Overview:

Slomic Vard performed a major favor for me when I had been wrongly accused of rigging a talent show in New Orleans.

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I first met Slomic Vard at a meeting for the hearing impaired.

I had just seen the movie “Children of a Lesser God” and opted to join their sect, thinking I would find love with a deaf-mute person, as William Hurt did in the movie, or at least learn enough sign language to ask directions to the nearest Pachinko parlor.

Slomic struck me straightaway. Across the gymnasium floor he sat, arms crossed, legs crossed, eyes crossed. I perused his face for what felt like fifteen seconds and dismissed him as a crypto linguist-cultural relativist Marxist of the Theodor Adorno variety.

Then I went outside to smoke a cigarette. When I finished I flicked the lit butt sideways into the open window of a 1967 Dodge Coronet. Before I knew it the backseat was ablaze.

I tried to put out the fire with what I had on me: a shoestring, a box of toothpicks, a rolled up newspaper. It was no use. The car would blow up.

I went inside to tell everyone, but I couldn’t communicate with the deaf. And besides, their fingers were all broken because they’d been signing the technical sections of “Moby Dick.”

When the explosion erupted, Slomic rushed toward me, grabbed me by the arm, and ushered me out of the room to safety saying, “This way to the cheap seats.”

Five years after the conflagration Slomic was still in my circle of friends. And on one occasion, especially, he helped me dearly.

I had been accused of rigging the vote on an open-mic competition at Jorbo’s Dixieland Jazz club on Bourbon Street, New Orleans.

There was (a bogus) photo of me in which I appeared to be in the alley behind the club and I appeared to be receiving cash from Oleus LeBlanc, the Cajun bandleader who often brought audiences to tears with the Kid Ory song ‘Not My Number.’

When Oleus won the competition, I was suspected of throwing the vote his way. The Japanese owners of the club were particularly suspicious of me.

Here’s where Slomic came to my rescue.

He traced the bogus picture to a photo of me that was taken years earlier by Tina Locasio for the magazine ‘Links.’ The actual photo was of me standing before a copy of a Slavoj Žižek philosophical pamphlet placed atop a tire rim in a junkyard off of Shepherd Drive in Delacroix, Louisiana.

Naturally, the exposure of the real photo brought to nothing the accusations against me.

The Japanese, who had a sizable stake in the Louisiana club scene, forgave me. And they invited my entire family to the Izu Peninsula for a week, where they lavished upon us vials of water from the Kano River waterfalls.

I owed it all to one man.

And this is why I will name my last son after Slomic Vard.

J. H. McKenna (Ph.D.) has taught the history of atheism and other classes since 1999 at the University of California, where he has won teaching awards. He has published in academic journals and the LA...