And now on to Jean….
Pirate on a Roadtrip, Part Quatre
We last saw Jean Lafitte returning to the cab and asking the driver, Anthony, to take him to the town named after him—the town of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana….
“So how come you so interested in Jean Lafitte?” Antny hung his arm out the window of the taxicabride as we toiled in the heat of many automobiles stopping and starting but going nowhere quickly. We had returned to urbanblight, which was difficult after the fresh air of the Baratarian swamps, and I understood Drusilla’s contempt for such.
“That so many people revere Jean Lafitte is something I find of great interest.” Indeed, it explained why I was able to remain strong in the mortal world in a way that none of my fellow members of the so-called historical undead were able to do. “After all, Jean Lafitte was a pirate”—the word tasted bitter on my tongue—“and a criminal, was he not?”
I had surmised throughout the day’s journey that Antny might make a valuable partner for myself and Rene in the modern world, as we were being increasingly required to spend time in the Beyond tending to political matters. I had little trust of Italians in my day, although except for his language, he bore no resemblance to those ruffians.
“Yeah, maybe Lafitte was a pirate,” Antny said. “But he was wasn’t like no Jack Sparrow pirate, you know? He was a badass. The man had style. He was slammin’.”
I pondered what badass and slammin might mean, but decided they were meant as a compliment. I was quite fond of Captain Jack Sparrow in his moving pictures, although I would have likely thrown him in chains had he been captaining one of my ships.
“Where is my town”—I stopped, adjusting my words—“I mean, this town of Jean Lafitte—where might we find it?”
“Ain’t far,” Antny said, jerking his head out the port side of the taxicabride, where I still saw the edges of the Baratarian swamp on occasion. “We turning on Jean Lafitte Boulevard right now. You’ll see the sign when we get to the town.”
The first such sign was in the shape of a ship with my name across the bottom in bold letters. I had long accepted that my family name of Laffite would be spelled as the Americans did even in my own day, but found the sign quite pleasing nonetheless.
“How ‘bout this one?” Antny stopped before a large image of a cocodrie. Bah. “Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours,” this sign said, but I had enough of this hobbies for one day and did not think I wanted to ever perform an airboatride again.
“I think not.” I peered at a small building whose signage read “Marine Museum,” but as it did not have my name on it, I did not care to view dead poisson unless it were cooked over the fire and served on a platter.
We went through another drivethru, where Antny said we needed to try a beverage called a dakkery, so I shared with him another bill from my dwindling roll of Andrew Jacksons. Hobbies were quite expensive, something I would chastise Drusilla and Rene for not telling me.
“Oh.” I sucked the bright red half-frozen concoction through the narrow tube. “I should like another of these dakkerys.” It appeared to be somewhat like a milkshake only with much rum added. I preferred brandy, but a proffer of rum was not to be refused.
“Dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Mister Lafayette done like him some drive-thru daiquiris. You want another strawberry flavor or you wanna try the lime?”
“Lime, s’il-vous plait.” Why had Rene and Drusilla not introduced me to such a fine delicacy?
He circled the taxicabride again to the drivethru and procured two more dakkerys.
The next sign before which Antny stopped was a large brown square with a pelican sitting above words which brought warmth to my heart—or perhaps it was the dakkerys, which had made the world appear much hotter and brighter.
“Town of Jean Lafitte,” the sign read. “Named for legendary privateer Jean Lafitte, who helped the United States win the Battle of New Orleans”—finally, to be recognized thus!—“and used area bayous for his smuggling operations.”
“Smuggling is a harsh word,” I told Antny. “Jean Lafitte simply took goods from the despicable Spaniards and sold it to those in Louisiane who needed them. Perhaps I should speak to the mayor of the town about correcting this matter.”
“Oh no, you don’t wanna do that, dude.” Antny shook his head. “You go waltzin’ in city hall smelling like McRibs and daiquiris, and they gonna throw both our asses in the joint. My cab permit done be stripped away for driving under the influences. No siree bob. You don’t wanna see no mayor.”
I hadn’t understood most of that spate of heavy Italian, but clearly he did not wish to deliver me to the mayor. Perhaps it was just as well; my experience with those in public office had frequently been ill.
“Perhaps we should take the sign.” I studied the rather large structure. It might be difficult to remove it; perhaps Drusilla could create a transport and use her magic to change it once darkness had fallen.
Antny turned around in his taxicabride seat, frowning at me from beneath the brim of his ballcap. “Now why you want to go and do a crazy fool thing like that? What are you really up to, Mr. John Lafayette? Up to a point, you know, I wuz happy to be haulin’ you ’round in circles and helpin’ you spend some of those twenties you got rolled up like some kind of bank, but I ain’t goin’ to jail. You ain’t no reg’lar tourist. No sirree. You up to somethin’.”
He snapped his fingers. “You wit’ one of them reality shows? Like them ‘Swamp People’ or ‘Cajun Pawn Stars’? I bet you’re scoutin’ locations for a reality show about Jean Lafitte, yessirree. Dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Dat’s right, ain’t it?”
I simply nodded, as I was trying to interpret his speech. Perhaps I could hire Antny to teach me Italian.
“Swamp People,” I repeated slowly, recalling a moving picture I had watched on what Rene called my flatscreen box back in the rooms of Eudora Welty. The picture had been about cocodrie hunters and was quite fascinating, although their Italian was even more incomprehensible than Antny’s. “Yes, Jean Lafitte should have such a moving picture. What a marvelous notion!” I should like to see myself on the flatscreen box.
“You will help me create this moving picture,” I told Antny, and handed him the rest of my Andrew Jackson bills. “There is much more money to be made, but first we must have another dakkery.”
Antny looked at the bills, counting them as quickly as a money changer back in my human days. “That’s what I be talkin’ ’bout. I’ll get you a pina colada this time. You’ll like that. And we can talk about your moving pitcher on the way back to N’Orluns.”
“Oui.” I settled back and sucked the last of the lime dakkery through the narrow tube while Antny made his third visit to the drivethru. The pinyacolada was best of all, tasting of rum and coconuts that reminded me of my days visiting the islands of the Caribbean.
As I grew sleepy, I wondered how one made a moving picture. I suspected that while the lovely Drusilla might know, she often grew quite irate and mulish when asked a question she did not wish to answer. I would consult with Rene instead.
I think making a moving picture about Jean Lafitte would be a suitable hobbies, and something about which I can perform this blog task.
“We must return to the Hotel Monteleone,” I told Antny, yawning. “Tout de suite.”
“Ain’t dat right,” Antny said. “We had enough adventurin’ for one day and you is out of money.”
And thus ends the adventures of “Pirate on a Roadtrip.” I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling along with Jean and Anthony this week! Stay tuned for a new scene snippet on Sunday and the kickoff of the PIRATE’S ALLEY blog tour on Monday. It’s almost here!
Want more adventures for Jean? I have it on good authority that at some point during the blog tour, he and DJ and Rene will be visiting Captain Jack Sparrow himself. And it’s not going to be pretty! Blood might be spilled.