Thunderstruck (Burning Man 15)

The road rose up and quickly receded in the growing heat as Roy ate it up on his way to Madame Jubal’s shop. He’d been there before with his Uncle after his Father had died. He didn’t remember much except the smell of sandalwood incense, a large parrot and a cornucopia of antiques and curios. His Uncle’s cigar would trigger the memories every once in a while. Like the smell of an outboard motor out on the bayou. The smell of home and childhood. He fiddled with the radio as he rolled on to kill some time.

Boom, Thunderstruck by AC/DC blasted away. He turned it up. It took him back to Desert Storm. He had a vision he was in a Hummer racing across the desert. The .50 caliber machine gun roared as the song blended into the chaos. He saw himself in the Hummer but he wasn’t human. He had transformed into a reptile, a fourteen foot alligator. His helmet was huge and scaley. He felt very protective of his unit. His sense of fealty was overwhelming.

He raced past a state cop in a ditch. The sight snapped him out of his trance. The speedometer read ninety five. The cop looked up at his radar gun, shook it as it beeped, then dozed back off pulling the brim of his hat down over his eyes. For the next ten miles Roy looked in his rear view mirror. The moment was over, Roy got a shiver. He had dreamed of the gator before. In his dreams the gator had the eye of the sun. A circle with a dot in the center. He had no idea what it meant.  It was another question for Madame Jubal, what the hell who else could he ask? Most people would think he was crazy. He reached up and felt for the opal. It felt cold inside his fingers.

He was nearing the exit for the shop. He turned off the radio. He was looking around at the familiar sights. Not far now. He slowed down to a crawl and looked over at the shop. He nearly crashed the truck. The man from the gas station stood in front of the shop. He had a cane and a cigar. He was staring right at Ray. He beckoned with his hand, seeming to say welcome. Ray stepped down and gingerly closed the truck door. The stranger walked right into the shop tipping his hat as he went in. Ray began to hurry across the road, hoping to confirm it was the same man. He heard a noise from over on the corner, a crashing of a garbage can stole his eyes for a moment. When he looked back a stray cat ran around the corner of the building.

Ray threw open the door. Madame Jubal jumped out of her chair as the bells on the door swayed.

“Here now son,” she plead, “Don’t go stormin’ about like dat!”

“Did you see him? The man in black?”

“Son ain’t nobody here but me and dis here parrot Lafitte. Maybe some spirits but I can’t count on dem.”

Roy stood in silence. Madame Jubal could see was he was confused. Roy suddenly became apologetic. The familiar smell of the sandalwood incense brought him back to earth. He looked down at the table with the tarot deck. The image of the fool looked back at him.

“Sorry to freak you out like that, I swear I saw someone come in here!”

“Well me and Lafitte been expectin’ someone. Might be you I expect. Why don’t you sit down here and catch your breath. I have some tea to calm your self down some.”

“Okay. Thank you.” Roy sat down and looked around. Everything was familiar suddenly. It was all as it should be, everything in order. He clutched at the opaline talisman. It was warm. He looked down at the tarot cards again. The card he had seen before had changed. The magician was now in its place. it was a picture of the very same man, a buffoon, in very different circumstances.

“The Prince in his own bed

Going vulture culture

Walking with the Queen

To a Hoodoo Dream”— ‘The Loop Garou’ by Dr. John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Getting Hot In Here

The phone rang in the Georgetown brownstone. It was the old style ring, the Speaker preferred it to the modern whirring buzzing. Only this night the sound was not welcome at all. He stood up and walked across the creaking boards of the old plank floor. He picked up the receiver and as he did he refilled his glass of scotch from the decanter on the table beside the phone.

“Hello” he said in a ragged scornful voice worn thin from years of blubbering on the house floor and smoking. “It’s late”, he protested in a defeated way.

He listened intently to the voice at the other end. His demeanor dropped. Reaching in his robe pocket he produced a pack of parliament cigarettes. His zippo lighter lit a dirty flame as he inhaled deeply.

“Well they haven’t’ gotten me yet” he said chuckling but his chuckle turned into a hard cough.

“What’s this all about?”

He pressed the receiver into his ear as if he was talking to someone far away. As he listened his face became flushed. He put the cigarette down in a ridiculous floorstand ashtray that looked out of the nineteen twenties. It was in fact an antique from the decade before the great crash. He creaked again to the scotch on the table. The phone was a land line which he had always believed were more secure. While he avoided stepping on the cord his face became engorged with blood and with his spray tan his face became a hideous shade of burnt sienna.

“How did you get this number?”

Miles away in a plantation house the Baron sat in a wicker chair smiling obscenely as he spoke softly to the Speaker of the House. His voice resonated musically above the sounds of the night time tropical forest. He twirled a fine cigar in his fingers. Seated next to him at the table on the veranda sat a beautiful woman with a tarot deck. Carefully she placed a card in front of the Baron. It was the image of the Fool. The Baron smiled and winked at Solitaire. Pouring himself some rum he continued to speak into the antique phone made of bakelite. The candles flickered on the table casting an eerie light on his skeletal features. Even Solitaire could not make out what he was saying. To her his voice was like the ethereal music of the night.

The Speaker looked like he was going to pass out. “No I wont pay the piper whoever you are!” Now he was shouting. “Stop with that stupid mumbo jumbo.” A Secret service agent appeared at the door to the parlor. He shook his head at the dark suited man and waved him away with a dismissive gesture. The Speaker slammed the phone down in irritation. “Just a Goddamned looney tune Bobby. Pay no attention. Don’t know how he got my Goddamned number!”

image

The Baron silently replaced the receiver down and hung up. With careful precision he extinguished his cigar on the face of the Fool card and nodded, smiling at Solitaire. She drew another card from the deck and as she did a tropical sea breeze caused the wind chime to play a dolorous song. The card was the Magician. The Baron held up his crystal glass to the candle. The flames grew.

The Speaker now collapsed into his chair. He was muttering to himself. He reached up to loosen his collar. Wiping his face with a handkerchief he was shaking his head. He wondered how he had suddenly gotten a fever. He felt faint. He was drained. Drifting off he snored the troubled snore of a man who owed too much.

In New Orleans that night Madame Jubal sat in her shop. The candles before her flickered and even crackled. “The Baron stirs tonight” she said. The clock on the wall chimed three times.

“Any fool can condemn criticize and complain – and most fools do.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory” — Bruce Lee

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

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”.

It’s Getting Hot In Here

The phone rang in the Georgetown brownstone. It was the old style ring, the Speaker preferred it to the modern whirring buzzing. Only this night the sound was not welcome at all. He stood up and walked across the creaking boards of the old plank floor. He picked up the receiver and as he did he refilled his glass of scotch from the decanter on the table beside the phone.

“Hello” he said in a ragged scornful voice worn thin from years of blubbering on the house floor and smoking. “It’s late”, he protested in a defeated way.

He listened intently to the voice at the other end. His demeanor dropped. Reaching in his robe pocket he produced a pack of parliament cigarettes. His zippo lighter lit a dirty flame as he inhaled deeply.

“Well they haven’t’ gotten me yet” he said chuckling but his chuckle turned into a hard cough.

“What’s this all about?”

He pressed the receiver into his ear as if he was talking to someone far away. As he listened his face became flushed. He put the cigarette down in a ridiculous floorstand ashtray that looked out of the nineteen twenties. It was in fact an antique from the decade before the great crash. He creaked again to the scotch on the table. The phone was a land line which he had always believed were more secure. While he avoided stepping on the cord his face became engorged with blood and with his spray tan his face became a hideous shade of burnt sienna.

“How did you get this number?”

Miles away in a plantation house the Baron sat in a wicker chair smiling obscenely as he spoke softly to the Speaker of the House. His voice resonated musically above the sounds of the night time tropical forest. He twirled a fine cigar in his fingers. Seated next to him at the table on the veranda sat a beautiful woman with a tarot deck. Carefully she placed a card in front of the Baron. It was the image of the Fool. The Baron smiled and winked at Solitaire. Pouring himself some rum he continued to speak into the antique phone made of bakelite. The candles flickered on the table casting an eerie light on his skeletal features. Even Solitaire could not make out what he was saying. To her his voice was like the ethereal music of the night.

The Speaker looked like he was going to pass out. “No I wont pay the piper whoever you are!” Now he was shouting. “Stop with that stupid mumbo jumbo.” A Secret service agent appeared at the door to the parlor. He shook his head at the dark suited man and waved him away with a dismissive gesture. The Speaker slammed the phone down in irritation. “Just a Goddamned looney tune Bobby. Pay no attention. Don’t know how he got my Goddamned number!”

image

The Baron silently replaced the receiver down and hung up. With careful precision he extinguished his cigar on the face of the Fool card and nodded, smiling at Solitaire. She drew another card from the deck and as she did a tropical sea breeze caused the wind chime to play a dolorous song. The card was the Magician. The Baron held up his crystal glass to the candle. The flames grew.

The Speaker now collapsed into his chair. He was muttering to himself. He reached up to loosen his collar. Wiping his face with a handkerchief he was shaking his head. He wondered how he had suddenly gotten a fever. He felt faint. He was drained. Drifting off he snored the troubled snore of a man who owed too much.

In New Orleans that night Madame Jubal sat in her shop. The candles before her flickered and even crackled. “The Baron stirs tonight” she said. The clock on the wall chimed three times.

“Any fool can condemn criticize and complain – and most fools do.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory” — Bruce Lee

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween