Biggy was enjoying the work. He was really getting to know the city and the people in it. He enjoyed making most of his deliveries using the streetcar. There were only one or two that he had to drive to, like the Tchoupitoulas Sports Bar and the one’s back on Esplanade. Jake told him over coffee at Peggy’s that he could transfer from the streetcar to a bus at Napoleon and then get on another bus at Tchoupitoulas that ran all the way downtown and through the Quarter on Decatur to get within a couple of blocks of his clients on Esplanade. The bus took longer than driving his truck but Jake encouraged him not to use his truck except when he absolutely had to and, besides, he was never squeezed for time. All of his deliveries were scheduled with plenty of time in between and he never had to make more than four or five in the same day.
On the fourth Monday after Biggy had begun making deliveries he was in Jake’s sort of quietly celebrating. His final delivery that afternoon had been to Papa’s Got Da’ Blues on Esplanade. This meant he had now made at least one real delivery to every customer except the two down on Frenchmen Street. He wondered when Jake would give him the go ahead to make those too.
He sat near the cash register where he could see all the way down the length of the longer leg of the L with a view of most of the customers at the bar. Jake recognized that Biggy was proud of his accomplishment and was slipping him a shot of Jack Daniels every now and then along with his usual Jax. Biggy was gettting a little drunk.
He surveyed the people he could see in the mirror. Mostly usual customers that he saw every time he was in there. As he let his eyes roam from one person to the next he stopped his scan abruptly and went back to a face he had almost overlooked. A beautiful dark skinned, dark haired woman sat at the very end of the horseshoe. It was the woman he had seen on the streetcar! He almost couldn’t believe his eyes. Was it the Jack making him see visions in the dimly lit bar? He had thought about her every time he rode downtown. Especially at Napoleon where she had so abruptly burst through the back doors to get away from him. He had even ridden back out from Canal the previous Saturday night to see if he could find her but she wasn’t on the car he was on.
The girl was surrounded by three men and two other women. They were talking and laughing and obviously having a good time.
The next time Jake brought him a drink Biggy asked, “Do you know the woman sitting at the end of the bar back there …” motioning over his left shoulder with his head, “The really pretty black one with the long hair.”
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Jake looked up and focused on Polly Duplessis for an instant before turning back to Biggy. “I don’t remember ever seeing her in here before but she’s with a group of servers I recognize. They all work at restaurants in the CBD and come in just about every Monday night. It’s their night off. Why? Have you seen her somewhere.”
Biggy didn’t want to admit what had happened on the streetcar four weeks earlier so he just said. “Naw. She just caught my eye in the mirror because she’s so pretty and all.”
“I’ll have to admit she is a pretty one.” Jake said as he turned away.
Biggy sat nursing another Jax and watching her. He was careful to avert his eyes if she looked in his direction. He didn’t want her to recognize him. He felt sure she could see his reflection in the mirror that was on the wall to his right but figured from that angle he didn’t have to worry. Besides, she had probably forgotten all about him. Besides she was actively engaged with the group of seven or eight young men and women she was with. It was not more than ten minutes after he had ask Jake her name that the entire group headed for the door.
Biggy waited a couple of minutes after the group went out the front door before paying his own tab and leaving. Was the pretty black woman driving a car? Would she go to the corner and catch a streetcar? If she did, would she go towards downtown or further up Carrollton?
To his surprise when he stepped outside the entire group were standing in the parking lot not far from the front door and Biggy could hear their conversation. He slipped into the shadows to keep from being seen.
“Polly.” one of the girls was saying. “It was really nice that you could join us. You’ll have to do it again sometime. You live around here close somewhere, right?”
“Yeah” Polly pointed in the direction of Dublin Street.” Just three blocks up that way. Did you guys take the streetcar to get here?”
“Uh-huh.” one of the guys said.
“I’ll walk up to the stop with you, then, and say goodnight. My street is only three blocks from the stop. I’ll just walk from there.”
“Not by yourself you won’t” another one said. “We’ll walk you to your street and catch the next car from there.”
“That’s really not necessary, ya’ll. I walk along here every night.”
“That may be. But tonight, we’re all here. We’ll walk you home. Everybody up for that?”
There was a litany of answers – “Yeah.” “Sure.” “Of course.” – as two of the girls linked arms with Polly and started off towards Carrollton. The rest of the group following.
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Biggy couldn’t believe his luck. Not only had he just found out she lived right here in the neighborhood but he would have no problem following a large group like that without being noticed and he might be able to find out exactly where she lived.
He waited until they got almost to the corner before he began to follow them. They were all the way up by O’Henry’s by the time he turned onto Carrollton. By the end of the second block, he realized he could have been walking ten feet behind them and they would never have seen him. No one in the group ever looked backwards. They were having that much fun.
He quickened his pace to try and get a better look at her. On the streetcar she had been sitting down and he was so enamored by her face and beautiful hair that he hadn’t noticed much about the rest of her. He had stared at her sitting at the bar for at least an hour but had only been able to see her from the shoulders up. One block past Madigan’s Pub the group stopped at the corner under a streetlight. Biggy had gotten up fairly close to them by this time so he eased over behind one of the big live oaks before anyone in the group saw him. He could see the pretty one pointing down the side street and saying something to the group. After a moment she hugged each of them and began to walk away down the side street. The rest of the group crossed over to the neutral ground waiting at the next car stop. Biggy remained hidden for a moment or two, watching them. They were paying him no attention so he slipped out of the shadows and walked back towards St. Charles and home.
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