Juan was back with Betsy.
Madame Peggy’s was bustling.
Betsy worked the nights
and fucked and fed him by day.
Juan stayed away from Adore.
He wanted her to have some fun.
If he were eighty and half his age
in bed, skin still tight to the bone,
Juan would do what she had done
the night her client was echoing her
incantation: leave by the back door,
let her young man go his own way
and she hers, and how long was up to her.
He did walk by from time to time,
seeing no sign of her . . .
The kid came back to The Saloon
with The File and The Driver
in tow. Keep me from these three,
he muttered to Ray.
The kid wanted to know why
Juan couldn’t call him Son.
The File listened practicing his skill
in filing down a table leg,
and Juan told him to stop
more than once.
The Driver was the only gentleman,
if you could rightly call such a sight
by that word.
Juan told the kid to figure it out.
He wanted to be no one’s father.
The loves of his life were not barren
but their bairn were no part of his own
blood, semen not his, but ovum hers . . .
maybe. It was a great dilemma,
he knew, to those who worried
over such matters.
He had to get his work done.
Adore had twenty years on him
but she was the master of longevity.
There was no difference at all
in bed, only in his mind, and why
would he waste time thinking that way?
As for Iroquois, that New England drunk
in his bed once upon a string of nights . . .
Betsy went with him to sleep at HO HOTEL.
That’s how she spent her vacation time.
She fucked and sucked and tea-bagged him,
let him do her any way he wished, and ate
with him in the little diners nearby.
What more did Juan need out of life than love?
For one thing, everything Adore
possessed by either birth or taking note
with her own eyes of the way of the world . . .
Betsy knew all about New Orleans
on the surface. She could tell you
who was who and why . . .
She had not noticed the neon sign’s
three dark letters until Juan laughed
about her being here made him a pimp.
Then one day before the week was out,
Paolo came by. Their mama’s coffin
might have been found in an estuary.
The authorities were running tests
on what was inside to find out who
it was, not much else remained
but bones. Juan knew it wasn’t her
even before the results came back.
Mama Nell would have better luck
than to end up in an estuary.
At the very least she would be out
among the sea birds and the porpoise
floating beyond the Gulf of Mexico
and as far as farther could take her,
maybe all the way home to be reborn.
(21 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander