The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:
Chapters 1-10: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-full-book-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/.
Chapters 11-20: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-part-ii-chapters-11-to-20-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/
Chapters 21-30: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-part-iii-chapters-21-to-30-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/
Tyger leaves early in the day for an
assignment deep in Cajun country at Cocodrie, Terrebonne Parish.
Numerous observations are made concerning the bayou country and
strange ways of the people. After some confusion, Tyger sets up
the baby seat system and speaks with the Subject who turns out to be a nice guy,
but fraudulent claimant.
“Dis Side of Da Bayou Blue”
Let us not throw out the baby with the bath water in this
case. Baby seat here, and baby too in this case a Panasonic
VHS color video camera rest in standby mode on the car upholstery.
Video recorder and battery, as per instructions, cradle the floor.
The strangely wired motor control idles by the
emergency break. Tyger covers up the evidence with a
combination of old towels, shirts, newspaper. For good measure,
ticky tacky Tyger person folds in four a yellow piece of
legal pad paper, stuffing that in a left shirt pocket. Then, the
burly lad grabs an important condiment for an all-day
surveillance, ye trusty ole Altoids box.
(Finally finished off those damn peppermints, so the small
metal container can be used for its primary
mission — transporting blunt cigarettes.)
Gets two mutah reeferoos, compadres, and goes off to break a
few dozen golden rules before greeting lovely dawn.
Brrr, still fairly cold. Tyger wears a heavy wool jacket.
Car windows, per usual, impenetrably fogged.
No matter, nary another vehicle hogs the road hogging
this early morning sunrise.
Car heater and defogger mysteriously flip on. Who did that?
Early bed head grogginess continues to predominate.
Car radio back on, and the mighty tool has a new host. It
might be. It could be. It is! Mr. Milty, Tyger’s best buddy from
the self-immolating New Neanderthals.
“Yes my kiddies, that was Robyn Hitchcock following Patsy
Cline. Crazy. And now a pubic, er, public, service announcement.
Have you got herpes? Do you know someone who does? Well, it
can be cured. Stop by the student health service and they will
teach you a lesson if you know what I mean.
And don’t forget. Just say yes to drugs. Here’s some Roy Orbison.
Oh yeah. I am Mr. Milty and a top of the morning to you.
I’ve been up for hours and it looks pretty ugly out there, but
we’re looking at temperatures rising to the 6O’s by ‘All My Children’ time.”
Thanks for the up-fake Mr. Milty. Tyger wishes he could make
a psychic request. As always, Mr. Milty knows best.
“By the way, this goes out there for my home boy Tyger on
assignment somewhere down the line, or so he claims.
Good luck, insurance losers.”
Did the dear uncle actually say that?
“Pretty woman walking down the street. Pretty woman … ”
Windows melting, the car heats up comfortably. Driving
diving Tyger deciding which way to approach the Huey Long Bridge.
Detective drifts along South Claiborne Avenue that
becomes Jefferson Highway in Metairie. He floats past Ochsner
Clinic, small shopping centers, slow slower slowest (fast) food
restaurants, typical inconvenience stores.
Magic carpet ride clanks over potholes and typically rough
roading to the extremely magnificent rusty bridge,
creakily narrow lanes of the a known horror hazard
for the easily squeamishly alarmed.
In the ghostly madcap darkness, in the deep black preamble
morning, Tyger Tyger burning brightly. Clunka-clunk-clunk,
to a surveying assignment, Milty’s idea of a joke song,
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, honey, just as giant fuming truck
after giant fuming truck after truck from hunger
lumbering, inexorably cranking towards the West Bank.
They pass the intrepid investigator in blessed excess
of whatever the speed limit is these days.
Who can stop them. Bridgescape shakes, rattles, and
rolls each time a huge transport passes. Our hero exhales a quick
breath as he tight grip clenches steering compartment.
Tyger is in no hurry. Good for him because a three minute
trip westward ho over the Huey Long Bridge seems like
from here to eternity.
Finally, Tyger is spewed out like the awful truck fumes into
the Bridge City traffic circle environment. West Bank ho, ever
onward through Bridge City and metropolitan Avondale, lovely
little traffic light and fast food haven.
Crackle crackle radio; alligator pie, boudin, crawfish
party… Mr. Milty slips into the depleting ozone layer again.
“Sweet Jane. Sweet Jane. Hahaha. Just joking my little
friends. Let·s spin another platter,” Mr. Milty defines the end
of the metropolitan area, sacred signal fading.
