LEJ's Blog

My Photo
Name:
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

⚓The Visitation / January 2022


⚓ 


January 2022

 


The Visitation

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher!
by
 Leonard Earl Johnson 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

Hildegard Bottlebrush welcomed the visitors and led them upstairs to the Rectory study.   They each took the Priest's hand and reminded him of where they had met.  

Baltazar said it was in Grand Coteau, at a Sacred Heart Academy reading where the Rector and the Bishop each bought $5 reprints of his chat book, "The Boy Behind the Altar / Big Mamou to the East Village."  He spoke the title beaming at the Priest, though he assumed few of the cloth ever read any of his 'Fisher of Men' poems.

Hildegard silently slipped away and returned with a tray filled with coffee pots, China cups, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, warm pecan cookies, polished silver spoons and white linen napkins.  She poured and passed the offerings.  

"We have taken rooms next door to the little blue and white Mission House of Mother Teresa," Dillard, the taller of the two Red Women, told the smiling Rector.  

"We plan on joining the Cathedral congregation," her friend Sylvia added, while rummaging in her red KRVS-NPR tot bag.  

This news caused The Rector's smile to fade and his silver spoon to slip from his fingers and bounce once on the hand knotted burgundy rug.  

Dillard and Sylvia are the kind of parishioners who cause young priests to dream of wine.  The rug ~ from Bukhara ~ had traveled the Silk Road from Uzbekistan to France before any one in the Rector's study this day were more than dreams in their molecular ether.  Centuries later it sailed to Louisiana aboard a ship made of wood and propelled by wind.  Now it softens the footsteps of these interestingly holy, revolutionary, mercenary, bewildering, and beguiling folks.  Hildegard gave the Rector a fresh spoon.  

 

💜💚💛

Sylvia removed the little package Baltazar had given her for safe keeping and handed it to him.  Baltazar opened the tissue paper, folded back the bubble wrap and placed the little JFK forget-me-not rocker on the coffee table.  

Hildegard removed the cups of coffee.

"I am asking five-hundred American," Baltazar said.   The Rector's eyes widened as he read the gilded monogram, JFK.  He looked up and said, "I am offering you three." 

JFK Memento
Dallas, November 22, 1963
In that little space of time the deal was struck.  Three crisp one-hundred dollar banknotes left the Rector's alligator wallet for the fisherman poet's bejeweled left white boot.  One yellow jewel was slightly larger than the others and covered a secret compartment revealing ~ when unlocked with a tiny gold key ~ nine mildly psychogenic emerald gummy bears.  Next to the bears he placed the three perfectly folded and creased greenbacks.

🙏🙏
🙏🙏
🙏

Hildegard had attended Sacred Heart herself, but chose not to speak of it.  

"Catholic hierarchy runs Gott-to-Cloth with only passing nods towards housekeepers."  She once told this to the now Canonized Mother Teresa.  They had met during the future Saint's 1985 visit to Louisiana.  She had come to bolster the faithful in the wake of Jason Barry's exposé in the National Catholic Reporter, and his subsequent books and movie about clergy sexual-abuse.  Her visit had led to the establishment of the Mission House across from Dillard and Sylvia's new quarters.

🍷 

Hildegard's name, before being assimilated from its original German to American-English had been Hildegard Flaschenbürste.

Her family had immigrated to the 'German Coast' of Louisiana in 1721, from German/French disputed Alsace Lorraine. They had come as members of John Law's Indies Company, and the region where they settled in Louisiana took the French name, Bayou des Allemands, meaning 'Bayou of Germans'.

Bayou Des Allemands
A scenic spot on the Amtrak line thirty-five miles west of New Orleans. It is unincorporated, but still known and posted as Des Allemands (Of Germans).

A famed motor boat chase in the 1973 James Bond film, Live and Let Die was filmed on Bayou Des Allemands.

🧜‍♂️ 💀 🧜‍♂️ 
Addendum Adieu
1941 - 2021

Anne Rice photograph © Philip Gould
Word arrived on the Saturday morning train from New Orleans that vampire epic author Anne Rice died in Southern California where she had decamped shortly before New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, in 2005 ~ after the death in New Orleans of her Husband, the poet and painter, Stan Rice ~ to be near their Son, 
writer, Christopher Rice, aka, C. Travis Rice.

She posted on her Facebook page on July 28, 2010 
"Today I quit being a Christian. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.  My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become."

🎵𝆕𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥𝅰𝇥

~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~
Late news

Joan Didion / Wikipedia

Died in New York City. 

One of the Fabled Sixties best scribes.

💜💚
💛

💧


🗣😷

~    ~    ~   
 
© Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.worldhttp://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

✍ The Rector and The Rocking Chair / December 2021

 


🎄🎅🎄🤶🎄

⚓⚓ 

🎄



December 2021

The Rector and The Rocking Chair
~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

Dillard leaned on the front gate bell.  Silvia stood a couple feet behind her talking with Baltazar, the fisherman poet.  They are talking about the colored jewels he has pasted to the tops of his white rubber boots.  In Louisiana such boots ~ sans the jewels ~ are a shrimper's uniform and I.D.  The rubber keeps out the water.  No one knows why they are white.

"Some people say boots are white so as to not scuff the deck," Baltazar tells Silvia.  "Those people have never been on a shrimp boat."

On the other side of the gate resting on manicured paths dotted with magnolias and palmettos sits The Rectory of the Cathedral

of Saint John The Evangelist.  

Up a few stairs is a broad gallery lined with windows glittering in the sun.  The Rector and his Housekeeper, Hildegard Bottlebrush, watch unseen through double hung cut-glass windows set deeply in heavy mahogany doors.  

The Rector sees it is the two Red Women whom he does not wish to see; and Baltazar Boudreaux, who he does.  Baltazar has a JFK memento he wants to sell.  The Red Women have banners, stickers, slogans, and madness.

💜
💧

The Diocesan Bishop of Lafayette (and The Rector's temporal and spiritual boss) was a child of eleven in 1963, when his Father and Mother drove him from Basil, Louisiana to Dallas, to see President John F. Kennedy's brains blown out over the long shiny black trunk of the President's Lincoln Continental.  Of course, the boy never forgot it.

He saved his pennant and lapel pin from that day.  Over the years he added to the collection until it grew so large that LIFE Magazine once did a two page photo spread about it.  

Years later one of the government's JFK, "full disclosure," hearings traveled to New Orleans and set up tent in the Old U. S. Mint, in the French Quarter.  That was 1995.  The boy, now grown and a rising Prince of the Catholic Church, was asked to put his collection on display and say a few words.  He did this gladly.

Yes, Baltazar has something The Rector very much wants.  Something to give The Bishop at his January First Birthday party.  The something is a little porcelain rocking chair suggestive of one where the

JFK Memento 

President was often photographed rocking, flexing back muscles to ease his World War Two wounds.  

The Rector tells Bottlebrush to bring them to his second floor study. "And coffee, please."  These last words were spoken seated upon an ascending electric stairway ~ a folding chair attached to a steel rail bolted to the wall next to the stair treads.  Slowly electrically The Rector rose.  The Housekeeper buzzed open the gate.  The visitors entered. 
~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

🗣 😷

~    ~    ~





Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 

Note Our New Link is 
www.LEJ.world

Subscribe@LEJ.org http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Monday, November 01, 2021

⚓ Making Groceries at Rouses / November 2021

 


⚓⚓ 



Making Groceries

at Rouses

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

Silvia and Dillard detrained in Lafayette at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré and walked up Jefferson Street to Carpe Diem Gelato to rendezvous with L. A. Norma.  She has promised to help them 'make groceries.'  Making groceries is New Orleans speak for stocking the kitchen.

The two Red Women are stocking a kitchen in Lafayette across Saint John Street from the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist.  Their rooms are airy, clean, with a fine view of the ancient Live Oak Tree known throughout Louisiana as The Cathedral Oak.
  
Natures mystic carrousel
It is said to be over five hundred years old with a trunk that looks to be screwing up from the bowels of The Earth.  Limbs flinging love, order, and discipline.

The Cathedral Oak

In a direct sightline up Rue Principal (Main Street) from the Cathedral to Parish Prison to Parish Court House to the bank formerly known as the Chase Manhattan.  All Institutions in an alliance as outsider-friendly as money and faith will allow.  In Louisiana such allowances are nearly infinite.  

L. A. Norma calls it the three Fs, "Faith, Force, and Finance. As nourishing as the Cajun gumbo," she adds, dipping the ladle, passing the potato salad, exhaling Camel Cigarette smoke.

Here, gumbo is a wholesome seafood banquet.  Lapped up with cornbread as often as French bread.  And cemented to the Cajun heart with a big scoop of cold potato salad plopped at tableside into the bubbling broth.  A culinary curiosity seen as Satanic in New Orleans dining halls.  

"But we are not in New Orleans," Norma says, "and we love the creamy cooling mix." 

💜💚💛

The two Red Women each take a slice of pizza from the hot counter at Rouses Market near Cajun Field; and a bit of green salad from the cold counter.  

They find seats at tables beside large windows overlooking an ample parking lot off a freeway of streets with many lanes and complex traffic configurations.  Lafayette is a wonderfully stimulating place for automobiles and trucks. "And football," L. A. Norma adds.

Flat on the table beside their food trays they fan out black, white, and red stickers along side a hand lettered sign reading: "Free.Each sticker is a three inch black square holding a white circle inside of which is printed in blood red lettering:
!Turn Back 
Voter Turn Out!

Two black women toting black shopping baskets look at the stickers, then at the women, then walk away.  A redheaded pizza baker picks up two stickers, slips them into his white cook's jacket, and returns to the ovens.

Outside, through the windows a young man with jewels glued to his fisherman's white boots is seen waving his arms.  A square white van marked US POSTAL SERVICE stops and gives him a lift to the front door.
  
 👒
🍕  🍕

Sylvia spots the boots and recognizes the young man from their bus to New Orleans.  His name is Baltazar Boudreaux.  He thanks the Postman for the lift and walks into Rouses and over to the Red Women's table.  "I see you got back good," he says, picking up a sticker.  

They tell him of their new apartment near the Cathedral Oak, and their plans to join the Cathedral congregation. 

L. A. Norma explains she has brought them grocery shopping and will give them all a ride back, if he needs a lift. 

In fact, he says, he does. He is on his way to see the Cathedral's Rector. To show him an artifact commemorating the murder of John F. Kennedy fifty-eight years ago this November, in Dallas. He shows them a little porcelain rocking chair with the monogram, JFK, in gold glitter. It sits empty. A what-not-shelf keepsake from 1963. Baltazar wants to sell it. The Rector is interested, he is in need of a gift for the Bishop's birthday. <a href=http://www.LEJ.world>~ www.LEJ.world</a>

~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

💔

🗣😷

~    ~    ~

      

 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

Subscribe@LEJ.worldhttp://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER, and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved