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Somewhere Down in the Bayou: The Life and Times of Rodney Lacroix

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Originally published via Armageddon Prose Substack:

An excerpt from the forthcoming greatest story ever told, “Somewhere Down in the Bayou: The Life and Times of Rodney Lacroix”:

Somewhere down in the Bayou on a Friday night, darker than ol’ Rodney hisself, if you can believe it, I cain’t recall exactly where, too many years ago to count, momma gave me the kind of whoopin’ I ain’t liable to ever forget.

Momma had herself holed up in her room on her orthopedic mattress, playin’ her trusty James Brown record and causin’ a ruckus wit them moans and groans I had become accustomized to hearin’ ‘round-about midnight, try as I might not to listen.  

“James Brown the only man I ever needed,” momma told me once.

Anyway, I reckoned she would be in there fo’ a good while, and I’d hear that orthopedic mattress a-heavin’ if she ever got to gettin’ up, so I figured it was safe to sidle my way quiet-like into the kitchen fo’ some midnight Crisco delight.

Ordinarily, if I had got my way, instead of the Crisco, I’d’a copped me some bacon grease, ‘cause I done loved me some bacon grease long as I could remember. Momma told me when I was fresh to the world, back in the day, she used to oil up her teets from time to time wit that bacon grease to entice me to get to sucklin’.

But the bacon grease was only fo’ special occasions, momma said. So the Crisco was the next best thing.

Everything was goin’ smooth when I heard momma’s voice a-boomin’ from behind just as I had got elbow-deep in the Crisco.

“What the hell you doin’, boy?”


Somehow I ain’t heard that orthopedic mattress creakin’ like it normally do when momma heave herself up off it.

I ain’t never been that scared in all my life, and right then all hell broke loose. Neighbors ‘cross the swamp turned they lights on, them that had lights, and dogs was barkin’ at the racket.

I got a hard whoopin’ that night on three counts: fo’ bein’ up too late, fo’ eatin’ past suppertime, and most of all fo’ gettin’ into the Crisco, cause momma done told me ‘bout a million times, she reckoned, to stay out of the Crisco cause that shit ain’t free.

How come I recall that night so vivid is, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the weirdest feelin’, that delicious Crisco still stuck to my gums, me suckin’ at it, James Brown singin’ away “Papa Don’t Take no Mess” on the record player, and momma goin’ crack-crack-crack wit the belt all the while Biblical-like, like a rabid Sheba.

So there she had me, young Rodney no older than ten years old who only wanted some midnight Crisco delight, bent over the table good, goin’ to town on my behind somethin’ fierce, while I sucked that sweet grease off my fingers one by one. The belt pained me so bad, but the Crisco ain’t never tasted so good neither, befo or since.

A little bit of the pain fo’ the pleasure, I reckon.

“That’s all I can remember, Ms. Sheena,” I said.

“I reckon on account of the crack,” I added, ‘bout me not rememberin’ mo’ ‘bout the Crisco thing and other stuff.

Anyway, I explained, that’s the best I could come up wit why come I love me some leather play and Crisco in the bedroom.

“But it don’t got to be Crisco,” I ‘splained to Ms. Sheena. “Any bakin’ grease will do alright. My love fo’ bacon grease ain’t diminished none since I was a baby and momma primed the nipple pump wit it, but the price ain’t gone down neither. It’s just a matter of simple economics, Ms. Sheena. Walmart got three-pound Crisco tubs fo’ $13, so I can cop ‘bout twenty of ‘em easy when my EBT get re-upped on the first like clockwork. Cain’t get near that much bacon grease by a damn sight. I sketched it out but the math don’t work right.”

Ms. Sheena nodded like she got my drift and wrote somethin’ down in that notebook she had all the time when we was talkin’, which I couldn’t never see, she said, even though it was about me, which didn’t seem right somehow.

By decree of none other than Judge Fontenot hisself, Ms. Sheena was my head shrink the gubmint sent me to so as to help me work out my problem with the rock and whatnot. She was just the kind of nice understandin’ white bitch to drive ol’ Rodney hog-wild, wit a big heart and a big ol’ jelly roll fo’ an ass to boot, one I had half a mind to smother wit butter and munch on fo’ days. But I’ll be damned if philanderin’ and carryin’ on wit white women like that ain’t part of what got me there in the first place, in trouble wit the law and talkin’ to Ms. Sheena twice a week ‘bout my problems, which as far as I could ever see was basically that crack rock and bacon grease and white bitches with them National Geographic asses Rodney love don’t grow on trees, so it wasn’t never clear to me what Ms. Sheena was supposed to do for me on that score.

She ain’t God, I thought.

Even wit that diploma and them leather chairs in here, she ain’t God, I told myself.

A lotta folk with fancy jobs and whatnot like to think they’s God, but they ain’t. I know who I am, and it ain’t God. I’m Rodney Lacroix from down in the Bayou.

Anyway, out of respect to Ms. Sheena and not wantin’ nohow to go back to jail, I never said nothin’ to her ‘bout butterin’ up her butthole like I had a hankerin’ fo’, but sometimes, when she got to dronin’ on in the course of shrinkin’ my head, my mind wandered to what them cheeks under that power-suit she got on looked like and what I might-a liked to do to them cheeks if I ever got loosed on ‘em.

It was on account of her job fixin’ ol’ Rodney’s noggin that Ms. Sheena had asked me why come I loved mixin’ the leather play and the Crisco, and that’s what I told her, God’s honest truth, cause that one night down in the Bayou momma beat me real good wit that leather belt and the Crisco made it go down smooth.

“But it don’t got to be Crisco. Any bakin’ grease will do,” I put in.

“I see,” Ms. Sheena said and nodded that pretty white head of hers again. “Classic childhood sexual trauma.”

It was always trauma this and trauma that with Ms. Sheena. White folks got an addiction to they trauma, and e’rybody else trauma too, I reckoned, ‘bout as bad as I had wit the crack and the big-ass white women and the Crisco. But ain’t nobody ever got locked up fo’ gettin’ addicted to the trauma, which I reckoned wasn’t none too fair to ol’ Rodney.

She wrote somethin’ else down in that notebook. I hoped it said stuff Judge Fontenot would find agreeable, like that I was doin’ real good and workin’ real hard on cleanin’ myself up.

I hoped I was makin’ real good progress accordin’ to the gubmint, ‘cause I done had enough’a pissin’ in cups three days a week down at the probation office wit Officer Dupont watchin’ me sideways just to stay out of jail. 

To be continued….

Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.

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