Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-The Death of Sara Joy

26 November 2012
: 3am. Elysian Fields is nearly deserted from the river down past Claiborne Avenue. No one out now except delivery trucks and the lanky, chemical soaked figure of Sara Joy slowly oozing out of the darkened doorway of a little cottage up from The Phoenix as quietly as possible. With an almost imperceptible click he's out the door and down the steps leaving a wake of stale Marlboros, free pot, Ancient Age, and poppers. He skips across the coral-lit expanse of blacktop and crosses to the Vieux Carre side, his wallet bulging with the $140 he lifted after the trick passed out choking himself to completion with a mouth full of Fruit of the Looms and a dirty necktie. He spits on the banquette again and again, uncertain on the origin of that awful taste in his mouth. Passing into the darkness next to a sparsely appointed tenement he can hear the sound of a couple going at it full out, screaming and slapping and calling out to God. It could be murder, it could be sex, or it could be basic cable. The event fades into the distance, supplanted by the clack of well-rounded heels on indifferent concrete. Needing coffee and more than a morsel, the vicious old queen stalks up Dauphine St. towards La Peniche with evil and eggs on his mind.
3:43am. Crossing Frenchmen Street, the smell of hashish catches his nostrils, leading him to a tangle in the shadows of a recessed driveway. In the triangle of comfortably sleazy darkness a small orange light hisses to life, illuminating fiery glimpses of prurience and the taut inked flesh of gutterpunk. Drawn to the filth of the situation Gary "Sara Joy" Pitts slides into the darkness and the musky embrace of unwashed limbs.
He only barely realizes that he's been hit when the lead pipe opens up his skull. The scream in his throat is deeply muffled, choking on his attacker. He clutches wildly at anything in reach, hearing a pleasured moan before the silence. The only other sounds are the hollow thump of lifeless flesh falling into gravel and the quick taps of running feet fading into the night.
6:43am. Walking up Dauphine with her incontinent chihuahua, a 23 year old actress/waitress/pole dancer scours Facebook for pictures of that guy she saw at her friend Pinnacle's vegan harvest feast, paying no attention as her mutt pulls her along, unguided. She stumbles over the curb and the obligatory cracks in the pavement, her attention focused on the screen. Glad that the dog has finally stopped, she digs in for several minutes before finding the shot. Yeah, that's the guy...oh, no...butter face. Nope. Don't want to have to explain him to her friends...what's that noise?
Looking down, she sees her dog muzzle deep, devouring a bumpy red sauce that looks like marinara, but smells like sourdough bread and copper wire. It must have spilled out of--
Her screaming can be heard on Esplanade Avenue...This Is My New Orleans.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-28


The sudden pounding on the front door causes Phil Tupperman to nearly jump out of his skin. He had been going about his daily routine. Thankfully it's a Tuesday. If he'd have been dusting the figurines he'd have broken an entire shelf. He pads fearfully to the door, hearing a muffled voice outside calling him.
"Philsy, it's Halloran. Let me in."
He rushes to the door and undoes all the locks. Finally getting the door open, he sees Bruce Halloran filling the doorway, a six-pack of Abita Turbo Dogs in his thick grip. Thrown off by the sight of alcohol, he looks from the six-pack to Halloran, who says
"Are you going to invite me in, or am I porch people now?"
Phil hastily steps aside, stammering "y-yes, yes--come-come in."
Halloran breezes past Phil and off into the kitchen. Trying to quickly relock the door, Phil nearly dislocates a thumb before he can go running after his guest. Inside Halloran is shifting through the drawers. Phil can only stand and watch, completely uncertain of what to do. He asks,
"W-what...what are you looking f--" He stops, and then says dryly, "the bottle opener is on the side of the refrigerator."
