Contraband Bayou (Burning Man 13)

He heard the raucous bird cackling loudly nearby. He opened his eye to see the gathering light. The air was misty, there was a light fog obscuring the dawn. He looked over to one side and his breath caught in his throat. A gator laid not 4 feet away. This was quite a specimen, at least ten feet if not thirteen. Its’ enormous head was as large as Roy’s entire upper body. The black eye stared emptily. In fact the eye did not seem to focus on him at all but right through him. He turned to his right and instinctively reached for his pistol. It wasn’t there, he’d left it at home. Shit, he thought to himself, he had to pick today to play superman. He picked up his boot just to be sure. Right behind the boot lay a cottonmouth. Fucking lucky day! Roy thought. Same empty eye, devoid of sense, at least sense that he could understand. He breathed very slowly and put the boot down. As if on cue the serpent silently slithered into the black water. He turned to the other side to check on his other bed mate. The gator was gone. Not a sound, or even a ripple in the swamp. All he could hear was birds, the harbingers of the new day, denizens of Contraband Bayou. If he hadn’t seen the creatures he never would have known they were there.

Roy had spent the last two weeks recuperating at the house where he lived with his aging Mother. He had spent the days drinking voluminous amounts of beer and shooting cans in the backyard. He had wondered about the strange medallion that had come into his possession. It had a timeless quality to it. It somehow seemed familiar. When he asked his Mother about it she said maybe it was from Lafitte’s treasure. She said it must have floated up to him on the log somehow. Maybe a storm had dislodged it from its’ resting place. He wished his Father was still alive. His Father had always claimed he was Lafitte’s descendant. Roy figured it was his Father’s way of coping with his own origin after finding out he’d been adopted. He could never prove his relation to Lafitte but he loved to bring it up after a few drinks. That’s why Roy’s middle name was Jean. It was a reminder of his Father’s supposed heritage. It had brought him here to the Bayou. The legend was there was still treasure here. For Roy it was a spirit quest. He needed answers. He still couldn’t believe he was the only survivor of the rig explosion.

He reached for his pack and retrieved a can of sardines. Food always tasted better when camping. Roy was so hungry it might as well have been brunch at the Hyatt Regency. Yes Mr. Gillespie would you care for another Mimosa? No thanks, this water is fine. Taking a long drink he stood and rubbed his beard. He wrapped up his bed roll and groundcloth. He sat on the roll, laced up his boots then packed up. He looked around for any trace that either he or his bedmates had been there. There was gator tracks in the soft mud. The prints were as long as his boot. The snake had left no discernible  trace. Satisfied his site was clear he trekked off.

He threw open the door of his pickup as he tossed his pack inside the cab. He was thinking about his Father Claude. He thought it was interesting his father had a French name. Roy had looked into the Lafitte connection many times. It was certainly curious that no one could actually pin down where he had died or been buried. The legend that sparked his curiosity the most was one involving Lafitte’s wife. It was said that she was Haitian, part black and a voodoo priestess. That would explain his darker complexion. It was said that Jean Lafitte had divine protection, he had not died in a sea battle but had lived out his life and raised a family in the Caribbean. Roy wanted to believe this, he really did. This was the story that his Father would have liked. Roy suddenly knew where he needed to go, New Orleans.

Madame Jubal went to the front of her shop and arranged the books in the window. Something was brewing today, she knew it. The clock on the wall chimed nine times. It was rare that she was up and about so early. The sunlight caught the steam rising from her tea as she stirred it with a cinnamon stick. “Lafitte we gettin’ company today,” the parrot blinked. “Company today,” he echoed, “company today”.

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