It was late Tuesday night and I slumped drunkenly on the sidewalk. My feet rebelled carrying me further. Blisters grew and bruises spread there was no longer solace in the insoles. The lot of us marched for miles navigating the netherwordly nighttime streets of the Haunted New Orleans Pub Crawl. Flat feet, three dollar thrift-store buckle shoes, and four dollar pitchers of PBR at every port left this poor pirate lass wishing for the quiet comfort of a little campsite in the bayou. But this beaten band of brigands wasn’t going anywhere.
Larry Sparrow, the infamous Cincinnati Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator, my long-time best mate and drinking partner the fearsome Captain Mad Anne Dandy and I Bloody Lynne Flynnt were just three brave souls striking out against The Big Easy. The Crescent City. A pirate convention, nay two pirate conventions, converged in New Orleans that year and fleets of professional pirates, enthusiasts, and reckless adventurers such as myself flocked from all over. This was shore leave.
The brochure admonished us it was a tour first and a pub crawl second. I don’t remember exactly when I stopped heeding the warning. There were only grim recollections of the tour itself. Bobbing to the tawdry tales of murder, suicide attempts gone horribly awry, slow painful public executions and brutal beheadings. Completely and utterly enthralled by our handsome and swarthy navigator. Enamored with Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which was actually was The Gentleman Pirate Blacksmith Shop. We rollicked with The Pirates Charles, as they paraded and serenaded us through the streets the darkened alleyways while we were swept up a sudden fierce thunderstorm. The last two or four taverns we ventured into I had done so slinging my buckle shoes over my shoulder. Carelessly plodding through the puddles in my red and white striped stockings down the filthy soaked pavement of Bourbon Street.
At the end of our intriguing and intoxicating tour, we hitched a ride back to our vehicle. Our journey took a quick turn for the worse. The wheel-man was a greasy drifter that could have been part of our group, but at that point everyone looked a like pirate. There were quite a few of us packed tight in his backseat. He stopped suddenly as a flock of frat boys crossed in front with no regard for traffic signals. As he slammed on the brakes, the car thumped, thudded and died right there in the middle of the intersection. We didn’t hit any of those damnable jocks but what had befallen us was bad enough. “Transmission,” our strange wheel-man glumly said. We got out and pulled the dead vessel to the side of the road to let the traffic pass. He called a tow truck, delved deep into his trunk, and pulled out a bottle. The label read Diesel and it looked down-right flammable. The one hundred and ninety something proof Everclear meant this guy was serious.
I was vaguely aware of how my compatriots regarded me from my post on the sidewalk in my inebriated state. I very well could be Bully in the Alley. “I’m fine,” I grumbled, thankful it was no longer The Golden Age of Piracy. Luckily, I had such a compassionate and likewise marooned crew who wouldn’t just leave a drunken pirate alone in an alley to maybe pick up later. “I would be better if I could walk” I whined, cringed, and forced the Diesel down my gullet when it was my turn. Instead, I gagged and spit it out on the sidewalk. Just when I felt at my most pathetic, two men teetered toward me at the crosswalk. One of them reached into his pocket. “Here” he said suavely as he approached, “five for the right and five for the left,” and stuffed a bill down my cleavage as he passed. I looked down to see the ten poking out from between my breasts, which were practically bursting from my bodice. There I was, slumped on a sidewalk in the middle of the night in New Orleans. A hot mess, or perhaps just a mess. There was nothing new with the scenery; this town had seen millions like me. But when things looked their grimmest, I found an unexpected reward. “Hey guys! I just got some money!” I exclaimed, sat up a little straighter and adjusted myself with purpose.
There was no question where the money was going to go, new stockings. My current pair was sopping wet and coated with the black grime consisting of piss, spit, spilt drinks and the bile of tens of thousands of raging nighttime tourists. They would have to be quarantined the rest of our excursion or tossed away in the nearest receptacle. Naturally, I couldn’t part with them. I washed the Bourbon Street stockings when I finally returned home ten days later, throwing them in with the mound of other moldering pirate clothes. I still wear them years later especially when times get rough. Sometimes, I wear them for weeks on end.