Archive for the ‘Short Fiction’ Category

The Library of Maria Callas: short fiction

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

 

Some time after her death, it came to me to explore the archive which Miss Callas had assembled over the course of her life.  The library, a room in her apartment at 36 Avenue Georges Mandel, documented Maria’s attempt to internalize the musical world for the sake of her art.  It was required of Callas, she believed, to swallow the world entire in order to emit Norma or Medea.

Her archive was not yet picked over.  It looked mad, crooked, and it contained many of her possessions, her letters and scores, which would later disappear.

Everything stopped abruptly

Over the wide room, a hologram of Aristotle Onassis sprang up here and there, recommending spy fiction and a catalogue from Van Cleef  & Arpels. He addressed the camera, and thus me, in a “get a load of this” tone.  He blew me a kiss.

A glance took in her collection of scores and a stack of 8-track tapes for language acquisition (Introductions to Turkish, Persian, German).  She spoke Greek, French, English and the Italian dialect of Veronese, usually in a blend, multidimensionally, rising and falling like the keys of a typewriter.  I saw copies of Macbeth and a biography of Nicholas and Alexandra, dog-eared, which she had carried around for a while, moving from one carry-on bag to another.

This is disgusting, said Ari, looking around.

This is a disgrace, said Ari.  (In the end, I would find several mummified poodles who were lost in the stacks.) Ha, Ari said suddenly.  He held up a trashy biography of Jackie Kennedy mid-1970s, mincing, and raffishly  kissed Jackie’s paper cheek. His head is the head of the minotaur, and people whisper how can she sleep with him?

Jackie Kennedy is a bag of bones, he once not only told Maria, but told her in front of guests.  An incalculable gift.

My assistant asked if we might come across some special map of Greece to lead us to hidden archeological treasures.  Of course not, you idiot, I said.  He and I congratulated each other on the significant finds, like a purple metal garbage can sporting a silkscreened picture of Jackie at JFK’s funeral. Should I throw out the inevitable junk?   I wondered if the word theft could be applied, as we shuttled away piles of hotel room stationery, covered in notes and lists and letters.

Jackie Kennedy bled into the real Kennedys, Jack and Bobby, JFK and RFK

And everything was confidential

(FBI agents burst through a tear in time)

And life was lived like something snapped off

The other woman was more interesting than Ari himself.  This is for whom he would leave me, wrote Callas on Excelsior Hotel paper.  This is my weight in gold.  This is my value in couture. This is my bag of secrets.

This is our Hisarlik, I tell my assistant.  This is our Hisarlik, this is our Troy, this is our flaming library, Alexandria under our feet, this Knossos, this is our old religion.

We come to inform Grandad again of our good fortune: short fiction

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

I try to tell him again, but he is not listening.

They’re coming to get her.

Who, grandad, I ask sadly.

He points with his nose at Catherine/Kate on TV.

Aristocrat, he says decidedly in the TV room. He leans back in the armchair with a palm on one armrest, his legs lavishly crossed. He is grand.

Soon the sentences will stop, so we try to avoid cutting off any in formation. We wait a while.

His name is Jock, a name not really in use anymore. He is a thing without a relevant name. And Kate is no aristocrat.

What we don’t know is that, for his Royal Wedding day, the nurses have given him a secret to chew on like a horse on a bouquet of flowers.

The secret, about which he is right: she should wear an off-white dress.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: short fiction

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I went to a party held by a rich old man which featured numerous female icons, including Barbra Streisand. We spoke briefly in a kind of giant bird cage. It went well, considering. Considering it was Barbra.

Martin and I had a terrible fight in the car on the way over. We passed a pretty girl all done up, lying in the street with her bare ass showing. I worried that she had been attacked, although she was surrounded by other girls. Martin snarled that this was the state of England today.

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Serving the Community: short fiction

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Murray says “christ” and “what the” with confused admiration as the spider shrinks into a dot and then sucks in its gut. It hugs the join of the wall and the floor and then it suddenly flexes and recovers into a spider-shape after each of Murray’s assaults with rounded-toe boots or calico lady’s chunky fireplace poker.

Suddenly, the spider reminds me of a wiry shoplifter running full-tilt out of a bodega. In that moment, the kid, and maybe even this spider, could sail past any seven-foot Kenyan to the finish line of the city marathon no sweat.

Murray flashes me an “oops” smirk and is already moving out of the room—fuck the lady and her spider—having done his usual half-assed best.

The spider, doubtless wearing one of those awful pubescent mustaches made of individual black hairs strung out like Christmas lights, totally 2-D now, has run behind a thousand pound mahogany china cabinet that runs from floor to ceiling, solid. So that’s the end of these fun and games.

Calico lady drops her glasses on a lanyard and the Betty Boop routine. “Now what?,” she demands. I can see this ending with our badge numbers. “Call an exterminator,” Murray says unhelpfully. Calico lady doesn’t want to spend the money. She’d rather keep it in some kind of wealth management set-up than blow it on a spider. Her face is ugly now, all jowls. She’s not going to let us out the door without a fight. This kind of bitch is into service and spends her life re-decorating and sending back restaurant food. Our best defense is the illusion of flat-eyed stupidity, not a trace of empathy. I make myself as smooth as a wall, no human part for her to latch onto. No apologies, no suggestions, no conversation. Just make for the door, even as she rushes after us with a string of grabby complaints and rhetorical questions.

Back in the car, Murray enjoys a full-throated laugh, glad not to be of service. The spider is pissed and on his own time-table now. This is the part of Murray I can stand for a few minutes now and then. It doesn’t matter that he is a moron. He’s my moron for now.