After the muggers don't kill me I go to the all-night diner and order eggs. I order chocolate chip pancakes. I order sausage and bacon and beer because eating and drinking is what alive-people do. There's no ordinary time in New Orleans, it's always some high holy day. Someone's always dancing wearing crimson velvet screaming in the streets some dark Vapor's always seething in the storm drains and someone is always eating pancakes in wonderment, alive to the flour and sugar and grease, amazed by the cracked vinyl seat: this banquette is a pew, the hiss of the griddle an endless sigh of relief—and tonight it's me. The other diners' faces placid as plaster saints, oblivious to the first supper of my second life. I tell the waitress thinking maybe she will cross herself or drop down on her knees, high priestess of the plate I've cleaned—but she doesn't even raise an eyebrow as she slips the bill beneath my bottle and says welcome to New Orleans.