The Bobcat Bar and Grill was rockin’. In the center of a raised stage that faced a collection of round wooden tables and ladder-back chairs, a middle-aged R and B diva gyrated her hips to the music. With a double-fisted death grip on a stand-up microphone, she belted out lyrics: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Find out what it means to me…” The stage lights created spheres of pink and blue fog in the smoke-filled atmosphere. A saxophone player swung his horn back and forth in rhythm with the music, while the keyboard player stood and pounded the keys of a baby grand piano like they insulted his sister. The diva ended the song with a flourish and the already dancing crowd erupted with applause.
The singer announced a quick break while the more intoxicated in the crowd continued to clap in appreciation. When the noise subsided, a uniformed deputy sitting at the bar looked at the keyboard player and said, “I hate to be a killjoy, but don’t you think we ought to get our prisoner to the station, Sheriff?” He nodded his head toward a scruffy-looking character in handcuffs next to him.
Still smiling from the moments on stage, Sheriff Maurice Broussard replied, “Yeah, you’re right, Joe. Let’s pack him up and go.”
As he spoke, he felt a hand on his shoulder. The sax player said, “Come back and sit in with us again, Mo.”
“Count on it. I’ll be back,” the sheriff said with a big smile. The 10-15 call was the reason they came to the Bobcat, but Sheriff Mo couldn’t resist the chance to relive his jazz band days back on Bourbon Street in a previous life.
He was a native of New Orleans, but like so many others, Katrina had forced him to flee north on a temporary relocation. At least, that was the original plan. Once here, he found some stability that he lacked before. The weather took some getting used to, but it was otherwise a nice place to live, so he decided to stay. Being county sheriff wasn’t something he’d ever considered before he came here, but he found it agreed with him.
He and his deputy each grasped an arm of the scruffy-looking man and led him out the door and to the car. Obviously inebriated, the prisoner asked, “What am I being arrested for?"
Joe shook his head and said, “I’ve told you twice already."
“For being a drunken asshole,” Mo said. “You can be an asshole, and you can get drunk, but you can’t do both, not around here.”
I’ve been an author in search of a novel for just about forty years now. Writing was the first thing I ever wanted to do seriously. Over the years I’ve done quite a variety of things. My first real job, the kind where you have a schedule and get paid hourly, was as a cook at the local Sonic Drive-In. I’ve been a machinist, a forklift driver, a production worker, a computer programmer, an IT guy, an installation manager, a software trainer, and an education department manager. Those are just the employment highlights. Through it all, I was a husband and father, and I attended college at night to get my bachelor’s degree in technology management.