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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.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

⚓ Bottom Road to Baton Rouge / Sept 2021




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Bottom Road to Baton Rouge

Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
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 Sylvia, shorter of the two Red Women, handed her fellow traveler their bus tickets.  Dillard took them and dropped them in her red purse.  She had waited at the coffee shop while Sylvia went across the street to make the purchase.

Clock Tower,
Rosa Parks

Transportation Centre'
Lafayette Louisiana
Their departure would be in a half hour, from under the clock tower at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre'.  The two Red Women Warriors are in pursuit of a place to promote their cause of reviving the War in Vietnam.

The clock tower is charming.  Part Walt Disney dreamy, part French modern.  It oversees the parking lot ~ keeping track of time for travelers too hurried to keep it for themselves.  

The two finished their Espresso Rosemary and walked over to the Greyhound loading platform.

Their first stop was twenty minutes after departure.  Then again in a half hour.  They were told to get off at the second stop and board another bus. "For all passengers going to Baton Rouge," the driver said.

Dillard looked at her ticket.  Then at Sylvia's.  "We are going down along the old Bottom Road?" she asked of no one in particular.  A young man carrying a black and white chapbook and wearing white fisherman's boots with plastic colored jewels glued to their tops said, "Yes."  

Eyes heavily lidded, the Louisiana fisherman, poet, travel-advisor turned his shoulder enough to let a shaft of light through the bus window and strike a large yellow jewel on his boot.

Dillard's question had been rhetorical but she thanked him anyway.  He nodded and returned to the arms of Morpheus.  The yellow light splattered around his face, and the empty seat by his side.

Dillard and Sylvia moved down the aisle and down the bus steps. The driver explained they had taken the local, "The one making multiple stops and arriving in Baton Rouge after sunset." 

"But that's after the Governor's funeral!" Sylvia said.  Dillard glared at her.

For no reason either woman could explain Dillard was the leader of their little expedition, cast off as it was from a trainload of Red Women Warriors for The Donald crisscrossing Louisiana.  

She thanked the driver and gave him a sticker that read, Turn Back Voter Turnout.  He looked at it before dropping it in the waste can. 

The two bought new tickets straight into New Orleans.  "We will arrive there in time for Louis Sahuc's living wake second line," Dillard said.

Louis Sahuc
 New Orleans Photographer
Louis Sahuc, 1942~2021
In his Lower Pontalba apartment above Photo Works, his shop and studio on Jackson Square, Louis Sahuc lay in hospice care.  Friends gathered beneath his balcony with traditional Louisiana bravado and musical instruments.  He did not rise to wave them a final farewell from his balcony ~ as some had hoped ~ but we learned later that he did expire the next morning just before Sunrise. 

💜 💚💛

Sylvia set to hanging a banner between the balcony pillars facing Decatur Street.  The second line band, To Be Continued, played The Saints Marching In, while the celebrants waved their white handkerchiefs.  

Sylvia's banner read: 
Peace is the Reason for Bad Wars.

🠇 🠇 🠗

Two Vietnamese creole youths on skateboards swept down the sidewalk past Saint Louis Cathedral, rounded the corner by the Lower Pontalba, and took out the banner. 

They surged across Decatur Street and up the Battery ramp to The River.  At the bottom of the Moonwalk Steps they set the banner ablaze.  Sparks fluttered over the gray rickrack ~ as the muddy Mississippi passed by.  

👒 

Sylvia and Dillard left in disgust. Their pamphlets to revive the War in Vietnam blew across Jackson Square, and gathered at the statue of Andrew Jackson.  The two walked up Rue Chartres their red rubber shoes squishing on the hot pavement.  At The Wrinkle Room they pushed open the door, and got very drunkLEJ.org ✍

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Leonard Earl Johnson, LEJ.org 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

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They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
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