1965-02-22 - Back in the Bayou
Summary: Elmo and JP take refuge in teh Bayou after the fight in town and JP's ex- kicked a hole in his heart
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Theme Song: None
elmo jp 


The fight in town led to bailing out into the Bayou. If there was one universal truth it was that haters' gonna hate, and also that some situations can't just be fixed because you want them to be.

…Okay to be fair that was 2 truths which for Jean-Pierre Marius Bonaventure was two truths too many. It was a busy week.

JP had been playing tour guide. He loved his stomping grounds even though he lived a hike from the city; it was still his by proximity because he said so. The beer was good, the beignets helped, and he wasn't feeling too poorly from the fight because Vitale doesn't let anyone suffer from an overdose of fun.

What was true about the Bonaventure house though: It had been built onto several times, It was super duper crowded with 6-7 siblings still living there, and that it was on stilts because flood plains, and there was woods and water everywhere even though one could navigate it. That said there was a certain point where JP left his car parked where the sheds were to keep sap, sun and rain off the vehicles, more of a lean to really, but it was on higher ground a ways back.

It was very much not the city and JP… was and wasn't a very different person here. He was always JP, but he was almost just more of the skinny Santa Elmo met him as than the rake planning a heist on discriminatory factory foremen. It was a good distraction. The older siblings were out with friends for the festival, the younger ones mostly in bed. Apparently there was a 12 and a 10 year old running around (Louis and Millard). JP though was still half there and lost in his head and Elmo seemed to have honed in on that since moment one.

While they were busy being marveled over by Vitale in the cramped house and so damn excited that Severin was home, JP hit Elmo in the sleeve and told him only, "Grab the beer." He grabbed what looked like a coffee tin and headed out the back door into the darkness lit up by that festival moon to the serenade of the riot that was the bayou at night. Insect trills, tiny waves of symphonic noise, and the frogs croooooping.


Elmo's shyness and anxiety have ramped up significantly, being around so many Bonaventures, in this weird environment that is completely unlike anything he's experienced before. Instead of traffic, there's the sound of water and insects. Instead of street lights, there's the hanging white moon. Instead of his own sharp accent there's the Creole of the bayou, almost incomprehensible even when they're speaking English. And there are so, so very many Bonaventures. He knew JP had siblings in the double digits, but he hadn't really known, until he saw them all, just how many siblings that actually is.

So he's glad when JP pulls him out. He follows him out the back door, beer dangling from one hand, his head full of the South and buzzing like cicadas.


JP let boots hit the damp packed earth as he picked a path at least that Elmo could follow. There was no electricity from a power station out here but there was plenty of ambient life and fireflies. Electrons moved to a different path than they did in a city full of outlets. Here was the land of extension cords, gas lights, and batteries. JP grabbed something in the dark out of the tool box next to the smoker on that back stoop, turned to face Elmo and shoved something heavy, metal, and cylindrical into his back pocket. THAT… was unmistakably 4 D-cell batteries stacked waiting to let loose. JP'd armed him with a mag flashlight? That relaxed drawl simply answered the unspoken question, "Don' get eaten, Sparkplug." Eaten by what?!

There was a couple paddle boats out there for quick transit across high tide and what looked like a home constructed boat but without a propeller below but a big big fan on top. Huh. All the same JP grabbed a long pole and trucked off jabbing at the ground occasionally to test the walking path in the dark as they moved on silently without explanation. The bayou was absolutely quite and startlingly loud in a whole different way, but this might be the most remote from other people one could get. No stores near by at all, neighbours were away a hike and totally not visible from the porch except for the two across the way. That there was nothing but that flashlight was something for Elmo, but there were no mechanical parts where they were walking through. It was almost odd for someone like JP to come from really born so far out of his element.

"This the quietest anythin ever been for you ain't it, Sparkplug?" Eyebrows arched curiously breaking the silence as they walked on and on and on through the damp brush in the down lit darkness. Oh let's not mistake there were things that moved out there. And that? Was that a bat that flew overheat? That was a legit bat!


Everything electrical, except for that heavy stack of batteries, gets fainter as they go along. Elmo keeps wanting to glance over his shoulder and find an artifical light source, but he doesn't. Part of him is afraid there won't be any, if he does. "Ya mean for my power? Yeah." He's stepping cautiously along behind JP. Sidewalks, this ain't. "Everything gone dark." The bat whirrs overhead and he ducks with a hissed curse. "Friggin'… okay, it's a bat. Quiet for you too, isn't it? Not a lotta machinery out here." He hasn't asked JP eaten by what, because he's actually afraid of the answer. Well, if any primeval horrors rise up from the swamp, he's got a nice jolt for them, at least.


Everything was in water or damp from it. Ah ha! Elmo can take the whole swamp on and… shit possibly kill JP in the process for standing on the ground. Right. Damn. Too much of a good thing? They walked further on and glowy bugs zipped by. JP squint and told Elmo, "Eeeh you want a light out here you jes' put a few bugs in a jar but really, give yourself a bit. It'll brighten up."

As night vision settles in. The shrug came plodding through the dirt and roots he knew better than anything else. Off that way was what looked like a flat patch of ground and a bit of a dock, and higher up between a few of the trees was a small shack that was no bigger than maybe an 8'x8' square tree fort a yard off the ground. Some traps for crawfish were out, maybe other things. A place to fish out the the rain all the same. There seemed to be a cooler there and a small shortwave radio too. A thing that went bzzzt!


