Cameron is the largest yet least populated parish in Louisiana. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the Sabine River to the west, it was once home to pale-skinned and fair-haired cannibals who evinced a particular hatred for the Spanish, as Spanish conquistadores treated them with appalling cruelty. But that was long ago and now forgotten. Except for the bones. Bones never forget.
Cameron Parish, Louisiana
I’m reading a story about hippies levitating the Pentagon. It was supposed to rise 300 feet and boogaloo until Satan and his minions were driven out in a beautiful blast of light. Our government got their military issue panties in a knot, of course. They evacuated the building and circled it with troops and flamethrowers, but nothing happened. Didn’t even rise a foot. Too bad, in my opinion. But many in Louisiana were furious, thus this library book by Norman Mailer has a bullet hole through it, with DAMAGE NOTED stamped on the cover. If Norman ever comes down for a book signing, I expect he’ll get his own bullet hole, and the coroner will stamp DAMAGE NOTED on his forehead before shipping him back to New York City in a box.
Outside, frogs have started their nocturnal racket, punctuated now by the crunching of tires and the slam of a door. I get up and go to my second story window. My boyfriend’s truck is out front and he’s headed up the steps of our columned porch with a bag under one arm.
“I thought you weren’t coming!” I yell with more pique in my voice than I intended.
Tony says this looking up, but now something else attracts his attention. He backs down the steps to study it. I ask him what, but he doesn’t answer. I toss the book on a chair and hurry down our once majestic staircase, and when I pull open the front door, Tony comes in asking if I know the house is full of bats — a shameful infestation I’m not supposed to discuss.
“Probably just passing through,” I say.
“Must be thousands.”
“We’re getting them exterminated.”
“Just a soon as Bill Henry gets out.”
“Is he getting out?”
“Hope not.” I glance at the bag. “Whatcha got in there, Tony?”
He opens it so I can see the gleaming red shells with their long black whiskers. “Mama thought y’all’d like em.”
“Oh Tony, your mama sent us bugs to eat. How fucking sweet.”
“They’re not bugs, Deli,” he says, sounding offended. “They’re crawfish.”
“I don’t eat anything with more than four legs.”
“They grow in rice fields. You eat rice, doncha?”
“If I’d known there were bugs in it, I wouldn’t.”
He says come on, crawfish are a miniature species of lobster. I tell him I’ve never eaten lobsters either, and he says if you boil them in Zatarain’s, they’re just as good as the big boys, maybe better. He comes up close and whispers in my ear —
“You’re so brave to try new things!”
He knows I’m a sucker for the fetid breath of French boys in my ears, thus we’re soon ensconced in rocking chairs on the porch with his mama’s bag-a-bugs between us — not quite the setting you find in paperback romances, but I’ve come to realize that finding true romance is as unlikely as finding ingots of Confederate gold in your underwear. In real life there’s always something between the lovers. If not a bag of bugs, then something worse.
© 2021 Lou Dischler