Emile stared out into the predawn fog listening for the soft sounds of the harbor.  He was searching for comfort in the lapping of water on stone, the creak of sun bleached hempen rope, or the call of river birds.  Though, if it was out there Emile was deaf to it.  Having spent the last week as a guest of the city in a dank cell, which smelled of a mildewy straw mattress and an overfull slop bucket and boasted an unobstructed view of the gallows, Emile should have been overjoyed.  However, his freedom came with the bitter taste of ashes.  He had been out of the Calabozo for less than 12 hours, and was more than halfway through the bottle of black tar rum, but he still couldn’t rid himself of that taste of loss and defeat. 

It had taken only one of those 12 hours to find out that his love, Lisette, had been whisked off to Paris by her disapproving father.  Monsieur LePomeret had ensured Emile’s devastation by booking Lisette passage on the steamer which left with the morning tide just hours before his release. He had spent an additional hour wondering aimlessly among the crowded streets of New Orleans till he found himself once more on Pirate Alley. Foregoing the more upstanding taverns Emile searched the shadowy fenced goods looking for the “good stuff”. He wasn’t disappointed, though after his transaction with the salt crusted gentleman his pockets were considerably lighter. Not that a little thing like that bothered Emile. After all, Lisette was gone; there would be no home to save for, bride price to provide, or children to feed. In the square he uncorked the amber bottle gave it a slight sniff then gulped.

The black tar rum was as thick and tacky as the name suggested, and…it burned. After the first drink Emile could feel a tingle on his lips and in his tongue, but with drink seven came numbness. Blessed numbness. By the time he had finished off better than a third of the rust colored rum the poppy seed syrup had taken effect. Emile stumbled from his holy alcove upon the St. Louis’ fine steps and made his uneven way to the harbor pausing often to take a drink, rant at the night, or freeze in place as if forgetting either the how or the why. Finally, he found himself on a small boardwalk. Emile took one final drink as he looked out on the misty Mississippi, and for a second he could hear Lisette’s sweet voice on the wind. In the drunken fog of his liquid courage he ran to her, his love had not abandoned him. As Emile slipped below the water’s surface her name was on his lips as blessed numbness crept back in.

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New Orleans spirit orb photo

I took this photograph in New Orleans earlier this year. While snapping photos of the water and a passing steamer I didn’t notice anything unusual, just a chilly wind off the water due to the morning rain. However, when I got home and uploaded my pictures I saw the orb. It was just above the boardwalk and appeared to be moving against the wind. Was this a spirit ill at ease with its demise? I can never know, but if it was perhaps Emile’s story will give it peace.

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