Saturday 4/13 New Orleans, Louisiana – College Station, Texas
Texas is very deep in my heart. I feel some very some powerful, territorial identification with the place, probably bread into me through UT Football games, good barbeque, and country music. I confess that I am mildly embarrassed of this feeling. That does not make it any less strong.
I was excited to drive into Texas for the first time. I imagined Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Floodin Down in Texas playing. I imagined the windows down. I imagined the sun phat, the whataburger dripping, and the speed limits far too tall. I imagined the kind of glory that one appreciates somewhere down in their belly. A quiet little half smile, a crank of the volume knob, and later some wild exaggeration for you lovely blog fans. I wish that this was that post. It is not.
Today was a disaster and all the days to come will be darkened by its passing. Honestly, I don’t really want to write this post. This blog is for the good feels. We are trying to entertain. I do not wish my pain upon you, you sweet sweet summer child. So, the cuts will be quick, they will be sharp, and we’ll be through them before you know it. If some details are missing, forgive me. There is pain in memory and I’ve carried this far enough.
We, of course, bear some piece of the blame for the way the day went. We’d let our collective guard down. Even Slugger, the most diligent of our fearsome threesome, had let his eyes droop. Why? Ask the comforts of southern cooking. Ask the swaying brass of New Orleans street music. Ask that sick, wet, simpering, southern sun. Maybe you’ll find your answer there.
We woke early enough and broke camp in good time. We were ready to up and out of New Orleans, but we’d received a carrier pigeon special ordering an original muffuletta, so we needed to make a last in town stop before properly hitting the road. This seemed a good enough excuse to stop back into the ole Cafe of Monde, so we left having neither chomped nor caffeined. Oh, how young we were. Quel dommage.
We knew two crucial things from our previous days experience. The first is that any hopes of driving into the French quarter would be dashed by horse carts and old persons. So, we parked at a thoroughly researched corner, hopped on the old bikes, and headed towards the festival going hoard. The second is that bikes get stolen. So, when we arrived at Cafe of World and discovered the loss of our lock (the second we’d lost in as many days), we knew immediately that there was nothing to do but head Slugwords. At this point heads were complaining their need for God’s given caff. But, like that sample after Strange Ways, we carried on!
The first lockplacement we bought from Walmart (really the protagonist of the vanish saga thus far) was broken. The second came preset with the code 666BURNBURNBURNBABY. The third seemed to suit well enough, and so we were back onto the road for Coffee de Globe. We arrived to a line which looped several times around the block. Naturally, we snuck in the back, crawled across the floor like reptiles, and climbed into the nearest empty table, inconspicuous as you like. But alas, the strong hands of order closed about us and we dragged away from the smells of hickory coffee and deep fried sugar.
If, at this point, we cursed every god of man into fiery oblivion, you must forgive us. The situation was becoming desperate. It was past noon. We are not meant to go so long without sustenance.
We crossed the street to muffaletta’s birth home and ordered a full samich (notably $20, tourist traps will in fact trap tourists), and several gallons of medicine no cream.
The muffaletta came out a couple minutes later. The coffee did not.
I looked at Ana. Her hands were clenched. Her jaw locked. Her eyes grim. But her lips, oh those lips how they curled. Cruel. Amused. Insane. A beat. And then time sped the fuck up.
Ana’s pistols were in her hands faster than I could breathe. The first bang ripped the cafe air asunder. The second smashed glass behind the counter. The third punched through six muffallettas en route for the chefs curled fucking mustache. Screams filled the place. The poor frat boys one table over, too slow to dive for cover? The blood curdling howls tearing out of my lovers throat? The street band still festivaling on outside the store doors? Who can say.
I splashed the walls with gas, through a match, and pulled Ana out the door, revolvers still thumping. The flames jumped with glee, grabbed their partners’ waists, and kicked into beat with the fat flippin swing of their zydeco soundtrack.
(Note – I’m sorry for the abrupt jump in intensity heading into this scene. I realize it lacks rising action. Edits would help, but honestly I can’t stand to relive the trauma.)
Our adrenaline gave out somewhere near Baton Rouge. We got Starbucks with no regrets. It tasted like a brief respite. We checked out the Louisiana state capitol. In the large green bit in front of the Senate building are several aggressive geese, several laid back water moccasins, and a statue of Huey Long. He stands facing the capitol building, leaning on a miniature rendition of the same structure, propped up by a worshipful working class.
We rode out, heading for a nice free campsite on the national seashore. It was pouring. I was glad. My head hurt and the world should suffer darkness. It occurred to us at some point that this much rain made sand and tide water a bit of a doozy for Slug Bug tires. So, we found another nice look option on the ole freecampites.net.
We rolled in, the sun setting somewhere behind black skies, our coffee wearing off. A sign blocked our entrance. “The way is shut. It was made for packs of highschoolers and packs of highschoolers keep it. The way is shut.” We bailed. The next free campsite was 30 minutes out. Here we found a clearing closed in on three sides by barbed breyer brambles, a covered pavilion, and two parking spots. One was empty. The other was occupied by a trailer, six sharp steaks, five rifles in an impressive range of sizes, four red eyed slobbering hounds, three lines of all red christmas lights, and a partridge hanging from telephone wire. Once again, we bailed, our gas several ticks below empty.
The night ended in the motel parking lot behind the nearest gas station. Welcome to Texas.