We used to drive down those long, winding roads canopied with weeping willows, past plantation houses and swamp marshes and Beware of Alligators signs on our way to eat at Vera’s. I loved to lean my head back and look out the window as the shadows passed over my face so quickly it made me dizzy.
My uncle parked the car on the ferry to ride across into the city, and I felt like I was in an old French home movie.
We always have to put on our best poker faces around him because he tells the wildest stories. We can never decipher if he is pulling our leg or not until it is too late; until after he has gotten us.
We found a body floating in the Riverwalk as we were people watching with our toes in the water, one particularly hot day. He was full of bullet holes and appeared to have been shredded up by a boat propeller. And I can not forget that little boy’s face on the news who was abducted outside the wig shop I went into, or the exact colour of that blue-black eye shadow I bought while it happened.
We stayed at Grand Casino in Biloxi a couple times and spent hours making rounds, flirting with bellboys and pretending we were famous. There was a flamboyant soul singer in the live Vegas-style show who grabbed our hands and tried to pull us onstage. Lord, how he was so drenched with sweat, it dripped all over us and onto our table and into our drinking glasses.
One night we met an old lady that we helped in the elevator, and later she snuck the two of us giggling teens into the atrium after she found out we were trying to get in to see Duran Duran. Their Greatest Hits album had just came out and we had already made my dad drive to every retail store for days until we had it in our hands.
My uncle loved to show off his collection of Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia, and to put on talent shows with his cleverly trained dogs. He, my aunt, and cousin took us to Lenten fish fry nights at St. Luke’s. I would not touch fried catfish for anything, but always stared in awe at the beautiful stained glass windows.
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