Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Cards on the loose in New Toulouse

by on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

When Celestina Navarre arrived in New Toulouse, she couldn’t have known that she would become the most celebrated soothsayer in the parish. Or maybe she did know. All bets are off when it comes to fortune tellers.

Madame Celestina, as she is known to her many satisfied patrons, was part of a traveling carnival but jumped ship to set down roots in New Tou, in what was to be the most heinous mixed metaphor in Tattler history. She soon built up a large and varied clientele that ran the gamut from housewives and underpaid journalists to moneyed landowners and the holders of the highest offices of city government. Now these patrons are upset because she can no longer offer her acclaimed tarot card readings. Why? Her special cards are missing.
You would think that a seer would be able to find her own lost property, but apparently that’s not how it works. It seems that this is akin to losing one’s eyeglasses: Without her cards, poor Celestina cannot see any farther than you or I can.

If her cards are so important to her, how did she come to misplace them? When asked, Madame Celestina said that she discovered the cards’ absence right after the leader of the Goat Gang had asked for a reading. She hinted darkly at a connection between the two incidents but did not outright accuse the gangsters of stealing her cards. This reporter tried to get her to divulge the identity of the mysterious Goat Gang leader, but she demurred, citing professional confidentiality.

A coalition of Madame Celestina’s clients is offering a reward for the return of her tarot cards to their rightful owner. Without her insight into their lives, they say, it is harder to make important decisions. For more information about this effort, citizens are urged to visit Madame Celestina’s place of business, located at #8 Bayou Street (rear entrance).

Jack Mondieu hopes for the return of Madame Celestina’s cards, because he can’t recall where he left his best pair of trousers.

Mrs. Wilson resourceful

by on Friday, August 26th, 2016


When Broussard was king

by on Sunday, August 21st, 2016


Announcing the Queen of Carnival

by on Sunday, January 24th, 2016

queenmaggieThe Secret and Royal Order of the Sleepless is proud to present the Queen of Carnival, Miss Maggie Hawksby!

According to the Elaborate, Ancient, and Arcane practices (well, Elaborate and Ancient, because Arcane voted for someone else), Miss Hawksby is elected the all-powerful Queen of Carnival.

According to the special powers associated with Carnival Royalty, Miss Maggie can grant pardons to criminals, make wishes come true, control the weather, and fly.

Please join us in honoring Miss Maggie.

Vive La Maggie!

—The Sleepless Knight

The Sleepless Knight is.

The Curious Ghost

by on Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Bayou has changed so much recently. There is now the wonderful Fifolet, the backyard venue where I heard Bohemian and Zippedy Zabelin perform some great music. (Zippedy Zabelin, aka “Dr. Zip,” will give a concert there this Saturday at 1:00 PM.) Fifolet makes me not miss Swamp Manor so much. It is a great place to just hang out. I always enjoy watching the puppet theater, and the cats seem to enjoy it too.
I heard a rumor about a new establishment and decided to go check it out. I found it at the east end of the railroad tracks: the soup kitchen of the Cloche du Chat, in an old church building. The sign told me that there was free food and that I could go upstairs to make a wish. Upstairs was a bell that I couldn’t resist ringing. It gave me a fish!
Sitting at the nice desk on the porch was very relaxing with the view of the bayou outside. I wrote a note to Cybele Snowpaw, the proprietor here, asking her some questions that she was kind enough to answer:

Welcome back. Niki told me you used to live here years ago.

Thanks muchly! And yes, that’s right. I washed up onto the banks of the bayou in days of yore—and after having a great time shooting zombies and drinking from barrels and being slumped on porches, I became a wandering recluse for reasons only guessed at. I’m still guessing.

Is there a reason this soup kitchen is a church?

Well, apart from the abandoned church having already popped up and then gone peregrinating and then decided to return by special summoning—he who was and is and always shall be Fatty the King of Kitties, decided to annex it to his boundless realm. And by his grace (and at the kind suggestion and through the bountiful arts of Miz Nikita Weymann), he decreed that there should be a place where wanderers and dreamers and ne’er-do-wells can all nap and chase their tails after receiving a bit o’ some steaming potage to soothe the savage hungry beast within.

Miss Cybele Snowpaw

Miss Cybele Snowpaw

It seems dedicated to felines. Why?

There is no life without kitties. Also—to bear tribute to he who was and is and always shall be (etc.) Fatty the King of Kitties. He came from parts unknown to rule for eight auspicious years (as has been recorded in worthy books of history), and then he succumbed to kidney degradation deriving from a poor but preferred diet of curried garbage, leaving many loyal hearts bereft. Now, thanks to la Cloche du Chat and his remaining retinue and his beneficence, a tasty but health-giving meal of jambalaya and raw seafood is available to all.
Nice touch with the church bell that gives wishes and fishes. How come?

Oh, thank you. Well, Fatty, in his most recent lifetime, was a great granter of wishes. He himself was a wish granted, or rather he decided after turning up and taking over that he was exactly what one would wish for—and now that all the catch belongs to him in his present expanded being, he figures that no one who appeals to him for their heart’s desire should leave without a fish in the hand, that being better than two noisy birds in the bush. And about the bell, well, he’s just a big old romantic who loves a good sonorous thing in a pretty golden form.

I guess I have a new place to relax, one where I feel safe. See you on the bayou!

The Ghost of Liza Veliz fell in love with New Toulouse at first sight. She publishes books by various authors; find them at her reading cafe on Shotgun Row. She also operates a bookstore and tattoo parlor in Gloryville, at the corner of Royale and Rossignol.

The Curious Ghost

by on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014


When I finally got out of bed this evening and took a stroll in the city, I found Miss Nikita at the land office staring at all the unopened mail. She slipped me the following comment with a scowl on her face: “I’m not opening all this mail! And Yvonne is on vacation too. Hey look, this envelope is stamped OPEN IMMEDIATELY, CONTAINS BRIBE.”
Not only will the mayor have lots of work on his hands when he returns from lazy time, but he might also get a little shock. Jimmeh closed his cinema and went traveling, and instead we have got a lovely psychic cafe and curiosity shop in that spot, run by the Whitefalcons. In fact, the whole block has changed.
If this arouses Mayor Godenot’s curiosity over what else is new in the city, he might also notice the Cuban lady ZunZun Clarity’s guest exhibition at Azucar Gallery.

When I met the artist, she told me that she mixes in her own art with well-known art from Cuba, but the audience has to guess which art is hers. I have no idea how long this exhibition is going on, so if the mayor does not see it while checking up on his city, he may miss it.
It must be fun and exhausting to be mayor in a city that changes a lot over just a few days, and also very exciting. I find it interesting, anyway. Every day here is like an adventure.

The Ghost of Liza Veliz fell in love with New Toulouse at first sight. She publishes books by various authors; find them at her reading cafe on Shotgun Row.

Toulouse Caboose rolls into bayou

by on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Dr. Guenivere Avalon has been known to arrange many an event in the city, such as the Steamlands 500 air races. Now she has begun a new business enterprise in the bayou. The Toulouse Caboose is a diner in a railroad car next to the train station. The menu ranges from crawfish to more exotic fare inspired by the doctor’s travels.

Diner patrons watch Mayor Godenot stride away after almost certainly not collecting a bribe

Diner patrons watch Mayor Godenot stride away after almost certainly not collecting a bribe

“I saw an opportunity here at this superb location,” said Dr. Avalon. “I saw all of the tourists looking for ghosts in the bayou, and I realized that the bayou could use a place to socialize. Eventually the Caboose will also host concerts.”

The Caboose will kick things off with a holiday party at 6:00 PM on December 5. “I will have a holiday buffet and maybe a few other tricks. All are invited to come, of course.”

Well, this old bird will keep an eye out and maybe try to wet her beak a bit. Heaven knows that crazy doctor has some of the best medicine in town, and I mean the stuff that comes in bottles or kegs, not in pills.

Avis Picayune is a tough old bird who is looking to get her beak wet.

Blake Palmer builds an empire

by on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Dressed in a nice suit and a dapper hat, with an attractive woman at his elbow, entrepreneur Blake Palmer is almost unrecognizable compared to the barefoot man who used to lumber around in dirty overalls, making me nervous as he drank God-knows-what and cleaned his shotguns in the apartment directly above mine in the old Tarantula Arms boarding house. But despite his change of attire—and change of fortune—Mr. Palmer is, at heart, still the same man.

