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The 7:15 to New Orleans Leaving on Track Number Nine: A Short Story

Updated on October 08, 2015

The Story Continues

What story, you ask? Well I’ve included the first chapter to the right for your reading pleasure. We’re off on a great adventure, a tour of this country, a tour of ourselves and a sampling of all that is the United States of America. If you didn’t read the first installment I suggest you do. It will help in understanding this one.

Care to join us?

All aboard!
All aboard! | Source

A Steamin’ Bowl of Gumbo

We step off the train at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, limp from sex, me and Sarah with an “h.” The porter tips his hat, thanks us for riding the “City of New Orleans,” and welcomes us to his city, a city swimming in sweat under the August midday sun.

“Follow me,” she says, and I’m more than willing to do so, her summer dress clinging to her flanks, she leads me to the Loyola Avenue Streetcar. “We’re going to get you some gumbo, Sugar, and then we’ll make our way to New Iberia.”

We switch cars for the Canal Street Line, and that takes us to the French Market. A short walk from there to Metarie’s Café and air-conditioned comfort, first table on the left, a view of the oak-shaded street bustling with commerce and tourists. She insists I try a beignet along with the gumbo and Lord Almighty they both taste heavenly, and she smiles as I smile, her blond hair framing a face etched with the lines of living fast and loose. Late thirties, early forties, a charming face made lovely by eyes that sparkle with joy, Sarah is easy to look at, comfortable to be with, and I find myself wondering what life would be like with this Southern vixen under a canopy of moss, tasting her sweetness for years to come.

She tells me we’re two hours from New Iberia, her home as a child and still home to what family she has left. The bus leaves at three and six, she says, don’t make no never-mind to her which we catch, she says, and she takes my hand upon leaving Metarie’s and leads me along the heat-soaked streets.

Lafayette Square, New Orleans, Louisiana
Lafayette Square, New Orleans, Louisiana

Welcome to Lafayette Square

“I don’t know how you stand this heat,” I tell her. “I've been in San Francisco for two years and we wilt in this shit.”

She squeezes my hand and tells me to stop being a wuss and then she laughs. I’m surprised by the number of tourists braving the weather, bright shirts competing with bright flowers, gaiety, some real, some manufactured, surrounds us as we walk past statues and fountains. Mid-afternoon in the Big Easy, a city that’s known its share of misery but refuses to acknowledge its frailties. Every day is a new opportunity here, the past worth remembering but never allowed to be a hindrance.

I can smell the river, the mud, the fish, the exhaust and decay, and I can hear the hopes, the dreams, the anger and the desperation. It’s infectious and frightening, alluring and repulsive, unlike any city I’ve ever seen, and I’m fascinated by it all. Sarah tells me of her childhood in New Iberia, and the field trips to New Orleans, of college here and meeting a boy, of wild nights and pregnancies, shattered expectations and glaring realities, running from the past, facing the truths and learning from it all. We duck into a store where she buys a parasol, and twirling it above her head she smiles again, lifts up on toes and kisses me sweetly.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I’m not looking for a husband. Let us enjoy each other, share in each other, explore each other, and when the last laugh fades we will go our separate ways and fondly remember, in our later years, the wonder of it all.” I tell her that sounds wonderful to me, and I smile and by God I mean it, it does sound marvelous, no expectations, just exist and enjoy, two adults giving, two adults taking, no harm in either.

Down on the bayou
Down on the bayou

New Iberia, Louisiana

It’s eight­-thirty when we leave the bus and I set my gaze upon New Iberia, the home of Sarah with an “h” and my new favorite city in the US of A.

Down on the bayou with Creedence and a revival it is for this city-raised boy, the brick storefronts, the colonnades, the balconies with bougainvillea, two-lane main street with honest-to-God gazebo in the city park. The air is heavy with moisture and thick with history. Little kids are eating ice cream cones or cups of shaved ice as parents catch up on the latest gossip and frogs croak in the gathering dusk. Spotted trout break the surface in search of a late snack and somewhere a gar rolls and splashes. The calendar may say 2015 but this is a postcard from the past and I love it.

Sarah grabs my hand. “This way, Sugar. Home is four blocks east of here.”

“Home” is where Grandma Elaine lives, the woman responsible for raising the woman I was fond of, a ninety-something Cajun who lives alone in a shotgun house on the banks of the Bayou Teche. She was sitting on the porch as we approached, smoking a corn cob and strumming a six-string. Nothing wrong with that woman’s eyes cuz she spotted us a block off and let out a whoop and a “Lord Almighty, my girl is home again.” She met us in the front yard under the massive limbs of a sycamore. Sarah gave her “Maw-Maw” a hug and then the old woman held her granddaughter at arm’s length.

“Just look at you, girl. A little bit skinny now aren’t you? We’ll have to get some food in ya. How long’s it been, granddaughter, over a year? Too long….too long! And who is this fine young man with you?”

“Maw-Maw, this is William Dale. We met on the train from San Francisco and we’ve become dear friends along the trip.”

“Don’t you try to slip that by me, granddaughter. You two are more than dear friends. I can see you blushing. My eye sight ain’t that bad now. I’d say you’re sweet on Mister William Dale and by God, I think the colt is hot for the filly. Well that’s fine, just fine. Mister William Dale, you’ve got good taste in women. Come on inside and we’ll have a drink or two and you can both tell me about your trip out west. Come on, now, ‘fore the skeeters eat us alive.”

Groundrules Explained

The old woman went to the cupboard and found three glasses, grabbed a bottle of Jim Beam from the countertop and returned to us with a wink and a smile. “Truth serum, kids. A couple tall glasses of Beam and Maw-Maw will know everything there is to know of that train trip and dear friends.” She cackled then and slapped me on the back. “Drink up, William Dale. If you’re man enough to bed my granddaughter then you’re sure as hell man enough to drink the hair of the dog with me.”

She poured drinks for all three then finished hers off in one swallow.

“Let me tell you something right off, William Dale. My granddaughter has been hurt by men. The last one beat her, by God, so I’m a little protective of this little girl. She’s been with me since her ma and pa died in a car wreck when she was five. Ain’t nothing I wouldn’t do for this girl and that includes chopping off the balls of any man who would hurt her. Do we understand each other, William Dale?”

“Maw-Maw!” Sarah yelled. “William Dale is not that type of man. Now please, don’t read him the riot act. He’s done nothing to deserve this kind of greeting.”

“Oh granddaughter,” the old woman said. “He’s got a penis and he’s used it on you. He damn well does deserve this conversation.”

This was going to be a very interesting visit. New Iberia was just full of surprises and Southern hospitality.

A Note from the Author

This may or may not be the ending. We’ll just have to wait and see if the muse speaks to me again. Sometimes, in life, there isn’t really a satisfactory ending. Sometimes life is just a random beginning with no end game to it. This may be one of those times, or it may be that William Dale and Sarah with an “h” are meant for more adventure.

Stay tuned!

My thanks to author James Lee Burke for allowing me to borrow his hometown of New Iberia for this story.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 17 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, loved your continuation here and will most certainly wait to see if your muse has more to add to this one. Happy Friday and weekend ahead, too Bill ;)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 17 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Greatly written! Have a lovely weekend!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whahoo, what a wonderful world! Ya got this out a little early so I caught it before my rounds start for the day. Today I won't mind a single wait in line or dull moment - cuz I can just sit back and relive this wonderful journey you just took me on. Oh please keep Mister Dale alive for us.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A wonderful continuation to the story. Your descriptions and research into New Orleans and New Iberia made me imagine I was there. I love the train journey and hope it continues.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine and Happy Friday to you. Stay warm, dry and safe with that storm a'comin'!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE! I hope your weekend is productive and enjoyable.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Eric. I have to go help Bev on her merchandising route so yes, I am a little early. I'm glad you enjoyed this...I like these characters and they are more than willing to share their story with me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I was shooting for authentic so I appreciate you mentioning that. Happy weekend my friend.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 17 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Well Sir, I am looking through the writer's overload handbook and wondering how anyone could write three series at one time and not get them confused. So far so good. Maybe they can merge, Billy-the-Kid ..... oh never mind.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 17 months ago

