This week, your Design Pundit shares another story of south Louisiana: this week, love and loss.
He had a reason to get back to Lake Charles
He used to talk about it
He always said Louisiana
Was where he felt at home
Did you run about as far as you could go
Down the Louisiana highway
Now your soul is in Lake Charles
– Lucinda Williams, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" (1998)
She wasn't moving, watching me that day, so cold. I walked around my 1964 lime green Ford F-150, checking the load, avoiding the eyes I longed to see. I felt stupid, wondering how this would play out. She watched me, wanting a cigarette, knowing I hated her smoking. I felt immature. I wanted to act but did not know how. Aimlessly I checked the Ficus tree pressed into the cab, soon happier in warm Florida. I tripped over the wet, granite curb. My hands were burning cold. My heart was broken. I was leaving.
The truck had no carpeting, no seat belts, no heat. Maud was there: my beloved cross-eyed Siamese who never drank water. A small sand box was wedged against the passenger door under the Ficus. Food and water, always provided, rested on the transmission tunnel.
I don’t know what happened to Joyce F. after that rainy cold day in 1982. Baton Rouge experiences early winter, sometimes, a rich bitter crazy blowing snowless winter. Catalpa and Sycamore and Tulip Tree leaves danced with dust and rain and cold. The air was lovely and clean, invariably tainted with petrochemicals from across the river.
She faced into the wind, steady, centered, strong eyes, now red. Her home was Lake Charles, a hundred miles west on Interstate 10. For me, another unknown destination a thousand miles east, and south.
“I’m never seeing you again, am I, Spencer?”