Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life of a New Orleans Waitress [Extract]

Extract from an abandoned novel, circa. late 1990s. I have no idea where this one was going either.

My mother is from Monroe and my dad from Austin, as if that matters. When I was young I stuttered, and the other children at school used to tease me. I stopped talking, or even trying to talk, and then I stopped going to school. My only friend at school was Thoy, which you say like ‘toy’. I used to joke and say I was going to play with my toy, and me and Thoy used to laugh about that. Thoy was like a sister. She told me stories about Ho Chi Minh City, where she was born, and other far away cities. Even though I love New Orleans, I always imagined going to these places and Thoy made them sound so magical, just like other versions of New Orleans in fact. Thoy moved to New Orleans East when she was a girl. The East is called Vietnam Village on account of all the Vietnamese living there.

I always loved Asian women. I mean their grace and their coolness. Their style. I always wanted to be like them. I didn’t like the look of black women. They had no class. But it’s funny. I never really felt attracted to an Asian man. And of course I was attracted to black men, I mean, who isn’t. They have more class than their women. White men hardly ever entered into my equation. They all look the same, and they all look stupid. They don’t know how to dress, and they don’t know how to love. Not that it matters that much, well, sometimes. I did it for the first time when I was thirteen. Not that it matters.

She gazed out of the window, straight ahead. She always used to say how she liked windows, or at least the idea of them. In themselves there’s nothing really that intrinsically likeable about them.

Then she was looking down, across North Rampart Street, at the bar on the corner, with the red brick, and it reminded her of London. England. A bird flew overhead, making a noise, distracting her thoughts for almost a second.

One of her sisters was in jail, one was dating a drug dealer, another was a stripper on Bourbon Street, but she, Conchita (Conchita!), had done Europe and art and a German husband and even busking in Morocco, while her sisters had never even left Louisiana. She always knew she had her mother in her and her sisters had their dad. She hadn’t seen her sisters or her dad for over a month.

Thoy called her name. After finishing school Thoy had married an Australian, moved to Sydney, then went back to Ho Chi Minh City when her marriage ended, returning to New Orleans, along with her extended Vietnamese family and four year-old daughter, Liliana. She had found Australia dull, her husband dull, her life dull, and had left, just like that. And she had missed Conchita.

Conchita turned, smiled and and looked at Thoy, beautiful Thoy.

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