Terminal Sunsets Chapter 13
Donald guns it before I’m even all the way in the back seat, but then slams on the brakes and yells, “Shit, she just turned left into traffic. Get in.”
I clamber into the back seat and then, from there I climb into the front passenger seat.
“Watch it,” he yells as I get myself into place. “Hold on.”
He cuts the wheel sharp and accelerates hard. We pull back out onto Metairie Road and nearly get hit by some mullet-headed looking guy in a souped up Camaro. They honk at us but Donald flips him the bird and focuses only on the traffic in front of it.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit,” he mutters lowly, a weird mantra. “Do you see her car up there?”
“Not yet. Wait she’s coming up on the light up there. It’s yellow. Fuck she’s going to run it. No, no, no wait. She caught the red light but there are about six cars between her and us dude. I mean, does it matter really? We have her address.”
“What if she doesn’t go home for lunch,” Donald says.
“Oh,” I say.
“I mean, that’s probably where she’d headed, but we need to be on her just to make sure,” Donald adds.
The light turns and our side of the road turns into two lanes. Donald quickly veers into the left lane and there is now only one car between ours and Naomi’s Camry. We drive under 6-10 and we’re at the corner of Canal and Canal again. She veers towards the left, to make the turn onto Canal Boulevard.
We ease in behind her. I duck down slightly in my seat, a little freaked out.
Donald laughs and asks me what I’m doing.
“I don’t want her to see me dude,” I tell him.
“I wouldn’t worry about that. She hasn’t looked back even once. Some people do, some don’t. She seems pretty intent on getting where she’s going and quickly. It’s her lunch break probably. She won’t have much time.”
She hooks a right off Canal Boulevard, a couple blocks just before Navarre Avenue.
Donald slows up as he approaches the corner.
“Look down there you see her?” he asks, glancing at the folder. “This is her street.”
“No,” I say. “Where did she go. She’s not parked on the street. Wait, wait, wait. I see her she’s pulled up in a driveway. Way up. Look there, two houses past the stop sign on the left.”
“Yeah I see her,” Donald says, suddenly producing a small mini-cam in his right hand. “I’m going to catch her from a block over. That asshole next door with the huge Lincoln is fucking my shit up. Hold on.”
We quickly swing around the block and then come up adjacent to her house on the street that intersects with hers. The view to her driveway and front door is incredible, but she’s already got the door open and is walking inside before Donald can hit record.
“Fuck,” he protests as the door closes.
He presses stop on the camera and lowers it.
“Well what do you think dude?” he asks me.
“Talk about a fucking rush,” I finally say, which is true. My ears are ringing and my heart is pounding in my chest. I wonder vaguely if the weed is intensifying things and I ask Donald this.
“Shit dude, if anything the weed helps to bring the panic and the stress levels down,” he says. “It’s pure adrenalin man. Fly or die. One little fuck-up and bam, they’re gone. I don’t care what they do on TV and movies. Moving surveillance, following someone, is a bitch. There are so many factors that can come into play. First of all people are erratic. Second of all, you have to look out for all the idiots in between you and the person you’re following.”
Just then I see her front door open.
“She’s coming,” I hiss.
“I see her, I see her,” Donald says, raising the camera and hitting record. “Nice very nice.”
“What kind of dogs does she have?” I ask.
“No idea,” he replies. “But I have a feeling we’re about to find out.”
Before Donald can even finish answering, two red-haired balls of fur bounce out the front door and down the front steps.
“What the fuck is that?” Donald says. “Are those some sort of weird Golden Retrievers?”
“No,” I tell him. “Irish Setters. Not really all too common. They’re weird dogs, kind of gawky and spastic. The Carol Burnetts of the Dog World.”
Naomi bounds down the steps after them. She’s holding two leashes, but also has one of those rubber squeak toys shaped like a newspaper. She bends down into a crouched position, and both dogs do the same.
“Oh this is fucking excellent,” Donald says. “Crouch baby, crouch. Give it to daddy. Daddy wants some more.”
As if in response she lurches one foot forward, while still in a crouched position and holds the rubber newspaper out to the closest dog. The dog grabs it in its mouth and a vigorous game of “tug” then ensues. The dog shakes its head back and forth and Naomi grips it tightly with one hand, and then grabs it with the other and bends forward and pulls backwards.
The dog digs its front paws in. Meanwhile the other dog runs around both of them in circles, wagging its tail and barking enthusiastically as if to say, “Come on you fuckers, I want to play too”
“Jesus,” Donald says. “Oh god baby don’t stop. Give me some more. Daddy needs to pay his electric bill. And he needs a new pair of shoes. Damn, she is fucking hot dude. She really gave you her number.”
“Yeah,” I say. “She must like white meat bro. She was totally digging me. You want some good video, get me a little spy cam and I’ll bring her over to my crib.”
“That’s actually not a half bad idea, but damn, this I’m getting some good shit right now too.”
She’s now sort of skipping between the two animals, holding the newspaper up in the air high above her head, prompting the dogs to jump to get it. As one of the dog’s crouches to jump, the other one bum rushes her and jumps at her catching her above the chest with both paws, and knocking her backwards on the grass.
