The last time I was in New Orleans, Mo and I were walking around and invariably we'd see a group of people, sometimes 3, sometimes more, just hanging out close together, a little shifty eyed but otherwise not communicating; maybe their hands were in their pockets, maybe one held a beer or a bottle in a brown bag. They'd get even more still as we approached but they didn't turn their heads.
That's a situation, Mo would say.
Yeah it is, I'd say back.
I mean we saw this, in one variety or another, all day long. Various situations. Any minute, something was about to bump it into the category of serious situation. Or maybe the serious situation had just happened. It wasn't always clear.
I see this from time to time here in my neighborhood, but not all day, every day. In New Orleans though, it's basically one situation after the next.
Anyway, last night I went to see a friend read from his novel at a bookstore downtown in the city. The bookstore used to be a bank that had those old vaults with 3 foot thick doors. The floors were wood in parts and there was a balcony and and columns and chandeliers made out of old wheels. I'm pretty sure that back in the old days, various crimes had taken place in there, maybe a shoot -out, maybe a suicide. It just felt like a stage set for a situation.
In between the reading part of the event, this guy Frank Fairfield, played his fiddle.
I don't usually listen to this kind of music. Living in a hipster part of town I've had just about all the banjo playing/foot stomping/hand clapping music a person can tolerate. But this was different. I just got sucked right in and taken somewhere else. I don't know if it was the bank, or the vaults, or my mood, or just the spirits in the room but I listened to him play and I saw the whole story. I saw a guy wake up in bed with a pretty girl he met the night before, I saw him jump into his pants while she was still sleeping and grab his hat on the way out. I saw him trot down the road on a sunny day until he met up with his pal leaning against a tree. I saw the pal hand him a gun. I saw them hop two horses and ride to the bank. I saw them walk in, raise their guns and shoot the security guard. I saw them jump the desk, and I saw the teller holding his hands up. I saw them step into the vault and come out a few bundles of cash in white sacks and I saw them run out. I saw that their horses were gone so they just had to run. I saw the whole situation and then I saw the history of that situation, how the two met and their whole lives up until that very day.
And then when Frank was finished I came back to where I was.