Tuesday, September 07, 2004

 

Jesus in New Orleans, 1912

“No kidding. I’m for real.”

“That’s not possible. I been around, and that’s not possible.”

“And he just sits there?”

“Well, it’s not like he can do anything.”

“You’re so full of shit.”

“I’m not. I’ll show you if you want.”

“You can take me there?”

“Sure. He’s at Mama Lou’s. She keeps him in an upstairs bedroom. Thinks he’s God.”

“God, huh?”

“Something. That’s what she says. You wanna see?”

“I guess you won’t leave me alone until I go see. But I’m sure it’s a big jellyfish.”

“Bellocq was over here taking pictures of the whores, and he saw it. Took a picture of it. He says he thinks it’s Jesus.”

“Bellocq is a crazy old Creole. He thinks Jesus tells him to take pictures of whores.”

“Well, he saw it. He says it’s for real.”

Mama Lou was cleaning up the bottles and wrappers and shooing out the riff raff when they got there.

“Yeah, Sal, He’s up there. I’m just about to go feed Him.” Mama Lou didn’t have no use for Sal, but, hell, he was from an old black Creole family, and a cop-snitch. When you serve opium and whores and raw whiskey from god-knows-where, you gotta be nice to a cop-snitch, or else he runs to the uniform man, and, well…

... So there he sat, in the corner, like a giant linen bean bag, some drool flowing from what could have been a hairy mouth, or even a weird vagina or even some kind of surgical slash, two noodly appendages trailing off to the sides and two more trailing off to the back like the limbs of a squid, only fatter and more buttery… soft burbling and tight hissing noises came from some hole in the thing, somewhere, slurping… Mama Lou was poking some applesauce and buttermilk into it… it had eyes. And a beard. Christ.

“Told you. Ain’t that the god-damndest thing you ever saw?”

“That ain’t no jellyfish.”

“Told you. It’s a man.”

“Ain’t no man. Big old sack of guts or something. A freak.”

Mama Lou finished feeding it. “Ain’t he something? He’s a hell of a thing to find on your doorstoop one night, for sure. But I ain’t complaining. He’ll watch over me and take care of me. And my girls.”

“She thinks it’s a god. A loa, or something.”

“It’s a Jesus-loa! Sure as hell!” Mama Lou waved finger in the air, her red hair flying as she shook her head. “Only one ever turned up in Storeyville, that’s for damn sure. He says someone sucked all the bones out of Him and kept him alive.”

“A witch queen?”

“No. He says someone named Yah-Weh.”

“Huh? Yogweck? Who the fuck is that?”

“The one that cursed Him. Cursed Him and made Him like this because He escaped from a mountain. With some other one named Mo Hammit. Came here and got laid and smoked some tea and heard ol Bechet play the clarinet like he do, and, Lord! He had His perty brown head all in between Sister Monaud’s thighs. I threw Him out because He dint have any money and the next morning there He was, quivering on the stoop like a deboned steer, with a joint in His mouth…”

... and it slowly came out that it was Yahweh of Bible fame who has cussed the poor fella, all squishy and holy and limp, cussed his own son Jeezus as the flames of old N’awlins burned and the pigeons came out of the heights of the cathedrals and shit all over the statues in the squares, filled with Italian immigrants waiting to be killed. A pharmacist was opening his shop, and was happy to have some customers waiting, and oddly, all of them wanted the new cough syrup, Heroin…

But of course, Jesus hadn’t tried that. Yet.




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