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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, June 01, 2022

✍Bottom Road to Baton Rouge / June 2022



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Andrew Jackson, Jackson Square, New Orleans
Photo credit: Eric Douglas 

Bottom Road to Baton Rouge

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

© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

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 Sylvia, the shorter of the two Red Women tipped her beribboned hat and handed the bus tickets over to her slightly taller fellow traveler, Dillard.  The tickets are to Baton Rouge.

Dillard had waited at Rêve Coffee Roasters while Sylvia was entrusted to cross the street and make the purchase.  

Dillard accepted the tickets and dropped them in her red purse.  Both women's purses, hats, and shoes are matching shades of red. The sash across each woman's breast reads, "Turn Back Voter Turnout."

Their departure is in a half hour from under the clock tower at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré.  

The two Red Women Warriors are in pursuit of a place to promote their causes.  Causes not only of turning back voter turnout, and reviving lost wars in Asia, but removal of Constitutional rights to privacy in all things but guns.  

"Ending forever choice in childbearing ~ the horrifying abortion issue!" L. A. Norma says. "Replacing it with politicians in gray cloaks and stone council.

 "In short, the American Taliban!"

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Clock Tower,
Rosa Parks

Transportation Centré    
Lafayette Louisiana

The Transportation Centré clock is handsomely part Walt Disney and part French modern.  It towers over the parking lot bus bays, train platforms, and taxi stands.  Keeping track of the time for travelers too hurried to keep it for themselves.  

The two Red Women finish their Espresso Rosemary and walk across the street to the Greyhound loading platform.

Their first stop came twenty minutes after departure.  Then again in a half hour at crossroads somewhere where they were told to get off and board another bus. 

"All passengers going to Baton Rouge," the driver said, opening the hydraulic door.

Dillard looked at her ticket.  Then at Sylvia's.  "We are going down the Old Bottom Road," she said to 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 the tops answered, "Yes."  Eyes heavily lidded, the fisherman, poet, and travel-advisor turned his shoulder enough to let a shaft of sunlight through the bus windowIt struck a large yellow jewel on his left 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 round 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 back at her.

For no reason either woman could explain Dillard was the leader of their little landing party cast off for insubordination, as they were 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 final second line," Dillard said.

Louis Sahuc
 New Orleans Photographer
Louis Sahuc lay in his own bed in his Lower Pontalba apartment above Photo Workshis 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 to the crowd ~ as some had hoped ~ but he did expire the next morning before Sunrise. 

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

Sylvia's banner read: 
Peace is the Cause of Bad Wars,
Never Stop Fighting
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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 out over the gray rickrack.  The muddy Mississippi passed by.  

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Sylvia and Dillard left Jackson Square in disgust. Their pamphlets to revive the War in Vietnam blew over the wrought iron fence, tumbled across the green, and gathered at the statue of Andrew Jackson victoriously astride his bronze mount after turning back the American's second English war.

The two Red Women, dejected, walked up Rue Chartres with their red rubber shoes squishing on the hot pavement.  At The Wrinkle Room they pushed open the door, and got very drunkwww.LEJ.WORLD ✍

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Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.world 
 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

 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.

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