Archive for September, 2009

A Chance Encounter, Part II

Friday, September 25th, 2009
Michael McGuire

Barry the shopping cart’s old corner was packed. Where Silver met Mitchell. Carts everywhere. In drum circles. Getting high on W-D 40. All looking for peace, love. Fighting oppression. Called the corner their “Haight Ashbury.” Barry – a musician, beat poet and founding member of Carts for Arts, a militant student group – was the face of their wheeled-basket counter culture. He was their god.

They saw us coming by the Murray Mansion. Is that him? He’s alive. He has risen! They laughed. They cried. They rolled to Barry and rejoiced. He had ditched the hooker outfit by now. Took it off in Memphis, after he’d earned enough money for two cheeseburgers from the dining car.

“We were so lost without you, man,” carts told him. They asked about the suicide note, and why he wasn’t dead. Barry accepted the blue and yellow can when it was his turn, took a few pulls from the little red straw sticking out of the top, and told everyone everything. How it had all been a lie.

“It’s all making sense now.”

“What’s making sense?” Barry asked.

“Everything, Uncle Barry. After you were gone things got weird. Scary. Most of us haven’t left the corner. Don’t want to vanish like all the others.”

“Vanish? Like the others?”

“Disappearances – there have been seven so far, eight now including yours. Beatings, too. We didn’t think there was a connection. Just thought the world had gone crazy. But after hearing your story… ”

Another cart spoke up: “Tell him about the murder.”

Native American shopping carts believed that huffing W-D 40 opened the doorway to a spirit world where they could see the past, the future and the present at the same time. See all their was to know.

All Barry could see was the inside of a toilet:

“Blewwwwwachunkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkka! Blewa! Blewaaha! Blewwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaachunkkkkkkkaaaaaa!”

“You all right, man?”

“Too much W-D, is all,” Barry hollered back. He was lying. It was the story about the dude they found dead that made him hork. Gruesome. Poor guy was new in town. His handle bar said “Great American.” Sherburne, maybe. Probably hitched down here after the store closed. Looking for lube. He was beaten to hell, caved in on the sides, and left to rust. Wheels torn off and everything. A note taped to him said ‘Not Welcome.’”

Barry wiped the front of his cage. Nasty in that port-o-john. Everyone called it the “Honeypot.” He went to exit but got locked up on the right side. Tipped him sideways into the wall. Nearly toppled the stall. He looked down, tried to roll forward. No dice. His right front wheel was jammed. Must be something wedged under there. He backed up. Yup. There it was. A small piece of metal, square. Picked it up. Well looky there.

It was a computer chip.

Advanced Auto Parts saves the day

Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Buying new windshield wiper blades has been on my to-do list for the last couple of weeks. While I can’t pinpoint when exactly I had changed them last, I know it well before I left Colorado. Even I, automotively challenged as I am, could recognize that they had long outlived their useful life. Instead of the promised “wiping” action, (what was left of) my wiper blades could more aptly be described as “smearing.”

I actually even made a special trip to Norwich last weekend to purchase replacements, but was deterred from my objective by the construction on that half mile stretch of Route 12 just south of the Norwich city limits. After sitting in a line of traffic for far, far too long, I was informed by the flag woman that I could not turn where I had planned but would instead need to continue heading North until I could turn around and then sit in traffic in the Southbound lane.

I respectfully declined.

Unfortunately, there was a certain degree of “cutting your nose off to spite your face” about it, since I was no closer to rectifying my inability to effectively remove moisture from my windshield.

This fact was hammered home last night, as I sat straining to hear the Norwich board of ed’s discussion on the district’s LINKS plan over the rain pounding on the roof. It was going to be a long, miserable drive home if I didn’t get them replaced post-haste.

As previously mentioned, I’m not much of a car person. Car mechanics and auto parts dealers can sense this, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally incompetent – I can fill up my gas tank, and in the absence of anyone else to do it for me, I can check my oil, tire pressure and top off my fluids. But still, entering such bastions of male dominance, as a garage or parts store, always makes me feel at a distinct disadvantage. So it was no small amount of anxiety that I pointed my car in the direction of Advanced Auto Parts after the meeting.

I am happy to say that my insecurities were entirely unwarranted in this instance. In fact, Randy, the manager of that esteemed establishment, is now my new personal hero.

It wasn’t just that Randy sold me a set of wiper blades (which he personally recommended – and happened to be on sale), but the fact that he installed them for me.

That may be standard practice, but I thought it was pretty spectacular considering it was raining. And we’re not talking a light sprinkle. This was nothing short of a downpour.

And did I mention it was basically pitch black? The storm knocked out power a couple of seconds after we went outside, and while the stores lights came back on, the lights in the parking lot did not. But not even that stopped him from making sure he got my new wiper blades on.

If that’s not considered going above and beyond, I don’t know what is.

Yep. He’s definitely my new personal hero.

Huge missile-looking things

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Michael McGuire

They are not huge missiles. Or rockets or pieces of a nuclear reactor – or at least that’s what I’m told.

Those huge cylinders that rolled through town last week were sections of a windmill. A state department of transportation official confirmed it earlier this week.

The specific destination of the windmill pieces, over three hundred feet tall when assembled, is not known, said David Hamburg, a DOT spokesman in Binghamton. He believes most are coming from a manufacturer in Wisconsin.

“As far as we know there are no missile silos in New York,” said Hamburg jokingly.

The DOT spokesman said some windmills have recently been delivered to the Albany area.

The truckers have permits to haul the sections on state roads. They are not required to give a final destination.

A truck carrying one of the sections damaged a bridge Saturday on Interstate 81 in Binghamton due to its size. Traffic over the bridge, near where it converges with state route 17, has been reduced to a single lane, said Hamburg.


Little Lulu

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Not quite a year has passed since I wrote about the kitten I rescued after it had been abandoned so cruelly and heartlessly by the feral feline that had the audacity to refer to itself as her mother.

Despite our original intention to find a home (other than our own) for the poor kitty, over the last 11 1/2 months, the cute little torty has succeeded in insinuated herself firmly into the Stagnaro household, not to mention each of our hearts.

If confronted with a similar situation, I would no doubt do the same all over again. But I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been times that I have questioned that decision. She is, quite frankly, nothing short of a holy horror.

Part of her problem, I think, is that it took us nearly six months to arrive at an appropriate name for her. After being known briefly as Mabel, Ratatouille (which may have stuck if my mother hadn’t insisted on shortening it to ‘Rat’), Kit-Kat, Lucky, Cupboard (by which she is still referred by several Evening Sun staff members) and a host of others, I made a unilateral decision to call her Lulu.

My father refuses to bend to my will. He refers to her simply as “Cat,” or “that Cat.” When she gets that demonic look in her eye, and attacks the house plants, she is “that #@&* Cat.”

Even at the best of times, it seems as though Lulu has something of a species identity crisis. She doesn’t meow, she chirps. She carries things around in her mouth like a dog (even though, to the best of my knowledge, she’s never encountered one.) By the amount of noise she makes as she tromps up and down the stairs, you might think she was an elephant. Just last night she struck out to bite my ankle in a way which would have made any mother rattlesnake proud. And the way she jumps up in the air reminds me of those pictures of sturgeon, salmon and trout jumping out of the water for no apparent reason.

Like everyone else in our household, she’s a picky eater. Only dry cat food for her, no people food. The only exception being Chobani yogurt, which she goes crazy for as soon as she sees the container. Her taste is pretty consistent with mine, actually. She likes the blueberry, strawberry and peach, but won’t touch the honey or the plain.

In an effort to distract her from using the leather sofa as her scratching post, my mother bought her one of those cardboard cat scratchy things. Lulu wasn’t amused at first, but once my mom sprinkled on a touch of catnip, she couldn’t resist.

Now, doped up on kitty crack (as I like to call it), Lu spends an awful lot of time racing through the house like a mad woman. It’s actually quite entertaining to watch her clear furniture with a single bound, slide across the hardwood floor and then dash up the stairs.

It’s almost like she’s in training for something. I’m just not sure what.

Lulu is also obsessed with systematically dismantling my wicker hamper, absconding with hair ties and wreaking havoc with the aforementioned house plants.

I’m not sure if she has a particular vendetta against all lighting fixtures or just that she has an unusually strong tail, but she’s been implicated in not one, but two, lamp fatalities of late.

It will come as no surprise, I’m sure, to learn that when she’s not all hyped up on kitty crack, she spends hours sprawled out on whatever window sill, piece of furniture or throw rug is handy, sleeping it off.

She likes a little love now and then, but strictly on her terms. Heaven forbid you try to give her more than a cursory pat on the head if she hasn’t come to you.

When she actually does condescend to come looking for a cuddle, you better be ready to give her all the lovin’ she wants.

And it’s those moments, when she’s nosing her way under my hand or snuggling down under my chin, when she steals my heart all over again.

Louise Loscavio, 1919-2009

Monday, September 21st, 2009
Patrick Newell

My great aunt, and the word “great” is apropos, Louise Loscavio, died last Monday, Sept. 14 just two weeks after celebrating her 90th birthday.
Aunt Louise married my grandmother’s brother, Frank, shortly after World War II. While she was not born a blood relative, she was every bit the Loscavio. My mother, Margaret, had an extremely close relationship with Louise, especially so after my grandmother passed away in 1981. She assumed a motherly type role toward my mother, and for us – me and my three sisters – she was a grandmotherly figure. We all loved her dearly, and we gathered last Friday at St. Bartholomew’s Church to celebrate her life along with Louise’s children, grandchildren, and closest friends and family.
Often times, when speaking of the recently deceased, eulogies will glorify, accentuate, and perhaps even exaggerate the positive impact a person made on this earth. My cousin Frank, Louise’s son, eulogized his mother, and spoke of her humility, her kindness, her generosity, and her dedication to her family. She sacrificed, as did my uncle Frank, to give her children a better life.
The sacrifices made by this Italian-American family through some fairly lean times were not uncommon in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, particularly in this area. My aunt rose before 5 a.m. a large portion of her working life to work her full-time job. She also kept a spotless house, toiled in the kitchen cooking for a family of seven, and still found time to reach out to others.
Not once in my entire life, through countless visits, did I go more than 60 seconds after entering her home without being offered something to eat or drink. How was it that she always had something perfectly delicious ready to serve at a moment’s notice? My experience with Aunt Louise is not unique, in fact, everyone who came in contact with her would have the same story to share.
My uncle Frank spoke eloquently of his mother, and as lofty as his praise became, it still was not possible to accurately quantify how wonderful and caring a person she really was. My aunt was such a steady and comforting presence in my life and my family’s life, and every good thing anyone may have said about her, it was all true.

Georgia on my mind

Friday, September 18th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Everyone has that list of places they want to visit some day. For me, that list has always had a special section reserved for our 50 states, where each is ranked based on their level of appeal in terms of travel or relocation potential.

Arkansas, for example, has always occupied the bottom rung. Oklahoma, only marginally higher. (It’s low-level ranking was, I’m afraid, sealed with that unfortunate musical.)

There are some states that I would assume would rank high on most peoples’ lists – like Hawaii and Alaska. Provided a trip to the latter was in the summer, of course.

There has always been more movement at the top of my list, with the top 5 or 10 shuffling depending on my mood. You’ll be happy to know that New York is topping the charts right now (although if Paterson stays in office much longer, that could definitely change). Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Connecticut and New Hampshire are all home to some of my favorite people, and therefor highly rated at present. Love going to see my peeps.

Florida typically is in that top pack as well, but its dropped back slightly of late since I already paid a visit to my southern-most relatives earlier this year. (It’s your turn to come here again next, Jess.)

The middle of the list is populated by those states that I don’t really have strong feelings about either way. That’s where, until recently, Georgia has always fallen.

Sure, it’s where the CDC and CNN are headquartered. Their peaches are good, and their gas cheap (a fact that I certainly appreciated driving to and from the Florida Keys). The airport in Atlanta isn’t on the list of those that I try to avoid, although I don’t go out of my way to pass through there like I do Cincinnati (great shopping!).

In general, I’ve always thought of Georgia as fair to midling. It would do in a pinch if I was out of other travel options, but I’ve never had any burning desire to visit.

Now, however, it has dropped into the danger zone I usually reserve for third world countries with a history of civil unrest. Like Sri-Lanka, or Eritrea.

I’m starting to wonder how long it will be before the state department issues a travel advisory.

In the last few months it seems like the news has been filled with stories about death and calamity befalling the residents of the so-called Empire State of the South. (Ummm, do you think New York could sue for some kind of copyright infringement for that rather presumptuous claim?)

These tales have been so off the wall, that I’ve found myself wondering if I’m reading actual news reports or if I have stumbled onto the plot of some cult horror flick by mistake.

But truth apparently is stranger than fiction, particularly in Georgia these days. Where else has an elderly couple been killed by wild dogs and a naked man hijacked a bus load of school kids. (The creepiest part of this last story was that he was originally at least partially clothed, but by the time they took him into custody he was wearing nothing but a condom. Ick.)

Oh, and there’s more. Plenty more. Like the pastor killed by police in a drug sting, the university professor who killed his wife and three others while his kids waited in the car and then took a detour on the way to the airport to dig his own grave and off himself, the guy who was stupid enough to return to the scene of the crime after murdering his entire family. Oh, and don’t forget that other guy who was also stupid enough to return to the scene of the crime after murdering HIS whole family.

And was I the only one creeped out when I learned that a hunter had stumbled upon the campsite used by convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton? Eek.

Apparently even checking your tire pressure is a dangerous activity in Georgia. That’s what a former boxing champ was doing when he was killed for his watch and championship ring. (See, Dad, that’s why I need you to check mine. I don’t want to risk it.)

And now I hear not even Cracker Barrel is safe. A woman was beaten half to death outside of one in Georgia by a man shouting racial epithets, while her 7-year old child looked on. But, don’t worry. He’s been banned from Cracker Barrels for life as a result.

Wow, way to make sure the punishment fits the crime. Not. But it does make me wonder: Do you think that guy who slapped a stranger’s toddler in a Georgia Walmart has suffered a similar ban? That could be a real hardship in some areas, where Wally World is the only game in town. But for this guy, being forced to work at a Chuck E. Cheese might be a harsher punishment.

I’ve started to pray daily for the continued safety and well-being of a high school friend of mine who lives there with her husband and young son. Even McDonough, where she grew up, is a lot more civilized. At least they don’t have people getting killed willy-nilly by wild dogs or random slapping incidents. (That I’m aware of, anyway.)

All in all, I think I’ll be avoiding any trips to the Peach State. In fact, I believe it’s safe to say that the state has managed something I didn’t think was possible. Yep, Georgia has actually displaced Arkansas as the U.S. State to which I am least likely to visit for any reason, let alone move to.

Upstate New York is looking pretty darn good by comparison, I think.

death, the destroyer of worlds

Friday, September 18th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
-J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of The Manhattan Project.

It is estimated that world wide there are about 30,000 nuclear weapons. At any given time, on any given day, it is estimated that more than 1,500 of those weapons are prepared for immediate launch.

The United States lays claim to only one third of the world’s entire arsenal boasting almost 10,000 warheads, carrying a total destructive force of 1,800 megatons- enough to destroy every square inch of life on the planet 18 times over.

Russia and its block states have roughly 16,000 nuclear weapons boasting about 2,900 megatons, enough to 29 planet Earths. (but there’s only one)

All but two percent of all nuclear weapons currently in existence were either made in America or in the Soviet Union.

Side note: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s formal name, (I’m trying not to laugh) is estimated to have about ten nuclear weapons.

The nine countries that currently have nuclear weapons are Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, United States, North Korea, and Israel. (Only Israel has not acknowledged having them publicly, although their diplomats have accidentally confirmed it and so has the U.S. military)

South Africa and several Soviet block states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had weapons but have since dismantled their programs with international observers verifying their efforts.

It seems to me, that in my generation at least, the fear associated with the prospect of nuclear annihilation has been largely forgotten.

It’s true we have Iran and North Korea to deal with in our time but their delivery systems and weapons don’t hold a candle to the threat faced by the generations who grew up in the vast shadow of the U.S.S.R.- punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I wonder if our complacency is a good thing or bad.

“Nuclear weapons give no quarter. Their effects transcend time and place, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for meaningful survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations, but the very meaning of civilization.”

-General Lee Butler, former commander for all US Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear forces.

Jesus is following me on Twitter!

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Jeff Genung

I’m still fairly new to the whole Twitter thing (and not entirely sure why I do it), but nonetheless I get excited when I receive an e-mail notifying me that someone new is following me.

Imagine my surprise this morning when the subject line in my inbox read “Jesus is following you on Twitter!”

Lord love a duck, as my mother would say. Now the Son of God is watching my every digital move.

But the real kicker … it seems Jesus is even newer to Twitter than I am! The e-mail below:

Hi, Evesunjeff.
Jesus is now following your tweets on Twitter.
A little information about Jesus:
22 followers
71 tweets
following 177 people
You may follow Jesus as well by clicking on the “follow” button on their profile. You may also block Jesus if you don’t want them to follow you.

Jesus Christ! I wouldn’t dare block you! It’s bad enough I already fear lightning strikes when I’m within a block of St. Bart’s, I’m certainly not going to egg on the Lamb of God.

As a postscript, I can’t help but note that while Jesus has 22 followers, I have over 50. Hallelujah!

All the gory details

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

I’m a pansy, I’ll admit it. I would never cut it in the health care profession, or as an emergency responder. I grow faint at the sight of anyone’s blood but my own (and for obvious reasons I’m not really a fan of that). I come close to passing out just being in the vicinity of a hospital. The sight of stitches poking out of flesh triggers my gag reflex. Cuts, abrasions, scabs, sores – ick. All of the above is cause for me to break out in a cold sweat.

I haven’t always been this way. I was once made of sterner stuff. As an R.A. in college I was the go-to girl when ever there was an incident on campus which required an unlucky someone to go to the hospital. It was such a frequent occurrence, that I knew which emergency room within a 20 minute or so radius of Manhattan College would have the shortest wait at any given time of day. The local ambulance crews and I were all on a first name basis.

I spent a lot of time in those emergency waiting rooms, during which I saw more than I would have liked: gun shot wounds, attempted suicides, broken bones, skin ailments, burns, weeping sores. You name it, I saw it – and, proudly, I didn’t lose my lunch.

I’m not sure what happened to turn me into a “panty-waist” as one of my friends would call it, but I can pinpoint the first time that I lost my mettle.

It happened when Melissa, a college friend of mine and one of my roomies when I lived in Arlington, sliced open her hand. She did it on one of those cans of tuna – you know, the ones with the pull top? The super-sharp metal lid cut across three of her fingers, laying them open right to the bone.

I was at work when it happened, and I’ll never forget the phone call. “Mel,” she said, “how deep does a cut need to be before you need stitches?” Even without any medical training, I figured if you could see bone, it was a bad thing.

By the time I raced home, the bleeding had mostly stopped and Melissa had sought a second opinion about whether or not she did in fact need to take a trip to the ER. She’d asked the contractor who was working on our basement, who thought it would heal just fine on its own.

Given, however, that said contractor was missing a couple of his own digits, I felt compelled to discount his advice and, thankfully, managed to convince Melissa that it was better to be safe than end up losing a finger or any portion there of.

We made the trip to the hospital without incident, and once triaged, we were expedited into an exam room where a female doctor was waiting to stitch Mel back together again. The kindly doc offered me a chair, but I declined.
I stood watching, and was fine. Right up until she gave my dear friend a shot of Novocain by shoving a needle directly into the gaping wound.

Until that moment, I hadn’t realize it was possible to feel the color drain out of your own face.

Suddenly there were pretty black splotches dotting my vision, and I probably would have passed out completely if the (now incredibly irritated) doctor hadn’t slid a chair underneath me.

I sat with my head between my knees while she finished the procedure, but while I was able to regain my composure, I was never the same again. (I couldn’t even look at those stitches which, if I recall correctly, were bright blue. Basically, I avoided looking at her completely until she actually removed them herself one day. Which skeeved me out even more.)

All that happened at least a decade ago, and if I thought that perhaps over time my ability to stomach such sights would come back at some point, I was sadly mistaken. Even the fake injuries applied during the SADD mock-crash last Spring were enough to make me start to gag.

I’d like to say that my friends and family are supportive of me and what has become something of a disability. But, they’re not. They prefer to point, laugh and embellish their tales with plenty of gory details just to see me squirm.

Take this morning for example, when my friend Rachel felt compelled to describe an unfortunate incident which led to part of her big toe getting washed down her drain. Literally. I will not relay the details of this incident because, quite frankly, the thought is still making me a bit sick. Suffice it to say that I did not take her up on her repeated offers to look at (what remains of) her toe, nor our friend Audrey’s offer to show me a picture of the downsized appendage.

I will, however, make the same recommendation to Rachel that I made to Melissa all those years ago: Go have a doctor look at it, for God’s sake.

A Chance Encounter

Monday, September 14th, 2009
Michael McGuire

I was bleeding, half on the sidewalk, half in the street. My bike was wadded up next to me, the tire bent into a taco shell. That hot dog cart came out of nowhere. Why was he out so early? I could hear the vendor. He was angry with me. All those buns scattered on the blue stone sidewalk getting soggy and melting back into dough. Hotel porters just hosed down out front, pushing all the broken glass, puke and ciggy butts into the gutter. A few random weenies rolled. It was early, a little after sunrise. Feeling sore and nauseous and generally out of it. There was a woman’s voice. It sounded like a man’s though.

“Look at them buns! No, I ain’t talking about your hot dog bread, Sam! That big boy crumpled in the road with the wedgy – I’ve seen them buns before.”

Coming out of it now.

“I know them buns,” the lady said, quieter this time. She was thinking.

I lifted my head toward her. Ah, a transgender. Huge blonde wig, red highlights. Blue Jean hot pants. Fish-net tube top, tight. Wide base. Not uncommon. Dear God, I hope he/she hasn’t really seen my buns before. Not impossible though. Strange things happen here.

“Them buns used to set in here when your mama pushed me around at The Great American. They were a lot smaller back then.”

The hair on my arms and neck stood. It could not be. He was gone.

“Pick up what’s left of that two-wheeler and put it in my basket, Michael. You climb in, too. I’m going to take your big butt home.”

I drifted off zig-zagging down the bumpy streets of the French Quarter. Jittering to the familiar rattle with a half-drunken smile on my face. Barry was alive. Somehow. My shopping cart was in New Orleans. How? Why? Why was he dressed like Ru Paul?

“You’re too top-heavy to be riding bike and drinking Dixie beer, Michael. Why with all that foam people thought you were an escaped Barnum and Bailey tricycle bear — rabies! At least wear a helmet, anyway,” Barry was saying from the kitchen.

The bed was comfy – wow, it was mine. But it was made, fresh linens. Wounds – elbows and knees mostly – were cleaned and dressed.

Barry came in the room: “I found a pay stub in your wallet, had your address. It was a hell of time piling you into the streetcar. What a mess. Lucky I found you, didn’t wind up in jail.”

I saved the cross-dressing questions for later.

“Last I knew, Barry, you were on a Russian freighter somewhere, Vladivostok?”

“What no thank you for wheeling you home? That was a night of horror all by itself. I’ll tell you about it some day.”

“God I’m so sorry, Bare. Thank you, so much. For all you’ve done. I’m just confused is all. In the diary the cops found on Silver Street last year you wrote that you’d been Shang-haied and tortured. And the last entry – that was grim – led everyone to believe you had committed suicide? I, everyone, thought you were dead.”

Barry was whisking Hollandaise sauce in a bowl. From scratch. Something was sizzling. Smelled like Canadian bacon. Eggs Benedict, my favorite. He shouldn’t have.

“All lies,” Barry said emphatically. “I didn’t write any of that.”

He raised his eyebrows coyly. I waited.

“I’m illiterate,” he said, not the least bit embarrassed.

“Had no idea,” I said acceptingly – a little surprised, but not shocked.

“I mean honestly; a shopping cart that can read and write? Have you ever heard of anything more absurd?” he asked rhetorically.

I nodded in agreement as I watched him drizzle Hollandaise over two perfectly shaped sunny sides over bacon and an English Muffin. Hell of a cook, that cart. His cage was a bent in a few places, not bad. His wheels where chipped a little. Even so, I’d seen him look worse.

“You should have known it was bull,” Barry said in between chews, pointing his fork at me. “Someone, some human, wrote that mess and planted that journal. I woke up one day – same as you in the Vieux Carre this morning – without a clue as to where I was or how I got there. Except I was drugged against my will. You – you’re just dumb.”

“Yes, I am dumb. Hungry too. Thanks for breakfast, by the way. Looks great. You’re too good to me.”

“Breakfast,” he laughed. “You are crazy. This goodness is mine. Hell, you should’ve cooked it for me, all I’ve done for you! No, you need to pack your things. We have to catch a train back to Norwich. Time to find out why I was written off, sent down here – believed dead.”

“Wait. Why are you going back now. Why didn’t you go back when you first woke up down here. Why do I have to go with you?”

“I needed a friend. A friend I could trust. I need you to help me,” Barry said.

“Okay… but how did you find me.”

“Not sure. When it matters things just work out, I guess.”

“Seriously?”

“No, I went on Facebook.”

“Why are you in drag?” I quickly asked, unfazed to learn this was no coincidence.

“Because, as the carts down here say, “Les Bons Temps Rouler!”