“Oh my God,” Donald says. “I think I’m actually going to come all over myself. This is classic. It rarely gets much better than this.”
Naomi is rolling around with both dogs now in the grass, grabbing, stretching her arms, her neck, her back. She gets on all fours and reaches out with one arm and grabs one of the dogs behind its neck and rubs it. She play grabs it by the muzzle and shakes the muzzle back and forth, working the dogs into a feverish and playful frenzy.
At some point she shifts position. She’s still on her hands and knees but her ass is facing us.
“Oh my god, look at that ass,” I mutter quietly, not even really aware that I said it out loud.
“You better tag that shit good my brother,” Donald says. “She is fucking hot. She is by far the hottest subject I’ve ever watched. Who cares if she’s black? Damn, she’s beautiful. The ass is perfect. Perfect ass.”
She’s up now on her feet and produces the leashes. A game of “catch me” now ensues, but she is pretty quick on the draw, for someone who is supposed to have neck, back and shoulder injuries. In a matter of seconds she has them both leashed and they begin to walk down the street away from us.
“Now what?” I ask.
“We just wait,” he says. “Her street dead-ends right at Delgado’s baseball field. She’ll probably walk down and right back up.”
He continues to film her walking until she moves completely out of view and then he presses pause.
“That’s it bro, you’re coming with me more often,” Donald says. “You’re my good luck charm. Damn she’s hot.”
“Yes she is,” I agree, my voice trailing off.
“I’m completely hard dude,” he adds, a single rivulet of sweat rolling down his cheek, onto his neck and under his ear.
“Yeah,” I say, my voice barely escaping, sounding cracked and strange.
“Yeah,” he says.
———————————— ——————————— ———–
I’m sitting on Donald’s sofa when he comes back into the room with a towel draped around his waist. He grabs a pair of underwear and a pair of jeans from off the top of the ironing board, drops the towel and slips them on.
“Allright, so tell me what this is all about,” he finally says.
I’m so distracted, so removed from everything at this point that I almost laugh. I’m not really sure where to begin and the whole idea of actually trying to track Maddy down seems ludicrous but the wheels are already in motion and I’m not completely sure that putting the brakes on now is the wise thing.
“Allright. Do you remember Darby?” I finally ask after staring at him, lost in time for a moment.
The look of sudden and complete apprehension on Donald’s face tells me that yes, he does in fact remember Darby. Almost everybody from those days remembers Darby though. Darby was a drug dealer. Darby was a Dead Head. Darby was the son of a semi-prominent doctor. Darby was into bondage, which was a weird combination with the Grateful dead thing. Darby was also an alcoholic and later, a junkie.
But whatever Darby was in life (which was really what I was actually concerned about), it was all completely overshadowed by his death. More stories and more conspiracy theories circulated about Darby’s death than JFK’s. He froze to death. He hung himself. He overdosed. He was stabbed. He froze to death because he was high on heroin and didn’t close his window.
“Yeah, I remember Darby,” Donald says. “Please tell me this isn’t a Darby death investigation dude.”
“No,” I say. “I could care less about how he died. Remember the place he lived though on Dumaine?”
“Well do you remember the dude Steve, who lived two doors down from him?”
“Yeah. You lived there for a while didn’t you? At Steve’s place.”
“Yes,” I say.
“Do you remember a girl I was seeing at that time named Maddy?” I ask him.
“Maddy?” he asks, puzzled. “Maggie used to live with us in Slidell. That was when you were dating Terri though. That was years and years after Darby died.”
“No dude, not Maggie, Maddy. Steve had a sister,” I say. “Fuck I can’t think of her name. But Maddie was best friends with her.”
“Steve’s sister, you mean Connie?” he asks.
“Yeah, Connie. She and Maddy were tight. Are Steve and his sister still around?”
“Shit dude, Steve got himself blown up in the first Gulf War,” Donald says.
“Really?” I said, trying to wrap my brain around this piece of information; information which sounds far to adult; like something our fathers; not even our fathers; more like our grandfathers; something they would say…got himself blown up in the first Gulf War…far too adult to be somebody we knew…
“Yeah. I don’t know all the details but, anyway, I might be able to get hold of Connie. She’s still in the city. Or she was at least before Katrina. I can check a few things. Maddy right?”
“Yeah,” I say.
“Last name,” he says.
All I can do is shrug dumbly. I think it was Evans but I’m sure. Those were the days, even in the wake of AIDS, when last names weren’t asked for. Fuck, first names either for that matter. In fact, the less we knew about each other during those times, it almost seemed better. We were the divorced generation – damaged beyond repair, unable to commit, unable to form long-lasting bonds. Every night was a potential new conquest. And every conquest was a potential liability.
I’m sure, in the end, that’s what got to Maddy. But I never knew. She never told me. She never gave me a chance to ask. It didn’t have to be like that. Or maybe it did. I don’t know.
“Was she special?” Donald asks.
“Yeah,” I mutter. “Actually she was. I don’t know if I realized how special she was at that time. But she was.”
“I’ll ask around,” Donald says.