Sheets on the outside…sheets on the inside


A quiet night on the corner

of Decatur St

and esplanade Ave,

rain coming down in

sheets

on the outside,

whilst on the inside,

the sheets were moving in slow

revolutions,

inside the machines,

inside the bar/Laundromat

in New Orleans

French Quarter,

known as

Checkpoint Charlie.

This place had two settings –

completely rammed

or

dead –

tonight it was set to

dead.

One of God’s mistakes

was sitting at the bar with

a couple of people,

presumably his friends,

ordering drinks…loudly

and with very

little

class.

He was young,

loud,

and seemed intent

on letting us all

(the few of us that made up the numbers on a dead night)

know that he existed

and

somehow

mattered.

Well, he definitely did

and he

definitely

didn’t and I

definitely

disliked him and

the colour of his

father’s credit

card.

The rain continued outside

and people came

and went

with their laundry,

in bags, in boxes,

carried upon their heads,

most not stopping for

a drink whilst they

waited,

it was that kind of

a

night.

At some point

‘credit card’ had laid

a marker on the pool

table and was now

playing.

For some reason I

seemed to take note that

his opponent was female

before once again

returning my

attention to the rain,

watching it come down

through the

windows and shutters,

which any bartender

worth their salt,

would throw

wide open when a storm

hit,

for this was a huge

part of what made up the

soul of

New Orleans,

the rain…the hot rain,

temporarily cooling a

hot

night…

loud and with

flashes of light

in places, followed by

explosions

in the dark…

cannon shots of

thunder

like a war;

a short,

loud,

bright,

wet,

warm

war.

The storms defined

New Orleans; still do

in fact, only now it’s

different, for the very thing

that defined her

eventually ripped her

apart,

and who she was then

and

who she is now,

are very

different.

Many of the

people who loved her

long ago

are gone,

gone to different

places and gone

to different

times, some have returned

attempting to re-kindle

the romance,

hoping for the familiar feelings

of old

to return and

offer comfort,

only to find little more than

ghosts and memories of

ghosts;

ghosts of memories

washed away

by new

rains,

in a time

of indifference

toward her

unable now to pay

her way,

among a people

no longer willing

to carry her.

Raised voices from

the area where the pool table

stood.

I looked up

and ‘credit card’ was holding

his cue like a baseball

bat,

looming over the female

he had been playing,

seeming about to strike her.

I dislike bullies, especially

towards women and I

definitely

disliked ‘credit card’,

so as the red mist

descended

I found myself behind him

grabbing the cue,

demanding

to know what the fuck

he

thought he was doing,

words turned to shouting

and pushing

and

shoving,

the usual bullshit,

until something unusual

brought things to  a

standstill.

When an object is dropped

into water, it sinks

and for

a second there is a stillness,

until the point

of entry

rises back up and a

circular cascade of water

emanates out

from

the centre.

In this case, the circular

cascade were people….

exiting…

quickly

through doors…out of windows…

over the bar…

into the bathrooms..

and within seconds

the bar was

deserted,

with the heavy breathing

of ‘credit card’ and

myself

the only sound to

be heard.

What had dropped into the

the water to

cause the cascade?

I turned around and

found myself staring down

the barrel

of a gun…

a handgun…

produced from the bag

of the pool playing

female, forgotten about

amid the

ruckus.

‘Credit card’ screamed

and ran for

the door and the

doorman ran for

the

female who was

swiftly

disarmed and held

for the cops…

those newly

outside

returned

inside…

the rain

continued

to rain

and I forgot about

‘credit card’ and the gun

wielding

female for twenty years

until

tonight…

sitting at

the window with

my cats,

watching a new

rain in

a completely

different

part of

the

world.

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