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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, July 01, 2023

⚓Making Groceries / July 2023



Making Groceries
Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
July 2023
Leonard Earl Johnson

Cajun Dome, University of Louisiana at Lafayette


The two Red Women Warriors
© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 
Dillard and Sylvia 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-like tangle of streets with many lanes and complex traffic configurations.  Lafayette is a wonderfully stimulating place for automobiles and trucks. "And football," Dillard says to Sylvia.

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:

!Turn Back 
Turn Out!

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

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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.  

The postman knows doing so is a violation of postal rules but he reckons since they deliver weekly page-upon-page of Rouses' sales leaflets to every postal address in Louisiana for little to no charge, that this little lagniappe is just a little bit more.
 Sylvia spots the young man's boots and recognizes him to be the poet-fisherman from their bus ride to New Orleans.  His name is Balthazar.  He thanks the Postman for the lift, 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 overlooking the Cathedral Oak Tree, and their joining the Cathedral congregation. 

L. A. Norma explains she has brought the Red Women to make groceries and will take them all back to the apartment near the Cathedral, if Balthazar needs a ride. 

In fact, he says he does. He is on his way to see the Cathedral Rector. To show him an artifact commemorating the murder of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, sixty years ago this coming November.

He shows them a little porcelain rocking chair with the monogram, JFK, in gold glitter, a what-not-shelf keepsake from 1963. It sits empty. Balthazar wants to sell it. The Rector is interested, as he is in need of a gift for his Bishop's approaching birthday.

His Bishop was in Dallas that day. Then a boy of eleven, he was brought there by his Parents.  He saw what happened and after seeing it became a lifelong collector of JFK assasination memorabilia.

Also in Dallas were three future U. S. Presidents.  George Bush, the elder; Richard Nixon, the resigned; and Lyndon Baines Johnson, on whom the jury of history is still out.

LBJ, being Vice President, was in the parade two cars behind the President.

Bush and Nixon first told reporters they were not there.  Later saying they had nervously misspoke, and they were in Dallas after all. 

"On other business.  Not for any reason some court in The Hague might think up," Nixon told his two Daughters, his Wife, and Gerald Ford, who sat on the Warren Commission and took the Presidency when Nixon resigned it ~ over Watergate.  Ford then granted Nixon a pardon for his crimes. 

After the assasination, Bush served one year as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1976-1977; Vice President, 1981-1989; and a single term as President, 1989-1993.

That morning in Dallas, JFK's Lincoln limousine was navy-blue.  On assuming the Presidency, LBJ ordered it cleaned and painted black.  Its windshield was removed, transported to Washington, and stood witness before the Warren Commission.

"Where it proved one bullet turned around came back through the windshield and shot them all again," L. A. Norma said, tippling, chortling, coughing and slapping her palm on the bar at the Wrinkle Room.

The limousine continued to be used by the next four Presidents, including LBJ, and ending with Jimmie Carter.  In 1977, it was retired and placed in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Balthazar handed the little porcelain rocking chair to Sylvia who passed it to Dillard.
 © 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved
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Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.world 
Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson

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 (formerly www.LEJ.org) 
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
© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


Lagniappe du Jour