starving there, sitting around the bars, and at night walking the streets for hours, the moonlight always seemed fake to me, mabye it was, and in the French Quarter I watched the horses and buggies going by, everybody sitting high in the open carriages, the black driver, and in back the man and the woman, usually young and always white. and I was always white. and hardly charmed by the world. New Orleans was a place to hide. I could piss away my life, unmolested. except for the rats. the rats in my small dark room very much resented sharing it with me. they were large and fearless and stared at me with eyes that spoke an unblinking death. women were beyond me. they saw something depraved. there was one waitress a little older than I, she rather smiled, lingered when she brought my coffee. that was plenty for me, that was enough. there was something about that city, though: it didn't let me feel guilty that I had no feeling for the things so many others needed. it let me alone. sitting up in my bed the lights out, hearing the outside sounds, lifting my cheap bottle of wine, letting the warmth of the grape enter ]me as I heard the rats moving about the room, I preferred them to humans. being lost, being crazy mabye is not so bad if you can be that way: undisturbed. New Orleans gave me that. nobody ever called my name. no telephone, no car, no job, no anything. me and the rats and my youth, one time, that time I knew even through the nothingness, it was a celebration of something not to do but only know.