Haven’t read Royal Street? (And, why not, I must ask–LOL.) No worries–this is a spoiler-free feature each week or so as I go through the book pulling out some Easter Eggs and annotations. Today’s takes a kind of gross turn, I have to warn you.
First, today’s commercials. I’m over at For What It’s Worth Reviews today with five reasons why visiting New Orleans in August (as many of us will be doing for Authors After Dark in just a couple of weeks) is sheer insanity. It involves raccoons and pancake batter. I’m also giving away a copy of ROYAL STREET to a commenter (or a swag pack if you already have the book), and it’s international, so pop over and say hello!
Also, on my “official” website, I’m rolling out the UK covers for both Royal Street and River Road. The covers still might have some tinkering left to do (I’m not sure), but since they’re online a couple of places now, I wanted to share them.
My alter-ego Susannah Sandlin is over at Catherine Bybee’s blog with an interview today, with such entertaining questions as “Toilet paper–over or under?” Leave a comment to be entered in the book tour giveaways, which includes a $50 Amazon gift card. Also, Susannah’s doing an Internet radio show tonight at 6:30 Central Daylight Time U.S., and you can find more details HERE.
DJ makes note at the beginning of this chapter how very quiet New Orleans is after Hurricane Katrina. That’s one of my strongest sensory memories from the early days after I went back into the city. Normally, New Orleans is a noisy place. People are fond of horn-blowing, there are ship horns from the river that echo through the neighborhoods, the streetcars are always clanging and rattling, and there is music everywhere. Either people are pounding it out their car windows, or it’s the marching band practice at the nearby high school, or the musicians playing on the street corners. At night, well, yeah, you can also hear gunshots ringing through the neighborhoods on occasion if you live in the city as I did.
Here’s the T-shirt Alex is wearing in this chapter, from RoadKill shirts (although since I have cast Joe Manganiello as Alex this obviously doesn’t look like him!):
So, after Katrina, the Port of New Orleans was closed. There was virtually no traffic on the streets. The streetcars had been destroyed and wouldn’t roll for another year. The schools were all closed for at least six months. There were no people to listen to music, or to fire guns. (Sorry, Houston–all our criminals headed your way.) It was so quiet it was creepy.
Later, DJ decides she’s just too grimy and goes to take a shower. For a long time after Katrina, the New Orleans water supply–iffy during the best of times as it comes from the Mississippi River–was REALLY questionable. The water-treatment plants had, ironically, drowned. Finally, we were told it was okay to bathe in but not to drink it. A bit later, we were told it was okay to drink…but I don’t think I ever used unfiltered water again after that.
Anyway, the big thing I remember about the water was these gross swarms of tiny little gnats or flies that were flocking out of the drains and into the house. This is a highly magnified photo but….GROSS. It didn’t help when an academic in the Times-Picayune called them “coffin flies” and they were swarming by the millions. Well, doesn’t that just make you want to drink the water or bathe in it either one? Coffin flies are called thus because they are often found in coffins, where they burrow in search of dead things to feed on. There was a lot of death in New Orleans, both people who weren’t found for months, sadly, and spoiled food from refrigerators that had sat without power for months. The reason the flies were coming out of the drains is that the drainage system had been torn up by the hurricane and…well, really. Gross. Enough about that. After about a month or two, they disappeared as more people came into town and the water systems got repaired.
Now, aren’t you glad you read all the way to the end? Ha!