Monday, November 2, 2009
“Shore, if’n you like weird fish.”
“Weird Fish? I don’t guess I have ever caught any Weird fish” The expression was pronounced with heavy emphasis on the “earrreed” sound.
“If it ain’t fried catfish, it is Weird fish”.
Hank could see that he was not going to be able to talk Billy Ray into feasting on a big bowl of shrimp gumbo or any other kind of weird fish, as he called it. The best place in the world for ethnic seafood and he was going to have to find some peanut chunking dive that sold river cats rolled in cornmeal and black pepper, fried up in lard using a cast iron skillet. Hank kind of had a strut in his walk. He didn’t fool anyone especially Billy Ray. Neither on of them had ever been outside Sattersville for any length of time and this trip was something neither one of them had ever imagined they would take. Apprehension was fairly well rooted in both boys. Billy Ray actually felt the most at ease. There was definitely a higher proportion of coloreds in New Orleans, even walking throughout the French Quarter. He continued to relax more and more as they walked from block to block. The humid night air was beginning to cool things off as the sun settled down and the evening sky took on a deep purple mixed with a pink hue..
They had arrived earlier that day. Leaving Sattersvile that morning, they drove Hank’s fifty nine Chevrolet pickup in one sitting, except for taking a wood’s break. They had spent the bigger part of the afternoon rambling through the junk shops. Several times they teased back and forth that even coming from where they had grown up, they threw away better stuff than what these ya-hoos were trying to put off on the tourists. Neither one had made any major purchases. Hank told Billy Ray that before they loaded up to head home he was coming back to that second shop they had stopped in and buy that little black cast iron horse jockey for Billy Ray to put in his front yard. Billy Ray snorted a big laugh, but Hank kind of wished he had not have said anything.
“I can smell catfish a’ cookin’.” Billy Ray mumbled as he pushed Hank’s shoulder toward a noisy, music blaring, hole in the wall, eatery. Several tables with chairs were sitting out on the sidewalk for the more adventurous patrons to sit and enjoy the night air with there meals. They were the bent wrought iron type, made for withstanding all types of wet weather without damage.
“They must have got these out of Doc Burtons old drug store, I didn’t know other people had these kind”.
Hank laughed, “ Man, you either got to get out more often or talk less. People are going to think both of us are a couple of hillbillies.”
“You mean bo’us? Sho’nuff?”. Billy Ray cut his eyes from side to side mimicking fear of being found out. Both guffawed. Both felt a little discomfort.
“You guys tourists?” A small framed, dark hair young lady, probably five years their senior was standing there holding a beer tray and wearing a slightly soiled apron. She spoke with more than a sprinkle of sarchasium.
“Are you the waitress?” Hank feeling kind spry, leaning back in his chair, but didn’t want to sound too coy
“Nope, I am the mayor, but I am filling in for that shithook, that didn’t show up for work tonight.” There seemed to be a slight tone of a dare in her response..
“Well, my friend and I would like to order fried catfish, if it is on the menu.” Hank eased his chair back down with all four legs touching the concrete sidewalk. He decided that it was not the time for sparing with this one.
Her dark brown eyes, pupils almost indistinguishable glared without expression. “Cocktails or mixed drink?” she waited expressionless.
Hank and Billy Ray exchanged glances, not really sure they knew how to order either one. “Do you have plain old JAX beer?” Billy Ray felt fairly confident they would have JAX, he had seen a giant sign on the top of one of the building right on the river.
She turned and walked back inside the building without uttering another sound to either on of them.
“Dang, she must be out of sorts, or something.”
“Or sumpin’ for shore”. Billy Ray didn’t want to speak too loud. He had seen women erupt for less that that before. He had a cousin that everyone in the family thought was a little nuts.
Hank was a little more comfortable. “I know what she needs.”
Billy Ray cut his eyes over at Hank but neither one picked up the carry on line. With that, they thought they would better serve the situation to just sit and watch all the Yankee tourists walk by wearing plaid, long legged shorts with sock and sandals.