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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.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

โœThe Rector and JFK's Rocking Chair / August 2023


 The Rector and 

JFK's Rocking Chair

Fiction ~
Roman ร  clef, cher! 
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
 www.LEJ.world โœ

Visitation of the two Red Women and Balthazar
ยฉ 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Barcelona Chairs   
courtesy of Knoll

 A week earlier
Two delivery men in blue jumpsuits sat a wooden crate about the size of a small coffee table on The Rector's office floor, in front of two Mies van der Rohe chairs.  These chairs are famously known in artful and culturally cognizant societies as The Barcelona Chairs.

 They were designed by Ludwig Meis van der Rohe and Lillie Reich, for the Pavilion of German Representation at the 1929 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona, Spain. (Antecedent of the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, the World's Fair that ended World's Fairs in America.)

The Rector's Barcelona Chairs are white leather, and he has them pushed together to form a stunning and expensive sectional sofa.

The crate is made from lumber core plywood.  A sturdy box, the kind that moves art safely between museums, galleries, and wealthy patrons' baronial estates.

Hildegard Bottlebrush, housekeeper to The Rector, takes a small screwdriver and removes boards revealing an alligator skin briefcase.

Republican National Committee, 


is engraved on its stainless steel clasp and hasp.


The briefcase is insulated and equipped with a little combustion engine fired by tiny pellets crafted out of pure coal dust. 

It belches nearly imperceptible puffs of gray smoke.  Keeping temperatures inside the case below freezing, and a brilliantly white snowball therein preserved in pristine condition.  Untarnished by the temperature crises brought on in part by the accumulated puffs of such briefcases.

The Snowball Project is designed to aid political evangelicals at public prayer meetings in tents, on television; or within the marble halls of the Nation's Capitol.

An accompanying card reads:

Don't Worry 

Global Warming is a Hillary Clinton Hoax

~ Lock her up

๐Ÿ Ÿ

Hildegard agreed to receive the crate for Dillard and Sylvia, who are out of town.

At the same time, The Rector is off aboard Amtrak for a week's respite at the Houston Opera. 

Of course, The Rector did not know of Hildegard's arrangement.  Nor that the two Red Women would be on his train to Houston.

"Comment รงa se passe, Pรจre" (How's it going, Father), they said, in greeting. "Join us for wine in the club car, please."

Observation Car
 Amtrak USA
The checkmated priest followed behind the Red Women, rocking with their rhythm and that of the train as they passed through sugar cane fields, inside air conditioned carriages leading to the glass domed double-decker observation, snack, and wine bar ~ today's version of the old streamliner's club car. 


The Ladies Wore Red,
July 2021

Origin Story
The week passed, the crate stands emptied, and everyone is back home in Laughingyette.

Dillard leans on the gate bell.  Silvia stands a couple feet behind her talking with Balthazar, the fisherman-poet they had met on last month's bus ride to New Orleans.  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 protective dress as well as identification.

"The rubber keeps out the water," he tells her.  "No one knows why they are white."

"Some people say, so's to not scuff the deck," she smiles.

"Those people have never been on a shrimp boat," he says.  They both laugh and turn towards the manicured lawn beyond the gate where lay a path guarded by Italian Cypress, Louisiana Magnolias and Swamp Palmettos, exquisitely plumed and bloomed. 

At the path's end sits The Rectory of The Cathedral
 of Saint John The Evangelist.  It is The Rector's home, office, and reception hall.  The Rector is the priest who actually runs The Cathedral, freeing The Bishop for broader duties throughout the prosperous diocese. 

Cathedral of Saint John The Evangelist,
courtesy Diocese of Lafayette
 Up ten steps representing the Ten Commandments of The Faith, a broad blue tiled gallery is lined with windows that sparkle in the morning sun.

 The Rector and his German housekeeper, Hildegard Bottlebrush, watch unseen from behind double hung cut-glass windows set deeply in heavy mahogany doors.  

The Rector sees it is the two Red Women he does not care to ever see again, and Balthazar Boudreaux, who he does want to see.  He shrugs.

The Red Women always arrive possessed by causes, banners, slogans, stickers, and madness ~ the things that make a young priest dream of better wine than they had shared on the train to Houston.

But Balthazar?!  The Rector thinks him a blooming poet proclaiming a Liberation Theology loved by the Argentinian Bishop of Rome, but not heard much in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.

"Hell," he mumbled, "Not heard since Seminary, not since Trump's trumpets sounded over the collection plates."


Balthazar has a JFK memento he wants to sell that would be a perfect Birthday gift for The Bishop.

The Bishop is The Rector's temporal as well as spiritual leader.  In 1963, when The Bishop was a child of eleven, his Father and Mother drove him from Basile, Louisiana to Dealey Plaza, Dallas, to see President John F. Kennedy get his brains blown out over the long shiny navy-blue trunk of his Lincoln Continental limousine.  

Of course, the boy never forgot it.

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

Years later, the latest perennial assassination final full disclosure hearing traveled to New Orleans and set up tent in the Old U. S. Mint, in the French Quarter.  That was 1995.  The boy ~ now a grown man and a rising prince of the Roman Catholic Church ~ was asked to put his collection on display and say a few words.  He did so gladly.  

JFK Memento 
Yes, Balthazar has something The Rector very much wants.  A little porcelain rocking chair suggestive of one President Kennedy was often photographed rocking, flexing muscles said to have been injured in World War the Second.

The Rector tells Frau Bottlebrush to bring the visitors to his second floor study.  "And coffee, please."  He spoke from an ascending electric folding chair attached to a steel rail bolted to the wall next to the stair treads.  Slowly The Rector rose.  The Housekeeper buzzed open the gate.  The visitors entered.
~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

๐Ÿ—ฃ ๐Ÿ˜ท

๐Ÿ Ÿ

Lagniappe du Jour


"Melanie Plesh and the Great Escape"
Katrina Day August 29

Performed by the artist on YouTube 


* *

Lagniappe du Jour, 

la deuxiรจme

๐Ÿ Ÿ๐Ÿ Ÿ


~    ~    ~

Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.WORLD โœ

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
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

www.LEJ.world http://www.LEJ.org

ยฉ 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved