Riding on the city of New Orleans from Sojourn, Jackson, the novel
I touched the pen to my lips and tasted the ink in my mouth. I felt like writers feel. The early sun reflected off the tin signs along the roadside and glared across my eyes. ‘New Iberia, Louisiana, Birthplace of World-Famous Tabasco Sauce.’ Visit St. Martinsville, Home of Longfellow’s Evangeline.’ I looked at the pictures on the placards and wondered who’d painted them. That’s the kind of art I enjoyed looking at. The red-orange sunrise was the exact same color as the Tabasco.
The sound of the hand mic woke me from an almost nap. The driver had peppered the whole trip with intermittent travelogue commentary. Seemed like every time I’d nearly get to sleep, he’d have something to say about one of the towns we drove through. He referred to Crowley with a long ‘o’ like the bird. He’d warned us about the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival where people would pass out drunk and be stacked up on top of one another out in the road. He said it made it hard to drive a bus through Breaux Bridge at that time of year. Baton Rouge had better etouffee than New Orleans if you wanted his opinion, but you had to know where to go. He said he would be glad to tell you in private, but couldn’t say over the airwaves due to legal reasons. Lafayette used to be called Vermilionville after the river, but they renamed it after a real Frenchman. He added if you wanted to see some kind of a river sometime, that was the one you wanted to visit.
Even though it was only late afternoon, the city of New Orleans was already lit up in a neon glow.
As the whoosh of air escaped the brake system, our coach pulled to a stop. The driver, who looked like Earl Holliman, picked up his hand mic and said, “Folks, we are going to be laid over for three hours here in the city of New Orleans.” He called it ’N-you Or-LEENS.’ “This will give you Jackson-bound riders an opportunity to stretch your legs in this historic venue and try some of her world-famous cuisine.” He replaced the mic and rubbed his belly.