We got in late to The Big Easy, rolling into a hotel in the French Quarter then taking Gussie’s crate on a trolley up to the 10th floor.
My mom wanted to stay with Gussie and have Jim and me bring her dinner.
Jim and I went down to the bar and watched U Conn beat Kentucky in the NCAA Championship on a big screen TV. Neither of us had a dog in the fight, so we shrugged and wandered over to Canal Street to eat at 5 Fifty 5. A fabulous steak, great red wine.
I’m coming back to New Orleans when I’ve got more time to spend a few days with the chicory and the beignets.
On Tuesday, we drove the length of the Atchafalaya causeway through muddy lakes and skeletal trees draped with moss.
We hit Houston right at rush hour which is like hitting a brick wall of shiny bumpers. Jim said the cars moved like molasses out of a jar at 30 below zero.
After an hour and a half of inching through Houston to a little suburb called Katy, Texas, all four of us had to pee and we wanted to pack it in for the night but we weren’t at all sure the hotel accepted pets. We were past caring.
I went in and got us a room. Two queen beds. My mom, Gussie and I bunk on one and my brother bunks on the other. No pets allowed.
That’s when I realized how easily criminal activity comes to me.
My brother is not the felon I seem to be. We parked the car alongside the back of the building and my brother hurried to the door, looking this way, then that, then motioning to us.
My mom stayed in the Volvo, I stood watch at the glass door leading into the hallway and Jim slunk over to the car, grabbed Gussie’s cage and ran as fast as he could through the door. I held open the room door for him.
Just then, somebody in the hallway opened a door. Somebody who couldn’t have cared less what we were carrying.
“Wow this amplifier is heavy,” Jim said, a bit too loudly.
Even more loudly, I said: “Yeah, we’ve got a gig tonight.”
Not lame at all.
We struggled into the room, nearly tripping over Gussie’s crate.
My brother ran over to the window, peered outside and gave me a terse: “OK, she’s going to make a break for it with the litter box,” he said, pointing to my mom making a slow exit from the car.
I stuck my head into the hallway looking up and down, then back again, Ocean’s 11 style.
My brother looked wild-eyed and my heart pounded while my mother slo-o-o-o-wly strolled into the glass doorway and into the hall, holding the litterbox. Which looked like a litterbox and could not be mistaken for anything else.
My mother finally made it into the room and placed the litterbox on the floor. My brother moved it so it was out of eyesight from anybody walking by our door.
“Oh, don’t worry,” my mother said, her outdoor voice ringing through the hall. “Nobody will think we have a cat in here.”