mixed in with my lust. "You'll be fine." I told her.
"And you?" she responded. "Seems to me you're so nervous, you're well into anxiety."
"You know?" I asked. "How come you know?"
"Like knows like," she said.
Enough became more than enough, for I tear up easily enough. "I'll be going, then. I wish you luck." About to leave, I felt the need to do something. I gave her my lawyer's card. "You take this," I said. "It's got my cell phone number on it. You need me, you call - any time, day or night."
"You a lawyer," she said, "a lady can't never know when she needs a lawyer. Thank you Mister. Ronald J Stone, Attorney; thank you."
She looked finer than fine, finer than that Olympics swimmer, same age, with the washboard abs, her photo with her wearing the slight spandex bikini, certainly far finer now than last night's Darryl Hannah lookalike. I felt like grabbing her, bringing her back to my hotel room, doing her while so fiercely driven I wouldn't even need my Viagra. "You're a good man," she said. "It's a kindness goes around, comes around." She smiled, gave my hand a slight touch. I could have jumped her then and there. But I was suddenly too, too taken with her. I was seeing some quick coital happening. I saw myself staying around through the Monday interview and then, whatever the outcome, staying on. I'd help her break free of the man who locks her out. I'd keep her with me, safe for always.
Needless to say, I'd also fuck, if not her, my own brains out.
Quickly enough, I'd tire of her. What had been her Delta of Venus would become the Gates of Hell - through which, also quickly enough, all the world's Viagra would buy no entry.
With that, this time I not only commenced to leave, I did leave.
"Goodbye, Mister, be well."
"My Mister Mister. I think I'll fall to sleep now."
I looked back. Indeed, she was asleep
All that night I dreamed of working over Kimberley then falling onto and working over Ann. Sometimes the workouts were bliss. Other times, after doing Ann, I'd roll back over to take more of Kimberley; this second time around, she showed a massive dick.
Naturally, what with the latter twice-arounds, I forced myself awake. I worked to, and quickly did, calm myself. I returned to sleep and, most times, the girls were fine; the dream was finest. Then, the one time, the last, dawn outside, unprovoked and beyond consciousness I launched a break-of-day emission; I spurted my very own Fountain of Youth. It was a joyful thing to do and then, to have done. Spent, I went to the roof, exercising vigorously on the elliptical then cooling off in the swimming pool, letting the sun dry me. Finally, burning a bit and with the sun screen back in the room, I departed for the grand lobby-level dining room, bolting down its buffet breakfast.
Ten o'clock came soon enough (what used to be her Court time and still was mine). I could, and did phone Judge Macy. She said, "I'm glad you called. We..."
I cut her off, telling my tale of two women. She kept silence throughout. Came my pause, she said, "You get that Ann Gal's number, how to contact her."
"Oh, shit, I didn't. What can I do. When will I see you?"
"Can't tell you now and never could. Anyhow: I've taken ill; the flu, I think. We'll have to let things pass lest you catch it. We'll see each other next in New York City, Stoney Man."
She fell into a coughing fit, so real I believed her to be faking. She forced out, "Until then." I was looking to keep her on the line, but she'd hung up.
That day and the next, I phoned. A woman answered, her voice old and of New Orleans. First time, this woman said, "I the maid, Mr Stone; she say to tell you she too sick even to take the phone, but she be all right, to tell you she be all right." The second time this woman said, "Same as before, sir, same as before."
That day I went to SatchmoFest. It was okay. That night I made my rounds, looking for both my blonds, finding no one. During the day I slept through SatchmoFest. At night, I resumed my search, again to no results - and none the third night either. At no time did I phone Macy. The following morning, I returned to Manhattan. I had no woman to come home to, and still don't. Now and then, over the next three years, Judge Macy and I talked on the phone, pleasantries only, perhaps, but pleasurable certainly. I was glad to hear her voice. I have always been okay with no woman beside me when I wake up in the morning. I was never okay with hearing so little from Miss Macy Judge.
In the end, months passed. The time came that I was about to call her one day or the next. I received the phone call before I did that, the maid again. "Miss Macy dead; she'd told me call. You in the will; she be buried in New York City, then the reading of the will. You'll be called, be advised."
I went to the funeral. As far as I knew, Macy had been Roman Catholic up to her day of death. The funeral was Anglican, held at the Cathedral of St John. The service was spare and wholly Anglican. Mourners overflowed the vast interior. They stayed no longer than proprieties dictated. I followed Macy's corpse to the cemetery. This time both an RC and an Episcopal priest attended. There were about fifty of us bystanding. Soon enough Macy was buried.
The reading of the will followed within two days, held at a known law firm in midtown. In attendance were more loved ones than I (and, I am certain, Macy) knew to exist. Few were beneficiaries of anything beyond the company of the others. I, however - "Ron Stone, attorney, my most loving and most loathsome of friends" - took $50,000 under the Will.
I am glad to have gotten it. The money draws a good return, and I can use the income.
I miss Macy.
I've come to know that in the four years between New Orleans and her death, she came yearly to New York City. Never once did she contact me; as far as I can make out, she didn't even try. The money does not recompense; I can't get past the mystery of Judge Macy's silence, her withdrawal from me.
I rarely recall my Darryl Hannah look alike. Whereas I think often of Ann (No "E"). But, of course, I don't have her phone number. Although I have googled the name in all its forms, have even put a top search firm on her case, I've learned nothing: no phone number, nothing. Macy is dead, hers the silence of the dead. Ann must be alive. For sure, she would recognize the clinical anxiety behind my depression. She'd rid me of fear and sadness both.
Shrinks and Meds do nothing; they never will. I miss what I do not know beyond the lack of them: I long for the things I have not done and do not possess, will never do and never possess .