Walking With Satan

One day of praying and six nights of fun, the odds against going to heaven, six to one.  Well, that’s what the song says.  We’re walking with the devil and going to hell.  According to the Reverend Leroy Mcilhenny then I guess it must be so.  Now we here in New Orleans think the world of Mardi Gras and our way of celebrating.  I mean we got all manner of jazz, from Dixieland to progressive fusion.  And I know we gets a little thirsty, it’s a natural thing.  But I ain’t never met no Satan in my life, I’ll tell you that right now.  I don’t care if he were hiding his forked tail in his pants or no, I ain’t never seen Satan on the corner leaning against a lamp post.  These religious types are all trouble makers, I expect they is jealous of us having too much good times.  The quarter is a good place, lots of good people.  Don’t you never mind people like the reverend Leroy Mcilhenny, he don’t know and he don’t speak for us.  No way, no how.

You see, it all started on Beacon Street.  the Reverend was down on the corner calling all sinners to come to him and follow him up the street to his mission, what used to be an old whore house.  Can’t say that things changes all that much.  But there he was, just a bleating like a sheep all about the devil and sin and corruption and people was trying to go about their business, trying to be happy.  Some of the merchants and bar owners were getting tired of his preaching seeing how he was blaming the world’s sin on them.  Think about that for a minute.  A man comes along and says it’s your fault that people are sinning and committing adultery and all manner of impropriety.  What’s a man to think, what’s a man to do?  Is he going to say, “It’s all my fault?”  Why should he?  A man’s gotta make a living, he’s got to provide for his family.

Oh sure, we have people down here who aren’t on the up and up, you know.  A few women who are self employed if you know what I mean.  Mostly they is well meaning and nice enough, do an honest job.  Yeah, and we got ourselves some hustlers but I can’t see any difference between them and most lawyers I know.  Just a matter of which side of the street they work.  Now Pappa John over on Bourbon Street, he knows an awful lot of people here.  He’s a sort of fixer cause he fixes people up with the right connections.  You want something, you need something, he’s the man in the know.  That’s his business.  That’s how he feeds his family.  But the Reverend, he don’t think it right for Pappa John to be working like that.  He thinks Pappa John ought to be in jail.  So the Reverend comes down bout once a month or so with some of his followers and they raise a ruckus trying to stop Pappa John form working.  But it never works.  Old Pappa John always gives them the slip and they go somewhere else, just a singing church songs like they was part of the entertainment.

Now here at Big Jim’s Emporium we take pride in our services to the community.  Our liquor is never watered down like some places I could name.  And we hire good girls to serve the customers, we don’t go in for mixing pleasure with work, if you know what i mean.  We’ve got to be respectable, you know.  Good for business.  But lately we’ve been having problems on the street.  Heard the Reverend been doing some private visiting on the block.  Why one night he started preaching in old Tully’s place, all about the evils of drink and fast women and all that stuff.  Bill, the bouncer at Tully’s had to call the police to come and get the Reverend.  Bill don’t think it right to lay hands on a man of god.  That was some months back, maybe a year ago, can’t remember.  He tried coming in here but we just sort of crowded him back out.  Didn’t lay a hand on him, mind you.  Just crowded him back out.

So the Reverend kept coming and glory be, he took to becoming a regular at the Blue Parrot.  Now I ain’t much for spreading gossip but I wouldn’t go there myself.  I mean, they’s got a reputation and it’s a mean one, you know.  You come to our place and we treat you good, everything above board.  You looking for something extra and we give you a tip, know what I mean?  But we don’t break the law and we don’t take money form a woman neither.  We just like to see people being happy and having respect for themselves.  Man starts to get out of line and we talk nicely to him.  See, I don’t call myself a bouncer.  I’m just a regular guy who tries to get you to calm down a little, go easy on the booze for a while and if need be take a cab back home.  We don’t like violence and a lot of unnecessary noise here.  Upsets folk.  But at the Blue Parrot they kind of specialize in it, you know.  You come in here looking for trouble and we direct you to the Blue Parrot.  I guess that’s why the Reverend spends so much time up there, he’s trying to save what souls he can.

But word gets round, can’t keep a secret in thee Quarter unless its business.  See, we don’t talk our business in the street, it’s not good for business.  But the Reverend is a natural talker.  That’s his job, talking about god and saving and sin and things like that.  Now we hear that he’s such a good talker that he talked Mary Jo into salvation or something like that.  I never had anything against Mary Jo but we don’t have nothing to do with her.  She’s bad for business, just bad.  That’s why she’s up at the Blue Parrot, a place of last resort, if you know what I mean.  Them that’s come upon hard times, well, they just naturally go to the Blue Parrot and maybe they can get by and maybe they can’t.  But once you go there you can’t come back.  Maybe that’s why the Reverend is up there.  Tell the truth we hear a rumor that his church place maybe under new management or new business.  Truth of the matter is I’d have to walk with the Devil to know for sure.

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