Just past Paradis, aptly named, huh. A couple of shotgun
houses, a school criss-crossing orange dawn tossing to
black turning yellow and blue.
“This is the end. My beautiful friend. The end.” Paradis
passes as it must. Rise and shine, Des Allemands.
Over from St. Charles to Lafourche Parish, through the heart
of the cancer belt where everyone coincidentally dies from cancer
before they reach 50 years old. Could it be, Church Lady says:
Monsanto, Dow, Corning, River Industries, Billy Bob Moffitt,
Freeport McMoran, Marine Shale Processing. Could it be…Satan.
Radio darkness. Light breaking like a two-year-old colt,
rearing, show jumping across the back windshield as it
obliterates the past like so many poles with wings.
A very poignant drive through this slice of the Louisiana
pie. Swamp things and vegetation green almost up to Highway 90.
Tyger’s mother the car runs the bayou waters and pristine
swamp with no competing traffic . Car heater so effective that now
Tyger lowers the window to smell crisp January bayou air.
Quite a therapeutic drive by as Tyger smiles. He slides past
slow green waters into an alluvial plane and the even sweeter
smell of sugar growing just past Raceland all the way to Houma.
Living in the New Orleans hustle, easy to forget the
beautiful solitude to the west and south in this bayou of a
country. Very Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Now for the big show, guys and dolls.
Around 6 a.m. central standard time, Tyger steams through Houma, a
small coterie of about 35,000 lost and lonely souls. He drives along
Highway 90 around the Intercoastal Waterway.
Then, Tyger veers deep into Terrebonne Parish. Assignment
Cocodrie lies at the end of the world, the bottom of the barrel
where the Gulf of Mexico confronts Terrebonne Bay. Land’s end
is final, especially given coastal erosion.
Enough with the sightseeing, comrades as just past Houma’s city limits
Tyger desists his quest momentarily at the neighborhood stop-and-rob.
There, Tyger person purchases Mountain Dew for caffeine
value mainly. He politely inquires about the road to Cocodrie,
last bastion of — shall we say — civilization lurking beyond
even far-out Chauvin.
But we digress.
Tyger grapples with Cajun directions as well as can be
expected. “Well, ya hang da right at da stop sign, past da light
and ovah 56 on dis side of da Bayou Blue.”
Da guy goes on and on about don’t take Highway 55 or 57; if
you see this gas station you going the wrong direction cherie;
so forth and so on on on. Yeah, right. Or left. Who knows.
Finally, Tyger curtails conversation gliding down the
beautiful two-lane asphalt super low-way all the way to Cocodrie,
which smells of the sea. It contains a mixture of small
middle-class houses, trailers and some dilapidated shacks, as
well as a few civic institutions — bank, civic center, school,
the usual inconvenience marts.
Now about 6:45 a.m., Tyger sets out to locate the subject
perchance to leave the baby seat surveillance system stalking
canes while he smartly walks away. It seems like a sweet game plan.
All does not start so well this day however. Firstly,
Tyger has difficulty locating the subject’s residence
All the agent has to go on is Billy Joe Bob Bubby Bubba
Thibodaux, or something like that. The problem is everybody
around there has Thibodaux as a last name.
And the telephone directory? One might as well be in the
other evil empire, the Soviet Union, for all the sense it makes.
There is Little Buddy, Big Buddy, Medium Buddy, Skip, Sip,
Rip, and about a million Thibodaux’s to boot. What a hoot.
A few street signs stand sentry, but this source is fairly
useless too. The signs merely give the innocent traveler an
impression of a First Street through Sixth Street; a bayou
side crossing a gulf side. Numbers do not compute.
After driving around in a square root for about five
minutes, Tyger realizes that not only are there unnamed streets,
but the street signs are not terribly accurate. In fact,
Third Street comes between Fifth and Sixth Streets for reasons inexplicable.
Terrible function of Pi. Maybe someone moved the sign. Then
again, maybe three comes between five and six in exotic Cajun numerology.
Seriously now, subject’s name is Bubby Thibodaux. Deduction
stemming from the usual sources narrows the number of
potential residences to one likely suspect. Tyger parks the car
at a diagonal across the narrow street from the potential
subject’s Occam’s razor of a house.
Most camera angles blocked by boats or trucks, Tyger
maneuvers sub rosa surveillance vehicle, while looking down at the monitor.
He hits the remote control lever as a mechanical
whirring sound precedes slight movement of baby seat apparatus.
