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A Bum in the Birdbath


Base and I were on some kind of rush way up like supersonic up and we found the Funky Pirate mostly by accident, diving in out of the rain for some place with beer and a bathroom. We sat at the bar on these long spindly stools that made me dizzy when I looked down like from the windows of an observation deck, and then Base would laugh and I’d laugh and finally the bartender set two Hand Grenade beers in front of us and we ripped the plastic sleeve from a stack of cups to wrap up the cigarettes to keep them dry. Finally I knew I had to let the bladder go and a bathroom was somewhere back through the open garden with palm fronds and little concrete stools and birds fluttering and the rain coming into the courtyard like a jungle and the back building was there with its cracked plaster blue walls with pencil scribbles of people making their mark on New Orleans but hell the mark of New Orleans was already on me and deep in me too, like when I stood at the urinal and pissed out my shriveled excuse onto the porcelain and shivered because my jeans and shirt were soaked through from the rains during the parade and I stared at those little cracks in the blue wall and watched them climb all over and spell all sorts of names like alphabet soup or yellow snow script writing and when I’d taken that hour and a half to wash my hands at the sink I was looking at the cigarette smoke curling up gray-blue in front of my eyes and then there were my eyes in the mirror all bright green, eyes brighter green than the wet monsooned fronds in the jungle courtyard between me and the bar. I climbed out of the bathroom door like it was a cardboard box I’d been sleeping in and some giant with a cigar like a baseball bat bullied in by me. I tried to warn him about the difficulties of getting out but it was too late and then Base was there with me outside the door standing in the jungle and I knew he’d make it cause he was up there with me way up and he slid in behind that riddled wooden door with the giant. Bubbling molded fish were trickling little streams of water like slow vomit and there were so many trees and plants. I wandered off in a corner of that courtyard and was touching that stone fish because it was like nothing really I ‘d ever seen and it was quiet and peaceful and the rain just barely dripping in when out on the street was all the madness of the Quarter and rain-slicked streets covered with paper cups and Godzilla stomping them all like little Japanese cities, cup to cup, mutilating the end work of the guy selling “huge” beers and I got to wondering what was taking Base so long. I almost got worried what with him alone with that cruel giant in the blue toilet and I was sure our beers would be gone from the bar cause we’d been gone something like a day or two and even if they were still there they’d be flat and warm and the bartender would know just how screwed up we were and I supposed they’d known all along. Just then the door creaked open and it was Base who’d somehow made it out first. He spotted me crouching like some tribal hunter in the corner of the foliage, petting the stone fish and he let out a good laugh, calling to me, but I insisted that he get a load of the fish so then there was the two grown me of us in that corner in the little jungle courtyard looking as bad as we felt when the giant came out of the toilet smoking that dark long piece of Cuban wood. He wore large khaki shorts like tent flaps and he stopped for a minute and looked at us like some minor painting you pass in a museum, not really interested, but just getting as much out of the price of admission as he could without keeling over half-way through the tour. He smiled at us petting the fish and then got a load of the little birdbath sitting smack in the middle of the courtyard, half-way between the back of the bar and the back blue can and his eyes lit up all white and spooky and with that cigar bitten down hard in his mouth he started fumbling with his trousers. He looked at us again, cackling like a madman, and said, “Welp, time to sit in the pool,” and down went the tent shorts and his bare ass slid into that birdbath and he was just sitting there like some weird exhibition on modern toilets with that cigar in his mouth feeling that warm bird water all over his ass and I suppose bubbling up all over his privates too and he seemed pretty happy about it. Base and I thought it might be wise to get out of the corner and try putting a little distance between ourselves and this monstrosity sitting in the birdbath when he caught us giggling nervously and said to us like we were real people that just anyone could talk to, “Go in the bar and tell them that Drew decided to sit in the pool,” to which we asked tell who and he said just tell the bar, that they’d know what it meant. So we set off as innocent messengers afraid of all the stinking sweaty rain covered drunkards in the Pirate and mumbled meekly in general directions, “You see, there’s this guy Drew and well, he decided to like sit in the pool, man, and you do with it what you will cause we were just coming back from the can and petting the fish.” A few guys caught our drift, big guys all of them like they’d been force-fed Boston proteins since they were in the womb and all with those same circus tent khaki shorts and they bumbled out into the open courtyard and began howling and ranting at Drew and at what a maniac he was to sit in the pool as he called it when it was just a little birdbath. Base and I trailed meekly behind and fell in their ranks, laughing it up ourselves because it actually was kind of funny. Well the crowd drew other people to Drew that Drew hadn’t been counting on like the Pirate crew all in their puffy white shirts and eye-patches and heads wrapped up in black silk and one who must have been the captain of the Funky Pirate got all irate and started swearing at them and calling them assholes and the like and to get the hell out of the bar and what the hell was Drew thinking putting his bare ugly ass where little sparrows and pigeons get their drinking water? The captain bawled out his commands and the whole lot of the guys, Drew and all his buddies, were nabbed and sent walking the plank back out onto the decadent, filth-ridden Bourbon Street away from the tranquility of the courtyard and it was sad cause it was so nice in there. Very quickly Base and I realized we were standing around like we were Drew’s buddies too. The captain glared down on us like an Injun’s an Injun and we both froze up a second and thought now we’d never make it back to our beers but a kind look came over him and somehow he knew we weren’t any trouble like the Drew guys and it was probably the seven light years of space that separated us from the them that softened his gaze because we obviously were on contract from a higher source and he didn’t even tell us to get inside or anything but just left us standing there in the jungle with the birdbath water sloshing all around the metallic gurgle of the stone fish. We walked back in the bar and found our tall stools again. The beers were beaded but cold and we found a couple of wrinkled but dry Camels in the bottom of the cup sleeve and knew we would be safe there for quite some time.

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