The Algerian

He downed four cold Dixies in the bar on Canal Street during his lunch break as the sun pounded the pavement outside. It was sticky summertime.

Fortified, he rode the black BSA back to the office and bid the boss goodbye. Four years at the desk were quite enough.

But he still had to eat. You can’t dodge that.

Yellow Cab hired him for the early shift, leaving him work-free by mid-afternoon. He always walked the heat-cracked sidewalk to a close-by tavern from his shotgun duplex on Verret Street. It was Algiers Point, a ferry ride across the murky Mississippi.

Every afternoon he sat in that bar inhaling cold Pearls and quail eggs, blowing the taxicab tips.  The air-conditioning was terrific.

The duplex was dusty, stuffy and sparsely furnished. A table and two chairs adorned the kitchen. A fridge chilled cold cuts and gin. The ceiling was old pressed tin, and the windows were very tall.

There were two rockers on the front porch for air and a mattress on the bedroom floor. That completed the Louisiana decór.

A wanderer girlfriend visited now and then. She was eye-bogglingly beautiful and sat cross-legged on the floor in the darkness combing her long blonde hair as Leonard Cohen sang Suzanne.

(He ran into her again a few years later at a news stand. She was Easyrider magazine’s cover girl. A photo spread inside showed her half naked dancing atop the bar in a tavern somewhere in the Gila Desert of southwestern Arizona.)

Two months later a call came from the Caribbean. A better job. And soon after, the BSA swayed in the hold of a Sealand freighter churning toward San Juan in the Antilles.

And he was flying high, skirting the Bermuda Triangle and sipping a cuba libre the silky stewardess had sold him.

A first step into America Latina.

(Leonard Cohen sings Suzanne.)

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6 thoughts on “The Algerian

  1. Steve Cotton says:

    A perfect candidate for pearldom.

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  2. Croft Randle says:

    I thought I had read this before. That is the one nice thing about getting old. The mind is the first thing to go, thank God!

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  3. Joanna says:

    Well, Sr. Felipe… you've impressed me again. You don't like to be gushed over but you are truly a superb writer and your choice in music – stellar. Suzanne… many memories tied to this one. I just discovered the Pearls tonight. I look forward to reading them all.With admiration, Joanna

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  4. Felipe says:

    Joanna: Gushing can be quite nice. Don´t hold back. I appreciate it.I love Suzanne, especially Cohen´s version. Others can be good, but he does it best.

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  5. Eddie Willers says:

    Well, if we’re talking about Cohen’s women, I’ll take “So Long Marianne” any time

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