There might be lots of things I didn’t know, but I knew enough that anyone with a lick of sense stayed the hell away from Alphonse Bouchon when he was in a foul mood. Less, of course, they were tired of living.
Little Dickie Ferrette didn’t give two shits about the big man’s state of mind. He had hit the number, 442 — same one he had playing every day for years, and he wanted his money. He didn’t care that one of Alphonse’s runners had made off with five thousand dollars, wasn’t his problem. But it was about to be.
Alphonse hung out in a Lower 9th Ward bar on Burgundy Street called Mercedes’ Place. It was nearly empty when Dickie walked in and confronted the big man. The Meters were on the jukebox, and Alphonse sipped a Hennessey and coke. He never put his glass on the bar when Dickie demanded his winnings. Instead, like he did it every day, he pulled a stainless steel .357 revolver from his waist and shot Dickie between the eyes. He finished his drink and walked out of the bar into a steamy Louisiana night.
A wise man would have stayed clear of the whole mess. Dickie had lived his entire life on the edge, and I’d never been much for trouble. But he was my brother, and I wasn’t going to let Alphonse waste him that way.
Two nights later I watched Alphonse usher a woman into his Cadillac. There was a hard rain, and I couldn’t see who she was.
I tailed them through the storm to a dump called The Aloha Motel, located in a rundown section of Metairie. I watched them hustle into a room. The storm seemed to be centered right overhead, thunder and lightning almost constant. It masked the sound of the door being kicked in.
Alphonse’s huge body covered the woman when I walked in. When he rolled off of her, I saw who she was and for a moment thought I might be sick. Ginnie Mae Bouchon, his twin sister. When Alphonse saw me, he looked like he saw a ghost. Dickie was my twin brother.
I didn’t give a second thought to any of it. Didn’t try to figure out what kind of sordid things were going on. I hadn’t planned on killing anyone. Wanted to get what Alphonse owed Dickie and be on my way. Instead, I knew I had to stop what I had seen even though it could never be erased from my memory.
The .12 gauge barked twice — Alphonse first, Ginny second. At least that’s how I had it figured but man, in this day and age, how the hell do you know? The double ought buckshot made a mess out of both of them; it would be easier to live with that than what I had seen moments before.
A money clip in his pants pocket yielded over three thousand dollars. I took that and his car keys. Found another couple of grand in the trunk.
That hurricane sure made a mess out of my hometown. It took my mom and pops, my baby sister too. Dickie and me had never been close, but we’d been tighter since Katrina even though New Orleans hadn’t felt like home for a long while.
I drove to the bus station and bought a ticket to Phoenix. At a little store across the street, I got a pint of gin. An hour later I was on my way west with nasty visions as my only baggage. I was sad about Dickie, but he should have known not to fool with Alphonse when he was in a mood.
I guess Dickie and me had that bond twins sometimes do. Now Alphonse, him and Ginnie Mae’s bond was something else altogether.
Something I would never forget.