      I hope your muse sticks with you. I want more!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 17 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I have only been to New Orleans as a child visiting relatives. Your telling of this adventure brought back some fond memories of my aunt who was kind of characteristic of Maw-Maw. It's almost as if you knew her.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      I can feel the dampness in the air--so thick it makes it difficult to take a deep breath. Loved this. Can't wait for the next installment.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 17 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I have a feeling this is going to become a series. I enjoyed your journey. I've been to New Orleans and I could smell the raw oysters on the streets. Can you tell that I want your muse to fill you with more stories about William and Sarah?

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 17 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's going very interesting with beautiful narrations and dialogues, that of grandmother.

      Will be waiting for more episodes. My best wishes.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, that would make things easier, wouldn't it? I could just combine all three series into one. Hmmmm! Now my mind is really tossing around possibilities. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy you like it, Pop! I enjoy these wanderers too. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, for that character, I just though about the Maw-Maw I would have wanted as a child. I'm glad you like her. Thank you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm so glad, Linda. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I'm waiting for the muse to speak to me. I don't know what's going to happen next but I'll be sure and let you know. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much Venkatachari M....I appreciate your kind words.

      best wishes to you as well, my friend.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 17 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Your muse shares some most interesting stories with us. Love the Maw-Maw character... Methinks the granddaughter, with an h, may take after her a bit! ;-)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 17 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Love the continues train ride, Bill. Great southern feel and trip! May have to go back and change my spelling on Maw-Maw! That really is how we say it but I have been writing Mamaw which I knew wasn't quite right. I don't think there are any grannies south of the border!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, honestly, I don't have a clue how to spell Maw-Maw. That's what came out and that's what I stayed with. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, me thinks you might be correct. Thank you and I'm glad you are enjoying the story.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 17 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Maybe Sarah, like Bobby McGee, will slip away, and William will travel on--supported by his billionaire uncle for whom William scouts rare antiques--to Miami, The Bahamas, Havana, where he meets ....

      Or ....

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 17 months ago from Massachusetts

      Great story Bill. Never been to New Orleans or New Iberia but your words are bringing it alive for me. Keep this going please. And have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Or indeed, Brian. We'll just have to wait and see what's going to happen. As of right now I haven't a clue. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. I know our weekend will be drier than yours. Stay safe and dry.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 17 months ago from Nibiru

      nice short story bill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 17 months ago from sunny Florida

      Sometimes there is no beginning or end....hoping the Muse whispers in your ear once again...

      I just had shrimp boil and beignets in New Orleans on my way to Texas...yum...

      Sending Angels, hugs, and blessings to you bill ps

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 17 months ago from london

      Interesting read. Glad the mother liked William Dale. You've got the lingo good, too. Peace, Bro.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 17 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Maw maw Elaine is an amazing character and a character too...

      You have a gift in making her and all those you write about come alive in our minds.

      Have a beautiful weekend. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Clive! I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yummy, PS! I'm not from the south and that sounds delicious to me. I can taste it from here.

      Glad you enjoyed the story. I think I hear my muse whispering again. :)

      hugs and blessings, always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! Dialogue is the hardest for me to do so I appreciate that.

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Maria. Thank you from me and Maw-Maw. :)

      love,

      bill

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 17 months ago from south Florida

      Don't quit on this story yet, Bill. You and Sarah with an h and Maw Maw are definitely on a roll. Gotta have more. Your stories are like potato chips - I can't stop with just one. Trust me.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen Szklany Gault 17 months ago from New England

      What a delightful romp, Bill! Thank you for sharing. Definitely whetting my appetite for visiting New Orleans in June of 2017!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 17 months ago from England

      I always love your stories Bill, whatever you write is either useful, fun or just totally readable!

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 17 months ago

      Interesting disposition my friend. Hi Bill.

