It was much easier to wake up that Tuesday than I expected. Which is a good thing, because after a whole lot of drunk talk the night before, we promised Tom Turner that we'd eat his Lucky Dogs.
Like I mentioned in that drunk blog, we met Tom Turner hanging out in front of a liquor store with a rusted tackle box and a fishing pole, and he and Margaret got to talkin' 'bout fishin'. That girl knows her shit, but I was slightly stumbly and slurry, and I know absolutely nothing about fishing so I can't even faux a retrospective dialogue.
So we were Turner’s first customers on Tuesday morning, and I'm not gonna lie: he served up the most disgusting hot dog I've ever eaten. It's not like I expected high-class Chicago dogs, but it tasted like someone baffed into a meat grinder and linked it up for stupid, drunken New Orleans tourists who keep their stupid, drunken promises to dirty old stupid, drunken fishermen.
Luckily we were scheduled to be at LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop at noon for a cemetery tour and "the best bloody marys in town," because there's nothing like bloody, spicy, vodka-y goodness to carve away the taste of vile-ass hot dogs.
We get there early and strike up a conversation with a chatty old guy at the bar, who was all sorts of yellow. Yellowish hair, matching teeth. Yellowing fingertips fondling a newspaper and a cigarette. He sounds like he lost his voice fifteen years ago, straining for volume ever since. He offers to take a picture of us, and rambles on and on about restaurants we should visit and places to see, and tells us he’s a buggy driver and gives tours.
“You’re a buggy driver? Can I ask you a question?” I’m interested in this.
“Sure, but I think you just did.” He smiles. Yellowly.
“Oh, they're just more sure-footed, better suited for the heat than horses. Easier to feed, easier to train, you know.” He hands me his Official Buggy Driver Tour Guide card: Jeffrey Faar. He offers to take us on a buggy tour the next day, seeing as he’s got today off. A Grand Tour for us, he says. We're all for it. Fuck yeah, buggy tour with Jeffrey Faar.
While we're talking, Bloody Mary shows up. She’s our actual tour guide of the day, slightly snobby, highly spiritual, and crazy-educated on New Orleans history.
“Is one of you Muffy?” she asks, thudding her purse on the middle of our table.
“Yep, that’s me,” Muffy answers.
“Hello, Muffy, I’m Bloody Mary.” She turns her battered blonde head towards the bar. “Sweetie, can I get a seltzer water? With a lime.”
The bartender nods, annoyed at being called, “sweetie,” and does his job.
She lights a cigarette and makes small talk about our trip, ignoring Jeffrey Faar, who momentarily turns back to his newspaper. Her voice has a husky, irritable, sultry authority, like a condescending Jessica Rabbit who believes she's the patron saint of knowledge.
“What kinda tour you gals doin?” Jeffrey Faar hollers from behind me.
“Cemetery, and strolling through the French Quarter for a little bit of history about lost souls and local legends and...mysticism.” She flirts when she speaks, punctuating her words with little shrugs and suggestive eyebrows.
“Oh, cemetery tour huh?” He gestures to his newspaper. “You hear about that murder last night—“
“No, I don’t really read the newspaper,” she interrupts, crossing her legs. Finite.
“Oh. You goin up to Lafay-yett?”
"No, St. Louis. Actually, in an oddly poetic way, there was a suicide at Lafayette cemetery--"
There's a hacking cough, and Jeffrey Faar chimes in, "GEORGE?"
"I knew him; he was a buggy driver!"
"Yes, he was. So's my husband. Actually—"
"He killed himself?" I interject, because of course I want in on this.
"What happened?" someone else asks. I have no idea who. Bloody marys make everything warm and forgetful.
"He got drunk and, well, went all on up to Lafay-yett,” Jeffrey Faar pokes his thumb towards the open doorway behind him, “an-an-and blew his brains out under a tree."
"Wow, that's a shame." Echoes and awkward sips all around.
"I actually performed a ritual ceremony for his mother and sister, it was really very sad,” Blood Mary says, somber.
"What happened?" I'm pretty sure that was Bobbay.
"Oh, well he was a manic depressive, you know," Jeffrey Faar puts down his cigarette and turns from his newspaper. "An' on toppa that a drinker."
"Ohhhhhh." Because we all understand drinker.
"An' you know that's lit-trally a killer combination."
"His family wanted a very private ceremony, too, because of just that,” Bloody Mary wisely nods, adjusting her leopard-print hoody. Seriously. Leopard.
"An’ so he was drinking, an’ with the medication an’ all that, an’ his mind couldn't handle it an’ so he blew his brains out----ahhhh, shoot," and Jeffrey Faar starts swatting the newspaper smoking beside him, flinging his burning, neglected cigarette off of page six and onto the floor.
"I burned page six," he calls to the bartender. "Sorry. I'm gonna get you another one, they're right down the street."
“Don’t worry about it, man,” the bartender responds from the back room.
Jeffrey Faar ignores him and continues talking to us, batting the newspaper. "Yeah an’ they had to cut down that tree, too. They say it's not because of George, and it's gotta be because of all the blood an’ brains on it or something."
Bloody Mary furrows. "No...I don't think that's true."
"Oh, well, that's just what I hear." And then he tries to convince her that the trumpet-playing angel over Louis Prima’s grave houses the soul of Prima and therefore his face, and where exactly you turn to get to see clearly it at whatever angle. Bloody Mary is skeptical and argumentative and bored with the conversation, telling him he's completely wrong while checking her red-as-hell lipstick in a pocket mirror.
Eventually, nearly mid-sentence and without warning, Jeffrey Faar up and hops on the bike resting next to the door and rides away, no goodbye or nothing.
“Did he just leave?” I look at Muffy.<
“Hyeah. He totally did.”
“Fucking whatever, man, I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
Bloody Mary starts with her elaborate, well-acted history lesson, dismissing Jeffrey Faar completely. It’s interesting, really.
Then just before we leave, Jeffrey Faar returns to the bar, fresh newspaper in hand. As we leave the bar for the tour, he yells after us, in that taut, rasping voice of his,“You girls have fun!”
I make sure to shake his hand. “See you tomorrow, Jeffrey Faar.”