On Monday Biggy put the package for Oak Pub in his pack and walked out to Riverbend about eight-thirty. He bought a paper outside LaMadeleine and went inside. He sat there with his coffee and a croissant reading his paper, getting up to leave at exactly ten o’clock. Even for big Biggy, it was not worth getting on a Streetcar to ride to the Oak Pub when it was only four blocks away along shady Carrollton. He strolled along leisurely on the east side of the street before crossing at Oak, arriving at the pub a few minutes after ten.
The place was dark. Biggy stood just inside the door for a minute to let his eyes adjust before walking across the open wood floor towards the other end of the bar which extended down the right side of the room. There wasn’t a soul there except the man behind the bar. He was a large black man, probably around sixty.. Biggy knew his name was Max. As Biggy passed along the front Max got a big smile on his face.
“Well if it ain’t the Big Un. How’re ya’ doin’? Ain’t seen you in a coon’s age, boy.”
By the time Biggy sat down at the end of the bar, Max was there with a frosty cold Jax. He set it on the bar and extended his hand. “How ya’ likin’ New Orleans?”
“Fine.” Biggy said, reaching into his pack and pulling out the roast beef with mayo ‘sandwich’ he had brought for Max who took it and put it down behind the bar. Then he turned and went back to the middle where he had a large, insulated mug of coffee from PJs. He brought it back to where Biggy sat and pulled himself up a stool.
“Never much goin’ on this time of mornin’ but I always get here about 9:30 anyway. Some days we have a few folks stops in for a drink or two before lunch. And then we serve sandwiches and the like ourselves for lunch. There’s a pretty good crowd comes in from the businesses here on Oak as well as some folks from the university.”
Max continued to chatter away while Biggy finished his beer.
“No, I think one’s plenty this mornin’. How much I owe ya’.”
“Nothin’. That’ns on the house.”
“Thanks.” Biggy said, standing up. He hung his pack over his shoulder and turned to go.
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“See ya’ next time, Biggy.’ Max called out as Biggy opened the door. Biggy just waved over his shoulder and went on down the sidewalk.
Biggy had plenty of time before his next delivery and the car ride from River Bend to Napoleon was less than fifteen minutes. He walked back home and read James Lee Burke for a while and even took a short nap. He left at twelve-thirty and walked back over to O’Henry’s. He sat outside and ate a burger and fries while he watched the parade of people passing by. This was going to be a fun job, he thought. Certainly nothing like slinging garbage cans for a living.
At 1:20 he went out and waited at the corner for the next car to come along and rode to Napoleon, getting there almost exactly at 1:30. He walked down the block and into Napoleon Bar and Grill. A few people sat at the outside tables enjoying the nice March weather. He stood just inside the bar a moment waiting on his eyes to adjust to the murky interior. A couple of guys were sitting at the bar not far from the door. His reception was just about like it had been at Oak Pub.
His client was named Nancy whom he assumed was the young woman about his age who stood behind the bar. Both her arms were covered with ink. As he passed toward the far end of the bar, she spoke as if she’d known him for a long time. She waited for him to get situated at the end of the bar and then brought a cold can of Jax. Unlike Max, however, she didn’t stick around to chat but moved back up the bar. Biggy looked around. No one was paying him any attention. He set his pack on the bar, removing his newspaper and the ‘sandwich’ which he slid out onto the bar behind the pack. A moment later, Nancy came back down and slipped the ‘sandwich’ under the bar. “Want anotha’” she said, indicating his Jax.
“No thanks. One’s my limit this time a day.” he said. “How much I owe ya?”
Biggy drained the beer and tossed three ones on the bar.
“Thanks, Nancy.” he said, picked up his pack and walked towards the door.
His next delivery was at Tavern at Lee Circle at 4:00 so, once again, he had some time to kill. He rode the streetcar down to Canal and walked down into the quarter to Jackson Square. It was pleasant just sitting there and watching people. He tried to read his book for awhile but had trouble keeping his mind on it. About two-thirty he found a bar on Royal and had three Jax while he waited for it to get close enough to 4:00 to make his last delivery.
The scene at the Tavern was almost identical to the ones earlier in the day and just as easy. It had just opened, being a place that catered to people who came in after work. Right now, it was deserted except for the bartender, his customer, Clyde, who Biggy found easy to talk to so he had a few more there before wandering back out to the car stop and going back uptown to his apartment.
About seven he was getting hungry and bored so he went back over to Riverbend and got some fish and chips at a place called Cooter Brown’s Tavern. He figured sometime he’d have to get some
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groceries, at least have something that he could make a sandwich with so he didn’t have to go out every night, although there were plenty of places to get cheap food that was good. It wasn’t like he ate a really healthy diet anyway. Later, after his fish and chips, he wandered on over to Jake’s and had a few more beers before heading home. He was able to let Jake know that everything had gone well that day.
The next day went much the same. He was at Remy’s Patois at two, Clotille’s at three and then back out at Jacques Baptist’s at four-thirty. Jacques had a pretty good menu so Biggy got a bowl of red beans and rice for supper before heading back home.
When he got there he found a large brown bag in the refrigerator with eight more ‘sandwiches’ in it along with a receipt listing the eight places he was to deliver them. and which ‘sandwich’ was to be delivered to each. Biggy had been studying the lists so much that he recognized the names of most of the places. Most of them were in the French Quarter.
By the end of the week, when Biggy had made his dummy deliveries to all of the customers except the one’s back on Frenchmen Street, he felt confident about what he was doing. He was excited about starting to do the real job on the next Monday. He wanted to make Jake proud of him.
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