This is a brutal assault about a Life, which in the beginning has massive odd catholic overtones. The potential influences the protagonist meets along the way that should mold his young life. There’s a bitter-sweet relationship between him and some of the other characters. Then “KABOOM”, an enslaving addiction that stares at you square in the face. The military training, conspiracies and failed attempt to build a warrior during the The Cold War and its long-term devastating effects. There’s a darkness in this story that beckons you inside of it evoking empathy and shock. This is not a story for the faint of heart, it is super dark and abysmal at times. And, as the story unfolds it has a thought-provoking balanced and odd spiritual illumination that will keep you immersed in the pages. “Out Of Orleans” explores certain pointed areas of life that are not discussed in today’s polite society. “Are you ready for a wild and unstoppable ride, if so then come inside”!
Thanks in advance for your time. Lee J.
Who I am is of no real importance, I am just a Ole Man, looking out this window. “They” the establishment don’t really want me to tell you this story. Sometimes I am not sure if I want to tell you this story. The men and women who served this Country during the cold war after Nam may not want this story told. The cold war post Vietnam defined a period of history in the United States. Our Government and the Military will go on record saying, “We have no record of that incident(s) or story”! Oh, you asked “what window I am looking out of”. I am in a government hospital and “They” will never let me out of here, not even for a walk outside in the spring air.
Have you ever passed a Veteran’s Administration Hospital in your neighborhood and thought, that’s a good-looking facility? Do you ever wonder why the V.A. Hospitals are in the “Hood” and not in the nice suburbs? Because people who live in the suburb’s might think, why did “they” put that here. Prior to WWII our government established a new policy of “Hide everything in plain sight”. It’s like wool that’s been pulled over our proverbial eyes. Each V.A. hospital has a wing that is visible to the public and inaccessible, it’s clandestine. Now there’s a word that was well used during the period that I served.
I have watched this tree outside my window for twenty – eight continuous seasons. This is a hospital for veterans and specifically, an entire wing in the hospital which has no public record. This place is for people like me who got lost, went AWOL or who became homeless. One in three of every homeless person in America is a veteran. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent training us to be like ghost. No big surprise that our government in fact turned us into that very thing.
We may have spoken out against what was going on behind the scenes. We may have become incapable of finishing an unsanctioned mission or because we no longer wanted to kill at random. We became dangerous to the establishment! All of us have been declared crazy or insane because of our knowledge, and we are neatly tucked away. To the public and the country in general this place for all practical purposes does not exist.
Our Country has lied to us (the general public) since before WWII. Back then the Military Industrial Complex became a great source of income, jobs and profit for those of privilege. Titles have changed from back then to make us feel better. Back then the “Secretary of War”, a civilian with such responsibilities as finance and purchases and a minor role in directing military affairs, headed the War Department. The War Department! That title has been changed to The Secretary of Defense. Sounds so much nicer, right?
War = the “way America rolls”, this Country, you know the one that was born and bathed in war. “The British are coming, the British are coming”. Your Founding Father borrowed Thirteen Million Dollars from Belgium to fight that war. Do you have any idea the value back them of how much money that was? Then “they” jacked the native Americans of their land and those atrocities make me want to puke.
There’s mass speculation about the “U.S. Economy Warfare” that it is what provoked Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Did you know that your Country had Economy Warfare? And I would be remiss to leave out Senator Prescott Bush. That’s right; Grand Pappy Bush was in bed with Nazi Germany. Well he financed and profited with them, you know that guy Hitler, till his finance companies assets were seized in 1942. Are you afraid yet? You should be…
The reason I ask is because unimaginable amounts have been spent and is being spent currently on keeping average Americans afraid. How do you think that deficit got so high? Since we are a Country that can’t keep a secret here’s the Juice. We’ve had contact with UFO’s, since the early 1900’s, leaked a story and we the general population bought it. Please re-read the above paragraph if you have any doubt that the “Fear Campaign” was created and is real. For some Families it was simply a means to an end. The end game? Money! And not for you or I, for them. And over generations those funds have been washed over & over.
We have perpetrated some of the most heinous act’s ever know to man. Without giving any thought to its affect’s on humanity. And we will reap what we have sewn… Our Government creates an act, leaks the story and then we argue and speculate about it. Over and over and over and in that exercise we forget about who is really liable and affected. We kill our own Presidents and Senator’s in the name of War. Then the Government seals the records for Seventy Five Years. So that all involved will be forgiven as it was in the name of War & Profit for our Country and very specific Families. I grow tired just telling you this.
Watergate, Air America, Whitewater oh and “Hope” Arkansas! Wow, eighteen people mysteriously died surrounding that financial scandal. And “I did not have sexual intercourse with that woman”. No, but she gave you seventeen bj’s… He should have been crowned “King” of America, come on, really. Seventeen Blowjob’s from your intern? That’s how we roll!
