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Not So Cleansing Rain



We are riding around in Jimmy Chimichanga's new car. Actually, it is only new to him, having passed through several unseen sets of hands. The most recent of these handed Jimmy the keys when he went to visit his sister in Houston and spotted a 'For Sale" sign taped to the windshield.

'Five-thousand bucks," Jimmy says. 'The guy selling it said I oughta have to swoosh the keys out of his pocket. Since at that price, I was stealing the car."

We were like a couple of teenagers with a new toy, riding around with no particular place to go, whistling at the well-built young girls and hooting at those not so well built or not so young.

When there were no girls to be seen, we talked of Saints football and other tragic aspects of our lives.

'The TV shows said our kicker had a groin problem."

'Yeah. His problem is he ain't got no groin."

Jimmy pulled over to quench his thirst. He came out of the store with a bottle of Rain vodka and a couple of bottles of over-hyped tap water. 'They ain't drafted the open-container law I couldn't beat," Jimmy brags.

So for a good while, the Rain fell inside Jimmy's new pre-owned car. Then new topics of conversation began to pop up.

'How do you like my new Hawaiian shirt?" he asks.

I look it over as deliberately as some guys I know ponder their destiny. Chimichanga has been known to evict some passengers who contradict him. Especially if they do it well.

It's an ordinary enough Hawaiian shirt, orange with a pattern of surfboards and 1947 woody station wagons.

'It looks great," I lie calmly. 'You ever been on a surfboard?"

'Yeah. About the same time you was overseeing your pineapple plantation." And he jabbed his Rain-filled water bottle in the direction of my Hawaiian shirt, also tan and heavily laden with images of pineapple.

Never wanting to miss a chance to demonstrate to Jimmy Chimichanga how well informed I can be, I commence telling him a tale brought to me by one of those River Road plantation tour guides.

'So this guy says that if you were an unannounced visitor, somebody who just dropped in on the plantation, the custom was to deliver a fresh-cut pineapple to your room with breakfast that first morning.

'But if you turned out to be someone who was quicker to drop in than drop out, say, about the third day, they would send another fresh-cut pineapple around for breakfast. Time for you to move on."

'A charming custom," Jimmy decides. 'One you should pay close attention to. Because you mi amigo, are an expert on staying some place too long."

'You gotta get a welcome before you can wear it out," I retort.

Before this stunning repartee could continue, we shut up for the siren. A banshee is a female Irish spirit whose wail portends a death in the house. This siren sounded like a banshee, a banshee consorting with the Frumious Bandersnatch. This siren belonged to a police car.

Chimichanga shoved the water bottle of Rain into my middling parts. The cop stayed on his car radio a long time. Then he ordered both of us out of the car, hands on the hood. I brought along the water bottle, which was something like a suicide taking along a change of clothes.

'Leave the water bottle," orders the crime stopper.

'Gladly," I say.

So we straddle, hands on the hood. Marshal Dillon walks back to his car and gets back on the horn.

'How does he look when I'm sober," Jimmy wants to know.

'Count your blessings," I advise. 'Only not out loud."

I give Jimmy the once-over, twice. His Hawaiian shirt is unbuttoned and you can see underneath a T-shirt that reads 'Don't Taze Me, Bro." I look over at our program director: on his belt, right next to the .38, preens a Tazer.

'Button your shirt, Bro," I suggest to Jimmy under my breath.

'How do I look?" he queries. In truth, he looks like Lindsey Lohan lit up like a wet match. 'Drunkenness is best done sitting down," is my reply.

'Drunk? This ain't drunk," Jimmy protests. 'You oughta see my nephew and his gang. Now that's a fast crowd. They went out the other night and the designated driver got a DWI."

The hood of Chimichanga's car is beginning to burn itself into our fingertips. 'What kinda car is this?" I ask, seeking to change the subject.

'This is an '02 Daewoo Nubira silver station wagon, 60,000 actual miles," reports Jimmy proudly.

'A Daewoo? I thought that was something a Chinese buffet did with frog legs."

'I think you could do something with frog legs on the hood of this car," quips Jimmy while blowing on his fingertips.

Just then our gendarme comes over. 'This car has been reported stolen in Texas," he announces, and Jimmy begins to unload a sack of maledictions on somebody named Ernesto.

'But we have reports of a scam people have been running there," continues Officer Friendly. 'They sell a car to somebody passing through town and then report it stolen and collect the insurance money. Now let's see some paperwork."

The paperwork took at least a half-hour, Jimmy Chimichanga softly cursing Ernesto the whole time. Finally, we were dismissed.

'Where's the Rain?" Jimmy hisses on the way back to the Daewoo. 'I need more Rain."

'Call Dawn Brown," I urge. 'She knows the weather."

We get in. But before Jimmy Chimichanga can turn the key, a siren shrieks. Like a banshee in a death-grip.

'We have a report of a large number of unpaid parking tickets," comes the amplified voice from the police car. 'Would you step back out of the car, please? Sir, you in the pineapple shirt, you, too."

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