I had never been to a Mardi Gras before, but it sounded like it could be fun. In fact, I was quite excited about it. I hadn’t long been out of the army, so could do with a change of scene. It wasn’t at all like I expected. At first, I was a little hesitant about going on my own, but everyone was so friendly. If fact, most people were very friendly. Friends did warn me that going alone may be a problem as I could fall victim to crime. Although this was in the back of my mind, I quickly felt at ease and joined in the celebrations. I really started to feel a part of it. It reminded me of happier days as a child, going to a parade with my folks. To say that I felt underdressed for the occasion is an understatement. Most of the people there were wearing lavish, colourful costumes and headgear. All I had was a cheap plastic mask I bought from a street trader.
As the day progressed, I became more and more engulfed in the music and pageantry of the occasion. Having completely forgotten to eat or drink, I found myself getting a little light-headed. Fortunately, all the bars were open, and most served food. That’s where I met her, Rosalie. She was standing by the door of the first bar I visited. She looked gorgeous in her low-cut dress. It was obvious that she had taken a lot of care with her makeup. Her long flowing red hair looked as hot as fire. A cream and emerald green headdress was topped with purple and green feathers. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. When she started walking up to me, I thought she was about to tell me off for staring. Instead, she introduced herself and asked me how I was enjoying the Mardi Gras. All I could think of to say was that I was having the time of my life. So much so, that I had completely forgotten about eating. Rosalie stretched out her hand and lifted my dog tags.
“Well, well, Simon. A soldier; I love soldiers.”
It was obvious that she could read my name off the tags. I only wear them out of habit, and completely forgot that they were on show. She placed them back on my chest and gave them a little tap. To be totally honest, I’d never had much luck with the ladies. The fact that one so beautiful was giving me attention really made my day.
Leaning into me, and speaking in a hushed voice, she said, “I can’t let my little soldier go hungry. The food in here is too spicy, and when I say too spicy, I mean it. I know a little bar just down the road. They serve the best burgers in town and the best beer. Would you like me to take you there?”
How could I refuse? I was really enjoying the Mardi Gras, and now I had a beautiful lady to accompany me. The day couldn’t get any better. Rosalie took me by the hand and led me down the road. She had given me the impression that the bar was just a short walk away, yet we seemed to be walking for ages. I tried to speak to her but the sound of the street music made it almost impossible.
Eventually, we did arrive. By then I was starving. As soon as we walked in, I could smell the burgers cooking on the grill. It had been a long time since I had been that hungry. Rosalie sat me at a table in the corner and went to order the food. Luckily it didn’t take very long. I can still remember taking that first mouthful, it was like a party in my mouth. After washing it down with a few beers, I began to feel normal again.
I wanted to pay the bill, but Rosalie insisted that she had it covered. According to Rosalie, it was her little way of thanking me for my service to our country. I was truly touched. When I asked her if we should go back outside and listen to the music, she said that we should have just one more drink. That’s pretty much the last thing I remember.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor of a small hotel room. I could see through the window that it was getting late. The music was still playing outside and the party appeared to be in full swing. Rosalie was nowhere to be seen. I felt a sense of dread come over me; I’d been drugged and robbed. I’d heard of stories like this before, but never thought it would happen to me. It seemed that my friends were right to warn me about going alone. My whole body felt numb as I attempted to stand up. As I fell against the window, I could see a policeman standing below. I tried to attract his attention, but the street music drowned me out.
Somehow, I managed to stagger downstairs and out onto the street. The policeman was still there. As much as I tried to explain to him what had happened to me, he just thought I was drunk and suggested that I go and sleep it off. Eventually, I managed to convince him that I had indeed been drugged and robbed.
He took me to a portable police cabin a few blocks away to give a statement. At least it was quiet in there so I could explain what actually happened. I told the sergeant all about Rosalie. How she took me to a small bar, bought me a burger and a few drinks. How those drinks must have been spiked, as the next thing I remembered was waking up in a strange hotel room. That was the point where things really started to get messed up. The sergeant wanted me to give him a description of Rosalie. That seemed pretty pointless as she was dressed up in a Mardi Gras outfit, at a Mardi Gras. The sergeant agreed and asked me for a list of stolen items.
As I started to tell him that I only had three valuables with me that day, my wallet, my gold watch, and a gold army ring. We both notice that the ring was still on my finger. Leaning forward, and with a disapproving look on his face, the sergeant used the tip of his pen to raise my shirtsleeve. My gold watch was still there. I fell down into my trouser pocket, my wallet was also there. I took it out to see if anything had been taken, but it was intact. The sergeant shook his head.
“I don’t know what you’ve been smoking son, but today is a very busy day. Go home and sleep it off before I arrest you for wasting police time.”
Dejected and confused, I turned to leave. As I reached the exit, the sergeant called out to me.
“Wait up son. Have you been fighting? There’s blood all over the back of your shirt.”
I put my hand around to feel, but my back was completely numb. The officer came around and lifted my shirt. Whatever he saw shocked him.
“Looks like we’d better get you to the hospital son.”
It turned out; I had been robbed that day. Someone had removed one of my kidneys. The police later told me that I’d been selected because I was a soldier. It showed that I was fit and in good health. As a bonus for them, my dog tags were engraved with my blood group.