We’ve tactically nuked some areas where bad guys were. Because it was prudent at the time, we like to flex our muscle. We have had our allies back and fought for them whether it made sense or made it to the main stream media. We’ve created bad guys, completely made them up and used them to further our cause, Fear. Forgive my fragment’s as I am growing more and more tired and I think it’s in the medication that “they” give me every day. We successfully over-threw communism and tore the wall down. Mother Russia we messed your stuff up, royally and we continue. I’d probably better get started on the rest of this story, we only get so much time every day.
We are forgotten heroes who put our lives on the line for our Flag and Country. Perhaps when we are done talking about this, you will feel different or better about it. That in sharing this we will all feel better, cathartically better about this. Perhaps. Or perhaps not, and I don’t think that I will.
A nurse walks into the room that I’m sitting in and says “Good morning Commander Brigg’s here’s your medication”. Two men rush around her and say’s “hey Brigg’s are you going to tell us that story today”. He doesn’t turn away from the window; he simply nods his head up & down. The medicine and water go down his throat like a small flowing stream. He opens his mouth and says, “have I ever told you two yahoo’s about when they used to call me Jacques”?
Chapter 1 – H-Town Tricking
It’s February Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Two and Jacques is driving down Interstate Forty Five South through traffic in Houston like he owns the place. Changing from lane to lane on the freeway like a race car driver with very little regard for anyone or anything around him. This is before grid-lock begins, every day the traffic comes to almost a complete stop on this freeway… The stereo is on and it’s the Band, Pink Floyd, “It’s all right we told you what to dream”! This echo’s in his head.
What a car, this is not a car; it’s a machine, a piece of art. How many twenty – three almost twenty – four-year olds are driving a Porsche 944? Not very many and his guess is that maybe a few are driving one as well as he pushes this one. The tan leather smells so new inside that you can taste it and there is not a speck of dirt on the car, anywhere… The exterior color is steel grey and it’s like flying, the wheels keep this machine on the ground.
He is heading home from work, if you can call it work. The Place in downtown Houston. What a building, five floors of retail space and eighteen floors of office lease space and he has the run of the whole place. It’s connected to three other buildings and all by sky-bridges. The Five Seasons Hotel and One and Two Houston Centre. The Five Seasons Hotel, what a place and what a philosophy, their catch line is; “There are the regular four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter and then a stay in their hotel is a season of itself”! Now that’s a million dollar tag line. He silently wishes that he would have thought that one up and should have been in Advertising. Almost as if it were all his is what he thinks.
A property manager by day and working for a Canadian Firm is great. There’s not a lot of accountability during the regular days, just skating by. At least thus far is what he is thinking. Thinking to him, that driving down to Kemah from Houston isn’t a big hassle; it’s what successful people do. And will they ever finish this freeway? It seems as if they have been working on Interstate 45 forever. It is four lanes in the North and South bound direction. And they have been working on it even from coming here in his childhood he remembers this freeway under construction.
The traffic begins to slow down just like it does everyday right around this time. Sometimes getting stuck in bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic isn’t all bad especially when you see a hot woman like the one that’s next to him. A really attractive brunette and she is in some sort of convertible car. The flirting is wonderful and hopefully he will get the opportunity to give her his business card.
Living in the suburbs, and that keeps the heat off of him and the pigs don’t have a clue. The Pigs will never suspect that a young affluent business man is really doing the things that he does. Then it happens, the thought enters his mind. No, he tells himself, don’t think about it. Here goes the conversation with himself that he really doesn’t want to have, that he hates to have. I can’t do this to myself, why do I even do that stuff? Successful people don’t use drugs every day. You don’t use drugs every day, just most days. No! Stop thinking about it he tells himself.
He really does not want to do that tonight because he has a date with the hotel heiress. She is so beautiful and her name rings in his head, Marabina. Yes that’s it and it’s a very strange name, Celtic or something like that. Marabina Marritton. Everybody wants her and you’ve got her. How in the hell did you pull that off? She is twenty-four, extremely beautiful, witty, funny and stunning at five foot seven inches tall and very ambitious. Why would a beautiful young woman like her even bother with a guy like him? Thinking to him, “No doubt that you will somehow screw this up”.
As he turns his car onto the street that he lives on, this is the first time he notices that all the houses on the block look so similar. Some subtle differences of color is the only thing that separates the look of the homes. Sort of like cardboard cut outs. He thinks to himself, it’s been just over a year that he has lived there and how odd a revelation is that. He opens the door into a very nice home, living in Kemah on Sea Crest Street isn’t so bad and two sexy ladies are in the living room sitting on the sofa and they look like they belong there. He has never seen them before today. He can see that the brunette is tall, lanky legs but pretty and the blonde is a little shy as she looked down to the floor when his gaze fell upon her. Observation is a habit of his and it has to do with all of his training. There’s loud music playing on the stereo and the smell of weed smoke in the air and he just waves and keep going.
How strange is it that he doesn’t like to smoke weed anymore, he started smoking weed when he was ten years old. One day just before he separated from his active duty with the military he just quit. He said that he didn’t like how it made him feel so he was going to stop smoking weed. And he did, even to this day he has never smoked weed again. That is so strange. And there’s a funny story about a Ferret the last time that he smoked weed, completely freaked him out.
