“What do you want to drink?” I asked my sister when we walked into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar in New Orleans. We were collecting the experience of drinking in the oldest bars in America. This hole in the wall was built in 1722.
“Might as well stick with a Hurricane” she replied.
We usually sit at the bar so we can strike up a conversation with locals but the place was packed. I brought our drinks back to our bourbon-barrel table and noticed a couple who needed a landing. I invited them to join us.
Cheryl was dressed in a flowing bohemian dress with dangly earrings and more bracelets on her wrists and biceps than you’d expect to see on a woman of her age. Her grey-streaked auburn hair was long and loose. The humidity was not kind.
Joe was doing his best imitation of a millennial but was well past the timeline. His hair and beard were man-scaped and the mandatory number of tattoos peaked out of his tee-shirt and vest. Upon inspection, some appeared self-inked.
“Well, what brings y’all to N’Orleans?” I drawled to my sister’s delight.
Cheryl beamed “we are here to get married for the third time by a voodoo priestess”.
We just hit the jackpot of stories to collect. She was a lawyer and he an inmate. Their love began behind bars in Alaska and they were celebrating their second anniversary. Initially, they were married by a justice of the peace, alone, with strangers to witness. Her family was opposed to her choice. After that, they wanted to renew their vows with bigger and better circumstances. The first year they dogsledded to the North Pole to renew their vows.
“I’ve got to know how you found your voodoo priestess and where does she do this? Are chickens involved? Snakes? Can we come? I’ve got my camera and I’ll be happy to photograph.” Never one to let an opportunity go buy. We jumped in her Mercedes.
Cheryl chatted as she drove. “I looked her up on Tripadvisor and she had a review from Martha Stewart. I can’t imagine it will be all that crazy. It’s just at
The “priestess” looked like a soccer mom dressed as a pirate for Halloween. She was unloading a SUV with a magnetic sign on the side advertising “Bloody Mary Tours”. There were several boxes with breathing holes. My sister gave me her famous “you’ve done it this time Ollie” look.
The pentagram on the grass was painted with sand. Click. The snake embraced their waists. Click. The chicken ran without its head. Click. The blood sealed their destiny. Click. The scarf bound them in the hand-wed tradition of old. Click. Memories were preserved.
“Could we take you somewhere to celebrate”? My sister finally went from bystander to participant. “Could we get your name and address so we can send the photos on a thumb drive”. She knew I was busting to research these two.
“So do you live in DC now? I noticed your plates.” I had to get this story ball rolling.
“Actually, Maryland. After Joe got out, we moved back to the lower 48. I’m in the DA’s office now. Bigger cases then what I worked on in Anchorage.”
One part of my imagination placed Joe with drug charges but I wasn’t get a light crime vibe. I shared that I worked in regulatory compliance and that my sister was a nurse. Maybe sharing commonalities would illicit more of a story.
Joe spoke for the first time since repeating his vows. “I’m a pit master at Mission BBQ. I tend the flames overnight. They give Vets a chance and raise money for honor flights, police, fire, and community.” Maybe he wasn’t that big a creep after all.
We bought champagne, clinked glasses and I got their info. I couldn’t wait to Google.
First up, Joe. “Sandy, OH MY GOD! Manslaughter. MANSLAUGHTER! We rode with a MURDERER! Cheryl seemed so normal. OH MY GOD!”
Cheryl was who she claimed. Sort of. Not just in the DA’s office. She was the DA! Fancy family with generations of legal traditions. No wonder they had kept their story close.
I think of them every time my Facebook memories come up with pictures of trip to NOLA. I kept their privacy and never shared their images. I wonder if their off-schedule life of she-days and him-nights kept them together. Most of all, I want to know where they went on their third anniversary.