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Southern Fried Life
By David Luck
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 David Luck
All rights reserved.
The Pork Jerky beneath My Wings
It was the thirty-second class reunion for Holy Savior Menard Central High, and Norma Dubois was in her huge state-of-the-art kitchen, preparing an interesting variety of appetizers for her son Dylan and his four best friends. It was a tradition Norma started back years ago, to have a happy hour for Dylan and his companions before they attended any type of event, such as reunions, divorce settlements, births of babies out of wedlock, festivals, and funerals. Other than routine holiday celebrations, the last time Norma hosted an intimate pre-party for her middle son and company was six days after Hurricane Rita hit Alexandria back in 2005.
Norma was an extremely attractive seventy-two-year-old female, in an Ann-Margret sort of way. She had bright red hair and bronze, wrinkled skin baked just right by her latest-model tanning bed. The aged ginger had three sons. Steven and Dylan Jacobs were from her first marriage to Dr. Brent Jacobs. Kris Dubois, named after singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson, was Norma's seventeen-year-old miracle child. She had him at the ripe age of fifty-five with her second groom, dried meat entrepreneur and one-hit wonder, Frankie Dubois. Norma felt that she could possibly be the oldest woman in central Louisiana to give birth. Norma and her entire family lived in Alexandria, Louisiana, not to be confused with Alexander, the famous Louisiana city where the brilliantly witty novel Too Fat to Dance originated.
The soundtrack CD from the movie Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was playing on the built-in stereo above the microwave as Norma struggled to get the Saran Wrap off the cheese ball. "Damn it to hell!" she shouted. Her long, manicured fingernails were covered with cream cheese. The doorbell rang. She yelled, "Just a minute, honey ... I'm coming," as she frantically looked for the remote to the stereo with her cheese-ball fingers. She gave up the search while Dolly Parton's rendition of "Hard Candy Christmas" loudly played on.
Norma quickly but cautiously, because of her five-inch high heels and tight-fitting jeans, walked through the spacious living room to open the front door. She struggled to unlock the door because she didn't want to get Philadelphia cream cheese all over the knob. She finally opened the door, and Dylan entered. He was a fifty-year-old man with a slim build, bright-blue eyes, and a full head of thick, salt-and-pepper hair. He was wearing black slacks, a white dress shirt, and a black sports jacket. He kissed his mother on her cheek.
"Why in the hell do you have the music from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas blaring?" asked Dylan.
"I can't find the damn remote," Norma replied.
Dylan picked up the remote from the end table next to the sofa and gave it to his mother. The remote fell out her cheesy hands and hit the hardwood floor.
"Oh my Lord," she uttered. As she bent down to pick it up, the back of her jeans split wide open. "Damn it to hell ... I just split my pants. It's those damn stuffed cheeseburgers at the Cottage!"
Dylan laughed and then said, "Such vulgar language coming from the madam of the chicken ranch."
Norma snickered at his remark and told him she needed go upstairs to change and wash her hands. On her way to the bedroom, she stuck her head into her youngest son's room and informed him that his brother was there. Kris, a seventeen-year-old young man with curly brown hair and bright-green eyes, was replying to all his Facebook messages and didn't even bother to answer his mother. He held up his right hand and gave her the okay signal while keeping his eyes glued to the computer screen.
Dylan walked into the kitchen and turned down the music with the sticky remote. He had a mild case of OCD, so immediately he washed his hands and the stereo remote.
After his washing mission was completed, Dylan looked over at all the trays of Louisiana's finest finger foods. Crawfish pizza, boudin, pecan cheese balls, and shrimp rolls covered the large, granite-topped island in the middle of the kitchen. Norma was famous for preparing or ordering too much food. Kris entered the kitchen, wearing a purple LSU T-shirt and matching boxer shorts. Although it was the beginning of September, it was not uncommon for Louisiana natives to wear shorts and flip-flops until December because of the heat.
Kris gave his older brother a hug, grabbed a handful of shrimp rolls, and with one arm lifted himself up and plopped his butt down on the kitchen counter beside the sink.
"Jesus, did you see all the food Mommy Dearest fixed? It looks like the Cajun cuisine section of Ryan's buffet. Do you believe this feast?" Dylan asked.
