“Meanwhile, spring was returning to New Orleans with glacial speed. The mosquitos were quicker. I sprayed my arms, walked to a hand-me-down boutique just off Saint Charles Avenue – our main drag for dressing in the same — and bought a purple dress for Fat Tuesday. Tim picked me up on Monday night, decked out with a dozen necklaces of glass beads. ‘Where are yours?’ he said.
“ ‘I don’t rate them,’ I said. ‘I’m not a native.’ I was manufactured in Brooklyn.”
“New Orleans,” I said. She didn’t hear me. I had cut my eye teeth on programming pirogues in the bayous, where I was born. As I grew up and grew ambitious, I took my outfit to the Crescent City, the Southern variant on Silicon Valley, for nerds like me who can’t survive without their Friday night jazz. Those were the heady days of programming bots to improve upon homo sap—despite the howling demonstrators from Humans First who ringed the National Academies of Science, brandishing torches, right after the Department of Health and Human Services approved licenses for Gen 2 robots. We seemed on the cusp of the next stage of evolution. But as you know from the Presidential elections, the torches won out.
“We took in a gaudy truck parade,” Andrea continued, “and then he put the moves on me, his beads jangling. “Let’s go to your place,” I said.
“Can’t. Laura’s there,” Tim said.
“She’s watching TV.” As if she was the Queen closeted with the Prime Minister. I broke away from him. ‘What’s the story about her, anyway?’ I said.
“Our parents are dead.”
“And she has only you to look after her?”
“I have only her to look after me.” In silence, we walked to my apartment, where we, et cetera.
“The next afternoon, I went to the Midnight Blyni, which was serving breakfast to the veteran revelers. Laura was in her usual corner, with her usual glower. I poured a cup of patent-leather coffee for myself and sat down next to her. She didn’t speak until my third cup. ‘I suppose that you want to talk about my brother. I’m his guardian under a court order. He was sentenced to three months for destroying property, but he’s on probation.’