But first we must talk about Warren Bloodwood, and about Bridgette again, his mother, Bethany’s grandmother.  Because that’s how Bethany came to New Orleans, a little over a year following her short-lived love affair with Denny, when her fiancée returned home from the war after being wounded, how he brought home his morphine habit and got involved with Warren’s frequent trips to New Orleans for pills, among other things, contraband Warren purchased from people he came to know through Denny before he disappeared after robbing the church coffers of Hemphill and had to leave East Texas—that last time Bethany saw Denny, seeing him drive off to cross the Sabine never to return, her pawned  black onyx ring from their promised elopement what got him out of jail.  Another spring came and then winter, and Pete Southhouse came home.  They were married in March of 1944, and soon after that they moved to New Orleans, ostensibly for a job he acquired at a textile factory, loading cargo on barges that came up the Mississippi, but really because Warren and Bridgette had a good deal going, moving to the West Bank as David Threnody would do a year later, and Pete needed his morphine just like Warren and Bridgette needed their pills,  Warren hooked on oxycodone and amphetamines, laudanum, supplying his mother with the same, that and cough syrup spiked with codeine for her persistent cough from chain-smoking cigarettes.  They all lived under the same roof.  One big happy family.

Bethany didn’t follow her husband just for his job though.  She came to sing, writing some of her songs then at that time, just as David, but instead of sharing them she kept them to herself.  Not for fear that they weren’t good.  She just didn’t have David’s courage.  That courage that when you bare your soul you better know you have.  Because then it becomes a game.  A game that lovers play, helping each other and helping themselves, as it were.  The truth being when you know what you’ve revealed you really haven’t revealed anything.  You’ve just shown your cards knowing there’s a next deal, a new hand.  You know what the other players have read of your last hand, but they can’t hold you to it.  That bet has already been played, and whether you lost or won on it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if you were called on a bluff.  For they don’t know the next hand you’ll be holding, just as you don’t know, but you have their call from the last time to go on, and unless all your money’s gone you still have other cards to play, and when you walk away from the table—winner or loser—you still have their tells for the next time, and they have your tells that you’ve learned from—that’s all.  And around and around it goes.  Every revelation just the next thing to bet on.  And it’s the same with artists.  With what they create.  You don’t have to be out of touch to defend against what people know about you based on all the gossip.  Their petty plays on your conjunctions.  At a certain age you’re no longer naïve to all the idle talk—you just don’t care.  Because you know not to focus on you.  That’s no longer a surprise unless you want it to be.  And when you know that you know a little bit about the people trying to surprise you.  You see the emptiness of what they’re betting on.  You’re not naked—they are.  Anyone that’s sung a song or two knows they’re not blinded by the spotlight.  It’s just the other people are in the dark.  Maybe David helped Bethany a little, when she helped him with that old woman with a cane.  He helped her have a little blind courage in that first song they sang together.  And together they became brave.

But Warren Bloodwood—that’s a story in itself.  He’s what led them all to New Orleans—Bridgette and Pete Southhouse and Bethany.  He’s what led Bethany to meet David Threnody over an absinthe.  You see he may have been younger than Bethany, but he was married before her, their first child born while he was still in his teens, while Bethany was having her short tryst with Denny.  This woman didn’t mind his drug habit because he didn’t mind she was an alcoholic.  She’d be what we’d call a cougar nowadays.  Already having a child from a previous marriage.  Things went well for a while, but when money fell short after Denny left town, tensions in Warren’s home-life got out of hand.  She didn’t mind the money came from drugs as long as there was money, but when Warren’s connections dried up after Denny left, she couldn’t see financing his trips to New Orleans, even though he didn’t mind funding her beer.  So Warren moved back in with his mother, and she played what we’d call the guest on Oprah card in contemporary parallels.  How he was bad for the child, and she was just a struggling mother trying to make it.  The funny thing is if they’d stayed together they would have made it.  Warren was a good father.  He gave her child support, this in a time before courts mandated it to protect helpless, tearful women, but it wasn’t enough for her to make it on her own, and what he gave her made him unable to make it, and he had to live with his mother because he had nowhere else to go after she kicked him out if he was to live and give her any money at all.  It’s a story not unique in present day.  How children are caught in the middle of useless passions, even if it’s to their detriment.  Warren just lost himself in the pills, and Bridgette didn’t mind as long as he kept supplying her with laudanum and cough syrup.  And that’s how they all wound up in New Orleans.  Pete Southhouse found a job as a cover for his veteran weakness and found a house for all of them to live in, and Warren kept providing the contraband through people he still knew from his frequent trips across the Sabine in the past.  Warren kept mailing money to his estranged wife.  She swore she’d never leave Hemphill because she was born there, a small town all she knew and wanted to know, and so for a while his child grew up without a father.  At least that was the situation when David Threnody came into the picture.  This what led to a drug deal gone bad that sent Warren and Bridgette back home to Hemphill and got Pete Southhouse killed.  All that’s left is tell how Popovitch got involved, but first we must talk about why Bethany put up with it, why she put up with her husband’s morphine habit and what led her have that drink of absinthe with David…

Advertisements