Waaaah. Wooosh. Wait, what.
Tyger slams a second remote control lever. Camera
tilts back ever so slightly. (Velcro fasteners looping around
the camera secure it to the wooden stand.)
Everything appears properly adjusted after what seems like
hours, but lasts only a few minutes. The camera focuses on a
narrow field between subject’s front door and side driveway.
Picture — Check. Recorder on — Check. Date-timer function on —
Check. All wires and units camouflaged by towel-old-clothes-newspaper-
astronomical atlas — Check.
(Astronomical atlas? Mysterious universe. Don’t ask. )
All systems go. T-minus a lot and counting. Anyone looking?
Nope. Anyone walking around? Don’t seem like. Check.
O.K. then — abandon vehicle. Ah-oog-ah, as Armor’s says diving
yellow submarine of dawn oh, ah-oog-ah. Abandoning vehicle — Check.
Synchronize watch. Time is 7:23 a.m. Check. Ready. Aim.
Blast off into the Cocodrie morning, humid, warmish temps
hotly rising. Cruising by foot, our man Tyger walks down to the
long bayou blue and waits. And waits. And…hesitates.
Pirogues and larger fishing type boats are moored along both
sides of the canal . All sorts of boids, strange and wonderful
flocking formation overhead. ‘Tis a very restful site.
Cocodrie’s two main streets on either side of the bayou fill
up with a few vehicles crossing small bridges, wandering
on to Louisiana State Road 56. Tyger throws into the still water
those dreaded dredged sea shells that are used hereabouts for
gravel, and whose controversial removal messes with Lake
Ponchartrain karma. Thanks for nothing, Marine Shale Processor junkies.
Passing time, oh how nice, as the sun rises a bright yellow
in the east moving along to 8 a.m, Tyger locates a pay
telephone down a spell by a small market fronting the bayou. He
reverses charges, checking in with Dorothy to see how she wants
this vexing Thibodaux matter handled.
Ring ring ring; ding-a-ling cha-ching ba-da-bing.
Dorothy answers. They discuss the case.
“Hmmm, maybe you should verify that this is the right place.
I would hate for us to sit on an empty house or something,” says Oz.
“Give a neighbor some story or other about looking for a
friend and see if they can identify Bubby. Give me another call
after you have done that. I’m supposed to get with the client and
maybe he’ll have some better information on Thibodaux.”
“Yes ma’am. Will-do.” Roger will-co, 10-4 and way out good
poopsie-o. Tyger on the prowl again. Whoop-de-doo.
Detective retraces his steps by the civic center over to
Third, Fourth, or Fifth street — whatever, who cares at this
point — hightailing it back to home base vehicle.
This takes about five minutes.
A nay-bore of the possible subject two houses down putzes around
outside his truck. Tyger saunters over for some not so innocent conversation.
“Hey dere, mojombo, looking for my old army pal Bubby
Thibodaux. He gave me directions down here but I’m lost.
Does he live over there?” Tyger points in no particular direction.
“Old army pal?” middle-aged Cajun fellow quizzically replies.
“Don’t believe y mean dis Bubby Thibodaux.
He an old retired goat like me.
Dere another Bubby Thibodaux I know. He across da ba-oo
in da trailer park. Guy about your age. Mebbe looking for him.”
“Yeah. Yeah. That’s the guy. You know him?”
“Not truly. Dere a lot of Thibodauxs around here dese parts.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.”
Together, voyager and ancient mariner guffaw.
“Yeah, you right,” he says. “Dere a lot of Thibodauxs around
here. Yeah, you right.”
Da fellow keeps talking about how he is retired oil field
trash, proud of it. How he is going fishing all day today, lubs it.
(His truck has a bumper sticker noting a bad day fishing
is better than a good day working, or sentiments to that effect.)
On and on, Tyger’s new bestest buddy rambles, but as
fascinating as this fellow is, the intrepid search party must gambol.
“Hey man, I got to like a banana split,” Tyger says.
“Got to get over to Bubby’s. Thanks for your help, podner.”
“Sure sure, Anytime. You stop by now, you hear.”
“Thanks again man. You’ve been a lifesaver and I mean that literally.”
“Yeah, be seeing you some time.”
Farewells finally, thank goodness already, finis.
Tyger reclaims his personal surveillance vehicle.
Driving off, he waves his hand, heads to
the sacred pay-phone. He calls Dorothy again from there.
Her line is busy.
Tyger lingers a few more minutes before calling a cleared line.
