Friday, May 29, 2009

Sunday Scribbling #165: Covert


Royal Crown set her middling pudge down on the bench at the corner of St. Charles and McGuffin. Middling. Corseted, she was a taut sack of feed, burlapped coffee beans. Grey rainy day, no commiseration for the rolls beneath her gray sweatshirt. Forty years since the bounce and sproing of her cheerleading quiver upon asphalt, the gasp as boys to men felt the ache of her wet mouth in the shock of their loins. There were always rolls beneath her starched blue and orange uni, but the thighs that gripped their minds were rubber band tight; those most reverent saw no underwear in sight. Holy mother of god, even in the dry days of her ruin she could still feel the kiss of her gash upon pay dirt, the moment she wept to be seen, to be the gleam of an eye, fire down the alleys of dreaming lust.

"RC, sweetness,” says Blanchard, bruised lips from his afternoon of trumpet revival. He spits blood onto a banana peel in the street. His pallor is dubious; the wave of his hair lacks precision. “I see you got sugar on them beignets.”

“Take it downtown, B. I ain’t sweatin’ no fiscal gloom this afternoon. Your Standard and Poor is down, my brother.”

"That is trenchant humor, Miz Crown. You ask Kathryn if I ain’t sublime. You seen this lip or not? I’m talkin’ Miles, sister. Wynton be talkin’ smack about Beethoven this and Haydn that, but he ain’t exactly bendin’ over backwards, now is he?”

“Save it, B. I ain’t doin’ musicology on the fly. I got groceries to make.”

“That where you’re goin’, then?”

“Sure ain’t for breathin’.”

Streetcar rolls up. Blanchard stops the commotion of RC flailing to a standing position. His hand palms the basketball of her belly.

“Old times sake?”

It’s winter on the avenue, but Royal smells Metairie green lawn, the turf behind the wreckage of Grace King High. The slit of B’s eye behind the bonfire of a Marley-sized joint. AP History gone up in smoke. Six months later, the University of Chicago faded to Thibodaux and Nicholls State.

“You on or off,” says the conductor. B’s still palming the ball.

“Avery,” says RC.

“Quo vadis,” says B. “I know this cat? I pinch his woman or something?”

Streetcar mutters off. RC uncorks a pint of KB vodka.

“AP History. Mr. Avery. You turned me out, you bastard.”

“Not what I heard, Crown. I heard it was the Rule of 78.”

“Rule nothing. I smell a confection.”

“This ain’t candy, my queen. Lord Avery had a sweet tooth for blue and orange. Carver brought it special delivery, but you punked out. AP smarts got nothin’ to do with the analytical geometry of the Rule of 78. I heard tell that only doggy style bought you anything better than a B+.”

“Take it out the Jayne Mansfield Highway, boy. Your head’s off, anyway.”

For a moment, RC looked him straight on, past the casual three-day grime, past the bulldog overbite, the sour smell of hands on himself in the very pants he was wearing. B. had been a soul brother, Teddy Pendergrass on his knees, ship out on the foam, arrogant minstrel with a socialist axe to grind. B. had blues to sweat and then some.

A sweet pea vine uncoiled and grabbed the finger still drumming the pudge. The middling pudge.

“Turn out the lights, Teddy.”

Teddy turned out the lights.

Anchovy Heights, third floor up. Emeril Lagasse in his demented mania goes landlord. Vegetable sconces, kitchen shrines of inlaid tile. Royal stands nude at her bedroom window, watching a big black mouth of storm brewing up off the river. She feels her body’s lines once again, survey lines of taut demarcation beneath its rolling tumble of wasted farmland. The wreckage is still there, menopausal belly, sagging oil can breasts, riot of pooch up and down the property, no evidence of capacity for bump and grind, just piddling huff and gasp. But, appearances can be deceiving. She’s always felt like fine metal in the pentathlons of her bed, bronze at the window for all the leering world to see, her mound a capacious forest of fall aspens, miraculous gold through the years of her long demise. She fingers her leaves, rounds her belly. Black sky crackles its appreciation, black swan leaning to his Leda.

“Angel’s face,” she says to her darkened lover.

B. mistakes himself as auditor, coughs a chuckle. His fingers trace the pepper sconce above his head.

Royal shapes the vision of dark wings about her face, figures the Greeks for fools to think it was a swan. What rampant god would loose himself in such effeminate garb? Royal had known the earthquake of a body taken by plutonian force, the gossamer lies that fill a room in its wake, and it had not been doggy style either. Title Avery had stood in full view above her on his desk, as she felt his torrid hunger tear a hole right through the last of her high blue Atchafalaya basin sky, his black waters flooding out the very back reaches of innocence, vulture-hung oxbow lake mausoleums of grim refuge for her haggard fall. You think Leda was coming back with the real story after that? The listening ear of a man always turns tail and runs.

“Landlord provide any real food, or just this shit on these walls?”

The stain of post-coital talk bled across her face. The bronze melted, she felt herself sucked back into her graveyard limbs. B. was B. again, not the dark screen of colors behind her eyes, the green waters she swam to oblivion in her long steady race to a blue swarm. Avery was the first and only she’d looked at. B.’s hairline was beyond imprecise, the riotous stew of a Mardi Gras street. Royal draped the afghan nearest, sat in white leather at the darkened glass.

A rued B gazed back. “Kitchen’s closed, I reckon.”

The rain struck behind her head like a pounding monster’s heat.

"Ain’t your lucky dog I’m hungry for. Sorry.” The words–any words, in the glory of such a storm–were ashes in the mouth.

"Make a dash for Mandina’s?”

“I ain’t standing at the bar for your thirty minutes of vodka appetizers.”

“Pee Wee’ll get us in the back.”

“Back smells like the shitcan.”

“You drive a hard bargain, Royal. Ten minutes at the bar, max.”

“I fuck you for free and you say I drive a hard bargain? Five minutes, B, and then I’m walking, monsoon or not. As soon get my oysters at Sally’s where it’s on the table the minute I walk through the door.”

“Oysters, my ass. Stuff she sells is gravel.”



Blogger Dee Martin said...

Wow. Unusual street sweaty with a smidgen of Greek mythology thrown in. Gave the characters a depth that wasn't expected. You were in SOME kind of mood when you wrote this...

10:18 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Mood indeed, Ms Dee. New Orleans memories - real or not, resident or transplanted - are good for that. Thanks for stopping by.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

Great capture - the rhythm of the dialog and the freedom of movement are pure south.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Frances D said...

Wow those first few paragraphs just swept me right up.
I agree with Dee - You were n SOME kind of mood when you wrote this...
My post is at my mainblog -

8:36 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tumble: Thank you. I was definitely aiming for New Orleans, but I was also aiming for sizeably nasty, too.

9:48 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Welcome, Frannie D. Glad you jumped on into the mosh pit. RC and Torrid cover a lot of historical ground together. It was fun to follow them...

9:50 PM  
Blogger anno said...

I always like it when you take us to New Orleans: even sizeably nasty, there's hope and desire; definitely more heat there than the 40 degrees we have going here this morning.

5:47 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: Ouch! That 40 is rough! And you're right, there's always hope and desire (certainly desire) when it comes to NOLA.

7:53 AM  
Blogger ThomG said...

Bravo. Brilliant writing. It swept me in, and kept me going.

Mothers in Arms

3:04 PM  
Blogger San said...

Sheer "musicology on the fly." Your dialog bounces off the sidewalks, bearing the smells of summer and lust.

And I believe I prefer your Leda and her Swan to Mr. Yeats's.

3:39 PM  
Blogger alister said...

Well, now, you got one hell of a gift Mr. PB. In this rolling, smart-ass beauty, you sure enough did hit everything you was aimin' at. Blasted it all, but good. And fell off your holy seat doin’ it, too ; )

Me, I’m running ragged this week. Havin’ trouble with my mojo, but I iz tryin'. Just now starting into the covert thing at the crippled SS corral. Wish me luck : )

4:05 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

ThomG: Glad you jumped right in. I know some of your e-neighbors, so I relish the props.

4:44 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: This started as a swipe at a real-life RC, but it's hard to keep it that way when folks and their juices (the characters, not necessarily the real-lifers) grow on you. I have a fondness for those burlapped coffee beans...

4:47 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Muchness: You catch that last ball going over the fence? I hope so: had your name on it.

As for mojo, walk away, and come back. Go for that run, read some more Flannery or whatever other taste du jour is rolling around out there - bound to work on those creative lumbars. You be just fine...

4:54 PM  
Blogger alister said...

Naw, man, I’m not what folks in any parts call “with the program” at this particular juncture. If that ball’s got somethin’ to do with oysters, I’ll assume you got the hot sauce and horse radish covered and I’ll take care of the Blackened Voodoos. If that ain’t it, shoot me.

Gotta thank you for the good words, too, brother. Flan’s still hot, Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” is hot, hot, HOT, and I have just discovered the blessed Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which requires a reverential pause…

Well alright! I’ll take your advice, but it may take days, but that’s OK, ‘cause for you it’s summer and for me, like Anno, [think Sam Kinison, here] it’s 40 fucking degrees!!! ;-)

5:20 PM  
Blogger quin browne said...

i could smell the scent of my hometown...

beautiful phrases, good plot, nicely done.

5:58 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Duchess: That ball over the fence was not in reference to anything in particular. I just liked your comment about blasting it all and envisioned one very fun batting practice where the mojo wuz flowin'.

I'll check out Steinbeck's flowers: the poor man suffers mightily from too many damn high school English mavens cramming him down adolescent throats. I was soured on him for years for no good reason whatsoever: every time I rediscover him I'm always quite pleased.

GGM is, of course, one of the big dream boats. Put Grace Paley's Collected Stories on your shelf while you're at it and dip in anywhere your finger sticks: she's a glorious vision.

And meteorologically speaking, you and Ms Anno need to send some of that 40 fucking degrees on down Tres Leches-way. I don't care if it does freeze all the puddings down here.

6:33 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ms QB: I am well aware of the opening words of your blog profile, so I'm happy you could smell home. Eleven years there did not make it home for me, but it certainly leased a hefty chunk of real estate in my heart...

6:38 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

In two words: Mind blowing!

SS: I dream in brown

2:54 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

GT: Thank you and good to have you back...

7:54 AM  
Blogger MichaelO said...

Damn, Brother Paschal! This was one resounding ooze of French Quarter sleeze and sweat. I'm dripping from the humidity. Meddling in the blues and jazz, slurpin' oysters on half. I love the grey to gray in the same sentence. The always fresh discovery of buzzardly orgy on your hidden oxbow lake. The broken cherry of Atchafalaya skies. You got my tastebuds itchin' fo' da gumbo again, bro. It's so hot, I have to wash it down with another ice cold Yuengling.... ;>)

12:49 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Brother Miguel:

Just walking within three blocks of the old Hummingbird Grill is contagion enough for the brain to birth the likes of RC and Torrid. But you've got a glorious fever of your own to toss up these beauties:

The always fresh discovery of buzzardly orgy on your hidden oxbow lake. The broken cherry of Atchafalaya skies.Now, that's appreciation...

1:27 PM  
Blogger jsd said...

oh my, heatin up the NE with those opening paragraphs.

1:21 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: That's what we're here for, darlin'...

2:05 PM  

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