Blake Palmer is the owner of several businesses in town

Blake Palmer is the owner of several businesses in town

At the time of our first interview, Mr. Palmer owned three businesses. We met in one of them, a club called the Havana Rose, where a sultry woman in a fancy dress was singing her heart out on the stage. At the time of our second interview, the club was no more, and his other businesses had moved locations, with a third in the works. As of press time, that’s changed again—and not all of that can be attributed to the slow writing pace of a certain Tattler reporter. Mr. Palmer is a man with ambition, dreams, and an almost manic energy. New ventures open and move and close and reopen almost overnight, and the reasons for this are tough to get a handle on. After agreeing to meet me for a drink to talk about his many and varied business ventures, Mr. Palmer spent nearly half an hour deflecting my questions with winks, changes of subject, and exaggerated declarations of ignorance. Eventually, I lit a cigarette and started at the beginning.

When Mr. Palmer lived upstairs in the Tarantula Arms, there was a run-in one night with the police—it seems he was bootlegging out of his apartment. The particulars are somewhat muffled by the fact that I got under my bed as soon as I heard the cocking of a shotgun, but the officer left alone, smiling, swaying slightly down the steps, and hiding what looked like a mason jar behind his back as he waved me off and assured me, “Everyshinsss fine.”

After Mrs. Varnish unceremoniously evicted her remaining tenants so the building could be torn down, Mr. Palmer opened a useful and well-stocked general store and filling station on Carricre Street. He could frequently be seen tooling around town in his pickup (sober, we hope), delivering groceries to customers. Then suddenly one day, the shop was boarded up and Mr. Palmer had left town.

He says he went down to South Florida to take advantage of “opportunities” and did odd jobs like driving boats.

When I asked why he came back, he gave me a grin and said, “Let’s just say heavy storms were rolling in and the work became too dangerous.”

I reminded him that he rolled back into New Toulouse just in time for a major storm with devastating flooding, and he shook his head, telling me the storms in Florida weren’t raining water.

“Bullets,” he whispered. “But don’t quote me on that.”

Blake closes up shop for the night at the Old Town General Store

Blake closes up shop for the night at the Old Town General Store

The grocery store is back, in a different location but with what appears to be similar quality and service. Business is good, he acknowledged, before slyly telling me that business at the grocery store could dry up tomorrow and he’d still be in good shape. He got up from the table and gestured to the door, offering to take me to the “nucleus of the operation.”

The Still House Saloon is exactly what it sounds like. The still towers over the space, where Mr. Palmer says he offers “barbecue ribs, cornbread, moonshine, and poker.” When I asked if he had a permit, or if there would be any trouble for printing this in the paper, he shrugged. “Trouble from who? Wouldn’t worry about the police.” Remembering the Tarantula Arms, I nodded.

“So this is how you pay for everything?” I asked.

“I’ll just say that copper and corn have made me a very happy man.”

Salome Starsmith chats up the owner of the Still House while sampling the house special

Salome Starsmith chats up the owner of the Still House while sampling the house special

After that, he got vague again, refusing to give me a straight answer about his clients or his employees—”I can’t tell you offhand how many are on my payroll, but I have several close partners,” was the most he would give me, clearing his throat and looking pointedly in the direction of the hospital.

I haven’t seen Mr. Palmer since, but on my way to the Tattler to turn in my photos and have a possibly terrifying conversation with my boss, I saw a new restaurant sign downstairs at the Red Drum. Being curious (and prone to procrastination), I took a detour to the land office to see who had registered the space.

As I suspected, the name on the ledger read “Palmer, Blake.”

Blake Palmer owns the Old Town General Store, the Still House Saloon, and Begue’s Restaurant.

Jane Moreaux keeps half an eye on New Toulouse.

Shelter holds black cat adoption drive

by on Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Familiar to Taloosters for her secondhand shop, Look What the Cat Dragged In, Ms. Kristine Jinx-Kristan has lately established a haven for homeless cats. Seeing the sign out front advertising a pre-Halloween black cat adoption drive, naturally I had to find out more. Luckily Miz KK was on the premises.
What made you decide to open a cat shelter?

