~~A Kudzu Spade Story~~
by Larry Thompson
If I could have looked into a crystal bulb, like the one over at Madame Forsythia's, I'd have stayed in my flat.
But the cool breezia brought me out on this night. I hit the corner of Holly Hock and Vine as I had on many an evening like this.
I looked West, down Holly Hock, toward the Garden District. All seemed quiet. I looked south toward the seedier part of town, Wind Row Heights. I took the left. I plotted my way down Vine toward Rose's place.
I picked up the pace a bit. I was there soon enough. Thorn, Rose's bouncer for as long as I could remember, greeted me curtly. I was always reminding him that I wasn't Curt. A Forget-Me-Not, he wasn't. He was a big man, with the cauliflower ears and husky voice of a gangster. I moved to the side and slid into Rose's.
The air parted in front of me, the smoke forming like a gray hedge row. Rose was entertaining at the bar, of course, and she was accompanied by the ususal suspects.
"Bright eyes, you're a sight," she said.
"For sore eyes?" I queried.
"For my eyes," she countered.
Smooth as silkweed, just the way I liked it. She knew me better than I knew myself.
"Let me take you away from here, Daffodil. I've got a place just made for you." I knew she wouldn't go for it, but I really dug her. Always had. That's what would make this job so hard. That and Thorn, of course.
I had to take Rose in. Elijah Fescue's body had been unearthed, and Rose's kerchief was in his pocket, stained with blood. She took my arm and placed it around her trunk.
"Where to, Kudzu? How should I dress?"
"You're just fine."
We angled for the door. Thorn blocked our path.
"Not tonight, big boy." I tamped my cigarette into the tray by the door, then patted the piece I had under my jacket. He took the hint and stepped aside.
The cool air hit us as we wound our way down the street. We passed St. Augustine's chapel. This was a bit too easy. Like moving earth after a rain. Not like that caliche clay mix, but the sandy loamy soil around the base of a tall pine. Something wasn't right. I was sure the grapevine had whispered its secret to Rose by now. Maybe she was relieved, maybe she was just playing me. Playing me, like tulips on a tuber.
"I guess you're taking me downtown."
"We reap what we've sewn." I knew it sounded limp. But that's how I felt. I'd known Rose since she was a ... well, let's just say weed grown up together. Different sides of the fence, maybe, but still, if things were different. Maybe.
We turned the corner and stopped. How could I do this? Rose wasn't a bad seed. She'd caught a bad break. The kind of break that this blighted city knows too well. I looked into her eyes. She met my gaze.
Suddenly the back of my head was on fire and my knees turned to mulch; my eyes saw bright colors.
When I woke, Rose was gone. I was sitting in the back pew of St. Augustine's and I could hear voices. Jack-in-the-pulpit preaching and his flock. Set out in rows in front of me like so many human beans.
The bump on my head brought me around. Rose had us followed. Stalked was more like it. I underestimated her. It wouldn't happen again. Not to Kudzu Spade. But I would do no more tonight. This night was over for me.
The cool air beckoned me back out onto the street. The light in the East was coming up. I faced back down Vine and headed for my flat. Rose would have to wait.
BIO: Larry has been a featured storyteller from ocean to ocean and all parts in between. His special "telling" style brings audiences to a place of pure fun. Larry is based in San Antonio, Texas, where he's available for schools, retreats, conferences, spouse programs, churches, car washes, revivals, and just about any event that won't embarrass him.
Is this guy a wit or what? Drop him a note: Larry P. Thompson
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