Saturday morning there was no wind left. Sixes and Sevenses, my mind and body set adrift in a still unmoving sea. It was a wonder I made it back to the RV. I woke up after a lucid dream of sleeping on the sidewalk in front of a bar. “I think I actually slept last night.” I remarked, not that it was doing me any good. It was rough.
“I didn’t” Kamikaze grumbled. “You were snoring.” Our stowaway was still there.
“I don’t normally snore.”
“You do when you’re drunk.” MAD had to agree since I spent many nights passed out on the longboat of the flagship of the Curvy Dogs. That couch was like my third home in my second home.
“I have to go to work.” Kamikaze said.
“You mean the stripper café?” In the sparse words we exchanged around the time I was planning to sacrifice her, I recalled the strip cub she worked at happened to have the same name of a diner we ate breakfast at early Wednesday morning. If ever there was town that a stripper/café could call home it would be New Orleans. A nutritious breakfast, complete with scrambled eggs, hotcakes and a lap dance. Larry Sparrow obliged to drive her while MAD and I prepared to face the day’s obligation of vending. We raided the RV for our belongings but found it impossible. The place was trashed. When our Jack Sparrow impersonator returned we departed leaving behind our sleeping host. While we closed the door behind us, I pocketed a couple dollar bills that scattered in the doorway, feeling I would need those later.
As it turned out in our absence, we only made five dollars at our booth. For most of the morning I was barefoot and still in my pajamas. My feet were too swollen for the pair of accursed shoes and I lacked the mental capacity to find any decent pirate clothes. I wasn’t hung-over just utterly brain dead. A garish bruise the size of my foot blackened the length of my thigh; a sheen of saliva grew sticky in my cleavage. Something was growing on the corner of my lips, which luckily turned out to be a pimple considering the fact that according to MAD I treated last night’s pirating expedition as if it was Fleet Week. I was motor-boated by everyone. We crashed the Dead Pirate Ball. I vaguely remember getting us kicked out of the RV hot tub at the end of the night and MAD griping about having to be everyone’s handler. At one point, Larry Sparrow even went missing. My current condition was very different from last night’s revelry; the godless town had chewed me up and shat me out. I looked like it and probably smelled like it too. When asked how I was faring, all I could muster was a weak deflating noise for there was not even enough wind left to properly sigh.
The mood shifted among our immediate crew. Despite the sun, dark clouds gathered overhead heralding a storm. I clung to the shadows of upstairs deck avoiding the blistering heat as Larry Sparrow and I stepped outside for a cigarette break. “I can’t believe I had to hear it from her. Who is that Kamikaze bitch anyway?” Apparently, en-route to the strip club she let Larry Sparrow know all the dirty details of a drunken discussion that she had with MAD after I passed out. I could tell he had been stewing all afternoon on it like salt rubbed into a wound. He looked great though, dressed immaculately as Jack Sparrow, and when the time warranted it, he never broke character. I couldn’t gather the energy to form coherent thoughts let alone deal with the ensuing drama but I admired his relentless professionalism.
“I dunno man. I thought she was bad news. Take it with a grain of salt.”
Days passed before I saw the bayou and I could only imagine what happened in our absence. My traveling companions made the trip back earlier in the week and returned with grave news. My tent was demolished in Tuesday night’s storm. At least the car was still intact, I feared for its welfare as well.
Driving through the familiar State Park lane we sniveled on the phone to Pearly Hawkins Hooke. “We’re so tired. We’ve had enough, we’re ready to go home- Oh! Look it’s an armadillo!” Our tale of woe was immediately interrupted as the fabled creature crossed the campsite road. Somehow, for that second it seemed to make everything better. All we wanted to see on this trip was an armadillo, a live one preferably, and perhaps if we were lucky an alligator- at a safe distance of course. “Is that it? It looks like a scaly opossum,” I curled back up in the back seat and closed my eyes, desperately trying to sleep before we reached our quarters. My tent was unzipped. I could my next door neighbors on the other side. The cloth was shredded, dry rotted and ripped wide open from the wind or the deadly claws of some creature. It was over ten years old. The ground around it was littered with even more holes. Everything else looked as we left it. Something swept over me I hadn’t felt in an awful long time: a sense of peace. We successfully escaped the insanity and cast off into our own secluded corner of the country to gather our bearings. Grateful, I was finally able to expand my lungs and breathe deeply. I lit a cigarette, inhaled the mild gulf air, coughed and vomited.
“Did you just sea cucumber?” MAD asked and it was a perfectly viable question and an old Curvy Dog term reserved for especially rough mornings. Sea cucumbers expel their guts, just as I did.
“Yeah,” I choked down water.
“But you didn’t drink anything, well just that one beer.”
“It was the cigarette.” I whimpered. “I can’t smoke anymore.” This was the first time I puked all week. My mates and myself included expected to see me splatter the sidewalks long ago.
“Are you sure you want to go back out?” She asked though there was no choice in the matter. After all, it was Bourbon Street, and it had this crew by our balls.
“Yes.” I cleared my throat and straightened my back. Despite everything, I had too much pride to let the that town win, “just let me find pants.” At that point, even the simple task of finding a change of clothes proved to be impossible. Our belongings were scattered senselessly: blouses, bodice strings, belaying pins, and blunderbusses lost to the depths of New Orleans. I was going to have to go as is. I was lucky if I could find my shoes. “Where are me shoes, me noggin’ noggin’ shoes. They have all gone have all gone for beer and tobacco. I’m sick in me head and I haven’t been to bed and across the western ocean I must wander…” I sang as I dug them out of the tent and stuffed my feet into the beastly things. The jumbled lyrics to the old shanty were all too true. We were pirates, all right, living the fucking dream. We said goodbye to the armadillos and left the bayou, leaving behind our little bit of solitude for the cacophony of the French Quarter.
“This is getting tedious,” MAD muttered through gritted teeth. Noisy streets clotted with people, she and I stepped aside and glanced back at Captain Jack, as he disappeared from view. Suddenly swallowed by a crowd. “Oh my god!” Women wailed. We were pretty much used to it at this point. But our patience was short. The Curvy Dogs had enough. I sighed and leaned doggedly against the wall and immediately leaped foreword startled.
“What just happened?” MAD asked.
“I leaned against the gutter pipe and it shook, like it was going to fall off the wall. We should step over this way…” Before I could cause further damage we reclaimed our lost compatriot and headed steadily into the thick of things.
“We’ll find our friend stay for a little, get our shit back, and get the hell out. I’m not drinking, tonight. I don’t think I can. “ MAD confessed.
“He’s too drunk,” She reported back, after a scouting mission to find the man who had our bedding and belongings at the RV Park. “He’s harassing people and threatening them with his rifle. We’re not sleeping there tonight. This sucks.” It looked it was back to the bayou for us, with or without bedding. We happened upon our misanthropic pirate radio DJ mate Bilgemunky seated on a bar stool charged with babysitting our belligerent host. He had taken away his gun and looked to us to take the man off his hands. I shook my head, “we’ve been here for nine days.” I growled, my way of saying I lacked the patience to deal with him. “Bully in the Alley, just let him go,” I said leaning in close, “you don’t have to be responsible for him… but we will take that rifle off your hands. I do love this gun.” With his rifle slung over my shoulder and the money I pirated off him earlier that morning I set out to find cheap booze.
“You know what I’m going to with you.” I heard his all too familiar drawl as he followed MAD and I out. We stopped dead in our tracks. I raised his rifle as I turned to face him, pressing the butt hard against his shoulder. “Absolutely fucking nothing,” I spit and sneered. He found it endearing that I was defending myself until he saw the look in my eyes and turned to wander off into the night. It was the last we ever saw of the man. Our stowaway Kamikaze, on the other hand, we couldn’t shake so easily.