Two Marines Cooking Catfish

Now, these boys were at loose ends.

Writing by The Barefoot Cajun
Art by Claudio Parentela

Two Marines Cooking Catfish

It was a quiet evening on that Thursday when they really made their acquaintance. July 4 of 1953 and the boys were alone on this patriotic day. Both single boys, Johnson and Olivier, both went by their last names. They had served in the military branch of the marines. These guys were manly men, that is in the sense of what the world calls a man. But in reality if the world in Cajun Country of South Louisiana knew these men were hiding a secret, they would change their minds as to what kind of men these boys really were.

During 1953, there was no tolerance for being openly gay or for that fact, not even being gay and in the closet. And these two were closeted. Of course when passion rides high enough, horny men will do anything (especially something that you couldn’t have.)

Now these boys were at loose ends sexually.

They were offshore workers working on rigs in the gulf, two separate rigs, but they had the same fourteen days on and fourteen days off. There was a small apartment complex in the village of Etang au Varions, Minnow Pond, named so because of the large quantity of minnows in a large man-made pond. The boys had caught some of those minnows and went out to the bayou to fish for catfish. If they caught any, they’d cook ’em on the banks of Bayou Poisson-Chat, Catfish Bayou. And boy were they successful, but being the caring type under those tough men exteriors, they threw back the fish they couldn’t eat.

They made a fire and a roux for the catfish court-bouillon, which is easy to cook if you know how to do it and these boys had grown up cooking the iconic Cajun fish dish, with a tomato roux. Onions and garlic and lots of red pepper. They gutted the fish and cut it into steaks – beautiful, white, fleshy meat. The steaks cooked in the gravy over a fire.

Never stirring, only moving the pot so the catfish steaks stayed together. 

In another pot of a tripod, catfish fried golden brown; the crispy crusted outer skin turned to something like a crackling that crunched when the boys bit into the seasoned hot skin – soft, fluffy meaty catfish steak.

Now the boys had been drinking beer since they got to the bayou, and they were now on their last six pack. These guys had learned how to drink beer like this while in the marines while on weekend furloughs. Drinking men on the South Louisiana Cajun Prairie prefer to drink their beer way into the evening, and only after a good drunk are they ready to eat, and then they might sober up enough to clean up and then go to sleep. T

hese two boys had no responsibilities, single boys with no family ties to speak of. Not even best friends to speak of. Just free and easy and they liked it that way. 

When Johnson told Olivier if he’d watch the cooking fires, he would like to take a dip in Bayou Poisson-Chat and Olivier said, ‘Mais out, je peux le faire.”

Johnson responded with, “Merci, mon ami.”

Olivier watched Johnson strip down to nakedness. He was surprised at how he reacted with a stirring in his loins. Johnson was lean and muscular, with a smooth body, very toned; he had maintained his exercise regimen mostly while on the gulf rig in the gym on the rig. The hours were long, the men ate well, and the gym was the perfect place for idle bodies and men who ate well and a lot. Olivier had seen a lot of naked men in the marines living in such close quarters, but this was different, more intimate; he was seeing one man. Johnson had a nice size tool, and shaved his crotch which surprised Olivier. He didn’t know that men did that.

He also noticed that Johnson shaved his under arms. A smooth shaved body seemed to point out strengths, weaknesses of the body and flaws. But with Johnson, his body shaven clean, Olivier couldn’t find one flaw. He thought that Johnson was just about the most beautiful man he had ever seen. He was turned on, but uncomfortable with the feeling. At least they weren’t best friends, but acquaintances who hung out together for a bit of fun, mostly drinking, fishing and hunting. You know typical male stuff. 

When Johnson got out, he walked on over to the cooking fires where Olivier was manning them. The food smelled delicious and the catfish steaks had stayed together well. Olivier had moved the pot, rather than stir the steaks. The gravy had thickened and hadn’t stuck to the bottom of the pot. Johnson was naked – still – and seemed comfortable with that. Olivier busied himself with the cooking. When Johnson asked if Oliver might like to take a turn in the Bayou, while he finished up the cooking, Olivier said that he’d pass, but thanked Johnson. 

“Maybe another time,”he said. 

After another beer they fixed their plates and ate in silence, while Olivier thought of only one thing – Johnson’s beautiful body.

They sat for a spell and watched the full moon rise.

Johnson suggested that it was so late that they spend the night out under the full moon and the open skies. 

“I think that’s a good idea,” said Olivier. 

About the Author

silhouette photography of person under starry sky

Barefoot Cajun is bilingual living on the South Louisiana Cajun Prairie with his husband and a variety of animals. Writes about life in the 1960’s growing up gay and choosing to stay. Have had some work published in several online zines. Writes about marginalized people. Cajun Poet, food writer, journaling, flash fiction and short stories. Writing mostly barefoot.

About the Artist

Claudio Parentela is an artist and a journalist from Italy.

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