We got into Memphis about the time we were supposed to have arrived in New Orleans, mid-afternoon. It was the first time I’d been outside in 24 hours, since Chicago, even if just for a smoke stop. It was as if the train had pulled new backdrops across the stage: the sky had gone from white to blue, the ground from snow-covered to a touch of brown. I’d arrived at a cusp of the South! I could already taste green overtones and liquid (not solid) lake in the air.
I finally arrived at 7pm. With Trixie the iphone’s help, Ms Barker drove us to a friend’s house where a dinner party gathered. After a nibble of king cake, we headed to a bar for po-boys. We shared the tiny back dining area with a group of glamorous gay men from New York. There was no time even to deduce their identity; they called attention to themselves right away and wanted to know who we all were, too. Especially Jon, the only male of our party, who’d come in with us and promptly gone back out to get cash. But our new friends had taken notice.
“Is he family?” asked the one I’ll call Don Juan.
“No, he’s just our friend,” said Catie
“That’s not what I mean! I mean, does he like boys? Is he in OUR family?”
“Why don’t you ask him?” said Lina.
“Ooh, sassy!” flicked Don Juan.
Meanwhile, Don Juan’s compadres were getting sassy with each other. I was trying to keep my eyes on my ginger ale so I didn’t get called into the conversations when a screech made me look up. One of the guys had squirted sriracha sauce onto the head of another one. When Jon came back in, he wasn’t immediately noticed for the dabbing and punch-preventing and coo-ing and coddling going on among his admirers. The sirachi sufficiently cleaned up and the friends once again on flirting terms, attention turned to Jon.
“Those are awfully short shorts, brother. Can I touch them?”
At that we finished our shrimp po-boys faster than a catfish reeled in off the bayou and whisked Jon off for a post-fondle stiff one (pardon the pun) at the Carousel Bar.