Red Beans and Rice are synonymous with Monday’s in New Orleans. After almost two decades bartending there, I not only have many crazy stories but was lucky enough to hear other people's over the years. One of my favorite stories involves Molly’s, an old man and a one-legged thief. Now you know how the telephone game goes I am sure many parts of this story are wrong. This how I heard it and this is how I like to think it happened, so I am sticking with it.
One slow afternoon a regular sat on the same barstool he sat on every day. He was an elderly man that lived on a tight budget. Now, spending half of it the bar was probably not a good decision, but really though, who are we to judge? He could hardly walk, always smelt faintly of urine and the bar was the only social interaction he got, so you know what, let'em have a cocktail or three. He had this bad habit of leaving his money on the bar and on this fateful day, another not so welcome regular came in - a one-legged man that was known for begging and minor crimes. He usually would come in the bar, ask for money, and then be told no, and given a glass of water and he would leave.
So, on this day, the bartender noticed the elderly man's money was missing after the one-legged man left. The bartender goes running outside and confronts our one-legged bandit. He, of course, denies everything but considering he was the only other person in the bar he was the only choice. The bartender insists that the one-legged man needs to wait until the police show up. He refuses and starts to leave. The bartender grabs his crutches and informs him that he is not going anywhere. A verbal fight begins and any pity you have for this man is fading fast. Then, all the planets aligned and right when he is grabbing for the crutches and refusing to return the money a garbage truck comes slowly driving by. In one swift, amazing moment, the bartender throws the crutches into the back of the garbage truck. It was like the truck knew its job was done, because as soon as the crutches landed it took off quickly down the street. Realizing his fate was about to be sealed and the police were on their way, the one-legged man started hopping away. The police arrive shortly after and are asking questions. As they grill the bartender about what happened, our thief is hopping into the sunset. Not one but multiple police cars arrive. A quick note here, at this time in New Orleans, getting any police to arrive for anything other than a homicide was virtually impossible. Yet on this day, with a call about a one-legged man with no crutches, they send the brigade. Not only do they send multiple cars, they repeatedly ask for a description of the perpetrator. According to lore, the bartender said “Why are you still here? I already did half your job for you - its a guy with one leg hopping through the French Quarter, you run into a lot those?” Not the most exciting thing that's happened in the Quarter but I relish thinking of that moment the garbage truck came by and what it had to be to see this crutches go flying in.
Nobody knows what happened at the end of the great one-legged man manhunt. BUT, I did see the same man over 10 years a later and got way too excited and yelled at my friends “Look there he is, the one-legged man exists.” Considering it was late and I hadn’t told most of them the story I got the, "Oh look, Jolie, is saying crazy shit again" look. I know it was him and It was like seeing the Loch Ness monster. “He’s real, he really is.”