New Orleans: Sidewalk street name tiles for So...





It was summertime in New Orleans, and the night was opaque with a steamy-stench that lingered in the nostrils. They were two strangers waiting for the Carrollton Avenue bus, gray beads of sweat crawling like ants over their scalps, trickling down their backs. The woman put a Tareyton between her lips and fished in her hobo-bag for a book of matches.

When the man unexpectedly half-lunged to light her cigarette, the flame singed the tips of her tarantula-eyelashes. “What the …!” She jerked back, scared, but mostly pissed off. Now, what kind of lunatic pokes fire at a strange woman’s face?

A lunatic with three eyes, that’s what kind.

There was blue on the left, brown on the right, and  then the erroneous white one―minus its iris and pupil― had haphazardly developed right smack between his manicured eyebrows. The eye resembled a goopy poached egg white.

“Ooops!” He blushed. “Clumsy of me…” He shoved the lighter in his jeans pocket and offered his hand. “Name’s Ignatius.  And you are?”

She tried not to stare but how could she not? Even for New Orleans, a triple-eyed guy was bizarre, indeed. He wouldn’t be bad-looking if not for that extra wad of goo, though.

“Uh, Twyla.” She touched her fingertips to his. They felt like brown maple leaves on the verge of crumbling.

“Lovely name, Twyla.” His smile revealed a mouthful of toothpaste-commercial white teeth.  “It reminds me of the twilight…”

“No shit? That’s a new one.” She flipped her too-long-for-her-age blonde hair over her shoulder, Cher Bono style. “You, umm, have three eyes…” Twyla took a long drag from her cigarette, leaned her head back and blew a perfect smoke ring.  It hovered in the thick soggy air like a lost angel’s halo.

“So I’m told.” Ignatius grinned, winking his middle eye. “So I’m told.”

Their bus rumbled up and screeched to an eventual stop. He’d better get those brakes checked.

Neither Ignatius nor Twyla made a move toward the bus, their five eyes glaring at the interruption as if it were a telemarketer on wheels.  After several seconds, the driver shrugged and closed the doors.

The bus continued its smoky rumble down the street in search of real passengers.

Flies and gnats orbited in the wrinkled glow of the cracked street light. Twyla slowly reached up and peeled Ignatius’ middle eye off of his face like a wet Band-Aid. His errant eyeball felt like phlegm between her fingers.  She flicked it in the gutter, and it lay there among the New Orleans filth; easily mistaken for a wet cotton ball.

Twyla crossed the street and rounded the corner without a backward glance, while Ignatius stood blind and alone.

Tell it like it is

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