Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Eye

Our hotel in the Quarter meant we spent a fair amount of time walking up and down Bourbon Street. Barkers yell beer prices for something called a “Big Ass Beer,” goosepimply underage girls saunter back and forth in front of the nudie clubs, and tattooed women encourage you to share what I called “swine flu shots.” They have these little test tubes of neon colored liquids that are supposed to be liquor shots. A shot girl will find a willing victim, usually an underage and wide-eyed boy, and stick the closed end of the tube in her mouth. He’ll suck on the other end, drinking the shot, until their lips touch. For this pleasure he pays $3, and she pays in future years of regret and self-loathing.

The guy who ran into me probably had a few swine flu shots. As I stepped down off the sidewalk, a much taller individual in the usual frat-boy uniform of untucked button-down shirt with jeans lost his equilibrium. Several things happened at once. The full weight of his shoulder cracked into my eye cavity. I yelled and covered my face. Husband grabbed dude’s elbow and held him up with a death grip, and the two cops standing not two feet away yelled “Hey!” and took their hands out of their jacket pockets.

When I looked up, I looked directly into dude’s face. His eyes wandered around in his head, completely unable to focus. The only thing holding him upright was Husband’s death grip, but he held dude out the side a little bit, like you’d hold an unwanted varmit, while he focused his attention on my poor little eye. Dude was a lost cause—he didn’t know what he’d done and might not remember it until several days later, when he was brushed with a faint sense of guilt and he couldn’t identify the five dots of deep bruising on his right elbow. I pulled Husband away and left Dude to mumble at the cops.

For the rest of our visit, my eye continued to bloom with various shades of red and purples, a crescent-shaped smudge matching the crescent of the Mississippi that so bruised New Orleans. I felt kinda like a bad ass, really, and we made up a few stories whenever anyone asked. On the levee one morning, eating beignets and drinking café au lait from Café du Monde, a trio of polyester pantsuits asked us to take their picture, which Husband did. “And can we return the favor for you two?” asked one of the women. Then she looked at me again, double-take on the eye. “No thanks,” I said, “we don’t want any evidence out there.” They hurried on while Husband giggled at my outright lying meanness.

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