Elmo actually gives a little sigh of relief when he feels that shortwave. It's too easy to let his imagination run wild and wonder if they've actually gone backwards in time, somehow, walking away from manmade things and into the swamp. An idea out of the science fiction books he's always reading and discussing with Lindon, it doesn't seem that farfetched with the fight today and the roar of the swamp and the dark, dark, darkness. Things are a touch surreal. He's surprised at how well he can see, after fifteen minutes or so have gone by. "Yeah. I can see okay now."


JP pulled up to a stop, boots landing with a quieter thud on the dock. He checked the cooler first and glanced around in it. Empty but he let the water out from the side spout back to the water beyond. So many damn thoughts today. Finally he stopped walking and sat. This was where he was going to go apparently. "We should come out here do some fishin tomorrow." As much a statement as an offer. A hand went out for one of the beers and he went to the door jamb of the shack and lo, there was a bent piece of metal screwed to the timber that sufficed to be a bottle cap opener. The metal bit got thrown into a coffee tin nearby with a clatter of others. On the windowsill several empty coke bottles were lined up in a row. And then, finally, he sat. He stayed quiet for a while just listening to the whole swamp carry on like a woodland wall street. He asked curiously, "Your pa ever take yous fishin?"


"Nah. More libraries and museums. Not so much, fishing." Elmo opens his own beer, sits—carefully, because there's junk around and he doesn't know the place like JP does. He's just close enough that his leg touches JP's. "Guess you've done a lot of it, huh?" He flicks the bottlecap into the tin. "I'm game."


The floor space is mostly clear and JP didn't scoot over or away. It's hard to have personal space issues when you are 1 of 12 kids and 2 parents in a small place and apparently often have a sibling come crash in your bed for lack of space until you were big enough to fight for all the mattress space at once. JP listened drinking his beer and just letting the ennui of the day rest o the water around them. "Well… I' teach you then. I mean you notice we don' got no bodegas here. Is pretty much you want it, go get it up out of the water and don' go losing an arm in the process." He let the conversation fall quiet for a long while before looking across his shoulder to Elmo, "Merci." There was a small nod as if Elmo should know what he's being thanked for.


Elmo chose to sit this close, of course. Even though he tried to play it smooth, like it just happened like that. It didn't and he knows it and JP probably knows it. All part of his 'be there for JP' campaign that he embarked on this morning, when Mozelle appeared without JP's daughter, and JP had looked like two or three vertebrae got smashed. His heart had squeezed in his chest, seeing the wild, fearless Cajun defeated, even if it was temporary. JP hadn't even looked like that when Michael had dragged him out of the party. Hadn't looked like that, expecting to die. Such thoughts whirl around in his head as he sits quietly. The moonlight shivers on the water, and the swamp lives and croaks and gurgles. "What for," he says, eventually.


A mortal blow from an angel crushes a mortal body and that fearless soul would still burn forward. Your first love takes your heart out of your chest? and that takes the fight entirely out of him. It was a startling contrast to see the warrior brought to his knees but, he was still breathing. Survival was what he was about; what other choice was there.

He didn't answer right away and just seemed to watch the wily New Yorker for a moment gauging the nature of his response. No he knew, he was just making JP say it to force him to talk about it. Hell it was in such a way Elmo was shouldering the burden of 'being less than intuitive' as a feint to give any pride JP might have on it over to him to carry. That? That was a hell of a subtle, but awesome thing. Finally there was a nod and he shrugged. "Just really was hopin today goin' different. Five and a half years a' plannin for something that don't pan out? well…" He took a drink and exhaled looking at the water trying to reconcile the loss. "Can't be mad, ya know? She' a good woman. Better'n anyone'll damn well deserve that' for sure." His jaw tightened but in the end he let that go. Looking back over to Elmo he offered, "'Preciate you bein there. You know I didn' mean t' put any a' that on y'all."


Elmo watches JP back. Challenging him, daring him to say some of it out loud. The easy thing was to keep it buried, refuse to deal. It's not like he hasn't enabled JP there before. But not now. This is realer, more important than angels. JP's future is at stake. His little girl's future, too. And Elmo hasn't forgotten that JP gave him that future to guard. It's a live coal in his belly.

"Shoulda tried keeping us away. That woulda been hilarious." He looks away, back over the water. "Sure must've been something. You and her. Wish I coulda seen it."


JP drank his beer and grinned slowly, reaching his eyes. "Oh, I know there some fights I won' win." That being one of them. He seemed to genuinely appreciate that though he didn't say as much, but nudges his leg against Elmo's. He leaned forward, elbows on knees. The smile was somewhat drunk and went wistful. That smile his his eyes lit up, though there was as mealoncholy. "She used to sneak out of her house an' tell me she wanted to climb the city. Ya know," He glanced to Elmo with a grin, "Man, first date we almos' got arrested runnin through the fountain in Jackson Square where we were earlier? I still remember when she firs' told me 'I don' care what they say, You kiss me right now Jean-Pierre Bonaventure'. And that… was that." Those dark eyes closed and he shook his head. "She somethin else. And… she still is." His shoulders slumped a bit and he took a long pull from his beer shaking his head, "God I love that woman." And… it hurt. "An' she's… past that now."


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