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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.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

⚓ The Visitation / September 2022

  

http://www.LEJ.org

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The Visitation

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

© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


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The Rector's housekeeper, Hildegard Bottlebrush welcomed the visitors and led them upstairs to The Rector's study.  They each took the priest's hand and reminded him where they had first met.  

Baltazar said it had been in Grand Coteau.  At a Sacred Heart Academy symposium where The Rector and The Bishop had each purchased reprints of his chat book, 'The Boy Behind the Altarfrom Big Mamou to the East Village'
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Hildegard slipped away and returned with a rolling tray filled with pots, cups, cream pitchers, sugar bowls, warm pecan cookies, polished silver spoons and white linen napkins.  She poured and passed round the offerings.  

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

"We are planning on joining the Cathedral's congregation," Sylvia added, while selecting a shortbread and pecan cookie from a passing white porcelain dish.  The Rector's smile faded a smidge, and his silver spoon slipped from his fingers and bounced once on the hand-knotted burgundy rug.

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Dillard and Sylvia are the kind of parishioner-activists who make priests dream of quieter parishes with better wine.  The burgundy rug on which his silver spoon just bounced is from Bukhara.  It 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 the wind.  Now it softens the footfalls of these interestingly holy, somewhat revolutionary, mostly mercenary, clearly bewildered, and fully beguiling folks.  Hildegard gave The Rector a fresh spoon.  

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Sylvia lifted from her red KRVS-NPR tote bag the little package Baltazar had given her for safe keeping.  She handed it to him. 

He 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 and cutlery.

"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."

 In that little space of time the deal was struck.  Three crisp one-hundred dollar American 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 gummy bears Baltazar placed the three perfectly folded and creased greenbacks.

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Hildegard Bottlebrush, The Rector's attentive housekeeper, had attended the prestigious Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Coteau, but chose not to speak of it to this assembled group.  

"Catholic hierarchy runs Gott-to-Cloth with only passing nods towards housekeepers," she once said this to the now deceased and canonized Mother Teresa.  They had met during the future saint's 1985 visit to Louisiana.  She had come to bolster the faithful in the roiling wake of Jason Barry's sexual-abuse exposé in the National Catholic Reporter.

Mother Teresa's visit had led to the establishment of the order's Mission House on Rue Saint John, in Lafayette, across from Dillard and Sylvia's new quarters and the magnificent Cathedral Oak.

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foot note
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Flaschenbürste
~ Hildigard's family name before assimilation from German to Cajun English.

  She is from a 1721 line of immigrants from German/French disputed Alsace/Lorraine. They were lured by the Compagnie du Mississippi, the bubble-destined "Mississippi Company" of John Law, the sometimes richest man in Europe, and Controller General of Finances of France under the Duke of Orléans.

Born a Scotsman, Law worked variously for English and French governments, in the process inventing paper money. On this high roll, he financed and promoted Louisiana's 'German Coast' as a New World colony promising riches derived from feeding the hungry flocks of Africans, French, Germans, Irish, Italians, and Spanish arriving daily aboard every ship in the booming nearby port of New Orleans.

This coastal region where the Flaschenbürstes eagerly settled, took the French name, 'Bayou des Allemands,' meaning in English, 'Bayou of Germans.'

Bayou Des Allemands
It is a scenic spot on the Amtrak line thirty-five miles west of New Orleans. Never incorporated it is still known and posted on signs and maps 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.  Click the link below if you desire the thrill of armchair travel.

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© 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