Waking up in the Lower Ninth Ward had a certain ring to it, like walking up in a wing of a sanitarium. Instead of a padded cell, it was a poorly padded mattress of our hosts’ fold out couch. After Wednesday night’s developments, I deserved to be put away. Leaning on my elbows, I had a quiet look around our current encampment. My mates still sleeping soundly next to me snoring. The previous day was a big day and as a result I may have gotten a little carried away.
The package arrived just before we did at the pub. The box had a ridiculous amount of stamps and was smaller than expected, not that I expected much. A few copies of a book, one that I co-authored.
“You know what I’m going to do?” I said with great determination, I’d been thinking about this moment for a very long time. “I’m gunna bite it.”
“What?” my mates said incredulously.
“I’m gunna bite my book to see if it’s real…” Unable to wait a moment longer I opened my mouth and bit down on the paperback cover, feeling it give under my teeth. What I had in my maw was four hundred and sixty eight pages a project five years in the making and it was real alright. I couldn’t think of a better reveal than in New Orleans.
“How’s it taste?” Larry Sparrow asked.
“Like a book,” I said, nicely stacking my copies neatly on the vending table. “How’d you think it’d taste, like steak? It tastes like validation.” It tasted like destiny and I hoped the book was one of many. For a while I buckled down, lived like a nun and worked like a dog and now had something to show for it. I was told I had to grow up live in the real world get a job that had benefits, insurance and a 401k. I was an author now, not squandering my young adult years. Blowing smoke up my arse with delusional dreams of grandeur and notoriety. The excursion this was not only a vending venture, it was a cause for celebration. For the rest of the week, this notion sent our crew reeling off into the deep end. It resulted in complete collapse in moral structure and responsibility. That night at the pub, I went as far as writing TIPS on my chest in eyeliner with an arrow pointing downward toward my cleavage. If it worked Tuesday night on Bourbon Street… I was a pirate and I didn’t give a damn. The lot of us even held up a Burger King drive-thru at pistol point. Many other transgressions transpired. As the night drew on our crew grew far too loaded to venture back to the bayou so the proprietor of this particular pirate festival was graciously took us in to pass the night in her abode. “With two cons converging like this, it’s is like a game of survival…” Someone said at some point. I took it to heart and perhaps a little too seriously.