by Tantra Bensko
A dysmorphic Lucky Lavaggio travels ahead in time on the Equinox, using her scrying mirror to foresee her future as an opera singer and jilted lover. Meanwhile, a male Lucky Lavaggio battles the void.
Chapter 3: Spider
The evidence is clear on Lucky’s forehead, and in the dazed look on his face. Yes, he’s that crazy. He’s splatted a gigantic spider hard against his forehead, hitting it with the thick paperback he had in his hand. He swiftly and deftly rips a piece of his shirt off to wipe away the giant spider remains.
His neighbor knows Lucky sometimes does wild things. She spits on the bottom of her shirt and lifts it up to wipe off the spider juices better for him. Her bare breasts are suddenly in front of him, under the tent her shirt made, hiding them from the glare, making them conspiratorial under the shirt, and then she quickly brings her shirt back down. She acts cool, as if nothing had happened, as if she really cares about his forehead being squeaky clean and having her spittle on it is better than having spider juice on it.
Parts of her start dissolving, starting with her hands. The Void is wearing away at her, eating her alive. Parts of his life flake off around them, some of his books suddenly turning yellowed and delicate, with dark yellow dots on the pages that curl up, and then, disappear.
He starts cursing, and quickly sticks out his hands and squeezes her breasts while they are still there. Her arms are already completely gone, with a kind of buzzing sound, not very comfortable. He pulls up her shirt and sucks on her nipples, as the breasts start to enter the Void. Eventually the nipples become as nothing in his mouth, and his lips snap shut, and he wipes his forehead again for good measure.
* * *
Lady Lucky walks heavily, her hips waving solidly, her lipstick dark. She goes out into the hall, filled with pictures of herself at different weights and ages, all in opera costumes and with very varied lighting, usually with her mouth wide open, and her arms outstretched carrying a dramatic amount of tension, curved powerfully. In one, she is holding a basket of bread at the viewer — while singing. The cobalt lighting makes her features dramatic, and boney. The shadowing effect makes her look smaller.
Lucky is trying very hard. She knows she should be able to annihilate... No, that wasn’t the word she meant to use. She should be able to amalgamate... No, what’s the word. Assimilate. Assimilate other people, such as tenants, children, bird-catchers, laundry assistants. Missionaries can do it, even going into stranger places than Lucky is going. They can imagine how the world should be, and convince other people to see the world as they do.
Lucky angles nylonly down the hall into the shadows in the back, where the light bulb has been removed, its fixture taped over. She holds a tiny flashlight to see the numbers on a padlock on a door into a low room with an angled ceiling, opens it, bends down, and goes inside.
The only thing in the room, with cobalt blue walls, is a red velvet chair, and a mirror with gold scalloped trim facing downward toward. And a mural on the wall of a snake moving upward like a sine wave of god. At the top, the snake has wings coming out of its third eye. The housekeeper’s signature is underneath it: “Housekeeper.”
Lucky sits on the chair, and knocks on the floor, bending stiffly, at an open angle. “Goodbye, Dungeonella. Enjoy the ground. I’m flying away for the Equinox. I’ll be gone awhile. You should have plenty crackers saved up to last. I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone.”
“Exquisite obfuscation of...” answers a woman’s creaky voice from under the floor.
“OK, Dungeonella. Whatever. Enjoy the house of ghosts.” She begins singing in Italian, French, and then German translations of:
“The stomping around of the ghosts and their talking, the stomping around of the ghosts and their talking, the stomping around of the ghosts and their talking.”
She continues in English normal voice: “Their eating in the kitchen. Their sleeping in beds, and going in and out. Their occasional what they call ‘singing.’ Better luck this time with staying quiet, sweetie. If you start to hear the ghosts get close to you, stay still as a stalagmite, Dungeonella. OK?
“Try making a noise like a little baby bird in a nest, or a mouse if it seems like the ghosts have heard you. Right? Give it a try.”
“Tweet. Tweet tweet yoodle tweeootle.”
“A good start. When I get back, we can celebrate another year of you living down there. Show me a better version of the tweeting then. Don’t try any funny business while I’m gone, now.” She sang a harshly deep rising to high faux operatic: “You hear?” Then, she thought about how loud that would sound to the tenants, and she quickly sang: “What I am singing? Then why are you listening in. Where’s your standing? Where’s your standing?”
Lucky tugs on a piece of paper stuck to the edge of the trap door. It tears in two, and she reads the part she can get to easily. She can tell it’s her driver’s handwriting. Has he fallen in love with not only the housekeeper, but Dungeonella too? “I hope you enjoyed the cookies. Leave a note whenever you can to ...” She shakes her head violently.
Her bangs tangle up in the double sided tape on her forehead, exaggerating the already somewhat rhomboidal shape of her head. She thinks she should invite the under-tenant up more often into the secret room, for tea, and favors. Like getting the tape out of her hair.
She pulls and her hair yanks out, and she ows. The tape folds over on itself. Cutting it would mean removing a ridiculous shape out of her bangs, and they must be perfect for walking the steps off the plane. She tries pulling and bending it, and decides that was a bad idea she should not repeat. She hides it under her bangs, too hairy to do its job. Some of the coiled, curled hairs stick out underneath the perfect line of her bangs. She cuts them off. The bangs stick out where the tape is, and she presses as hard as she can to flatten it down. She almost knocks herself over. She stands up and bends over to press her forehead against the seat of her chair, and rolls her head back and forth to make it stay in place.
Once the tape is secured, she sits back down, remembering how when she was young, she fell asleep riding in the back seat of her father’s car, while he was driving her on a long trip, and woke up with her gum stuck to her hair. Something about the wetness and gooeyness of handling it triggered the memory that mystified her. Being curled up inside of something dark, but with a faint red glow to it on one side sometimes, like light shining through skin. Could it be possible that she remembered being in the womb? Her poor mother, indecisive for so long about having, or keeping, a child.
Lucky liked to take her biggest troll doll with her on long trips, and curl up with them within the mystery memory as she lay on the seat in the hypnotic car and the whoosh whoosh of the interstate. When she played in her room, Lucky would sometimes pick up the troll and zoom him across the room to bang into a doll, once, swiftly, and then, she’d set him back down, and walk away.
Lucky walks past the Mirror, and notices that her face is longer than last time, older, and her jaw drawn back, her lips pale purple. A certain oblique backwards angle dominates the vision. The people she will encounter in the world, if she looks like that, will not tremble on the sound of her voice, the lilt of her hip. They will be the heroines of the moments, not her. They will be people she would never meet if she looked more vibrant. World A.
The glass in the mirror has drifted down liquidly in patches where time goes faster or slower. Time has not been kind to it.
And what happens on the other side of it?
Copyright © 2014 by Tantra Bensko