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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.

Friday, September 01, 2023

⚓The Visitation / September 2023

Yours Truly in a Swamp

This month's column 
dedicated to the memory of 

 Françoise Gilot, 
Artist in the Shadow of Picasso, Dead at 101


The Visitation

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

© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

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

Balthazar said, it had been in Grand Coteau, at Louisiana's prestigious residential Academy of the Sacred Heart. 

"At a symposium," The Rector recalled, smiling. "The Bishop and I both bought your chapbook."

The chapbook was titled:  

The Boy Behind the Altar, 
from Big Mamou to the East Village

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, tells the smiling Rector.  

"We plan on joining the Cathedral," Sylvia adds,  selecting a pecan cookie from a passing white porcelain dish painted with a gleaming gold rim.  

The Rector flinched slightly.  His smile dimmed and the spoon slipped from his fingers.  It bounced twice on the thick hand-knotted burgundy rug.


Dillard and Sylvia are the kind of congregate activists who make shepherds dream of parishes where the flock is more settled.  

The rug on which his spoon just bounced had once traveled the Silk Road from Uzbekistan to France before any one in The Rector's study this day were more than dreams in their respective molecular ether.  Centuries later it sailed to Louisiana aboard a ship made of wood and propelled by the winds.  Now it softens the footfalls of these holy, somewhat revolutionary, mostly mercenary, and fully beguiling folks.  Hildegard gave The Rector a fresh spoon.  



Sylvia lifted her red KRVS ~ NPR tote bag and removed the little package Balthazar had given her for safe keeping.  She handed it to him. 

He opened the tissue paper, folded back the bubble wrap and placed the JFK forget-me-not rocker on a silken reddish-bronze handkerchief that he spread atop the coffee table.  Which, on second look, appeared to be a rather well made shipping crate.  Some high-end retro fashion art object, Balthazar figured. 

Hildegard removed the cups and cutlery.

"I am asking five-hundred American," Balthazar said.  

The Rector's eyes widened as he read the gilded monogram, JFK.  He said, "I am offering you three."

In that little space of time the deal was struck.  Three one-hundred dollar Federal Reserve banknotes left The Rector's alligator wallet for a new home in 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 ~ ten mildly psychogenic emerald gummy bears.  Next to the gummy bears, Balthazar placed the three crisply folded greenbacks. 

As the visitors left out the gate, Hildegard handed Dillard the Republican National Committee's alligator skin briefcase containing the perfectly preserved Snowball Project.


🧜‍♂️ 💀 🧜‍♂️
~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

More Next Month on 
Hildegard Bottelbrush, 
a. k. a. Flaschenbürste,
Housekeeper to The Rector



~    ~    ~   

Lagniappe du Jour



New York Times, June 2023

© 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.

~   ~   ~

 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
© 2023, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved