The Duchess of Rue Bourbon Part One

The Duchess of Rue Bourbon Part One

A Story by bob skye

Memoir: First in a multi-segment account of a hitch-hiking trip to New Orleans that I made with a friend. From snake farms to pistol-waving bobble-heads, follow this tale through fright and surprise.

November, 1967

I was hitching from Alabama to New Orleans with Jimmy MacElroy. We were on a dark stretch of road between Slidell and Lake Pontchartrain when a car pulled to the side of road. The driver nodded to us as he opened the front door. I got in front while MacElroy opened the rear door and climbed into the back seat. The driver took us several miles, then began mumbling about salvation for half an hour, and suddenly tossed us out of his car.  
“You boys can git out out right here,” he announced.

He put us on the tarmac miles from the nearest exit. We walked a mile or two before the first car passed, and I stuck my thumb out hopefully. The driver passed without a glance at us. We dropped our packs between a stand of saw grass and the shoulder of the road, then fired up a joint. It shone like a beacon in the night. We rested a while, then walked another mile or so. A billboard on the other side of the highway appeared, advertising Dixie beer, a local diner and a snake farm. Half the florescent  bulbs were burned out, and mosquitoes and other winged creatures of the night obscured what little light was left.
MacElroy pulled a deck of Bicycle playing cards out of his pack and we dealt them out in the middle of the highway, right on the double yellow stripes. We dealt several hands of blackjack and five-card stud beneath the light of the billboard, until we saw the tiny beams of headlights appear in the distance. We knew thaat we had time to finish the hand before they arrived.  

For all its frustration, hitch-hiking is a the best way to see the land up close. You meet all kinds of people, but it can get real boring at times, answering questions about where you were going, what kind of work you did, and what religion you were. That last question was the difficult one. You give the wrong answer and you might get left in a pile of dust.

We played games, and told unsuspecting drivers that we were professional surfers from California, or minor league ball players who had missed the team bus. It was just like playing charades.

“My f*****g thumb is killing me,” MacElroy complained after a while. He only spoke when he had  something to say, which made him an ideal companion for the road. Sitting in weeds alongside highways for ten or fifteen hours a day with some blathering fool was my idea of hell.

Mac was always prepared as well. He pulled a pint of rotgut Scotch out of his sack and we it passed back and forth, then he screwed the bottle closed and lit up a joint.  We saw lights in the distance, and began to step out on the road, but these lights were closing in on us quickly. They  were gaining on us at too rapid a pace. We escaped to the side of the road. We watched as the car approached and sped by in a blur.  We heard a sudden screech of tires, and smelled burnt rubber as the car skidded to a stop. It sat still for a moment, idling about a hundred yards away,
We stood in disbelief for a moment as an empty beer can flew out of the window of the passenger side, and broke the eerie silence as it crashed against the road. Without warning the gears gnashed and the car fishtailed back toward us, stopping a few yards short of our knees. The door on the passenger side opened.
“Y’all comin’ or not?”         
I began toward the car, but Mac pulled me back. “What the f**k, man? We’ve got a ride!” I said.
"They might be more trouble than it's worth,” MacElroy replied. I walked toward the car.
"Don't worry," I said. "I don't want to spend the rest of my life staring at that f*****g billboard." I hurried toward the car, and Jimmy MacElroy followed reluctantly.
"Okay, he said. "But no games this time."

Chapter Two coming soon...

© 2010 bob skye

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Added on October 16, 2010
Last Updated on December 16, 2010
Tags: New orleans, snakes, Lake Pontchartrain, weapons, Dixie Beer, beer, naval base, Pensacola, hitch-hiking, Bourbon Street, transvestite, Dutchess


bob skye
bob skye

Hoboken, NJ

I'm a writer and photographer. more..

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A Story by bob skye