Halloran reaches out his arm, which seems to pull the rest of him to where the opener was magnetically stuck for several years. He wrenches it away from it's perch and puts it to use. The bottle top goes flying into the air, landing exactly on the lip of the Moderne light fixture above the Formica table. He takes a deep, long swig from the longnecked bottle, nearly draining it entirely. He comes up for air and lets out a sonic boom of a belch that startles Phil to the point of blanching.
In the next house, Phil's as-yet-unmet neighbor is sitting in her own kitchen reading the newspaper. She hears a deep, low rumble go through her house and looks up for a moment. Nothing. She goes back to reading.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Visit with Tunie Dufour après les attaques sur Paris

: A cool, breezy weekend in the Jewel of the Crescent has given way to a warm and sunny Monday morning. The kind of morning that defines a day in New Orleans. Just enough humidity to be warm but not so much as to cause a person to sweat unduly just walking to the car. The sun is bright and clear, but not so clear as to be sharp. Like the city herself just enough light is diffused in the air to make almost anything look pretty.
But inside the double shotgun on the corner of Dauphine and St. Roch, Tunie Dufour sits in her front room with the shutters closed against the bright. In her hand she holds the television remote, occasionally flipping the channels between the various morning news broadcasts.
"...several counterattacks in dozens of locations around France yesterday, following on the French air attacks in Syria on the ISIS strongholds in Raqqa. French president Hollande has now said that the raid in Belgium in search of one of the terrorists has now become an international manhunt--"
"...after Gov. Bobby Jindal demanded that President Obama's administration give him an exact count of the Syrian refugees relocated to Louisiana, stating the he wished to 'avoid a situation like what happened in Paris.' The Obama administration has put that number at 14 across the state, six of those here in the New Orleans area..."
"...with social media blowing up with backlash against the support shown online for the victims of the Paris attacks on Friday. 'Decolonized Scientist' on Twitter posted 'Those comparing Mizzou to events in Paris today are doing so to delegitimize black students, not honor victims in Paris.' At-Doctor-Stacey-Patterson also posted 'look at all the racists on Twitter using the Paris tragedy to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement at home. So predictable.'..."
"...has caused concern across the nation. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said he would not accept Syrian refugees into his state, saying he 'would not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way.' Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that his state was 'putting on hold' receiving any new refugees from the war-torn..."
"...candidate Donald Trump came out against the administration at a rally in Beaumont, Texas, calling it 'insane' that the US is taking in 250,000 Syrian refugees. As of this report, the Obama administration has only agreed to take in 10,000 refugees..."
"...didn't take long for the conspiracy theorists. Within hours of the attacks YouTube lit up with videos like this one from a user called 'redsilve' who claims the attacks are an elaborately-plotted hoax by the illuminati to institute a quote 'new world order.' Another user claims this video shows what they call 'terror actors' milling around outside the Bataclan proves..."
In the loft above, Harold stands in his pajamas looking down on her. He wipes the sleep from his eyes and grumbles, "you still watching that stuff? Let it go, woman."
Tunie turns down the sound and says plainly, "they want a war, Harold."
"Hell. Ain't never known a time when some damned fool someplace didn't want a war," Harold yawns, scratching his sides to get the blood moving. "We done seen all this, bebe."
"It's different this time, Harold!"
He knows that tone. She's genuinely concerned. Nothin' for it, best to head on down and get it out of her system. Otherwise there will be no peace in his day. He steps carefully down the impossibly narrow and shallow staircase. More like a carpeted ladder than anything else. He gets down to the kitchen, pours himself a cup of CDM and walks into the front parlor. He sits down on the sofa next to her chair. She's staring at one of the talking heads on the news. Some protest someplace. He takes a long sip, then says
"All right. Tell me."
"We're heading for another world war."
"Been headin' that way since the Cold War, 'Pie." Harold takes another swig. "What's different now?"
"Because...because now..." Tunie reaches her hand out towards Harold, who dutifully places his mug of coffee in her waiting hand. She takes a few sips from the aromatic black liquid and says intently,
"Before now, it's always been the government who wanted to go to war. But now, it's the young people who want to go to war. Against each other, against the older generations, against...everybody. You can see it in their eyes, in what they say now."