He needs to shower and change; he is going to go see his Lady, that is it and what is he doing with a hotel heiress… He thinks to himself? He is sure that her family would disapprove if they only knew the things that they do. Go and see her, that is what you’re going to do and that’s all that you’re going to do. He is not going to mess around with those chicks in the living room, he should probably pretend like they are not there. So, into the master bedroom he goes and closing the door behind him. All most instantly a knock on his bedroom door and before he can say a word it flings open and his roommate Trace comes in. He is blond, has a long shaggy hair cut that’s shoulder length. He is a six feet two-inch tall man, and women really fall for him.
Trace is slightly older than Jacques and man; Trace is the wildest white boy who he’s ever met. He is from some crap town in Indiana that’s hard to pronounce and will fight at the drop of a hat. He loves to fight and is a crazy fighter. They are kindred in that respect. The really cool part is that he has got Jacques’ back, and he doesn’t have to worry about that. Trace’s girlfriend lives in Pasadena, Texas and they have a child together and he rarely sees them. He would love to be a good father or dad and there just isn’t enough time. Trace says to him “Dude, lets cook some stuff up and these girls will fuck us six ways to Sunday”! He just looks at Trace for a few seconds and then he says I’ve got a date with Marabina. Trace says, “Man she’s so fine and she is so crazy about you Bro”. “You are one lucky son of a…” Jacques cuts him off with, watch it Trace, and don’t be talking about my mom like that or I’ll kick the living shit out of you man.
Trace mumbles something under his breath and then says, “Hey, just cook me a gram and I’ve got a Hun, a hundred dollars and I’ll get Janice to give you a blow job while you’re cooking it”!!! I’ve got some qua’s and they are boot leg four-day qua’s. Quaalude’s. Fuck! He thought that this might happen, thinking to himself– “Don’t you dare give in, just tell him later, or no, or some other time. Plus you have to work in the morning”.
Looking into the kitchen – Jacques is in the same slacks from work and a wife beater, the white tank top undershirt that older men wear and he is near the stove preparing something. Traces walks in to the kitchen and asks is it ready yet and he tells him, “leave me alone”. He doesn’t listen and then the next thing he knows, the two women and Trace are in the kitchen. He is wondering if these women are the pigs and so he says “Are you two Cops”. Hey, if y’all are police you have got to tell me right now because I asked you. If you lie that’s Entrapment!
Janice comes over and rubs his crotch, a lot! He is standing there cooking free-base cocaine in a saucepan, the pan is almost see through. Cooking with Ether is takes up too much time so this way is faster. “Faster is good, must go faster”. And it looks like a ball of yellow jelly swirling around in the pan and the color of the sauce pan distorts the color of the cocaine. It’s about the size of a very large marble. There’s an odd smell in the kitchen and you have to know that smell. “OOUU that smell! Can you smell that smell”?? He tells himself that he is going to do a couple of hits, put away a stash and get his C-Note from Trace. And then get a bj and then he’s off on his date.
Before he sprays the sauce pan he puts the glass lid on the pot. He does not want anything to get inside of the pan, he wants complete purity! He uses a can of Freon to cool down the sauce pan – CCCSSSSSHHHHHH – is the sound that comes out of the can loudly as he sprays the outside of the sauce pan. The jelly turns to a white/slightly yellow rock as the water swirls and it’s the size of a very big marble.
Get the tools out and sit the fuck down he says to Trace!!! He didn’t realize that he was yelling and he was! They all sit down at the table like they’re fixing to have dinner. Somehow this isn’t as elegant a dinner that this table was designed for. What a grand dining room, with silver candle sticks and all. His mind wanders and he thinks to himself that he has never had a dinner party or has ever eaten food in “the grand dining room”. The main course today is just a little different then says, in the home of The Abbott’s or The Cleavers. Ward Cleaver would have a fit, “June, what in the heck is going on”?
He laughs out loud and everyone just stares at him like he is crazy or something. They start smoking and that’s it. That is all she wrote… He knows that it’s all over for him, he probably won’t move very far from this chair for a long, very long time. This is the one thing that he knows for sure.
Its 5:00a.m., the morning after and they’re still in the kitchen and he has Ann Marie on the counter and he is banging her from behind, and correct. And he
keeps looking over his shoulder to see if they’re stealing hits while they are doing
it, “doing the nasty”. Trace actually owes him over a grand and the girls, about $500.00 each and the girls can’t fuck that off. He wants his money when the bank opens this morning.
Yeah right, “as if he will be able to leave to follow them to the bank at 9:00a.m.” Trace starts to tweak and so he stops what he’s doing to get Traces mind right. He is in control, this is his set and you will do exactly what he says. And he does. He just sits down and shuts the fuck up. Jacques loads the glass pipe and tells Janice to kneel between his legs and start giving him oral so they can do “The Love Hit”. What a name! And it has absolutely nothing to do with Love.
Just before she makes him cum, he hits that glass and man do I mean hit it! What a
feeling of elation! What a high! This is what it’s all about, this is awesome and
what a rush! Reality starts to sets in and he thinks to himself “that he keeps his
cocaine locked up in a safe and his money in Dingo Boot Boxes in an Armoire”.
And all of a sudden that seems so strange to him.… His next thought is, shit, he
didn’t call to cancel his date with the Heiress.
Now it’s all most 6:00a.m. and there is no way in hell that he can show up for work in this condition. He starts to feel badly for a minute and then he thinks that that’s bull shit. He didn’t smoke thousands of dollars worth of coke to feel bad. He picked up the mirror with all the dope, and tool’s on it and went into the other room, picked up the phone and called in sick. Back to the kitchen with the mirror in tow and he grabs Ann Marie, bends her over and get’s busy again. This goes on for days and nights. Four or five days, and he loses track of the days as they all start to blend into each other. What a fucking life, not really! And it isn’t really, it is not life. It does not even resemble real life and he doesn’t understand this just yet.
Chapter 2 – Early Orleans
Thinking back: (1963-1964) A five year old *Creole* boy he’s lanky, almost awkward, long shoulder length very curly brown hair and is living and playing in Orleans, on N. Pierre Street. His Mother calls, Jacques, where are you Chere’??? I’m coming Momma, “I am coming” he shouts over the other kids playing near him. They always stop him when he’s having fun. He wonders out loud why can’t he play outside till dark like the other kids Ma he asks? “Smack”, she hit’s him sternly right upside his head! “Don’t you question me boy I’m your Mama, now get in that house and eat your dinner”. Yes mama. He stops in the living room and turn towards the T.V. It’s in color and everybody’s making a big deal out of it. So what, what difference does color really make? A voice booms, “Boy you better move before I get up from here and beat you”. He turns, it’s his dad and he is in his pajamas and it’s his T.V. so he’d better move.
He glares at Jacques and the child just looks at the floor and starts walking through the house. Why is he always so mean to him, he didn’t do anything to make him mad today? As he walks out he can still hear his father’s voice and can’t quite understand what he’s saying. His Father said, “You ain’t shit and you are never going to be shit you little shit ass”! The next room is his parents’ bedroom; the next room is his two older brothers and his room, then the kitchen and a small bathroom. This is a very small home. Tiny. Five rooms, we all, all eight of us live in five rooms. He has three older sisters and they sleep in the front room after his dad gets done watching T.V.
And he’s the youngest of the six, the Baby! That’s what his Mom always calls him whenever she’s talking to someone else about him. His Mother is straight old school and she was a teen and grew up during the Great Depression. She has told him many stories about that era and he thinks that it’s weird most of the time. It is funny the different values that each American Generation has, or doesn’t have in his case. She is a dyed in the wool Catholic.
He enters the kitchen and his Grand Mother opens her arms and he runs into them. She hugs him for a long time and he squirms around where his back is to her. He looks at her hands and touch’s her skin and she’s a light brown, a tan-ish color, almost the color of a paper bag. He rubs her hand with a gentle tenderness and affection. Her skin is wrinkled though and he asks her, Grand Ma, why is your skin so soft and rumpled? She laughs out loud, “Rumpled”? You just wait till you get old and then you’ll see why, “Slim Goodie”.
Grand Ma, he asked her, why you call me that all the time? “Because Jacques, you remind me of my youngest son that is why. You were named after him and you are just like him. He died on December 4th and you were born on December 24th, twenty days later. You were our most wonderful Christmas Present Slim. He was a good man and you’ll be a good man too if you just listen to your Mama boy”.
Her English isn’t that good and then she bleeds over into broken French and he can barely understand her. “You hear me boy”? Yes Maam, Qui, Chere, I understand. Where is your youngest son Mama? Boy, she says, “he is with Jesus, up in Heaven be my guess little one. Well, you’d better sit down and eat before ya Mama comes back in here yea”.
He sits down and begins to eat with her and they talk about all sorts of things. She is a Lopez by birth and she and his momma were born in a town named Convent, Louisiana. He’s not sure where his Aunt Junta is at, she lives in that half of the house with his Grand Ma. She is his Momma’s older Sister and they have an older Sister and Brother. He has two Aunts’ and an Uncle.
He feels that his Grand Ma understands him and he feels that she is the only person in the world that does. They have and odd relationship because at times they are really more like two children as she has advanced dementia. So sometimes she’s a woman, older and wise and then there are other times when the two of them pull shenanigans’ just like a couple of innocent children would.
His Mother took them both on the city bus system to Canal Street for a shopping spree. They are rather poor so this is a real big deal for them all. The incident on the bus is really for a different time and there is never anytime like the present. This is the mid-to-Early- Nineteen Sixties and segregation is alive and well in most of America. It’s on the down low in the North and Northeast. And it is raging especially in the South.
As they enter the bus his Mother puts a series of coins into this machine that stands like a sentry before you can pass the Bus Driver, to go to your seat if there is one available. The driver looks at his Mother and smiles real broad and hand gestures her onto the bus. Then he sees her Mother and she is slightly tan-ish with much darker skin and hair than his mother and his Grandmother is holding Jacques’ little hand in her hand. This child is slightly tan, dark brown eyes and he has large ringlet curls of brown hair flowing almost to his shoulders.
The driver then says “they have to sit behind the screen” very matter of fact. His Mother makes a sound out loud more than actually speaking and them all three head down the narrow isle towards the back of the bus. There are two rows of two seats each on either side of the isle.
A man of color sitting directly behind the screen see’s them coming and he gets up, takes off his hat and offers them his seat. His Mother thanks the gentleman out loud and his Grandmother, he and his Mother all sit in a two person seat. He is sitting between them. The man who gave them his seat says to his Mother, “Maam, you are not supposed to be back here”. She turns her head slightly towards him and says I am exactly where I am supposed to be, thank you very much! The stranger doesn’t respond and turns away from them.
And then Jacques being the curious child that he is attempt’s to ask why they have to sit behind that, that thing as he doesn’t know what its proper name is. His Mother pops him in the mouth with a fluent backhand and not very hard and it does get his attention. You shush boy, and his Grandmother echo’s the statement “you shush Slim, enjoy the ride”. So the two of them look out of the window and they talk about all the things that they see that the bus passes.
A couple of minutes later a white woman sitting in front of them and the segregation screen turns and comments to his Mother how beautiful his hair is. His Mother says, thank you and then the woman asks may she touch his hair because it looks so soft & fluffy. In Jacques’ little mind he is protesting this woman touching anything of his and knows that his Mother will defend him against, against this Woman!
To his little surprise his Mother says “certainly” and pushes Jacques head forward towards the screen placing his little head within this woman grasp. He tries to protest and the harder he tries the more she pushes his little head. His little mind is racing with thoughts and disbelief that she would allow this woman to touch his hair and he feels his Grandmother take his little hand into hers and then she starts to hum. Immediately that sound begins to relax him on the outside and on the inside of him there is a raging storm brewing.
His eyes well up with tears of anger and he feels rage and he will not let the tears drop, he will not give her or them the satisfaction of seeing him cry. His Mother has no idea what this child is feeling or harboring and it is unnatural for such a young child to have these, these intense type feelings. He feels a strong sense of confusion and he doesn’t understand what he is feeling. The white woman thanks his Mother and says speaking directly to Jacques, “now, that wasn’t so bad after all”?
He doesn’t look up and his Grandmother squeezes his little hand, he doesn’t answer out loud at all. In his little mind he is screaming at this woman who he feels has violated his personal space and touched his hair.
The bus driver announces out loud, Canal Street. They ride for six or seven more stops before they exit the bus through the back/side door. Now here they are, and in order to get to the department store they have to cross Canal Street. He hears his Mother saying that “he is not to let go of his Grandmothers hand”. He does not acknowledge her statement and they have to wait as the cars buzz by on this very wide three lane street and it has a very large neutral ground in the middle separating the two directions of traffic.
The “Streetcar” runs down the center of Canal Street about a block down from where they are standing and there is a story to the “Neutral Ground”. His Grand Mother told him that in the early 1900’s till about 1920 or 1930 it was a planned literal canal which would have connected the Mississippi River to the Congo Square off of the Carondelet (street) canal. The Mississippi River is at the foot of Canal Street.
There was also talk about it running all the way to Lake Pontchartrain and because the U.S. Intelligence Community had deep roots on the Uptown side of Canal Street it was never constructed and thus the Neutral Ground became the dividing line between the older French/Spanish colonial-era (French Quarter) city and the newer Italian American Sector which is today’s CBD. That median, “the neutral ground”, was for a time the only safe area for them all to meet openly as each race was extremely territorial about their neighborhoods and areas.
This was long before his time and his Grandmother would tell him stories about when she would come to Orleans as a girl with her Mom & Dad, his Great Grandparents which he did not have the pleasure to meet as they were all long dead and gone by the time he was born. Her stories for him was his greatest learning thus far about this home, his family heritage and the world outside of Orleans, she was a wonderful story teller. She told young Jacques that her Father was the equivalent of a character we know as “Archie Bunker”, a Proud Creole’ and his name was Jacques L. Breaux.
If you were not in his direct Family he did not like you. Period! Well their shopping trip was going really well as they had walked over to Kress and had lunch. He had a hotdog with chips and a drink and he couldn’t wait to tell his brothers about their little excursion. When they went to Krauss to do the remainder of their shopping his Mother had both hands full with bags, he was not really sure what was in those bags and it really didn’t matter to him. His Mother got his attention and told him and his Grandmother “to not move and for them to wait right there in this particular spot in the store” for her to return.
His Mother knew that she would have to wrap up the shopping as her other children would be returning home from school soon and that they should get finished and head home. The moment that she turned and walked away from them they looked at each and smiled. Off they went in search of the toy section of the store, they had no idea where they were going or how they would arrive there. It took over an hour for his Mother to find them and when she did she spanked Jacques on his little hinny scolding him while beating his butt. What an interesting day that it has been he thought as she spanked him. He did not cry a drop from the spanking.
 *Creole*, of Negro descent, mixed with French, Spanish, Haitian, Native Indian or all of the prior.
Chapter 3 – Dream a little dream of…
That night after falling asleep he has the oddest dream. The Nuns from Sacred Heart of Jesus Grammar School are chasing him down Lantharpe Street. This is the side street to the family’s home. He’s running as fast as his little legs can go and they seem to be gaining on him. They have these long teeth sticking out of their lips going up and down and he is scared. He didn’t do anything bad today so why are they chasing him.
He just wants to wake up, Wake Up! Is he dreaming or is this real and that’s why he can’t wake up. The dream is actually surreal. Shit! He turns on Gallez Street into “Jorge De Mona’s Store” he is the Neighborhood Grocer and man he is trying to hide. Inside the store they come and they’re calling his name, over and over. “Jacques where are you”? So he’s hiding behind a shelf holding his ears and their voices are piercing and he can’t stop shaking. He is so afraid that he’s thinking to himself that he is going to pee his little pants. This must be what it feels like to be “terrified”.
He heard that term on “Dark Shadows” a television show in the Sixties that remarkably, his Mother likes. Why is this happening to me, I’ve been a good boy…? Thinking to him no you haven’t, remember what you were doing with your sisters Sophia’s friend? His Sisters friend Mona would let him touch her boobies and feel her body. She felt good and he liked it!
He looked around the corner and he could see them going to the back of the store, passing the meat counter. Something smells really good and he can’t think about that right now. Why is he hungry and thinking about food? This is his chance, if he can make it to the door then he could run home and his Grand Ma will take care of him. She will protect him! She’ll get them Nun’s straight and keep them from getting him. So he makes a break for the door and he’s running just as fast as his legs can. Two and a half blocks and he is home safe, he thinks that he can make it! His little lungs feel like they are going to burst from his breathing so hard.
When he gets to the front door of their home the front door is open, he runs through the house and it doesn’t look like anybody’s in the house. The feeling of panic sinks deeper into him. He runs straight through the house and he sees the bathroom door, he can hide in there. They won’t be able to get him in there. Where’s Ma Ma, Grand Ma where are you he screams? When he opens the door, Ma Ma’s is inside, Wow, there is too much light coming from behind her.
All of a sudden he gets the strangest feeling all over him and it is from his head to toe. This feeling totally engulfs him, his entire being. What is it that he’s feeling? At first he doesn’t like it, very odd and he doesn’t think that he’s ever felt this way before. And there is that smell again like in the store, what is that smell? There is a super bright light behind her and it is so bright that at first he has to look away.
And this is weird because she is hovering in the air, with her legs folded like she is sitting on something or in a yoga pose and there is nothing underneath her. He rubs his eyes because the light is affecting his vision and he can’t believe what he’s seeing! Then all of a sudden Jacques notices something coming over him, this is a really strange feeling! It starts at the top of his head and goes all over and through his body all the way down to his toes. He feels so peaceful, he is no longer afraid of the Nuns or anything else for that matter. This is a calm feeling! What is it that he’s feeling? This is feeling is beyond peaceful; this is something that he has never imagined. It’s the most wonderful feeling and he is wishing that he could feel this way all of the time. Wow what is this amazing feeling!
Not lonely or afraid, he no longer feels disconnected from the rest of the world. The odd feeling of not being connected to anything or anyone, not even to his family is gone. It is a satisfied feeling of being full inside, content and whole is the thought that overwhelms him. He looks up at her and starts babbling trying to tell her about the Nun’s and she SSssshh’s him. Sshh, slim, “You are all ready all right boy”!
He is standing there quiet, there is no sound and just looking at her and the light is all around her. The light feels warm, most comfortable. It is somehow softer because he can look right at her and it doesn’t hurt his eyes any more. She says, “Boy, everything is going to be all right, it’s all ready all right”. Remember this and Slim, please remember that you are GODS Warrior, his sword, his little soldier! He is so still, so peaceful that he doesn’t ever want this moment to end. He wants to stay here forever, then he remembers, thinking, is he dreaming this? Is this real? Ma Ma, what do you mean I’m “God’s warrior, his sword”, huh? What?
He wakes to his Mother shaking him and yelling, “Boy pee in the toilet, Cher” and smack, right on his little hinny. He is peeing everywhere and as he comes awake the feeling leaves him and now all he feels is shame, horrible deep seated shame! His Mom says “You were sleep walking and talking and then you just started peeing”. She is going to punish him for this, he knows that for sure. He’s in big trouble! His Mom gives Jacques a quick wipe off and helps him to change pajamas and then she says, go to bed boy. We’ll talk to you about this in the morning. And the morning comes so quickly and he doesn’t want to open his little eyes.
It is June twenty-something, nineteen sixty-eight and he wakes and comes to, to a voice screaming, “Oh Jesus! Oh my God” really loud! He’s rubbing his eye’s trying to wake up as everyone is running through his room so he gets up and follows everybody. He scrambles out of his bed as fast as he can to the other side of the house. His Aunt Junta is still screaming hysterically as his Mother pulls the sheet over his Ma Ma’s face and everyone is crying and holding each other and he’s standing in the door way watching.
He feels so small, so tiny almost nonexistent and almost as if he’s not even there. Why isn’t Grandma moving and take that off of her face he thinks? His Mother puts a cloth over the clock after stopping it from ticking in Grand Ma’s room, she also covers the mirror. What is she doing that for? That seems so strange to him and no one is saying anything matter of fact you could hear a pin drop. And he can see that his Mother is trying not to cry. Her face distorts and the tears just start pouring down her face. This is the first time that he has ever seen his Mother cry.
What is going on and what could make his Mother cry like that. He feels that he wants to protect her, and comfort her and he can’t. He does not know what to do to help her and he feels sad about it. Mama, why are you crying he thinks to himself? Even when she fought with his Dad, she never cried. Then his Mom says, “get your little brother out of here”. So his Sister Sophia takes him by the hand and leads him next door to their side of the house. He asked his sister what just happened and she tells him to “Be quite, and shut up”.
Those Orleans shot-gun houses are where we live. He thinks to himself that they are only here in Orleans and he hasn’t been any place else to notice things like that yet. His Mom walks in the room and he asked her, what is wrong with my Grand Ma, Ma? Why did you cover her up like that, go and take that off of her! He says with as much authority that an almost ten year old can muster up; actually he won’t make ten years old until December. Her answer, “With Jesus” son, she’s with Jesus now. He remembers that is what Grand Ma said about her youngest son, “he is with Jesus”. Who is this Jesus person and why is everybody going by him?
About a year has passed and its 1969 – The same boy, his Mother and a Catholic Nun are sitting in an office and he is crying. More like a low whine without tears. Sister Jane Mary Margaret glares at the boy and says, “he is a good student and he is very, very smart if he would focus on his school work and not mischief and fighting”. He speaks, “but he started it, stuck me in my chest with a pencil”. The Nun gets up grabs him by his ears and yanks him out of the chair. She makes him stand in the corner of the office and hold two very large books, one in each hand. His skinny arms strains under the weight of the large books.
“Jacques kneel down now Boy”, she says. Now, sorry what was I saying, and his Mother doesn’t even bat an eye. He has been looking up the girls’ skirts a lot this week and I noticed that he had an erection Tuesday morning. He is obsessed with a girl in his class and her name is Lita, Lita Montegut. And she is no help as she seems to like the attention that he gives her. I think that is what the fight was about, Miguel threw something at her and he just went after him. When he is like that he is like an animal. He knocked two people over getting to Miguel and whoa Cheri, did he give him a thumping. I think that he broke that boy’s nose. Blood went everywhere and that didn’t even slow him down.
He has to make confession for lying and for hurting that boy. You know that he just did it right in front of us just now. His Mother is a woman of few words and today she is very soft spoken, Sister, he is going through a rough time and you know us well. You have taught most of my other children. His Father is very ill and he is in and out of hospital. It’s the cancer, in his lungs. My Sister Junta and I really try to work with him but he is so stubborn. Junta whips his hands with a ruler and he has not cried, not even once. Every since his Grand Mother died last spring he has been out of control, I can’t seem to get him to act right Sister. Also his little nephew Sammie is not doing too well with the brain tumor. He up in Charity Hospital and we have to spend a lot of time there.
I really understand what you are saying Sister, that boy can be “so evil” sometime. I don’t know what I am going to do with him? I pray and pray and the only thing that comes to me is to offer him to the church to become a priest. He is the youngest male child and we are a “Roman Catholic Family” in Orleans. I wish that he would be more like his older brother Jaston; she looks to the corner at Jacques.
“Jaston” he thinks to himself, “fat fucker Jaston” he gets straight A’s and he is going to St. Austine High School when he finishes school here. Sister Jane Mary Margaret thinks, hmmm, now that is a good idea. He is going to be a Priest; the world and parish needs more priests and the seminary will set him straight. His Mother gets up and thanks the Sister and they shake hands, “so it’s done, we have decided and that’s final”. After his Mother walks out of the room Sister goes over to where Jacques’ is and says, “You, young man are going to be a priest, we have decided and that’s final”.
Go over to the rectory and see Father Martin, I will call ahead and do not doddle, go straight there. Schools out for the day and all the kids are running around screaming and playing but not him. He dutifully walks straight through the school yard behind the church and around to the rectory. He rings the door buzzer for too long while the door latch snaps, clunk, as he pushes the door open. This rectory has an electric security latch that must be opened from the inside and why on earth do they have or need that he wonders. The smell of something being cooked is in the air and it makes his stomach growl.
He walks up to a sliding window and it opens all most at the same second that he arrives at the window. Miss Almita says, “Boy, what have you done now”? “You are always in trouble and I’m sure that it wasn’t your fault, right”? Before he can speak she continues, “Father Martin is a very busy man and doesn’t have time for the likes of you. Our Pastor has many more important things on his mind than a bad, little shit-ass boy like you”. “I don’t even know how trash like you got into this school”. “Your poor Mother must have said many a Novena to get you in here”.
A Catholic Brother walks up and introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Brother Alexander Moore, I’m the new art teacher and I have been told that you like to draw”. The Brother ignores what Miss Almita has just finish saying to the boy. “Come with me” he says to Jacques and they walk out of the rectory together.
