Summertime brings warm weather and outdoor outings. Nicky Jameson’s yearly barbecue was always a neighborhood event that brought rib seekers from all corners of the community. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Asians from throughout the city, came to sample the cuisine. But the primary attendees were those that lived on the block and those surrounding homes of 13 Perdition Circle. So many in fact, that Nicky would charter a City Bus to ferry guest from the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot to alleviate parking problems on his street. He was thinking that next year he would have to move the BBQ to a entirely new venue, perhaps at the lake, or to River Front Park.. In all the years he had been having this cook out, there had been only minor incidents that threatened to put a damper on the festivities, it was usually due to some guy getting drunk and making an royal ass of himself. or maybe a couple of near fights, or maybe a fender bender or three. There was never any real trouble per say. Not until this day.
The Gold Rush
Nicky, who everybody called by his new nickname of “Scratch” because he had won 2 million dollars by buying a scratch off lottery ticket. He was an ordinary guy with a knack for cooking scrumptious Cajun Style BBQ ribs. The winning ticket was hidden in his lunch pail for a month, before it was discovered by his then girlfriend,Miranda. She gave it back to him to scratch off, after complaining to him about his wasting of fifty dollars of her hard-earned money, when they were busting their asses to pay all the damn bills as it is. They lived each day from cutoff notice to cutoff notice, and a couple of times they came home to a darkened house. Nicky had bought the ticket while on his lunch break that Spring day and forgot to scratch it off away from her critical eye, so he hid it to prevent Miranda from discovering it and chewing his ass out for gambling. She was truly a wonderful woman, with a heart of pure gold, but her tongue spewed acid and burning brimstone when she was brought to ire. Especially when it came to money, and the money was all hers, both his money and hers. She had two girls, from a previous relationship. but Nick claimed them as his own. After they won the money, they moved into a middle class neighborhood, not that fancy. Miranda made sure that Nicky didn’t let the money go to his head and put him on a tight leash when it came to spending his good fortune. They went down and got married on the very day, before he signed the ticket over to the Lottery Commission. Something that Nick would have done whether he had won the money or not, but they had never had enough between both of their paychecks to spare for the license. They basically lived from one check to the next, every payday they would decide who would get paid, and who would get lied to. The lottery winnings changed all of that, they bought one new car and one good almost new used truck. The house was in the 160,000 range, nice but not fancy, but far better than the shitty rat traps they’d been renting in the past. Miranda insisted on paying cash for everything, after their first payout, they banked the rest of the money and lived off the money that came from their jobs. Miranda was a shrewd business woman. But she allowed Nick a few indulges. She let him get a small Bass Buster boat, and she let him have his yearly BBQ. Which cost about 1800 each year. She always wears a scowl until Nick could no longer see her face, then she smiles when he is outside with his friends, being the life of the party at his annual BBQ suppers.
The street was filled with police cars, ambulances , fire trucks and further down the cul-de-sac were news vans. The Hostage Recovery Team was standing by as the patrol officers escorted injured detainees to a waiting city bus. There were 26 city cops, 7 county deputies, Three highway patrolmen, 3 Fire Companies, 9 Paramedics and as far as the eye could see, the local media, all of them. The air hung heavy with pepper spray and CS gas from the spent rounds from the riot guns. They were using plastic cuffs on the last of Scratch’s BBQ attendees. The sixty-eight guest, now being booked in at the police department Mobile Command Center, were in various states of disarray. The really agitated rioters, had been whisked off to the local jails, a dozen of the BBQ revelers were now occupying the city’s drunk tanks. All of this commotion was said to be started over a misquote of another sleazy politician running for office. The quote was that Barack Obama has put more people on welfare than any other President in U.S. history. Which in itself, was wholly not true. But that was enough to get the ball rolling. A volley of flying statistics broke down quickly into name calling, attempts at being a peace maker drew more onlookers into the growing fray. It reached critical mass, when the “RR” (Racist Republican) words flew out it mushroomed into a brawl. Now, most of these very same people supported the Obama re-election, and it’s a mystery of why this turned the way it did. The heat, the booze, and the current state of the economy certainly played its role in this fisticuffs. But the underlying discontent of the average American pilgrims (or more properly pigeons) is that he doesn’t see money from the rebounding economy. They only saw the rich getter richer and that they were working harder, only to get poorer. The flaring tempers were not at each other, but at the “Automated System of Things” that gave them ¹Sisyphus’ job and never told them. The people that they were truly angry at, were unreachable. So they turned upon one another. There were no life threatening injuries, only minor cuts and scrapes and of course, exposure to riot gas. The children at the soiree were frightened out of their wits But the first officers on the scene immediately called for back up when they heard the commotion in back of 13 Perdition Circle. Cpl Tannhauser stated that “We have a large riot in progress when they opened the side gate on the Jameson’s home. Send all available units right away!”
The twelve that had been taken to jail and plead guilty to disorderly conduct and public intoxication. The remaining 68 received a citation for disturbing the peace. Nick was not charged, but he would no longer allowed to have barbecues of that size in his backyard. Later his wife bought a bait and tackle shop for him to run on the weekends, in other words, she bought him a part-time job that requires full-time hours. He still has his annual BBQs at the lake house, and last year he burnt the lake house down when then fire got away from him.
Those wonderful tasting BBQ ribs got rave reviews at the homeless shelter that evening, and even Nick’s mongrel dog, Pontchartrain got his fill of Louisiana’s best tasting Cajun Style BBQ ribs.
¹Sis•y•phus (ˈsɪs ə fəs) n.
a legendary ruler of Corinth, punished in Hades by being compelled to roll to the top of a slope a stone that always escapes him and rolls back down again.