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Last November First
Last November First
L.P. Van Ness
Published by Halloween Harlequin
11-01-2009
Last November First

The first of November was the Day of the Dead. In the waning sunlit hours, ceremonial candles of remembrance were all aglow. When the darkness arrived completely, the Saints went soft, for indulgence-lights were extinguished, one by one, by the icy piss-breath of invisible imps of the perverse. There were simply no ‘pure of heart’ remaining to be forgiven. Relocation camps had bloomed in the harshest terrains of the American desserts. Black trucks lumbered through the African jungles from station to station with their cargos of empty body bags. An avatar of blood, Father Poe had once called it the Masque of Death. In modernity, there was no longer any need for concealment. Like every other instance of the Information Age, whether great or small, it had been well publicized, a toll of passage ever paid for horrors yet to come. In accordance with the ebony clock, the media drone began broadcasting its gentle trill of swine flutes.

After a momentary flip of memory, Prospero had decided that the time had come to gather together the party posse at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. Considering the seriousness of the times, whether it was reason good enough was a matter of personal perspective. Discernment had died of lead poisoning in the sixties about the same time that sins simply became mistakes. Apologies were no longer necessary.

The first room was golden like childhood and idealized love. Pay no mind to the pile of burnished bones in the corner. Although they are restless, they will not follow you. The little brown wobble-desk held up ink pads, stamps and their resulting compositions, lost forever in the purge, and the scattered metal gears of a pocket watch disassembled out of curiosity. The Mesmer-swirl of a forty-five revolved on a record player and recited Aesop’s ‘Ant and the Grasshopper’ and the ‘Fox and the Grapes.’

The insensate hand clamped firmly the plastic cup of bitter beer, the other fiddled along tiny, pert breasts readjusting the black borders of the too tight camisole that strained beneath the fuzz of pink angora skulls and crossbones. There being yellow bruises beneath her make-up, she was on the boyfriend rebound and needed someone’s mind to bend, for her heart was blue and barely beating. “I just need some time to sort it all out. I’m gonna get it done. Sooner or latter, things have got to get better.”

The next room was blue in mimic of the intellect. It is only the wind that rattles them. Do not be afraid, for they can not stand on their own power. After Shakespeare, there were no longer original plots, so we took solitude in Aristotle, for only the names and places change. Patiently enduring endless schooling resulted in nothing more than a mere change of perspective from middle to front of the classroom. Irony was lost on the young. Whiling away the hours with “The Four Quartets,” the understudy in the rafters waited for the blocking of the scene and his inevitable cue to the stage.

Prospero nodded along in pretentious affirmation as her ego unleashed an endless monologue of temporary triumphs and inevitable anxieties. He watched in awe as the abundant alcohol and insistent beat cast their magic spell and slowly transmogrified the object of his desire into a mere bobble head with dead and distant eyes. As the music of the band heated up, he artfully slipped his hand around her waist and pulled her slowly closer until they stood side by side.

The final room was locked. Some sage had cleverly stopped up the keyhole. As in all things mysterious, there lingered an aroma of incense to be sure. Putting your ear up against the door, you heard a ridiculous jitterbug, dancing bones and then the lifting of the latch. Now, I would imagine, was an excellent time to run.

Under the starlit ceiling at the crescendo of the tune, they exchanged a quick and sloppy kiss.

She sneezed soon thereafter and wiped the string of phlegm along her sleeve.

* * *

The sirens and horns of the Lawrence Avenue parade went unnoticed behind the purple windows of one of the prince’s private rooms. Pentagram fingers clutched tightly then relaxed, spreading themselves wide over the black satin sheet. “I’m feeling really positive about the future now, you know.”

Feeling nothing other than finished, Prospero wiped his waist with her camisole, tossed the relic into the corner and stumbled to the shower.

She was left alone in soliloquy. “Next summer I’m going to Europe to study.” The syllables hurt her throat like she was spitting out barbed wire. “It may be difficult to raise the cash, but I know I’ll find a way.” Her cheeks began to crack, peeling up and away from their meat-muscle. “Mumble flemp flall-flall-flall.” The jaw dripped slowly from its skull, and its teeth tumbled into the shallow concaves of bloody pits.

He could not hear beyond the steamy hiss of the shower. He scrubbed and rubbed diligently, until his prideful piece cloggle-clunked the drain.

* * *

Outside the Aragon Ballroom, gray flakes of skin-confetti fell from the somber sky. There were no strings or puppeteers. The rattling crowds of autumn leaves trailed along with the shadow-steps of the marchers.

Fidgeting through her backpack, little Anna retrieved her juice and crackers. Standing up on tiptoe, she began to complain, “Momma, Momma I wanna see!”

“Shush now, be quiet!” Momma slapped her tiny hand.

Tears turned her eyes into silver mirrors. “I just wanna see who’s up front. That’s all.”

“I told you before, but you never remember.” Momma dried her cheeks with a tissue. “Nobody’s leading the parade.”




Written tonight and published here first.




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