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As we left Jake's bygone, ruined college house, the same man who approached us on entering asked for money. That usually happens in New Orleans. I said, "I never give hand outs to able-bodied men, but if you talk to me, I will pay for your time." So, we sat, he and I, and talked about Daphna.
He said she had lived in the old Billeaudeaux house for months, since the storm, when its last renters had abandoned it and its power had been shut off for safety violations. He said that cats fed off Daphna's Meals on Wheels scraps. He said she was not a drug addict or a ****, like most of 'em. He said, "Leave her be. I watch out for her, " and demanded a twenty. I gave him ten because I had to buy more film. But last, I asked, as I handed him the bill, "Who is Ben?" "No one knows," he said. "But he dead." Without saying thanks, he wandered away.
As we left, I saw the other side of this image; Daphna, at the windows, hands against the glass, as she stood waiting. Waiting for Ben, whoever he was, and wherever he is.
I wish he would return for her and save her, for certainly, I can not. I could far more easily save her cats, than she, and that is a sad, sad story about life today in the USA, particularly, in New Orleans; the city that time forgot.
In the story Daphna, Not Daphne.
Also by Laura Hartley
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