It was in New Orleans East
and was a job i didn’t like
amongst other jobs i didn’t like.
It was an enormous parking lot;
i was to inspect rental cars
before they went to auction,
make a note of damage;
cigarette burns on the upholstery
dents in the fenders
New Orleans is hot and
this was the hottest place in New Orleans.
The tarmac reflected the sun
onto the cars and
the cars were made of steel.
Everything burned to the touch,
but the routine was simple;
open the door, burn my fingers,
turn both engine and air conditioning on
then close the door;
stand in the sun for five minutes, then
climb in and shut the door.
Inside was wonderful;
cool air blowing on my face,
watching the heat shimmer off the hood.
I would take my cap off,
smooth my hair and close my eyes,
the ring of sweat and the red line on my forehead
It took about fifteen minutes per car, this inspecting,
and required me to hold my breath between cars
to prevent my throat from burning.
I remember, it was a black Cadillac:
I sat waiting for the cool air to kick in
in my maroon leather world,
listening to the sound of the fan,
as the backs of my legs stuck to the seats.
My partner, Harry, was three rows down
and to the right,
i could see him kicking a tyre.
I rolled a reefer;
a twig pierced the paper;
i cursed and started again.
I turned the air conditioner down
and the radio on.
“Kurt Cobain was found dead today
above the garage of his
Seattle, Washington home,
he was twenty-seven”,
they announced on WRNO.
I turned the radio down
and the air conditioning up and
listened to the fan.
My word-view instantly altered;
i felt alone
and i cried from my gut.
I have only ever cried this way once before,
in December 1980.
It was 1994 and i was twenty-three years old.
Later that year i moved to San Francisco
with my wife.
I am now forty years old and
no longer married.
I no longer remember what
my ex-wife sounds like,
why i married her.
But i do remember
that lot in New Orleans East