In installment four, our heros speak with the Kingfish. See? I said there were politics in it.
The food is pretty good in New Orleans if you stay away from the strange French stuff but I cannot say I like the town much anyhow. We spent a few days there and nothing much good happened until we got to Baton Rouge. Here is how it all went.
We went to Louisiana to summon up the ghost of Huey Long, because he was the Kingfish but he was also a man of the people. You will recall that I was saying the problem was the people in this country who wanted to be Kings above everyone else. Huey was not like that so I thought it might be handy to sit down and talk with him about things.
Looking back on it I am not entirely sure why we stopped in New Orleans first except that there is plenty of strange things in those parts. But you know, they are not really good strange things. The voodoo women of New Orleans are nothing like the hoodoo people you and I know. I think that being built on a swamp is not good for a city. And then there are all the graves.
Ben did a little research before we got to the city on his Internet. That record album I told you about in my last letter is something kind of important. The man who made it thought he was the son of an English man named Crowley, who I guess was a hoodoo man over there. You do not have to tell me that, though, because Ma raised us well and we know about things like crows. Names mean a lot. A highway ain’t nothing without a name.
This man, his name was Harry Smith, lived in a hotel in New York City. In the last years of his life he never left that island New York is built on. This reminds me a lot of poor old Baron Collier.
We also listened to one of the songs in particular, because it was about a man named Siegel and of course that is Ben’s last name. The song says “Killer’s name on a stone above his grave” and “A man whose name is money will betray his son.” You see what I mean about names. It is not much to someone like you or I but Ben was not brought up right and looked pretty pale. He is a good boy, though. He will come through in the end.
Anyhow, once we got to New Orleans Black had to go see a man and we left Blind Joe at a bar and the rest of us went to some voodoo store. The lady there gave Ben a card reading with one of those fancy decks. This one was all pictures of Dorothy and Toto and the Scarecrow from that book. I don’t know anything about cards but the lady showed Ben a split destiny. One road will lead him to sacrifice and a hanging (there is that Scarecrow again) and one will lead him to money. But the money is all hollow. It reminds me of that fork in the road down in the hollow past the Johnson place, and if you go one way you just wind up on the big interstate, and if you go the other way you kiss the top of the mountain and you can see half the county.
I figure it was a pretty true reading. There was a Lady Moon in the cards and we met her pretty quick there, so the rest of it is likely true too. It is a good thing Ben has me and Black and the rest with him.
The store lady also told us where there might be a man who had the number seven record of that album set, but she said we did not want to go there. Well, all right.
Afterwards we headed over to this bar to buy Ben a gun. We had to walk against a one-way street to get there, and sure enough, Angie’s old beau Joe was playing at the bar. We got the gun and waited around to see him so as to beat the shit out of him for letting go of such a good woman. He played Blind Joe’s song from Memphis so that was another good reason to start a fight. Actually Ben wound up starting it. I stole his van, too, and it was a good thing I did because I needed the license plates later. Maybe next time Joe will think twice before being a stupid idiot, Angie’s Joe I mean, not Blind Joe.
I have not mentioned Black. He will not talk about what happened so I am worried because usually he likes talking. I was driving away from the bar in the van and he was on a balcony yelling to beat the band so I am pretty sure I saved his ass from something but I have no idea what. If he does not cheer up I will have to get him a woman. Ben too.
That evening we went to talk to the Lady Selene, which means Moon, which I did not know. The voodoo store lady said this Selene might know something that would help us with Huey Long. Lady Moon’s store was all pictures of dead babies, and she talked a good story about how she collected such things and had a camera she wanted to try out. Black showed how smart he is by waiting outside.
She also had a picture of Huey Long right at the moment his breath left his body. Well, she said she would trade it to us for the chance to take one of her pictures. I am ashamed to say that we went out looking for such a thing. There is a place in New Orleans where a street comes down from the north, then loops around just like a hangman’s noose, so we went there. I was thinking that we would find some idiot who had done something stupid and got killed for it. I guess I was the idiot.
A lady came up to us there with her eyes all red around the edges and a shake in her hands like someone who has sucked on a gin bottle far too long. She wanted to sell me a bicycle wheel and I had a feeling so I bought it. I will be bringing it to you for your car and you can use it if you think it is fitting. Then she wanted to sell Ben a record player and the records have been on his mind so he said yes.
Well, we went back to her apartment building since that was where the record player was. It turned out that she had a sick baby and she said she needed the money for her. I expect the money was headed for a crack dealer’s pocket, though. There were some rough boys on the corner when we went in.
Of course I saw at once when she told us about the baby that we had chosen the wrong road when we went to help the Selene woman. Sometimes you just have to drive forward even if there is a roadblock ahead.
When we got in there the baby was alive which meant that we had another crossroads and I was thankful for that at least. I made Danny buy a deck of cards from the woman’s son and I took the Queen of Hearts and I tucked it down inside the baby’s blanket. As you know I cannot do the hoodoo but I figured it could not do any harm.
Then I told the woman what I saw. Sometimes the roads are very clear. She had a fork in her road. Staying in Louisiana, that would kill her. It would be a wreck with no survivors, not her and not her baby. But she could turn off that road and leave New Orleans and maybe live.
That road was one of sacrifice, though. She had proven she did not deserve a child with the way she treated her littlest. So I told her that she would have to leave her child with me and Ben and Danny and we would make sure the baby lived but she would never see that child again in her life. Some people do not understand choices until you slap them in the face. This woman was one of those.
Well, she wept and wailed and moaned but I am a hard man when it is what I must be. In the end she said she would give up her baby and I was glad of it. I gave her a little gas money and I gave her the license plates I stole from off Angie’s Joe’s van. I told her to screw those license plates on under the ones of whatever car she could get her hands on. That will hide her from New Orleans and keep her safe while she is driving.
I think she will go. The roads say she will and I did as much as I could to make it a downhill path.
On the way out of her apartment the rough boys from outside came up to try to take our money. Ben did himself proud. He could not quite shoot the men, which is a pity, but when the brave one of them pulled out his knife Ben was not afraid to stab it back into him. He won’t keep the gun on him now but maybe he is just a natural knife man like Rafe Johnson who went to jail that time. I would have done more but I had a bicycle wheel in one hand and a baby in the other.
After all that we left the baby at a hospital. I told the lady there that we found the baby outside Selene’s little store. It seemed like the right thing to do. Then we went to get Black and Blind Joe. I think I forgot to mention that we picked up Blind Joe earlier. He crushed one of the records from that album while he was off drinking. A bad sign if you ask me.
We got out of New Orleans that night and went over to Baton Rouge. At first we thought we would have to steal some things of Huey Long’s from a museum which is in the old state house. He built the new one but the old one is still there, and it looks just like the picture on the side of a White Castle hamburger bag. It made me think.
Anyhow, Black convinced us out of the theft so we went about it a different way. We got a roadmap of Louisana, because Huey Long built most of those roads anyhow. We got some bourbon because death will make any man thirsty. We got those paper crowns from the Burger King because Huey Long said “Every man a king.” And we got a hooker for much the same reason as we got the bourbon. Skip that part of it when you read this to Ma.
Blind Joe summoned up Huey Long just as fine as we had hoped. It turned out that Huey climbed inside Blind Joe’s body which would not have been to my liking since he is a hundred years old, but he did not seem to mind much. He made fun of us for the crowns though. I guess it turns out he also said “And no man shall wear a crown.” Ben’s Internet doesn’t tell him everything. But he was still happy to help us, so I guess he was a true gentleman, and I will punch the next Yankee who tells me different.
He said that there were too many kings once but now the problem was the monsters they made. He talked about the octopus and the trusts and the Leviathan, which made me stir up all uncomfortable. He said the untrue kings thought they could control the Nephilim but they were wrong.
We have got to go find the hammer, he said. William Jennings Bryant knew about the hammer. He talked about something called the cross of gold, Huey did I mean, but I guess this Bryant man did too. Huey said we had got to find the hammer and the hammer had got to fall out in the Midwest, in Bryant country.
I asked him about silver, then, if gold is so bad. I think you will remember I chose silver in my dream back in Memphis during the tattoo. Well, he said silver is bad too. Jerry Smith took to the silver, he said, and it was the wrong way. He said a man named General Jake found the right way between silver and gold. He said look to the north. I think we have some heavy driving ahead of us and I hope it does not rain.
Then Huey Long in Blind Joe’s body went off with the hooker. The rest of us went to a motel. Well, I will get Ben and Black laid some other time, I guess, and now I must go to sleep because there is blackness outside. I think we will probably come up to visit you next. You are north of Louisiana, and I need to give you this bicycle wheel anyhow.
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