12/25 Christmas Day
The Bus left EL Paso at 2pm and passed through Houston at 3am.
The sky is black and grey.
Snow and rain.
The Driver announced that thunder is always followed by bright flashes
The few drowsy passengers yawned with interest.
At 8am the sky turned pink and flocks of migrating birds rippled overhead.
Scent of rich, wet Earth as more black clouds moved in.
At Noon we cross the brown and swollen Mississippi into New Orléans.
I dashed around the city for thirty minutes trying to find a working ATM.
I prayed for a Bank of America and found a Wells Fargo.
The machine addressed me by name and spat a hundred dollars at me.
I picked up the cash and hailed a taxi.
Ten dollars brought me to a hostel and 40 got me a dormitory style room.
There is no pleasure like removing ones shoes after 24 hours of bus travel.
Miguel was a splendid Thirty.
Thick black hair, olive complexion, his Argentinean accent tempered by six years of living in Australia.
I thought he was gay because there was so much sex in his gaze.
I silently mumbled hallelujah and stuck my feet under the blanket lest he think I harbored a new and horrid fungus.
He told me a sad story about losing his luggage; he had made the mistake of checking it with Greyhound.
My heart and wardrobe went out to him.
Miguel agreed with me when I said that Bourbon Street was best explored with a buddy.
After showering and dressing we set out on St. Charles Street.
Miguel told me the story of the first time he lost all of his clothing.
“I was on the beach at Cancun and met a pretty woman,” he said. “We became passionate and stripped off our clothes and what the Hell!–You don’t notice other people when you are with a pretty woman! Some men were watching us so she took me into the dunes and when we came back all of our clothes were gone”
“Maybe you’re meant to go naked.” I said.
Miguel winked and laughed.
We ate at Scarlett’s
I had the Frankly My Dear seafood salad and Miguel had Rhett’s Hot Gumbo.
We topped it off with chicory blend coffee and two slices of Miss Pittypats Peach Pie.
Later we strolled St. Charles Avenue.
Wrought iron gates, French colonial houses, narrow one way streets, and modern houses made to look antebellum.
We reached Canal Street and searched for Bourbon Street.
We couldn’t find it and entered a stuffy Marriott and asked directions.
“Bourbon Street? Bourbon Street?” asked the clerk behind the information desk as if he’d never heard of it.
“I’m told it’s in New Orléans.” said Miguel.
The clerk leaned across his desk and pointed North: “It’s that way.”
Bourbon Street was a mere two blocks from the stuffy Marriott.
Juke joints, jazz clubs, blues clubs, strip shows, French orgies, American orgies, topless and bottomless hookers, voodoo shops, peep shows and laughing gas sold everywhere for 5 bucks a hit.
A red glow rose from the street and saturated the dense and tightly
We continued to walk until the party came to an abrupt end.
Ahead was more Bourbon Street, but darker. I entered a bar called the Tool Box and realized I’d found the gay section.
I entered the bar and saw people across the street peer into it as if blind
and turn around.
Miguel was still across the street looking around for me. I thought he’d
followed me into the bar.
I had the eerie feeling that one had to be gay or bisexual to see through the black barrier between these two slices of Bourbon Street.
All around me were gay men in brightly colored caps and leather jackets.
I could have been on Castro Street.
I left the bar and strolled back across the street and announced to Miguel that I had found a Gay Bar.
We stood together for a moment and watched more men enter and leave the Tool Box.
“Yes,” he said, “They have their own culture.”
RG (c) 2016