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The Rat Free Meal by Mark Anthony Given

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The axe forgets but the tree remembers. -African proverb
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      BACK WHEN I was kicking down hundred dollar bills like cigarette butts (See Another Hot Grand hereto), I used to frequent the finest restaurants in the New Orleans French Quarter, Galatoir's, Brennan's, K-Paul's Kitchen, Commander's Palace, and many places you never heard of. This is the mid eighties during my One Man Crime Wave Split Deposit scam, resulting in me spending the next twelve years doing a five year sentence with the federal Bureau of Prisons and their fuzzy math...
AFTER A HOT DAY in the office in the front seat of a luxury rental car with air conditioning blasting and having defrauded a half a dozen banks out of ten thousand dollars in brand new Benjamin's before my afternoon siesta.  Ten grand would last me maybe a couple weeks to buy hotel rooms and whores and feeding a hundred dollars a day smack habit, and just general run of the mill debauchery for the historic den of inequity.  One night I'm melted into a back booth with a new hot young hopeful having spent several hundred dollars on wine and steaks and seafood and New York Cheesecake, the waiter's pouring the wine again and I ask to see the bottle, I wanted to see the date.  He hemmed and hawed about me handling it and tried to show me the label I grab the bottle out of his hand partially covered with a sparkling white linen, and as soon as I have the bottle in my hand the label slid right off like it had been just placed on there and the glue had never even dried they sold so many bottles of fake two hundred dollar bottle of wines, they were cooking them upright in the back room.  Like in a strip club where they badger you into buying the dancer a glass of wine for fifteen bucks or so and it's really 7-Up or something.  I get that part; the broad would be slammed before she got off work, I can understand that.... but the old fake wine in the bucket trick at such a famous restaurant, really pissed me off, not to mention having pissed away thousands of dollars on Boone's Farm and Wild Irish Rose at two hundred dollars a liter, that's a hellava markup!    I looked around the table at my guest and back at the look at the waiter's face and everyone knew exactly what time it was, but I didn't say nothing and kind of sliding the old ancient looking handmade label back in place and acted like it just didn't happen....
                ABOUT A WEEK later on my birthday, I show up in a packed restaurant in the middle of the French Quarter Festival a line out the door and down the block I went around to the kitchen entrance with my whole posse and walk thru the kitchen into the restaurant and climb into my usual booth.  They were so busy they never even noticed and we started ordering the most expensive stuff on the menu.  They set us up a banquet table and a private party partition between us and the rest of the restaurant we preceded to whoop it like drunk Arab sheiks pissing away the family fortune.  I hate to admit this, but I used to wear a small black leather fanny pack where I would dispense hundred dollar bills like small change.  It had a big pocket and a small pocket and before the festivities began I stopped at a pet store on Decatur Street and bought the biggest, meanest, most dingy looking fat black rat they had and had them stuff him in my fanny pack, and that son of  a bitch wanted up out there in a hurry....  And I couldn't wait to let his ass go...
11:46 AM 4/19/2016
I FOUND OUT later from police and news reports that the Ladies Auxiliary of the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Tourist Bureau were having their annual gala.  Twenty and thirty deep ole biddies in flowery period dresses and colorful hats tipsy on pink champagne and who knows what.  I have never seen party goers and drunken revelers with businessmen and politicians and sixty percent tourist getting smashed in the middle of the afternoon.  When we hit the two thousand dollar mark they moved our table to the front of the big bay windows where tourist stood in the hot sun looking in at us like were somebody and we looked at them like they were nobody.

SOMETHING ABOUT RAT'S make people go bat shit crazy on site.  Especially women and Asian people and little girls.  Jump straight up in the air scratching and clawing at anything heading for the door, en mass.  Screaming, cursing, fist fights, things sailing through the air at high speeds that ain't supposed to fly.  It looked like a terrorist act without the terrorist unless you count this big ass sewer rat part alligator and part Louisiana coon dog that will chew his ass through a concrete wall for breakfast.  I knew I needed to be as far as possible from this big rat bastard when he made his debut in the crowded fancy restaurant held to a capacity of 125 with two hundred standing out in the Louisiana hot Sun to get in.  Bowl of Gumbo that looked like something you would eat out in the woods when nothing else was available is sold for eighteen dollars! Chocolate Mud Pie for desert and a mean two hundred dollar a bottle Mad Dog 20/20....  
 1:37 PM 4/19/2016

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