Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bayou Bob, The Baton Rogue

Robert Petitt. Bayou Bob. I met Bob through Sid, and the two of us have written stories with a character named Remy Petitt, the Baton Rogue, as he tells the pretty ladies. In fact, "Skull's Rainbow," published in CONSTABLE NEW CRIMES in the UK, was written almost entirely while we were at the World Horror Convention in 1991, and the story is set at the Crown Plaza, where the con took place. Sidebar: the name of the story came from a little Blues joint down a side alley in sight of the Capitol of Tennessee, SKULL RAINBOW. Not long after we wrote the story, the owner was robbed and shotgunned to death, but I did not hear of this until year's later.

1I'm reading James Burke's SWAN PEAK at the moment. Dave Robicheaux has left post-Katrina New Orleans for Missoula, Montana, and he's brought along his old cop buddy Clete Purcel. Clete reminds me very much of Bob, though Purcel is described different, I still see Bob. Clete is also the dark center of my heart, and I think that's why Burke creatwed his character, for people like me. Clete takes revenge when he wants, yet lets some things slide. Bob left Louisiana for East Texas years back, my understanding is that he got involved with a woman and it was made clear that he was no longer wanted in the state. Of course, it could simply be a story, a barroom tale. I met James Burke at a reading at the Tattered Bookcover in Denver, and bought two copies of BLACK CHERRY BLUES, asking him to sign one copy to "Willy Sid, the con artist." Told him it was Sid who hipped me to him during the dot matrix letters days. Few years later, Sid interviewed Burke, his job at the time was entertainment reporter for the Alexandria (LA) Town Talk, and Burke recognized Sid through my storytelling a year before; Burke mentioned me not by name but that I was from Chicago. In my writings, Willy Sid usually hangs with Lisa Sestina.

SWAN PEAK is a huge book, something I needed for today's travels, as I went out to Homewood for Greg Loudon's annual party. I have to go downtown then backtrack on the Electric Line to about 172nd Street. I could take the bus to 87th and Avalon, avoiding going to Block Zero and then passing Block 87, but Avalon Park is no longer a safe place, even during the day. And so it was that I left the house at 1:00 and arrived there at 3:30, adding waiting 40 minutes for the train and a few blocks walk. Played volleyball all afternoon. I totally LOVE volleyball. I adore Greg's wife, Darcie, and his three kids. I bought Ava, the oldest, MAGIC TRIXIE AND HER DRAGON, illustrated by local artist Jill Thompson. I love Greg's folks, Fran and Len, who sounds like Dennis Hopper. Just about everybody there I have known since 1985 or thereabouts.

Walking to get the 8:53 PM train, I had hoped to see the old-timey downtown Homewood at sunset, me a fugitive on the lam with my backpack, but Homewood Days was still going on, so an opportunity was missed. But I did watch the orange sky from the second tier on the train, annoyed that I would again make a U-shaped trek home, instead of an L, all because of jackasses with guns.We passed 87th and I sighed, continuing to read SWAN PEAK. Walking downtown on a Saturday night is always bizarre, there are very few people on certain streets, others are teeming, you just never know. I lucked out that el pulled in as I hopped down the stairs, and it wasn't too long a wait for the bus. I had stopped reading by then, because I had an epiphany re: my novel, the bridge between SHOTS DOWNED, OFFICER FIRED and PROACTIVE CONTRITION. There's no Clete involved, it will be a dame that helps Frank St. Cyr reclaim his career. But how it happens was in front of me all along. I got home around 11:45 PM, a bit longer because of waiting on the bus, I guess. Now I just need to think of the name of the dame. She tends bar at Uptown Jo's, but that's all I got so far. Guess this means to be continued.....