Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Levee Girl Went for a Walk. . . . .

. . . . . .and she listened. Like a Robert Altman film with dialogue over dialogue, the statements heard stayed in her head. She liked to walk. Liked to look at the Mississippi River. Liked to reminisce about the "old days" before Katrina bit the city she loved.

The Levee Girl had a Levee Guy who had stuck with her through thick and thin for many years. They would get off work in the Quarter and meet up for what Levee Guy called a "big red drink." It was delivered by a pretty young bartender who became their friend. Once when Levee Girl had too many of the big red drinks, the pretty young bartender had crawled under the locked bathroom stall door to get the reeling woman out to the car that Levee Guy had parked illegally on Bourbon Street to haul her sorry ass home.

Most weekend nights, though, the two LG's would just wander around the Quarter, going wherever their ears took them. In love with music, they'd go from a zydeco symphony to a blues buffet and finish up with an R&B blast, closing the club and calling the cabbie they had on speed dial to get them across the bridge. There they would drag their bicycles out of the cab's trunk, then stagger around the block walking the dog before they fell into bed with a song playing in their heads. In the morning, Levee Guy would do his rendition of his favorite piece of the night before with his tousled hair and sometimes bleary eyes accompanying his grin as he headed for the shower.

Now, seven months later, Levee Girl decided to do some walking. She walked into a local bar. There she saw an older man, very red faced and very drunk, grab a young skinny also drunk punk roofer by the shirt. Cocking his fist and aiming it for the younger man's face, he shouted, "Don't you EVER say that about New Orleans!" Like chimpanzees, the males in the bar had some secret agreement to which she wasn't privy. They formed groups around each of the fighters, and one in each group was designated to be the negotiator. No words had been spoken for Levee Girl to hear as they clustered around the two fighting men but they were separated and the fighting stopped. The rest of the men returned to their stools and the muffled sound of bar conversation was all she could hear over the jukebox.

Later she walked home and Levee Guy was waiting on the porch with a disgusted look on his face. He had overheard their proud-to-be-a-racist-white-cracker neighbor hollering on his cell phone as he was wont to do. Believing himself to be a combination of Bill Graham and George Patton, he had recently gotten involved with another local bar. This bar was often frequented by what some people would call ne'er-do-wells and it was assumed that a lot of substances other than whiskey had changed hands within its walls. It had a reputation, that much was certain. Levee Girl listened as Levee Guy recounted the overheard conversation. Graham/Patton was evidently having a problem with some kind of permit, and ever the opportunist, he hollered into his cell phone that he should "go to the papers and say that the only reason they're giving us a hard time is because we're a place where African Americans come to relax." Levee Girl knew that this man wouldn't normally have used THAT term, and just shook her head. Dollars were the only thing this guy really cared about. Sometimes she didn't want to listen to another thing.

Just then her cell phone rang. She listened as the pretty young bartender said, "I'll be home by Easter! I can't wait!" And Levee Girl rejoiced, knowing that some things would sound the same again, like the pretty young bartender's voice over the din.

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