"Tunie-Pie, calm down," Harold says, trying to sound reassuring.
"It's not like it was when we were growin' up. It's not even like it was when the grandbabies were growing up. It's different now. Look," she says, handing the cup back to Harold and picking up the remote. She flips through the channels with lightning speed until she finds an example.
"Look at that. That's a rally in Germany against the Syrian refugees coming into their country. They want them out. Look at the faces. All of 'em in their 20s and 30s. Now, look at this."
She flips again to another channel showing pictures of the victims in Paris and their attackers.
"Look, Harold. All of 'em children. Including those crazy bastards who killed them. Now look at the survivors. Same ages. Look here."
She flips again. Harold takes another sip and asks, "how many damn channels do you have, woman?"
"Shuddup" she mutters, landing on one of the inane national morning news programs. "Now look. All these children bitching and complaining that they aren't being taken seriously because Paris took all their publicity. The children are organizing protest marches, they're promising to be violent if they aren't being paid enough attention, they're saying it's all a plot to take whatever it is they want the world to notice. We marched for civil rights. Our kids marched against Vietnam. These kids are marching and yelling against the world and each other. And you know just as well as I. All it takes is one damned jackass who can get their attention to turn them into an army. Blind, impotent anger. That's all I see, Harold. And if they get the wars they want, you know who's going first, don't you? Auguste and Jerrelle. They're both conscription age."
Tunie blinks hard, fighting back a persistent tear. Harold stares down into his cup, searching for something to say that will make his 'Pie feel better.
But he's not a talker. He's a side man. He plays what he feels. OK.
He rises, takes the remote from Tunie's hand and switches the TV off. Extending his hand, he pulls her from her treasured Barcalounger and putting his arm around her shoulders, walks her back through the house and out into the courtyard. He sets her down with his coffee and says firmly,
"Drink your coffee. I'll be back."
He retreats back into the house, leaving her alone beneath the banana trees rustling in the breeze, making patterns of sun and shadows on the concrete. The air is nice, but Tunie can't enjoy it. She's seen the hatred, the ignorance, the anger from all the children. It reminds her of when segregation was still in force. She and Harold both had endured insults, fights, blatant refusal, and terrorism. Though they didn't call it that back then. Back then, it was just the white people that looked like that. But not anymore. Now all the children have that look. She keeps hearing the old rhyme in her head, but with new words she can't erase.
Red and yellow, black and white. All are hateful, want to fight.
Just then, the sound of Coltrane's "Sentimental Mood" oozes from the outdoor speakers as Patrick and Jerry emerge from their back door, carrying plates of eggs and bacon. Harold emerges from the house with four glasses of Tunie's version of a mimosa; muscadine wine and pineapple juice. They assemble around Tunie for a special breakfast. On the river just a few blocks away, a freighter sounds it's whistle. The long, sonorous tone reverberating through the Marigny, sending the starlings into flights of dotted swiss across the azure sky...This Is My New Orleans.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-27

: Unable to sleep and perturbed by Miss Sara Joy’s constant snoring (seriously, how can a dog that small make a noise that loud?) Bruce Halloran sits up in his emperor-sized bed and thinks over the events of the last several months. There’s ol’ Philsy Tupperman, wasting away in that farmhouse in Old Metairie. Still following in his dead mother’s footsteps, keeping her shrine as spotless as she demanded but was never able. Then there’s the prickly Dr. Youngblood, holed up in his mahogany paneled cocoon. Straightjacketed by his public persona. The mention of his former love sends him into tighter constrictures. Frankly, he’d be surprised if the good doctor didn’t shit twine.
What the hell is he going to do? It’s not like he can just show up on either of their doorsteps with the other in tow and force them to talk. Philsy would probably crawl underneath the house and Youngblood most likely has a hotline to the NOPD on his keychain. As much fun as both those scenarios would usually be, neither one solves the problem of fixing what Gary Pitts engineered three decades ago.
