Blackhumouristpress's Blog

November 29, 2011

Etienne’s Etouffe

Filed under: Detroit,humor,Short Story — blackhumouristpress @ 2:57 am
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“It comes with a heavy heart and my hat in hand that I must unequivocally declare that I will need to abrogate and hereby retract the covenant previous agreed upon by all parties.  I am savvy to the verifiable fact that the brick and mortar which have most likely been derived during the reign of Napoleon are in need of a formidable amount of preservation but at this time it behooves me to choose the plumbing over the mortar as it is eminently more important and hygienic to dispose of waste in the most proper of ways possible…  Please accept this mea culpa and know that within a reasonable amount of time, all deficiencies will be addressed.  As you know my father and I are on the very brink of pauperism due to his severe maladies that appear to have the upper hand at this point.  You being a fair-minded woman should be able to comprehend our quandary.  Getting blood from a stone will not be possible.”

Rachel played the message for Steve as they sat outside eating a beignet at Café du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Rachel immediately got on the phone and called her Uncle Chaim who had been contracted to come down from Brooklyn, New York with his crew of day laborers and change the dilapidated storefront into classy restaurant called Etienne’s Etouffe.  Steve learned cooking as a trade while serving time in the Wayne County Prison in Detroit, Michigan.  Steve was unemployed and took to small time stickups in and around Detroit.  While in prison, an old black man from the Deep South in Louisiana took Steve under his wing.  Steve liked Sir Leopold’s manner of speaking and ability to cook tasty stuff that hardly anyone had ever heard of in Detroit.  Sir Leopold claimed to a descendant of a man by the name of Cadillac.

“Dee people of Day-twah want to drive dem a Cadillac.  I am hare to tell you mon vieux, that Sir Leopold right chair before your eyes eeze a di-rect descendant of a man by the name of Antoine Laument de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac.  The city and the car have my great grandpere ten times back to thank for the name of the city and auto.  You must know dat dere dat at a young age, pussy will make you do things you should not do.  Dare I was, a man from deep down whare eet would take a journey jus to git you to Nawlins.  Dem Cajuns knowd dat I was a true Cajun from Acadie, Acadia from my great grandpere and dat when eet was time to eat, they come to see Sir Leopold.  Leopold ain’t gone live for all days and I must pass on dem secrets to one who gone carry on dem technique of making true food de Louisianne.  First you gotchu a great nom en Francais.  Dem name Steven est Etienne in the French.  Use Etienne, learn dem ways of Sir Leopold and go to vieux carre and open up a restaurant.  People gone to flock to eat down home food wid out making dem pauvre for wanting dem food.”

So it was that Steven became Etienne and masterfully learned how to cook deep down Cajun cuisine from a relative of a French explorer who might have been one of the original Cajuns and gave his namesake to a luxury automobile and named the city of Detroit what it is still called to this day.

Rachel met Steven who was a Barista at a Starbucks near Wayne State University in Detroit.  Rachel was a defector from an orthodox Jewish family who decided that she was going to live like everyone else lived and fuck Christian boys if she wanted to and she did want to.  Rachel tasted Steven’s concoctions and decided that they needed to relocate from Detroit to the French Quarter where mostly northern tourists could come in and get a good meal at a reasonable price and believe that they were getting the food from authentic Cajuns.  Rachel had family from Montreal that spoke French and so she learned during her extended summer visits how to speak enough French for common, English only speakers to believe that she was the real deal.

Rachel and Etienne had found a great little place on Dauphine Street that was owned by an elderly former Lawyer and his son who was a substitute English teacher in the New Orleans School District.  The elder Clement Dupuis was supposedly dying of cancer for over ten years but never really saw a physician for his maladies.  The elder Dupuis declared that he had bone cancer when all he really had was gout.  The gout was both hereditary but fueled by heavy drinking of Bourbon and eating shrimp.  Elder Dupuis’ red, throbbing big toes caused him to hobble when he did attempt to walk.  The younger Dupuis wore a droopy moustache and tried to speak in ways that he felt would impress people with a limited vocabulary.  More than anything, it was pretentious and annoying.

After Rachel let Etienne hear the message from the younger Dupuis, she called her Uncle Chaim to relay the news that the Dupuis were trying to renege on the contract to fix the broken bricks on the building that was initially constructed in 1800, three years before the Louisiana Purchase.  Uncle Chaim was a nervous little man with a potbelly that claimed to be tied to elite Israeli intelligence and was wary of everyone and anyone who did not see the world in the exact same way he did.  Uncle Chaim got on the phone and called the younger Dupuis to explain to him that if he wanted to void the contract, he would have difficulties.

“The problem with the fucking south is that they are always about thirty years behind the fucking times.  I know you people don’t consider yourselves like the rest of the south because you watch people fuck in bars and listen to Jazz on Bourbon Street.  Well I’m here to tell you that all you fucks could have never won the Civil War cause you’re so fucking stupid.  You think you can just call my niece and tell her that your old man is deathly ill and you ain’t got any money and so the deal is off, right?  Wrong!   The fucking Mossad will come down to New Orleans and take you and your lame father and drop you off on the streets of Baghdad with a sign around your fucking necks that reads, “Infidels” in fucking Arabic.  You have no idea who are fucking with.  At a minimum, I will send your fucking asses to work at Mc Donald’s to pay me my money…  Is this getting into your backwoods, livestock fucking head?  I do the work or you will regret ever fucking with me, got it?”

The younger Dupuis paraphrased all that Uncle Chaim threatened to a group of building inspectors that were still sifting through condemned homes from Hurricane Katrina some five years later.  A large man by the name of Marcel, who had sideburns and a nearly third trimester gut on him, listened to the younger Dupuis.  Marcel believed with all of his being that Jews killed Christ.  What Marcel never stopped to think about was the fact that Jesus was Jewish.  Marcel spit tobacco into a cup and shook his head in anger as the younger Dupuis shared the conversation with the men he knew as friends and fellow card players.

“He said what?!  Sommabitch Jewboy got some goddamn nerve comin down here thinking he gone run things.  Put his ass on the phone.  Sommabitch ruined my suppah.  I ain’t even the appetite no mo to eat now dat I’m so hoppin mad.”

Marcel leaned forward in his seat and spit once in his cup before asking Chaim Saul if he was the person he was speaking to on the phone.  Chaim acknowledged that he was indeed that person.

“Son, imma tell you now, man to man dat if that money ain’t re-turned in the manner in which you received it, we gone send our own people up north to bring yo fat ass down hare an feed you to dem gators.  You thank I’m jus talking, test me, boy.  In this day of GPS, you cain’t hide.  Let me break it down for you- money tomorrow, no money, kidnap yo fat ass, gator buffet, comprenez vous?”

Within twenty-four hours, the FBI was interviewing all parties on what was agreed upon and discussed, what was threatened and promised.  The city building inspectors were worried about things like pensions and jobs in a town that had extraordinarily high unemployment.  Marcel thought that maybe an apology and a handshake could begin to sort out the misunderstanding.  It took an inordinate amount of ass kissing to keep Chaim from pressing the issue legally.  How was it that the contract was honored and Chaim wound up making twenty percent more than initially agreed upon?

“Listen to me, Eliot…  Send me two fucking guys who look the part and I can get them some bogus ID…  I know the job I took is only worth $20,000.00 but now it is a matter of principle.  I can’t let these backward fucks back me into a corner.  You send me the guys.  I fly them in an out of New Orleans in a day to put the fear of Jesus into them and then this is done… Come on, you owe me.”

And so they lived happily ever after…

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