See below for this week’s short-story, enjoy…
Lawrence Ma awoke that morning with absolutely no idea that he would fall in love. He planned to give up carnal pleasure for Lent, the next 40 days and 40 nights. And what did it matter? He’d never even kissed a girl.
Every Fat Tuesday in San Luis Obispo this Spanish mission town transformed into a miniature version of the Big Easy. The Mardi Gras Mecca of the California coast. Like all the other tourists he’d come for the floats, the beer, the beads, and, of course, the girls. Instead of sleeping in Larry found himself staggering through the narrow boulevards of downtown San Luis with a beignet and a hangover.
The parade climaxed on Marsh Street, renamed Bourbon Street for the occasion. Big purple floats, brass marching bands, street dancers with feather boas, and Cadillacs with sorority girls from the local college composed the boisterous parade that snaked through the heart of town. Beneath the iron balustrades of second-story businesses and apartments, men and women with streamers and sequin masks, decked in green, fuchsia, and golden beadwork hooted and tossed plastic coins of pirate booty down upon the crowded thongs of tourists below. Amidst the jostle of the crowd Larry’s beignet fell from his paper plate and spread itself thickly down both trouser legs and onto one shoe, mostly leaving a large greasy saturation round the crouch.
That’s when she appeared. Atop a float of roses, lilies, and sunflowers a jazz band played and danced round a single woman enthroned with birds of paradise. The Carnival Queen. She wore a saffron mask over her eyes, crowned with peacock plumes and draped in ruby beads that ran down her two-piece swimsuit of emerald sequins. She rested one hand on her hourglass hips and another on her chest with a feigned Southern belle air as she blew kisses to the crowd.
Larry decided then and there that his plans for Lent had been far too pious.
She got up from her throne and started to dance. Larry recognized it as a cha-cha, one step forward, two steps back. His own hips and shoulders began to move to the music. The crowd cheered when she began to shimmy. Larry could’ve wept.
The Queen peered down from her papier-mâché castle as an announcer on a microphone exclaimed that she would choose her consort for the Mardi Gras ball. Frat boys started jeering loudly while Larry stumbled towards the front. Face to face, the Queen had descended from her float and aimed a beckoning finger at him. He dusted the remains of his beignet from his besmirched crotch as he ascended the float steps.
Her soft lips met his as their arms entwined, the crowd cheering as she dipped him slightly. Larry smiled. The queen pressed her mouth to his ear and spoke in a smooth deep voice.
“Call me Robert, sugar.”
Larry’s eyes widened as his partner lead him in a cha-cha, one step forwards two steps back.