At least the depressing spectacle of Hallowe’en is now ended. Looking out from his third story perch upon the hipsters going about their tragically fabulous costumes, all Halloran can do is lament the loss of true originality and innovation this city once took immense pride in presenting. He is whisked back to the 80s once more and the brilliant, cutting-edge costumes that amazed everyone fortunate enough to see. The political commentary, the blatant-yet-distinguished sexuality, the sheer force of the abandon. It was a marvelous time.
Unfortunately, Bruce isn’t so ingrained to his past that he cannot see the world as it is. If he were, he wouldn’t have the same feeling of malaise that has troubled him since happy hour started at 4:20pm yesterday. As much as he would like to shuffle off the world around him and happily cocoon himself in the musty patinas of yesterday, he can’t.
You see, for all his faults Bruce Halloran does have at least one timelessly redeeming feature; he is, has always been, and will always be current. It’s a trait he both shares with and abhorred in his late mother. Until the end of her days, Mother Halloran was as fresh as wet paint. She embraced the modern. Just not the modernity her son enjoyed. While he was listening intently to Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan, Mother was embracing Juice Newton and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. When she suffered a sudden heart attack at a Kathy Mattea concert, Bruce attended the funeral in a mauve Nudie suit embroidered with blue roses. A nod to her favorite color and the only part she ever played on stage.
The family wasn’t pleased, but the undertaker was happy to show his appreciation.
Being so afflicted, Bruce cannot ignore how the current world thinks. Anything can be what they now freely call “slutty.” Cartoon character, crayon, crudite, you name it there’s a tramp version out there for you. The depressing trend of young men actually participating in costuming has led to a new version of tramp yet to be widely identified. But it will in another year or so. The phrase “boy tramp” leaps to mind.
But more importantly the forms of protest are now more nuanced and more blunt. Cases in point: The beautiful young straight couple at dusk holding court on the banquette directly below his patio. Both of them are painfully young, each with washboard abs on full display in the well-aerated judges robes they were barely wearing. She was a slutty Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a halter robe, patent leather jet beaded bustier, fishnets and high-heeled platform mid-thigh black latex lace-up boots. He was Antonin Scalia, only in the exact same outfit. They both had gavels. Hers was branded with the GE logo, his with the NRA.
Later that same night another somewhat less fit couple arrived. Both were barely dressed, only more disturbingly matched. She was barely containing a pair of silicone surprises and a matching pair of hips beneath a repurposed Stars and Bars, while her bohunk boyfriend managed to carve out a wife beater and cut-offs for himself from the backup flag at Klan headquarters. They didn’t stay long, but while they were there they enjoyed a lot of popularity.
The modern. The current… desperately trying to move who’s never known a day that wasn’t long forgotten by the world…...wait a minute.
Halloran runs back into his condo, startling the sleeping Miss Sara Joy into paroxysms of surprise. Landing in the rolling chair of his office, he grabs hold of all his notes on the matter, tossing page after page until he comes to his scribbled notes on one of young Mr. Tschantz’s emails. Reading the cryptic scrawl his 6th grade writing teacher once called “a pharmacist’s nightmare,” Bruce finally comes to the two little identical notes in different colored inks about Youngblood and Philsy.
“Chained to the past.”
The next thing Miss Sara Joy sees is his Master walking slowly over to the shiny glass thing where the happy water comes from. He knows what that means. Nothing else happening tonight except a narrow window for cuddle time. Miss Sara Joy jumps up onto his pillow on the leather sofa and makes himself comfortable. He’s gonna be there a while.
Outside, the cold, damp winds off the river filter through the Crescent City with a slow persistence. Autumn is growing older and the weather has grown tired of warm and dry. Throughout the city windows either draw to narrow slits or close entirely to the outside world...This is My New Orleans.