It is now Sunday morning and mass has all ready started. His Mother is in the second row and she is beaming with pride as she looks at her youngest son. The priest is saying the mass in Latin and as he holds up the chalice, her son rings the bells. The sound of the ringing bells resonates through the massive church. He looks at his Mother and barely smiles then his attention goes right back to the priest. He and another boy bring the water and the wine to the Priest. “He took the bread gave it to his disciples and said, take this all of you and eat it. This is my body, the body of the new and ever living Christ”, the priest says in Latin.
If you don’t speak Latin you will not understand a word that the Priest is saying. He has to learn Latin to become a priest and in his mind he thinks that this sucks. I’m sure that very few understand and he has to learn more Latin. He so hates this and his whole life, why do I have to do this he asks God and no answer comes? No answer comes, as if GOD would answer the likes of him. They make him pray and pray and it is like no one’s listening. Who is this “God” fellow anyway? “They are with Jesus”, everyone that he really likes is with Jesus!
The mass continues and the Priest goes on with his part. Both boys look at each other and smile. They are up to something! “The Mass has ended, go in peace to love and to serve the Lord” the priest says. Then the procession goes down the center isle of the church and outside into the sweltering Orleans heat and sunshine. Father dismisses the boy’s and they are glad as their robes are very warm. Warm is an understatement, they are down- right hot under there. They head to the back of the sacristy to the room that is designated for the Alter Boy’s. And they start to pull the robes over their heads. They have their Sunday clothes on underneath and again they grin at each other.
What on earth are they up to? His Mother talks to the Pastor outside the church and The Father is a pompous, very large man and his face and cheeks are mostly red. He has a red bulb of a nose and it is always bright red. He has a flushing red face and it is probably from drinking too much alcohol and no one ever mentions it. Ever! She looks for her son and does not see him; she looks around for another minute or so and then starts walking home. She does not drive and that is o.k. as they do not own a car. The house is three less than four blocks away. They get around on city public transportation and that’s a whole different story that we lightly touched on!
The two boys walk through a hall way that runs the distance behind the alter yet it is completely hidden. This old church has many passages ways that are not visible to the congregation’s eye. One of them looks around the corner and see’s that Mr. Noreaha has his back to them. He is busy doing whatever it is that he does every Sunday before and after mass. And he is in there every Sunday, without fail.
They slip by unnoticed and there is a vault door and it is cracked, slightly open. They both go in, and after a brief “No you first, no you go first” they find what it is that they came in there for in a matter of seconds. Five rows of gallon jugs, filed with wine. The very same wine that the Priest just consecrated then consumed on the alter during the mass. They help each other lift up the large bottle as one takes a drink and then the other.
“More” he says as his partner in crime helps to lift the bottle to his mouth. He is guzzling the wine down like he has done this his whole life. The real problem has not even begun yet. It is his first time every drinking alcohol. The warm sensation sweeps from the top of his head to his feet in a matter of seconds. What an odd taste, not sweet and just a little tart right at the end.
The smell of the wine actually consumes his senses starting in his nose, then his tongue. Wow, what an interesting feeling and he thinks that he likes it. No, he really likes it! The warm sensation quickly leaves and the feeling of elation is new to him and very weird at the same time. They both get one more very large swallow then they seal the bottle back with its cap. For two nine year olds they’ve put a slight dent in that gallon jug. They pat themselves on the back as they leave the sacristy and giggle as they rush past Mr. Noreaha.
They are laughing and walking and talking about how much they drank. “I drank more than you” and then a slight argument ensues. It does not take very long and then they both get a weird feeling! Their stomachs are turning from the rapid consumption of the wine and no food yet eaten today. Their bodies are small and not equipped for that much alcohol and they have no clue what is happening to them right now. They look at each other and burst into laughter again. He is saying to his cohort, my tummy feels bad and I feel dizzy. It is time to go home and then it dawns on him, what if someone knows that he is drunk.
My Mom is going to kill me! If I get found out I am surely going to get a beating and its Sunday. I really don’t feel like getting a beating today, I’m all dressed up and so wanted to have a good day. Man, did I screw this one up!
Into the house he goes and he is really trying to act normal. In the front room his Dad is watching sports and it sounds like football. He walks through and his Dad said, “Boy you ain’t shit, and you ain’t never going to be shit”! And he ignores his Dad and just keeps on walking. As he goes through the second room he is so grateful that his Mom is not in there as she would want to talk or say something about how well he did the Mass. In the third room, “the boys’” room he finds his solitude, no one is in there so he changes his clothes really quietly and sits down.
Now what? He can hear his Mother in the kitchen and a wonderful smell is coming from one of the two kitchens. He can hear her humming and that always comforts him. What is it about her making that sound that brings him so much joy? It is because it was what his Grand Mother did to calm him down or just something that became special to him through her. He sits there pondering that and time is just moving along. Time is just moving along and he is not! He leans back against the head board of the bed and darkness engulfs him, He has passed straight out, he is in a drunken blackout and does not know it.