Weird Animals in the Crescent City

6 Jun

Don’t ask me to tell you how I ended up walking down Girod Street in New Orleans one Monday morning in May, carrying a hungry, caged serval, and looking for a half-dozen pounds of red meat priced for quick sale at Albertson’s. Just don’t. It turns my stomach to even think about it. But the fact was, I had a thirty-five pound African wildcat which needed to be fed soon. Fine, I’ll give you this just for background. But nothing more. I got lucky and won her in a dice game on the corner of Dauphine and St. Anne the previous night. Lucky. Yea. N’awleans is used to weird shit going down, but this scene was causing people’s heads to turn. This was a big boy. Solid muscle. Quicker than a snake. Beautiful, too. And where in hell was I gonna get him red meat for breakfast? The other thing: I had to wear this long, black leather glove…a gauntlet, really, as long as my arm, to carry the cat, in case he swiped at me from inside the cage. I had to feed him wearing this ridiculous thing, too. Yea.
Lucky me.
“Get you some eggs. About four or five of ‘em,” said a pudgy white guy pushing a broom on the sidewalk in front of Ratsie’s.
“What?”
“Raw eggs. Get you some. Is what it likes.”
“You know what this is?”
“Yeh. Worked for a while cleaning cages at the National Zoo in D.C.”
He let the broom drop and came up to her slowly. The cat shifted toward him and he stopped. The cage was front-heavy and off balance. I set it down beside me.
“Them things will take down antelopes, but they like the smaller stuff overall. Ya know, rabbits, hyraxes, birds, rats. Know’m sayin?”
“Yea? What about eggs?”
“Yeh. Get you them. Four or five. Give ‘em to ‘er raw. And let ‘er break ‘em wid’er claws.”
“Raw eggs.”
“Yeh. Servals love ‘em.”
He craned his neck and the cat swiped at him. We both jumped.
“Ain’t she a purty one,” he said and spit out his cigarette butt. “Atta girl now. At’s what they good at doin. Ya know?”
“What.”
“They purty efficient hunners. They catch they prey over fitty percent a the time.”
“That’s good, huh?”
“Compared to ten fo’ most ‘pecies of cat.”
“That is good.”
“At’s right.”
“Hm. Raw eggs then.”
“At’s right. An’ meat don’t hurt neither.”

By early afternoon I had managed to get myself down St. Charles Avenue on foot, all the way into the Garden District. No way they’d have taken me on the streetcar with this thing, so I walked it the couple of miles from the French Quarter. I was still trying to figure out where in hell I could get some meat and eggs, all the while carrying this beast, and not be hounded out or arrested. But I needed to piss badly. I had needed to for a while and now I could hardly walk. So I swung right on Washington Avenue, and hobbled to the Lafayette Cemetery. There was a safe place covered in bougainvilleas behind the graveyard, in between all the rows of tombs and the St. Joseph’s Orphans Asylum Cemetery, where I knew I could do my business in peace. So I found a good, shady place to leave the cage while I rushed into the thorny wall of vines with red and pink flowers and urinated. I’m not a religious man by definition, but I said two Our Fathers while I was pissing. You know, out of respect for the dead. I finished up, tapped, and zipped. I got myself extricated from the arms of the ruthless vines, scratching my scalp. When I walked back, the cage was there, but the cat was gone. It was freaky. The door was latched shut. It’s as if the animal squeezed out in between the metal bars. I’m not a religious man by definition, but I said two Hail Marys and got out of there quickly. I know enough not to hang around Cities of the Dead for too long; especially if something weird like this happens. I left the empty cage next to the tomb. Already there was a city prowler inching its way around the perimeter of the graveyard, looking for miscreants. I came back down Washington Avenue and ducked a right on Dryades and made my way to Samuel Square where I dropped a tenner to some homeless genius in a game of speed chess. The whole time I was thinking about the cat. The following few days I watched the papers closely, looking for bad news on cat attacks or mutilations of squirrels or stray dogs. But there was nothing. Just the usual shit in the Times-Picayune. Nothing. The cat was gone. N’awleans is used to weird shit like this going down.
Lucky me.

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11 Responses to “Weird Animals in the Crescent City”

  1. slyboots2 06/06/2007 at 2:49 PM #

    No pressure at all. You just keep hitting them out of the park, is what I’m saying. And who gives a rat’s ass if you’re doping? This ain’t the ‘Lymipics!

  2. slyboots2 06/06/2007 at 2:50 PM #

    Fuckin Barry Bonds.

    Over and out.

  3. dr. zombieswan 06/06/2007 at 2:52 PM #

    There’s a cool story by Neil Gaiman in his latest short story collection about New Orleans and zombies & Zora Neale Hurston.

    I like New Orleans, although I often end up vomiting while there. :)

  4. Lx 06/06/2007 at 3:23 PM #

    new orleans has always been a magical city for me.
    there’s something spiritual, for me, about it.
    i love that town.
    always have.

    sly, thanks again and again and again and again.
    get some sleep.
    luck w/the job.
    the good kind.

  5. Anonymous 06/06/2007 at 3:26 PM #

    That’s a great opening sentence man.
    J

  6. Lx 06/06/2007 at 3:32 PM #

    Ha, funny you mention that. I told “Tomesa” yesterday that I spent about 20 minutes staring at that bloody thing. Tweaking and cutting and adding and pasting and erasing. Bloody sentence…

  7. JaneDoughnut 06/06/2007 at 10:09 PM #

    I think never having heard of a serval makes this that much creepier. I can imagine a little hyena-like cat with bloodies claws running through the streets.

  8. Lx 06/06/2007 at 10:12 PM #

    Jane, here:
    http://www.wildlifesafari.info/images/serval.jpg

  9. Tisha! 06/06/2007 at 11:06 PM #

    where do you come up with this shit baby!?

  10. Lx 06/06/2007 at 11:23 PM #

    Tisha, I have absolutely
    no fucking idea.
    but i know this,
    when i was writing this
    i couldn’t stop laughing.

    i read somewhere that Dali
    used to do that while he was
    painting;
    not saying i’m anything close
    to Dali,
    but i can identify with the
    wackiness or the insanity
    or whatever in fuck it is
    that this is.

  11. Tisha! 07/06/2007 at 12:20 PM #

    gosh I am always floored!

    at least it made you crack up ;)

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