Sunday, February 10, 2013

Enchiladas in New Orleans

Our company having fallen into bankruptcy at the end of the last oil boom, Anne and I traveled to cities all over the United States, looking for a bank to lend us the money to bail us out of the situation. We did not find a bank. Like many oil companies, they were also going out of business right and left.

There were so many houses foreclosed in Oklahoma City that the FDIC had to open an office here. Soon, they had a thousand employees working in the city. We were not the only Oklahoma oil company in trouble. Everyone was in trouble!

Our banking leads exhausted, we began looking for a "white knight" investor, someone that would inject some much-needed capitol into the company. Anne and I did not know such a person but we knew someone that did.

Harold (at least this is the name I am giving him for this story) is from Alligator, Mississippi (I am not making this up!) and knows more people than the census bureau. He is also a brilliant, self-taught geophysicist, and just a little shady.

A fiction writer with the world’s greatest imagination could never create a fictional character as interesting as Harold is. If I were inclined to write a biography, I would write Harold’s biography because he is perhaps the single-most interesting person I’ve ever met. He knew a possible “white knight” in New Orleans so we headed south to make our pitch.

Harold booked us at the Monteleone Hotel, a wonderful place on Royal, just a block from Bourbon Street. He had invited his new girlfriend as his latest marriage was already in the dumpster. Harold was not good with relationships. The next day after checking in, we took a taxi down Bourbon Street.

Mr. X (a very real person) lived in a million dollar shotgun house on the end of Bourbon Street. A shotgun house, built in the 1700s so named because if you unloaded a shotgun at the front door, the load would exit the back door without striking a wall. There is not much to a shotgun house but because of their location, they are worth millions of dollars - yes, even after Katrina.

Harold introduced us to Mr. X, a friendly man with dark Cajun hair and eyes, and a long black moustache. He had a manservant that I will call Hay-sus. Hay-sus could not speak English but he knew how to mix drinks. Mr. X started talking and we listened, and drank, all day long. A one-time banker friend (surprise, surprise!) had apparently ruined Mr. X. They were now bitter enemies.

Mr. X told us hours of interesting stories, but we never got a chance to state our case but he did take us back to the Monteleone for dinner. He was allergic to seafood and did not like steak so we had enchiladas at the restaurant's Mexican restaurant. There was a troupe of Mexican singers and Mr. X paid them probably a thousand dollars, at a hundred dollars a pop, to sing various Mexican songs.

Harold's girlfriend left sometime during the night (he was hell on relationships!) so we met at the Monteleone’s Carousel Bar the next day for drinks before flying back to OKC. I got so drunk and disoriented that I could hardly walk out of the place.

Anne and I never found a “white knight” and our company’s bankruptcy stood, our hopes and dreams struck down like so many tin soldiers. Thanks to Harold, though, we had an experience almost impossible to believe. It is now but a memory and I am passing it on, albeit in an abbreviated version.

Someday I might write Harold’s story, but it should really go straight to the big screen because I’m positive it would break all attendance records.