Friday, January 26, 2007

The Liquid Life (installment eleven)

"The Liquid Life" is an early novela written by the scribe, circa 1987. It runs every weekend.


One day Elendele came home with negligee and modeled for Saturnina. It was a debate over mauve or sepia. They chose neither and decided Elendele should wear what she looked best in.

I knew what that meant. I asked where she was going then, and Elendele said she was going to the islands with a wealthy stepchild of the Narcostocracy. His time was his own, she explained, it was all books, movies and discussions over café latte.

“Coffee,” I grimed her, “I wonder what’ll he’ll do when he learns it stops working as well as in the beginning.”

“He’s 27, he already has,” she scathed me, packed her little overnight, and was gone.

“All actresses are whores, Saturnina.”

“The work it takes to become an exciting woman deserves every recompense,” she shocks me with her sister solidarities. “You just can’t afford her full-time. Less money, more scorn, and ipso facto dear Achilles…”


The stained sheet afternoons went on into the new network television season, through the ongoing writers strike and another settlement with the Costumers Guild.

Meanwhile, the United Stage and Craft Employees were so dissatisfied with their shrinking pie piece, so convinced they were victims of the new and concentrated world corporatia, that they barricaded themselves into the union hall with guns and ammo and charged the leadership with hopeless ties to the Mafia. A tattered agreement was finally thrown together so that the renegades might save face in a battle they could not win. Elendele was apparently called in to round up the radical faction led by former union guys from El Salvador. There had been settlement and blood-spatter, too. Gina Night’s father’s name had been mentioned and he came away shaken from the police questioning.

Elendele said it had been a bad year for unions.

There was no film work through the desert clear days of February when the fan was turned off and the winds from the south turned on. The girls lay about for curtain calls at a light-paying theater production, wrapped in double ski sweaters bought by Saturn, at a fiesta in the mountains outside Granada.

We easily accessed one another and each had examined the other completely, from skin surface to spiritual components you would have thought the secrets of the universe were contained within. They weren’t, but in the meantime we’d made ourselves our own and my favorite thing was the strip of butterscotch skin there was, on the inside of Saturn’s ripe thigh.

“It’s from a difficult birth,” Elendele rendered positively. “The girl didn’t want to come out and play, but when she finally did it was pure jet plane joy baby.”

Each was President of the other’s fan club and I was a member in both.
“We aren’t poor and ignorant where we come from,” she explained. “We’re just poor and ignorant here.”

She hated the Mexican music from the building across the alleyway at least as much as Elendele and considered those people to be of low stock.

So when the new cleaning girl named Lydia came with a reference as daughter to one of the great cleaners in the cleaning game, Elendele decreed it a matter of genes that she do it just as well.

Cortez saw this as discriminatory on its face. Elendele’s dealer also thought it was a stupid idea. Trevor didn’t care. Elendele and Saturn considered it a great plan, because it would leave them with lots of time to read and tape operas off the public television station.

“And what about you my rake?” she gilded me, volted me. Elendele knew how to get me right there, and I went down easily, casting my vote in favor of the house-cleaning proposal, because Saturn wore a pink satin slip under her sailor dress, and the lace was showing at the bottom.

But Lydia didn’t do anything except get up early to leave the Salon and come in just before midnight to eat. One time she came back with a tattoo. It was a link chain, just a centimeter in size, etched round her little ankle.

“We get this!” Elendele points her, “after all that research I did on ways to get around employer sanctions provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.”

Later there were always problems with phone calls to Managua and reverse charges from the city of parrots, Guyaquil.

And Lydia’s youth did not affect her seriousness about doing the job she thought
she’d been hired for – mugging me. Nothing but the state’s penal sticks could keep me from biting the carrot she kept waving.

What kind of families made creatures like these? What loincloth mentality? In what distant city was this strange philosophy of life without clocks and clothes born?

I was so easily had. Work no longer mattered, nor the recriminations from a boss of stress who couldn’t begin to comprehend the pillow softness of my new world. I did believe, that without clocks, time did not pass. That change would never knock on the door in her commissar’s cloak, tisane on her suffocating breath.

When fired, I was convinced everything would turn out fine, but allowed Elendele to spend hours assuring me of it. I liked the way she woke early to talk and whisper me in the kitchen, showering me in secretive laughings, dancing her eyebrows for amplification so as not to wake up Saturnina and the bad house cleaner.

Then one day I walked in on her and she was lost in the bloodstained sheets of Garcia Lorca’s love. Crying because she was just now realizing how difficult becoming great would be.

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