Ring ring ba-da-bing and roger willco over etc. The client has
provided new information including presumed current address
i.e. where the plaintiff attorney’s checks have been heading
and complete description.
Subject Thibodaux, Bubby, white male, 30 years old, 5′ 6″,
140 pounds, married with one small child. Living at trailer park,
address 23 Lanois Lane. Mid-sized blue with white trim trailer.
Cross-referencing the other Bubby’s neighbor information and
direct personal knowledge of the immediate area yields the
subject’s presumed location.
“Look, give him an hour on the system, but stay within sight
of your car,” Dorothy says. “If he doesn’t come out, then go up,
knock on the door, and see what you can do with him.
He claims the usual back injury. Would be excellent getting
shots of him taking out the garbage or lifting something.
Otherwise, just try to get a good identifying picture of him that
we can show the client.
“Our client doesn’t think Bubby is working, but you never
know. It’s our job to find out”
No problem. About 8:45 a.m. Tyger obtains a good spot
about 30 yards from the trailer to drop the system on Bubby.
Baby’s toys, plastic animals, and a tricycle are scattered
outside the trailer in a small dirt play area.
A 1980 Ford Fairlane Louisiana License Number 156C456 is
parked at an angle nearby. Two small unfinished wooden tables and
a stool stare into deep space beyond the trailer door.
Hanging fire, killing time, two suspended planters
apparently filled with solid air, not much else.
No sign of subject activity.
Jockeying for the best position, Tyger spins the
surveillance vehicle in a fairly suspicious semi-circle.
Here’s hoping no one is looking.
He even sweats although doesn’t notice,
currently engrossed in the cat and mouse game,
focusing the baby seat secret surveillance unit.
The job is complete at long last. Tyger frames a nice
picture of the trailer door and dirt yard. Technically speaking,
he makes a mid-shot. Dissolve.
Tyger leaves the vehicle. He walks a few lots down the trailer road.
There is no particularly good spot from which to I-spy, so
the determined detective makes the best of it. A few neighbors
materialize after about 20 minutes of subject inactivity.
Fortunately, no one seems too paranoid around here.
Tyger loves their neighborhood non-watch laissez-faire.
Staying safe, Tyger returns to the vehicle, faux opening
front hood. Cover story is going to have to be the old reliable
car trouble. Boring, true, but generally workable.
Tyger piddles around the car for a few minutes. Nobody
appears from the trailer under observation. Gives it 10 more minutes.
Hey, what is a little extra time when you’re having fun, friends.
Reaching 9:30 a.m. with no activity, Tyger figures he better
not sit on an empty house. He has determined that if the Bubbaroo
is inside, he is definitely unemployed.
Tyger checks his watch. Hmmm, just about time for the end of
the morning movie. Time, therefore, to zoom in on the sub.
A deep breath baby, some nervousness jackola. Tyger monitors
the picture. Looking good. He tightens the field a little
anticipating the worst, a brief subject-in-the-doorway shot.
Rat-a-tat-tat, detective knocking on Bubby’s door. A
stirring sound escapes from behind draped windows.
Christmas ended, it ain’t Santy Claus.
Voila. Subject is in like Flint. Up up and away Dr.
Tyger balloony tune. Ride the wild beasty frame.
So it goes, thar’ he blows. A short dark complexioned Cajun
about 30 years old answers the door. Take it away, Bubbar-oo.
Hark, the herald Bubby sings.
“Ah, hey. What it is?” Bubby inquires.
“Aw man, I just had some car trouble, Wouldn’t you know it.
I’m miles from where I need to be,” furnishes Tyger the big lie.
“May I use the telephone? Go to call a friend, tell him I’ll be late.”
“Yeah that’s a drag, man. I guess it’s alright. Come on in,”
“Thanks man. You a saint.”
“Ahh, that’s O.K. I ain’t got much to do since I hurt my
back. It’s cool just seeing someone besides my wife and kid.”
“Oh, you hurt your back. That’s too bad. How did you do it?”
“I’m out on the rig in the Gulf, ya know, and they got me
carrying these heavy pipes. Slippped, slud, rest you know is history.
Happened three months ago. Mostly been sitting around the house since
then, tinkering and all that jazz. Do some woodwork. Wanna see”
“Ah, yeah. Saw some tables outside. You do that?”
“Sure ’nuff cherie. enough. Keeps me occupied. Like I said,
I’m sort of semi-retired right now if ya know what I mean.”
Tyger acts naturally, which is to say, confused,
leading the subject’s subject onward and up-weird.
“What do you mean?” Tyger says wink wink. You look OK.”
“Nah man. Hurts like hell. Since I injured myself the
insurance company won’t pay me the proper benefits. Dunno
what their problem is. Guess they don’t believe me or sumthin.
Got me this legal beagle. Sends me checks each month pending
the final settlement. Hope they come to their senses, pay
up. Fair is fair, know what I mean.” Wink wink.
“Yeah. They are assholes,” Tygerian commiserat-us.
“No shit. Hey man, you got to use the phone? ”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. Thanks.”
Tyger sails past a still buoyantly standing Christmas tree,
lights and all blinking. He bobs at the telephone floating
above a kitchen table at the far end of the trailer home sea.
Tyger dials a wrong number. Hell, he wouldn’t even know a
correct number down there at land’s end if his car had broken down.
Surprise, surprise, no friggin answer. “Uhh, no one home.
I’ll wait a few minutes and try again. Someone will answer.”
“Cool,” Bubby chills. “Like I said, all I been doing is a little
woodwork and fishing and of course. a little smoking.
You smoke any?”
You smoke any? Yeah right. Just a little.
Early morning high has dissipated into mid-morning haze.
“Well, if that’s what I think you mean,”
Tyger knows what he means, “some.”
“Yeah you right.”
Actually, Tyger might love to smoke, but it might also look bad
if he testifies in court. Can’t you just hear the plaintiff
attorney intoning, “and did you smoke marijuana with my client
while you were at his premises.”
Oh shit, Joe Fine would love that. “Of course I smoked pot with
the subject, then full-blown Sam Kinison style, “Didn’t you? Didn’t you?”
Tyger politely refuses, saying, “I’ll smoke some later. Got to get home first.
Ya know, worried about the car and all.”
“That’s right, mon cher,” subject avers. “Mostly get high, watch
TV round here. Nuttin’ much else to do besides woodworkin’.”
Of course, Tyger is genetically programmed to ask the
following question: “You an ‘All My Children fan?”
“Absolutely,” Bubby replies. “Watch it all the time
“Fuck that Erica Kane. She a bitch.”
“Definitely. Never going to win a Daytime Emmy.”
Steering this pirogue erratically, Tyger tries a few more probing
questions about how long Bubby worked for the oil company,
what is he really doing now. No one just sits around, do they?
(Hahaha. That is all Tyger ever did before taking on this assignment.)
Not much more pertinent information forthcoming. Tyger
and Bubby talk for a while about soap operas, football —
Saints, naturally — sundry television related topics.
Tyger tries the telephone again and surprise, surprise
Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. breath, no bloody answer. Basically,
time to rise and shine, depart after tying up some loose ends
like clear pictures of said subject sublime.
“Better get going,” Tyger says. “Maybe, my car will start now.
Had this problem before. Sometimes it just works on its own
Know what I mean?”
“Oh yeah, cher. Cars are real bitches. You need a hand?”
“Nah, I can handle it.” And then, some inspiration, fickle finger of fate.
“But now, that you mention it. I was curious about the tables outside.
Show me what you do with them.”
New soul mate — or is that future cell mate? — Bubby and
Tyger buddy exit the trailer for the proximate tables. Bubbalicious
picks up one of the small unfinished wood objects, turning it
around in the air so Tyger can see the workmanship that went into
this fine model on the two-wide trailer display porch.
Looks great. Less filling. Tyger hopes the camera is
recording this. Looking good.
Bubby bends over to replace the table, then leans on the
trailer outside steps railing. He waves at Tyger as the intrepid
investigator like morning dew evaporates.
“Hey man, when you got more time come on over and we’ll blow
a fatty,” Bubby calls out in parting. “Pass a good time.
Like I said, don’t do that much since I retired.”
“Sounds good man,” Tyger replies before climbing in the car,
glancing down at the monitor. Picture looks good.
Bubby waves in the rear view finder as Tyger peels some dirt
leaving the trailer park behind. A few blocks down the bayou blue,
on the other bank, Tyger replays the last part of the video.
Upon further review, focus is a little fuzzy, not
as tight as perfection would like, but close enough for government work.
Still some excellent footage of Bubby holding court,
bending and holding aloft the table.
Bad back, Tyger’s bad ass.
Casebook on Bubby Thibodaux:
Good guy but sorry, dude;
smile, you’re on Candid Camera.
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