Time To Pack It In
New Orleans ’70
Waking up in the morning, I grabbed a handful of stale chips
from the bag on the table and popped open a beer. After I drank
another, I put on my cleanest dirty shirt, and walked out to greet
the day. It was Sunday morning, and I had no destination. When I
came to the park with the swings I thought, “There’s no time like
the present.” I just wanted to shut my eyes and forget everything. I put my mind “on hold” for the rest of the afternoon and evening, but come Monday I was back walking the sidewalks.
If you didn’t want to be anywhere, New Orleans was a good place to be, it kept you in touch with all the misgivings that made you feel that way in the first place. I was tired of always being on the
edge, and I wanted it to end. By the time I got back to my
apartment, it felt like I had walked clear across New Orleans. I put
the six-pack that I was carrying under my arm down on the table and opened a beer. I sat back and watched the twilight turn into
darkness. As I was drinking my fifth beer, I knew I had to do
something or I would fall asleep. I decided to go back down to
Drunk, but still conscious, I took refuge within the shadows of a
burned out street light. There was a heavy mist hitting the streets,
and just down the block I could see someone walking towards me. As he passed by, he looked down at me and said “Hi”. I could tell by his backpack and his three-day beard that he was new in town and watching him walk away, I thought, “Wouldn’t it have been nice if somebody had helped me when I first arrived in New Orleans.” My next thought was to catch this guy and offer him a place to crash, but then I stopped. I wanted him to experience the same anguish that I had felt. It was kinda like getting revenge on the city. I didn’t find any hospitality, and now I wanted this guy to suffer too. I felt evil, but it felt good. I thought, “What the fuck, if I can’t have it, nobody can.” I milked that feeling until I couldn’t get any more out of it, then I started to feel sorry for the guy all over
again. I decided, once again, to offer the cat a place to crash. I
had to run to catch up to him because he was a good four blocks
away. When I finally caught him, he told me, “Yes,” he had just
arrived from Florida, but “No,” he didn’t need a place to crash. In
fact, not once, but twice, and now with me, three times, he had been offered a place to stay. I didn’t know what to say, I guess I said something like, “Gee, I hope your luck holds out,” and then I sat back down on the wet sidewalk wishing I had another six-pack.
Eventually, I picked myself up and started back to my apartment. It was then that I decided to leave the city. Tomorrow, for me, New Orleans would be history.