      In order to maintain the proximity to follow the crowd, it fits well choose the most of literal gems, put them on the shelf and at an opportune time to use them. Your stories carry them abundantly.

      Blessings to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I do trust you, and I greatly appreciate your support and encouragement. Thank you so much.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad, Mama! I love it when my muse takes me on a journey I so enjoy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nell, thank you so much. You couldn't say anything nicer to a writer and I appreciate it greatly.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, you are too kind but I thank you. On the shelf they go, a part of my legacy as a writer and a human being.

      Blessings to you, kind sir!

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 17 months ago

      Bill dear friend please, what else to say and how better to ' justify ' my passive participation among the Elite writers ?!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, elite or not, you are always welcome. :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 17 months ago from United Kingdom

      Ah New Orleans. I fell in love with the place after five minutes of arriving. It's a great setting for any story. Hope there is more to this soon.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Zulma! I hope there is too. :)

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 17 months ago from Dubai

      Wonder what is going to happen next and I hope the Muse speaks to you soon. Great write.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Vellur. Thank you and I hope I can wrap this story up this week.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 17 months ago from SW England

      These stories of yours are alive with people and places, hustle and bustle and smells and textures. Brilliant! I love the grandmother.

      The next train has to be the 8.20 doesn't it? I'd love to know where it goes.... or maybe it'll go off without them?

      Whatever the outcome, it'll be a great one, I know that for sure, bill.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I'm writing it now. Stay tuned. Only the muse knows the ending at this point, but she will let me know shortly. :) Thank you so much....your compliment is music to my ears.

      Have a superb week, my friend.

      bill

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 17 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Well.....................alrighty then. Maw Maw minces no words, a woman I can love! So, Sarah with an h may have cast a spell. And you, my fine friend, thought for a moment to leave us hanging?

      Oh, I suppose that would have been fine but looks like your readers are pleased your muse knew better!

      I'm just happy you've taken me to New Orleans for the first time in my life....and by train! Waiting for what William and Sarah do next, but especially looking forward to the ending. An ending only your muse can create! Fascinating suspense within this journey. Don't mean to rush you, bro, but I'm waiting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      So you enjoyed the Big Easy, eh, Sis? Maw-Maw sends her best and says she sent the kids off on their next adventure. You should be reading about it by Friday of this week.

      All aboard!

      Thank you dear friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      I would to hear more from Maw-Maw and her Cajun ways. I'm sure she has many stories to tell. No doubt William Dale would get a kick out of them too.

      The fact that you've planted yourself smack dab in the middle of this tale makes me want to hear more. I feel as if I'm peeking in on a fantasy. Shame on me, but give me more!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Shame on us both, Sha! I want more too. LOL Thanks dear friend....the final chapter has been written...coming Friday I believe.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      Oops. HP was hanging up when I posted my comment. I meant to say I would love to hear more....

      I look forward to the final chapter. I'll probably be late again, but I'll get there. Hold the train for me!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The train is still at the station, Sha! It will leave tomorrow.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 17 months ago from Shelton

      such a realistic read my friend... when the train whistles it just signals a true talent my friend..:)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great installment. Hope to see more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank. I'll wrap this up this Friday.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Larry. I'll have the final installment on Friday.

    • goego profile image

      goego 17 months ago from Loserland

      The #9, hmmm

      Bill would you please read my electric quill hub again- Humpbacks in the Columbia river??? How

    • goego profile image

      goego 17 months ago from Loserland

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I did, my friend,and I have no answers. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      sweet

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Sounds like you shouldn't mess with those 'Southern Belles'. Loved the story, and it's got me wondering where they'll go next?

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, I think your suggestion about Southern Belles is a good one. They have one more trip to take before it ends. I hope you enjoy it.

      bill

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love this story, Bill. The descriptions and characters are wonderful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Alicia. I, too, love these characters.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I missed this last October when I was working on a project. Maw Waw is a person I like immediately. You reminded me of the trip we had in New Orleans,and the taste of the gumbo.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Aesta. I was hoping I could make it authentic. I appreciate the affirmation.

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