Ever since the horrific catburger scandal, I have tried to keep an eye out the feline population of New Toulouse. While most of them are quite independent and only need food left out in the park occasionally, some have grown accustomed to making themselves at home at my apartment and shop. They are of course quite welcome, but after a customer returned two rugs and a loveseat claiming they caused sneezing fits in her husband, I decided they needed their own place of refuge.

Why a black cat adoption drive before Halloween?

It is a myth that black cats are especially in danger before Halloween. Many shelters refuse to adopt out black cats in October for fear they will be abused by pranksters or worse. I feel that they are in more danger on the streets, as any cat is, all year round. My main goal is to find them loving, forever homes. My adoption screening and fees help ensure that anyone wishing to have one of my precious darlings is of good morals and means.

Additionally, along with neutering and socialization, each cat has been taught a secret, and if things get too weird, I will come and personally extract them and bring them back to safety.

These cats seem very well looked after, even pampered. Would you consider taking in a stray human? I’m getting tired of sleeping on the Tattler office couch.

I’m sure we could arrange something. My sole volunteer—Kevin, who attends the info desk—could use a break from time to time. Bless his heart.
The Bayou Street Adoptive Home For Unhoused Cats and Kittens is located northwest of Laveau Square on the corner of Bayou Street and Bogus Alley. Taloosters are encouraged to stop in and socialize with the cats anytime, even if they aren’t thinking of adopting.

Jack Mondieu, Ace Reporter, is a figment of your imagination.

Finding New Toulouse

by on Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Before I moved to New Toulouse that October five years ago, my name wasn’t RMarie Beedit. In fact, it wasn’t anything at all yet. You see, I only grabbed this moniker hastily so I could procure a train ticket.

My first stop was in an empty city. The city was full of steel and asphalt and underground tunnels, and it was named Manhattan Island. The only two beings I encountered there were inside of a small house. They were reptilian creatures sitting together on a couch in front of a glowing box, chatting in a mysterious language. They never said anything to me. I lurked hopefully in front of that house on a patch of pavement with a fetid pool next to it. There was a mattress on the ground there, where I slept a few nights before catching another train.

For a while I bounced from city to city. The Imperial City, Old New York, Athens, Rivendell. During this time my dreams felt like a pitch-dark cave where a distant drip echoes. “Where is the drip? Should I try to find it?”

In every city at that time, I noticed one commonality other than the occasional drive-bys by hucksters and oafs: Halloween decorations. It was as though all the cities had held a formal confab in the sky and agreed that Halloween is a universal cause for celebration and vividness. I was always greeted by herky-jerky ghosts and skeletons, fat orange glowing pumpkins, fall leaves, and hooting owls, all placed with such care or even zeal—but never by people. Little bats flitted out and surprised this lone explorer in a rush of warm, mad company. Someone was indeed here, and someone will be here again, but nobody is here now. And it’s going to be Halloween. Where are you going?

Finally my shoes wore out. I decided to gel my identity a bit more by looking for some long-lasting duds. Perhaps a hat as well, to ward against those wayward drips. I landed at the Curious Seamstress in New Toulouse. At that moment, it was an empty city too. But the original green Tarantula Arms with its rows of tiny, stuffy striped rooms was a comfort. I imagined a lonely working girl or fellow in each of them—Americana, a touch of squalor, an urban box; it was nearly like a real home I sometimes knew. 

One fine morning in New Toulouse as I practiced walking down the street in my Daughter of Shanghai getup. I noticed someone quickly scurrying out of a building: a dapper fellow with round glasses. “Hello!” he called, rushing toward me.

“Good morning,” I said back.

He shuffled along, tipping his hat, and asked, “Would you like to have coffee?”

It was the first time in two weeks, since getting on that first train, that I encountered somebody sentient and without apparent diabolical intentions. We had coffee, we rode an airship, and I was home. 
Here’s to our kind mayor, who greeted this wayward soul five years ago. And to a happy Halloween!

RMarie Beedit is the proprietor of Argonaut Travel on Shotgun Row in New Toulouse, and of Weeds, across the street.