"Yes, I can believe it—if mom's name was Chef Lee Gwinn," Kris answered.
Dylan laughed and said, "You mean all this is from Spirits Catering?"
Kris popped another shrimp ball into his mouth and replied, "Spirits did everything except for the cheese ball and those deli spiral things that she was too ashamed to put out because y'all would know that she bought them at Sam's Club."
Dylan laughed. "You mean those little wheels stuffed with tasteless crap that you have to thaw out and everybody serves them at holiday parties?"
"Those would be the ones, my wise, old brother," answered Kris.
Dylan leaped up and took a seat right next to Kris. "Hey, ya know, Kris, the folks at my condo are having BJ's Pizza delivered. You ought to go by there."
Kris put his hand on his big brother's shoulder and said, "Are you kiddin' me? Your place is like a foster care circus of insanity. Anyway, I want to be here when Phoebe gets here. She always brings me cool Saints memorabilia."
In a joking manner, Dylan grabbed Kris's neck with both hands and said, "Have I made it clear to you lately that I really don't care for you?" They both laughed.
Norma came into the kitchen wearing a dress designed for a baby doll. She looked like a cross between an old Shirley Temple and an evangelist on the Trinity Network.
"What in God's name are you wearing?" asked Dylan.
"It's my Baby Jane Hudson dress. I was gonna change into this lovely attire after you left, but I thought, What the hell—I'll wear it now."
Hoping for a reasonable explanation, Dylan gave Kris an odd look, and Kris replied, "After you old farts leave for your pathetic reunion, Momma and I are gonna take advantage of this food that you high school rejects won't eat and have movie night for me and a few friends."
"We're watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Kris and his buddies love the parts when Bette Davis torments the bejesus out of Joan Crawford," added Norma.
Kris chimed in, "Especially when Baby Jane tries to make her pitiful sister eat the pet parakeet."
Dylan waited for his eccentric mother and odd brother to finish laughing. When they finished, he looked over to Kris and asked, "Now, who lives in a circus of insanity?"
The doorbell rang, and Dylan was more than happy to leave the odd conversation with his unsteady kinfolk to go answer it.
Norma realized that her music was not playing and told Kris to turn up the volume. When Kris completed his mother's request, he discovered that the music was the soundtrack from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
"What's the deal with you and this music from probably one of the worst movies Burt Reynolds ever made? I feel like I've been living in a really bad musical nightmare here lately," Kris complained.
Norma gave her candid child an anxious smile as she poured herself a large LSU Tiger wine glass of Miss Scarlett Sweet Muscadine, one of her favorite wines she had delivered monthly from the Old South Winery in Natchez, Mississippi. She took a sip, leaving most of her dark-red lipstick on the rim of the glass, and gave Kris a long-winded answer to his question.
"Besides Cannonball Run 2, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was your daddy's favorite movie. Th at Dom DeLuise would have him peeing in his pants from laughter. Ya know that beautiful actress, Adrienne Barbeau, who also played in Swamp Thing, was in the first Cannon Ball Run movie, and she's the reason we decided to have you."
Kris hopped off the counter. "I know, I know, Mom. I've heard this story a hundred times ... she had her twin boys when she was at the youthful age of fifty-one, and her pregnancy justified you having me when you were fifty-five ... I get it, I get it."
Kris smiled as his mother ran her fingers through his wavy hair and said, "I know you get it, sweetheart. I've just been thinking a lot about your daddy lately ... I really miss him, ya know."
Kris gave her a big hug and replied, "I know you do, Momma."
Frankie Dubois was Kris's father and Norma's dear second husband. He and Norma met in 1988 at a Dottie West concert in Lafayette, Louisiana. They were both waiting in line at the VIP backstage party to meet the country music icon. They both considered themselves Dottie's biggest fans. In fact, Norma made one of the bedrooms in her condo the Dottie West Room. It was a miniature museum full of the singer's albums, posters, photos, and even a mannequin wearing one of Dottie's original glitter jumpsuits designed by Bob Mackie.
Frankie was no stranger to country music. He had a momentary singing career in the seventies. "I Left You a Rose on the Satin Sheets" and "Hillbilly Love" were his two biggest hits, but unfortunately, the songs never reached the top twenty of the country music charts.
Frankie was slim and had dyed blond hair and long sideburns. It was rumored that his less than successful entertainment career was due to the fact that country music fans were unwilling to accept another Porter Wagoner into their world. Frankie played mostly rodeos and fairs. The highlights of his brief encounter with fame were performing at the Louisiana Hayride in 1973 and back in 1978, when he sang on the short-lived television show, Hee Haw Honeys (an unsuccessful spinoff of Hee Haw).
Growing up on a pig farm in Livingston, Texas, and inheriting a small fortune from his parents at the age of forty, Frankie decided to hang up his rhinestone jacket and his dream of playing at the Grand Ole Opry to become the King of Pork Jerky.
He moved to Olla, Louisiana, bought a building that was once a Piggly Wiggly supermarket, and turned it into a jerky factory. He also wanted to be near his only living relative, Aunt Dewy. In fact, Aunt Dewy was the person who Frankie named his brand of dried meats after. She had no teeth and always wore a crocheted pink cap (she lost most of hair because of hormonal changes). Frankie's aunt being toothless worked to his advantage. The first local television commercial that aired for Aunt Dewy's Jerky had her gumming the pork stick—proving that the dried meat was so tender anyone could gobble it up, even someone with no teeth.
The following three years, Frankie's business became a huge financial success. Millions of jerky sticks (packaged in a wrap with a cartoon version of Aunt Dewy's face as the logo) were sold. Aunt Dewy's Jerky was the new Slim Jim across the southern states. His little factory created over a hundred new jobs for the people in LaSalle Parish. Aunt Dewy's Jerky Factory became a main attraction in the small town of Olla because of the gigantic, bright-red plastic pig statue attached to the roof. Frankie got a good deal on the fake farm animal when he bought it from the ex-owner of the Southern Sizzlin' Pig Out Barn in Alexandria. The pig used to be in front of the restaurant that went out of business. Not only had the Pig Out Barn been suffering from lack of customers, but the counterfeit pig had been stolen every other weekend by the Jackson Street cruisers (teens who had nothing better to do than drive up and down the strip), who then placed the phony pig on people's front lawns.
The year Frankie met Norma was also the year he sold his business to a large cooperate company. He became one of the wealthiest men in central Louisiana. Shortly before Frankie made the decision to sell, he was notified by the nursing home that his Aunt Dewy had passed away in her sleep. The nurse told him that she looked so peaceful, sitting in her La-Z-Boy recliner with her eyes shut and an Aunt Dewy pork stick in her mouth; it was Cajun teriyaki, the newest flavor at the time. Frankie knew it was time to move on when the little spicy face of his jerky empire had been taken by angels to be with the Big Man Upstairs.
After the finalization of the sale, Frankie moved to Alexandria and married Norma. They bought a beautiful four-bedroom condominium and traveled a lot. Norma's oldest son, Steven, never really clicked with Frankie. Steven was twenty-seven years old and had just graduated from Tulane University's School of Medicine when Norma and Frankie tied the knot. Whenever Steven came home from New Orleans for the holidays, he always stayed with his father. Dylan, on the other the hand, really liked his stepfather. He thought it was intriguing that Frankie was a washed-up country singer and a dehydrated meat connoisseur.
Frankie was overjoyed when Norma gave him the news that she was expecting. The middle-aged couple had already experienced nine wonderful years of marriage, and the blessing of their son, Kris, made their lives even more special.
The arrival of Kris Dewy Dubois brought the entire family together. Norma's two sons, family friends, and even her first husband, Brent, were all there to welcome Kris into this crazy world.
Frankie was a hands-on father and made sure Kris had an extraordinary life. He even taught his son how to play the guitar at age six. Norma and Kris made the former pork jerky tycoon's dreams of having a beautiful family come true.
In 2003, Frankie purchased some land off of Highway 28 West and built a gigantic convenience store/gas station. He named it Norma's Cajun Rage Quick Stop after his wife and one of Dottie West's hit songs from 1981. He even had the famous pig (the landmark from the jerky factory in Olla) mounted on top of the roof of the one-stop shopping establishment.
