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Gun on Elba Street

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Apr. 23rd, 2014 | 02:25 am

Gun on Elba Street (by Darrick Patrick)

For a time in the early 1990s, my mother Rita was in a relationship with John Francis O'Connor.  Johnny O. was a rare human, the most uncensored being that I had ever met.  And that's saying a lot.  He was an ex-junkie, journalist, photographer, cab driver, fruit stand operator, and very intense man with old school Italian scruples.  One of those people that when he spoke, you could really only understand half of what he said.

Anyhow, the three of us pulled into the driveway of our little house on Elba Street in the Third Ward, which is the first place in New Orleans that I ever lived.  Lots of stories to tell that happened within the walls of this building, although this particular residence no longer exists due to Hurricane Katrina.

As Johnny O. was turning off his old white truck, a guy came walking up the driveway.  My mother and I exited the vehicle on her side as the man approached Johnny.  "Sorry to bother you all this evening, but my daughter is in the hospital tonight and I was just hoping to get a few dollars if you could help out.  I just need to catch a bus up there, and anything else you could help with would be much appreciated.  I wouldn't ask, but she's really sick."

Johnny O. quickly said, "If your daughter is sick, get in the truck and I'll take you up there right now.  I'll take care of all her medical bills.  Anything she needs."  Johnny then pulled out a knot of money, which he had from working the fruit stand all day.

"Oh, that's alright, man," the guy responded. "You don't have to do all that.  I can't ask that.  Maybe just let me get ten dollars and that would be plenty."

Johnny told him again that if his daughter was truly sick, he would take care of it.  All the man had to do was get in the truck and let Johnny O. take him up to the hospital.  They talked back and forth about it, the guy declined several times, and eventually he started walking backwards out of the driveway.  "Thanks anyway," he says as he starts heading down the street.

Immediately, Johnny O. runs in the house and starts rummaging under his bed.  After a moment, he pulls out a gun and a box of bullets.  "Fucking mothafuck, cocksucker fucking shit fuck," he mumbles as he loads ammunition into the gun.  When he's done, he races out of the door and down the street.

This is when my mother Rita grabbed me and said, "Boy, you have to go after him.  Stop him, or he'll kill that guy."  I was a bit bewildered at the time, as I was still fairly fresh to New Orleans from Dayton and hadn't really been exposed to many situations such as this.  "Go, go, go!", she yelled.

I came out of the driveway and began running towards the right down Elba St., then made a left on Rendon Street.  On the corner of these two streets, there was a laundromat.  Above the laundromat, an older black lady lived there in an apartment.  I came upon Johnny O. just as he was stopping in front of the guy.  That guy was standing at the door of the older lady, and she was standing there with her purse open.

Johnny O. pointed his gun in the man's face, cocked back the hammer, and growled, "You motherfucker!"  Looking at the lady, Johnny says, "Put your purse away. He's a fucking scammer."  Looking back at the guy, Johnny started going off on him in his angry, mumbling manner.

"You lowlife fucking motherfucker.  Need a goddamn bullet in your head, you piece of shit.  I ought to kill you right now for trying to come into my neighborhood to rip us off!  Your baby is sick in the hospital?  If I ever see you on any of these streets around here again, I'll blow your fucking head off.  Do you understand me, little shit?  Fuck!  Prick!"

The man tried to tell Johnny O. some more stories and Johnny pushed the metal of the gun right into the guy's face, yelling at him some more.  Of course, I was standing there not knowing what to do.  I recall just saying over and over, "Johnny. Don't."  Eventually, the dude just took off running down the road.  Johnny apologized to the older lady, and we went walking back down the street towards the house.

Johnny began telling me about how his family and him had lived in that neighborhood for pretty much his entire life, if not his entire life.  I don't really remember if he had been there since birth or not.  He told me about how he saw it going downhill and getting worse every year.  As long as he was around, he'd do his best to protect his family and neighbors.  Extreme fellow from another time.


Older story involving my mother Rita Patrick (R.I.P.)

For the growing list: http://darrickpatrick.livejournal.com/120723.html


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