Thinkin’ About Roy Dupree and New Orleans

When I got back out on the porch, the rain was hammering the tin roof like a machine gun. The thunder and lightning were all over us and Yella was following me around whining―he doesn’t like thunder and lightning at all.

The sound of the rain on the roof was all the music anybody could ask for, so I went in the house and turned off the stereo. Then I pulled the rocking chair back up against the house to get out of the rain and sat down again. Yella tried to crawl up in my lap, but he’s way too big for that. I pushed him down and he settled for just putting his head in my lap. He whimpered gratefully and I leaned back to enjoy the storm and think about the load Roy Dupree had just laid on me.

Seems there’s this nice little old lady down in New Orleans―a Mrs. Pricilla Rabalais to be precise―who is being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous building contractor. I’d venture a guess that this sort of thing happens a lot in The Big Easy. The thing that makes this case special is that her granddaughter, a Ms. Tiffany Rabalais, is a close friend of Roy Dupree’s―he’s got a lot of close friends. For some reason, a lot of them usually turn out to be beautiful women. It’s also worth mentioning that this particular little old lady is ninety-something years old and richer than God―something involving oil leases, I think. I guaran-goddamn-tee you Roy’s more than a little interested in that fact.

At any rate, Roy’s taken on the job of advocating for these damsels in distress. He’s been down there a few days now, and he’s managed to learn that his opponents in this game are some very ruthless people. The grandma lives in a grand old home on St. Charles Avenue in the heart of the garden district. That’s the one where the streetcars still run down the middle of the street―like with Brando and Stella, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

I hadn’t been down there in a long while. In truth, I’d been avoiding the place since Katrina did her dead level best to destroy it. I did go back once, not too long after Katrina, and it depressed the hell out of me. I hadn’t been back.

For me, New Orleans is a lot like Hemingway’s Paris in A Moveable Feast. Like a place in time―the memories are so good, I know they should be left on the shelf.  The memories were involved with youth, and freedom, and no commitments. I just take them down and savor them once in a while―I don’t try to replicate them. It just wouldn’t work.

But it looked like I was about to return to The Big Easy, like it or not. Roy’d been knockin’ heads with some bad dudes down there, and he was startin’ to feel a little out-numbered. Well, these boys were about to find out there’s two of us. In truth, I could feel a little tingle of excitement starting to build at the prospect of a little head–to-head contact.

The rain was splattering on my bare legs now, and Yella was starting to smell a lot like a wet dog. I took a good pull on the Dos Equis and scratched the dog’s wet head. I thought about Roy Dupree and New Orleans.

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When Roy Calls, It Usually Spells Trouble.

It was late afternoon on the first day of October, and I was sitting on the back porch watching a hellacious thunderstorm build over the Atlantic. The storm was gonna be all over us in a few minutes and I was looking forward it―I do love a rainy night.

My old dog, Yella, was sleeping on the top step, and I was sitting in the rocking chair watching the thunderheads develop and sipping on a Dos Equis beer. There were a dozen or so more beers in the coolerator and Willie Nelson was cranking out “Pancho and Lefty” on the stereo―it was setting out to be one fine Friday night in the low country.

The phone was ringing when I went in the house for a refill, and I made the mistake of looking at the caller ID as I opened the refrigerator door. It was Roy’s cell number. A lot of my worst nightmares have gotten started with a phone call from Roy Dupree. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so against my better judgment I picked up the phone. “This better be important, Roy―Miss Mississippi’s waiting for me on the back porch.”

“It does sound like you’re havin’ a party, podna, but you’re bull shittin’ about Miss Mississippi―she just happens to be lookin’ across the supper table at me as we speak. How you been doin’?”

When he calls me ‘podna’, I know he wants something. “I’ve had a long week, Roy―what’s the pinch? You didn’t call me up just to shoot the breeze.”

“Fact is, I do need a little help, Pete―some’a that special Pete Slidell brand of help, if you know what I mean.”

I did know what he meant. Roy’s business card identified him as a “Construction Arbitration Specialist. What it doesn’t say is that he’s kind of like a court of last resort for building contractors and homeowners who don’t agree about the way a job is going. When they give up up on getting any satisfaction from lawyers and the court system, they call Roy. He’ll work for either side, and he usually gets the job done. Sometimes he needs my kind of specialized help―I don’t have a business card, but I always get the job done.

“Hang on a minute, Roy.” I put the phone on the counter and opened my beer. Then I turned off the music, went outside and sat down in the rocking chair again. So much for my fine Friday night.

I put the phone to my ear again. “OK man, lay it out for me.”

I’ll tell you some more about this deal later on. Right now if you want to see Willie and Merle doing “Pancho and Lefty”, here’s a link.

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Meet Roy Dupree

Sunday May 12, 2012

Most of the stuff I write here is going to involve my friend, Roy Dupree, so I need to tell you a little about him.

I don’t see Roy as often as I’d like to these days―our lives have taken us in a lot of different directions, but we have a special kinda’ friendship. I might not hear from him for six months and then one day he’ll call me up. “I need some help, podna. Can you catch a plane to New Orleans first thing tomorrow mornin’?”

He knows the answer’s going to be, “Yes”, and I know the kinda’ help he needs might not always be legal, but I also know that he’d do the same thing for me. I never give it a second thought.

Roy’s always got a good story or two whenever I see him. I’d think most of his tales were bullshit if I heard’m from anybody else, but with Roy, I know it’s the real deal. Things just seem to happen wherever he is, and he’s too lazy to make this stuff up. Also, I’ve been right there with him and seen it happen enough times to know. If Roy say’s it happened, it happened.

Probably his biggest downfall has always been that he attracts the wrong kinda’ women. I guess he attracts the right kinda’ women too, but it always seems like the wrong kinda’ women are fouling up his relationships with the other kind. I know from personal experience that when you’re a young man, it’s not always that easy to tell the difference between the two. It’s really not that easy even when you’re an old man… If she’s pretty enough.

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