Norma's Cajun Rage Quick Stop offered more than just gas and beer. Frankie built a deli/bakery in the middle of the store with a big neon sign above it that read Aunt Dewy's Deli. In the Louisiana souvenir section, Frankie had a cardboard figure of himself from the 1970s. The six-foot stand-up of the young Frankie was pointing to CDs and T-shirts of the first and only album he recorded. Surprisingly, the has-been singer's merchandise sold well because the CDs and shirts were autographed. Most of the buyers were tourists who weren't sure who Frankie Dubois was.
On September 24, 2005, the date Hurricane Rita hit Louisiana, Frankie had just finished making sure all his store windows were duct taped and secured. He noticed that his Marlboro cigarette stand was being blown toward the highway. Barely able to walk through the strong storm, Frankie picked up the stand and staggered back to the store. He had reached the middle of the parking lot when suddenly the notorious pig was ripped off the roof by fatal winds. With over a million places in the huge parking lot where the soaring artificial animal could have landed, it ended up plunging right into Frankie and knocking him down. When the back of his head hit the concrete, he broke his neck and died instantly.CHAPTER 2
Seafood, Love, and Laughter
The doorbell rang several times before Dylan could open it. As he turned the handle, he heard a man and woman laughing obnoxiously outside. He opened the door and welcomed in John John and Debbie Rachel, known as the rowdy Rachels. They were two of Dylan's favorite people in the world. He had known them both since kindergarten. John John and Debbie got married one month after they graduated from high school. They owned Johnny Boy's Bistro. After Tunk's Cypress Inn, Johnny Boy's Bistro happened to be the second best seafood restaurant in town.
John John, a heavyset man with a baby face, was wearing a tux T-shirt and jeans. His LSU cap was turned around on his bald head. Staying with the theme of purple and gold, his wife, Debbie, was wearing a tight purple evening gown. Similar to her husband, Debbie hadn't missed a meal for quite some time. Her wit was just as bright as her bottle-blonde hair.
Dylan gave them both a hug, and before he led them to the kitchen, he looked at John John from top to bottom and said, "Boy, you outdid yourself for this formal affair."
John John held in his stomach as he placed his hands on his hips and replied, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, you jealous bastard."
All three laughed, and then Debbie said, "You two are both handsome devils, and I sure do feel bad for them poor husbands of all the lonely and horny female classmates of ours." Debbie sniffed the aroma in the air coming from the kitchen. "I smell somethin' crawfishy that wants to add more pounds to my already voluptuous curves."
Excerpted from Southern Fried Life by David Luck. Copyright © 2015 David Luck. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Pork Jerky beneath My Wings, 1,
Chapter 2 Seafood, Love, and Laughter, 8,
Chapter 3 Opposites Really Don't Attract, 12,
Chapter 4 Black Magic Woman, 16,
Chapter 5 Rebel with a Cause, 21,
Chapter 6 Fired from Reality, 33,
Chapter 7 Too Old to Gator, 43,
Chapter 8 Coffee ... Biscuits with White Gravy ... and an Unnecessary Justification, 49,
Chapter 9 Cane River Angel, 52,
Chapter 10 Massage Gone Wrong, 67,
Chapter 11 Let's Just Forget, 76,
Chapter 12 Fist City, 84,
Chapter 13 A Tribute to Angels Leads to Inappropriate Goat Stories, 96,
Chapter 14 Fandango, Done Country-Boy Style, 103,
Chapter 15 The Last of the Good Chicken Fried Steak, 113,
Chapter 16 Home-Style Humiliation, 124,
Chapter 17 Housekeeping before Healing, 130,
Chapter 18 Therapy American Express Can't Buy, 135,
Chapter 19 Forgiving a Jackson Street Cruiser, 145,
Chapter 20 Baptizing, Bankruptcy, and Blissful Beginnings, 150,
Chapter 21 Fried Turkey Stuffed with Holiday Secrets, 165,
Chapter 22 The Dangers from Free Fried Chicken and the Pleasures of Riding a Pig, 180,
Chapter 23 Let the Light Shine, 188,
About the Author, 203,
About the Book, 205,