Walker Percy Wednesday 112


A lot happened to her. She married, not a Notre Dame boy, but Buddy Dupre, Ed’s brother, a pleasant Tulane DKE, not merely pleasant but charming, the sort of Southern charmer who drinks too much. He had that sweetness and funniness which alcoholic Southern men often have, as if they cannot bear for the world not to be as charming as they are.


It is as if she had only just now decided to become a woman, but not entirely seriously. Having failed at marriage, she has succeeded in farming and doctoring and has discovered that succeeding at anything is a trick, a lark. She’s enjoying herself. She is also exhilarated by my failure and disgrace.


It, the déjà vu, came from the smell of hot Chevy metal and vinyl and seat stuffing tingling in the nostrils and radiating up into the hippocampus of the old brain and into the sights and sounds of the new cortex, which gathers into itself a forgotten world, bits and pieces of cortical memory like old snapshots scattered through an abandoned house.


Mrs. Ernestine Kelly, wife of councilman Jack Kelly, an old fisherman friend of mine and sometime barmate at the Little Napoleon, a very pretty grayhaired woman with a solemn, even sad, expression, whom one thinks of as pious in the old sense, who still observes the old Catholic devotions, still makes First Fridays, sends vials of Lourdes water to sick friends, and from time to time mails me a holy card with a saint’s picture and always the same note: Praying for you and your intentions, on which occasions I always wonder what she is praying for, my doing time in Alabama? mine and Jack’s drinking? my loss of faith? Ellen’s neglect of me for duplicate bridge? And Jan Greene, a youngish, intense blade of a brunette, ex-New Orleanian, wife of a gynecologist colleague and an old-style Catholic who wants to rescue the Church from its messing in politics and revolution, from nutty nuns and ex-nuns, from antipapal priests and malignant heterodox Dutch theologians, and so revive the best of the old Church, that is, orthodox theology, without its pious excesses, meaning Ernestine’s holy pictures and First Fridays.