Thursday, October 16, 2014

Off The Wagon

Thursday evening, I left Starbucks; walking past David the water jug player on my way towards The Unique Grocery.
I hovered around there like a hummingbird for a while before deciding to go in and get a Mikes Hard Lemonade.
I actually got it in the can, and not the bottle shown.
I stepped out onto the edge of the sidewalk and cracked it open.
The phone in my right pocket began to ring; so coincident with the sound of the can opening, that it sounded like the ring tone began with a "psssst!""
It was Leslie Thompson (shown above; the very next night; but I will hopefully get to that).
Leslie was waiting for his money to arrive; hoping that it would be electronically wired to his plastic card at midnight; as he was told it would; by his employers.
He was close by. I told him where I was. He showed up a couple minutes later.
"I just had my first sip of alcohol in 6 days," I said to him.
"Oh, 6 days....that's good!" he said; and I wondered what he meant was good; the 6 days or the fact that I was drinking again.
He was broke; and would be for the next 2 hours.
I bought him 2 Hurricane Lagers, out of the approximately 45 dollars which I had.
He was in a pickle. He had to be at an employee meeting with his company at 9 AM the coming morning.
The last bus ran at 11:30 PM.
If he waited for midnight, hoping to get his money; then he would need to take a cab back to his house; so that he could get some rest and be ready for his meeting.
36 Dollar Thursday
Well, I made my way towards the Lilly spot; Leslie in tow; but the mood to play struck me across the street from Rouses Market; where I took out my brand new C harmonica and played what I thought was some pretty cool stuff; with "Because," by the Beatles being a highlight.
Leslie stood by; periodically checking his watch.
Midnight came and I had not been thrown any tip money in the 30 minutes that I played.
Leslie checked upon his money. It wasn't there.
He checked again; and again.
After 1 AM, I went and got food out of the bins.
I had gotten another beer out of Rouses Market before they had closed at 1 AM, and I shared it with Leslie.

I began to walk in the general direction of the sign spot to sleep; Leslie at my heels.
I think that he was just at a loss for what to do and wasn't particularly following me with the aim of sharing whatever beer I might purchase along the way; as I have accused him of doing in the past.
We broke off, at a certain point. I had shown him a spot on Conti Street where a huge steel grate oozes warm air; and one can actually survive the temperatures of winter here by sitting on that grate. A dozen or more homeless people did just that, last February.
Leslie Obtains 504 Dollars
I had just gotten to the sign spot; after a zero dollar night when I had spent an extra few dollars on Leslie; when my phone rang and it was him.
"My money's there, do you want to party?"
I was then headed back to the Unique Store to rendezvous with he, and the 504 dollars which was then on his plastic card.
But, not before passing the Ritz-Carlton hotel, where a couple stood, who turned out to be from Canada and who gave me 10 dollars after I played a song for them; practically in front of the entrance.
The doorman came out and moved me away from there.
Note To Self: More Rolling Stones!
The couple wanted to hear more music, Bruce Springsteen; and Rolling Stones being requested. It occurred to me then that I hardly know any Rolling Stones music. The stuff I do know is their cover material like Little Red Rooster, by Howling Wolf....
I played some Neil Young, after I envisioned a "people who like this also like..." box in my head and matched Bruce and the Stones to Neil. It worked to the tune of 6 more dollars from the lady.
It only caused Leslie to have to wait an additional 15 minutes for me to arrive.
He wanted me to be there when the first 100 dollar bill came out of the ATM; momentous occasion that it would be.
Well, the money came out of the machine; Leslie gave a "whoop!" and then, he promised to call me the next (fri) day a little after noon, and we would trek together to the music store, where he would buy me a new harmonica, or two.
Skeezers converged upon him; one girl almost demanding a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from him.
That was my cue; I went off to sleep; but not before Leslie had handed me 20 dollars to complement the Mikes Hard Lemonade which he had gotten me for a nightcap.
Waking up on friday and sitting at the sign spot practicing Travis picking; I wasn't surprised when noontime came and went without my having gotten a phone call from him.
He had basically been in the position of having to kill about 3 hours that morning, waiting for the first bus to come and take him to his house, where he would have about 1 hour to sleep before having to get up and shower and shave and go to his meeting.
I was here at Starbucks by evening; doing computer stuff and listening to music
Right around nightfall my phone rang, and it was Leslie.
He was on the bus on the way back from the music store; and would be on Canal Street momentarily; and he had a "gift" for me, he said.
100 Dollars Worth Of Harmonicas
When he arrived at Starbucks, he was pretty well lit.
He wasn't too drunk to hand me 2 brand new harmonicas, one a Marine Band (B) and the other a "Blues Special" type of Hohner (B-flat).
It was pretty cool; and a type of thing that one cannot talk Leslie out of doing. When he sets his mind upon buying something for someone; he just about forces them to take it.
I wound up playing at the Lilly spot; still using my brand new "Ol' Standby" in C; and I made enough money to replace what I had spent that day and gain about 5 bucks.
Today, (saturday) I hung out with Leslie a bit, after he had phoned me at the sign spot, at about 11 AM,  to tell me that he was on his way; on the bus from the new Wal-Mart in Gentilly.
Clean Mouth Key To Harmonica Playing
He arrived, carrying an insulated bag with a strap on it; designed to tote a 12 pack of beer.
It contained a couple of bottles of beer; along with a lot of hygiene items; some of which he bestowed upon me.
Razors, toothpaste, mouthwash and soap were mine to be had.
Then, we made the walk to the Unique Grocery where we ran into Jimmy the guitarist who looks and kind of sounds like Rick Neilsen of the band Cheap Trick.
Unlike Rick, Jimmy didn't have a spare...

Jimmy recently had his guitar and amp stolen by a guy whom he had entrusted to guard the stuff while he ran to the store.
"I'm gonna see the guy at the OZ center, or at Rebuild, it just a matter time...but I'm not going to say anything to him; I'll get another guitar and amp," said Jimmy.
At the point that we ran into Jimmy earlier today; I took the opportunity to slink off, leaving the two to become reacquainted.
Will Leslie buy Jimmy a new guitar or amp?
Stay tuned. 

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