Friday, June 03, 2005

Fiction Piece

This is the beginning of Chapter 13 of Indestructable Beauty, the novel-in-progress I have been working on at Flux Factory. When the narrator's mother becomes ill, the narrator, a private investigator, is in the middle of searching for a missing person named Heddy, whom she knew. She has gotten a lead that Heddy has been working in several dungeons in Philadelphia, and she goes there to speak to one of the mistresses, Helena, having previously interviewed Miranda. They are all named after Shakespearean heroines. She goes with her friend Paul, a college professor who is curious about this world.

Paul and I drove back to Philly to see Mistress Helena. I gave her the same spiel about a newbie threesome, and we wore the same outfits. I had Mom’s ring on all the time, now, except around Becca and Mom, and hoped I wasn’t caught wearing it in a picture. But who was going to shoot me, outside of the surveillance cameras mounted on most street corners, the replicant, maverick cell phone militia that had taken over public space, and the videotape cranking in every store? I’m just saying.

Mistress Helena’s dungeon was in a chicer, more warehousy section than Miranda’s. Young Asian women in mid-thigh minidresses, Eurohipsters in Johnny Depp’s Fu-Manchu-goatee-and-nerd-glasses period, mid-thirties boys dressed like trench coat mafia in plaid shirts and leather raincoats.

Helena laughed when she saw us. The clothes? Food in my teeth? I couldn’t remember when I’d last eaten. I wanted Paul to protect me, although he had no inclination that way at all. Helena was tall with dark hair mounded on her head, a long skirt that hugged her dancer’s body and looked like a metal worker’s apron. She had on black leather platform boots, and she was muscled from some kind of heavy lifting. “I was thinking about something when you walked in,” she said in diction cultivated on the Main Line. She had probably gone to Bryn Maur and majored in porn studies. Now, she was putting theory to practice. She assessed me, and from the slant of her haughty nose—which was surprisingly long and a touch equine, though she made it work for her, she could have made an elephant trunk work for her—I felt failed. I could have been projecting.

I was wondering about the name of our sex worker, as they say in porn studies curricula, when Helena said that Bianca was waiting for us in Cell Seven. Helena’s place retained a warehouse gestalt, with its metal freight elevator, poured concrete floors, and corrugated tin ceiling. She turned to lead us to Bianca. I stopped her and told her our actual purpose. Paul looked even more crestfallen than the last time, and I thought I was going to have to buy him a session at some point or I’d never hear the end of it. Helena said the same thing as Miranda, that I could have stated my real purpose on the phone and saved myself the cost of a scene, but that was crap, as they say in PI curricula.

We scampered behind her to her office at the other end of the loft and perched on a black leather couch. Helena’s skirt was slit high, and when she prepared to sit I noticed that her knees looked vulnerable, as if they were calling to each from different streets in a dangerous neighborhood and wondering when they could go home. Maybe she hadn’t always been cool. Maybe she’d spent some afternoons waiting to be chosen for kickball, her stomach churning as the names of girl after girl were lofted into the air and finally hearing, when it was down to two, “Okay, I get the retarded girl, and you get Helena.”

She sat on a high chair and looked down on us, folding arms that advertised the number of reps it had taken to build them and possibly the logo of the gym, located somewhere only her lovers got to see. I filled her in on Heddy’s disappearance and when she’d last been heard from. I said Heddy was not in trouble with the law, and I didn’t want to alter her course, just make sure she was okay for her mother and Dennis.

People seldom make me jump through hoops to talk. It’s the face, the unlikeliness of an aunt sidling up on a window seat and instead of asking about the job and the boyfriend, inquiring into the gun running and the crack whore. Helena did not have a life with window seats, but she exhaled. “Heddy, well Heddy is the most talented person I’ve ever seen, and I could never tell if it was easy for her because she didn’t care, wasn’t involved, didn’t know what she was doing, didn’t look at it. It depends on your temperament.” She smiled. “I’m interested in the scaffolding, the archeology, the Kubrickian star baby nub of my motives, and then I say fuck knowing and I unknow. Which is not the same as forgetting or never knowing in the first place.”

Paul looked like the best boy in kindergarten, waiting for directions to curl up in fetal position or fling himself into an orgiastic round of finger painting.

“You were saying about Heddy,” I reminded Helena.

“Regulars booked her weeks ahead, but she would disappear when she felt like it.” She snapped her fingers. “Vanish.”


At 5:49 AM, Anonymous MATTHEW ROSE said...


When you finished this entry with .. “Regulars booked her weeks ahead, but she would disappear when she felt like it.” She snapped her fingers. “Vanish.” ... I had to think in some way you were referring to the Flux Factory experience.

What's so odd is that I feel I live in similar circumstances with no one looking.

Anxious to see the final version.


Matthew Rose
Paris, France

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Laurie Stone said...

Thanks for checking into the blog. It was a marvelous experience.--Laurie

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Josh said...

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At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Alice said...

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At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Alan said...

Hi. I would like to make friends with people who enjoy archeaology. I've joined this site (archeaology) to try to meet some new friends but I wondered if you knew of any other such sites.
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