“Hi, my name is Amanda and I’m an alcoholic.”
She speaks into an ornate, gold framed mirror hanging above the upright piano. “Nobody has played this for years.” Tapping a few keys she begins to whimper. “Sammy… I thought he’d be my little Mozart. My little concert star.” She slams the keyboard. “He should have been given a Steinway Grand! Not this pathetically… underendowed… instrument.”
“Harriet. Son or no son, the guy is poison. You keep protecting him. Little Mozart?” Relaxed in his recliner, Bill chuckles.
“I wish you would put your teeth in, Bill. Gums are so unattractive.”
“And I wish you’d stop this fantasy world. Your name is Harriet and you’re a klepto. Sweetheart, you joined the wrong 12-step. You don’t even drink beer! Look at all this shit that don’t belong to us.” Bill taps a lead crystal bowl on the side table. “This for instance. Heavy. How’d you even carry it home? Who needs it? What’s it for? Which old half-dead sick person you steal this from, Harriet?”
“Stage seven is the forgiveness stage,” she is telling the mirror. Studying her face a moment, turning every which way, she picks at her coral nail polish. “My nails are a horror.”
“Woman, you make me tired.” He pushes the recliner all the way back putting his feet up. “Take this chair. Fake leather. Don’t look like leather, don’t smell like it. Leather has a specific animal smell. In fact it don’t even match the other stuff you… purchased?”
“I should have this whole place painted white.” At the mirror her hands flutter around her face. “Once I was very beautiful. People saw me and thought I was that woman in Paris who danced naked with the veils. Dance of the seven veils.”
“Seven stages, seven veils.” He groans and lights a cigarette. “What else Harriet?”
She turns around wiggling her fingers. “May I have? One for Amanda, please?”
“Some relative is gonna start noticing things missing from their loved-one’s apartment. Putting two and you together, Harriet.”
“Please. Do call me Amanda. It is my name. And please respect that I’m trying to get clean and sober.” She touches the fringe on a lamp shade letting it trickle through her fingertips. “Silky,” she says. “Many years ago, I had a cat this same tawny color.”
Bill puffs harder on his cigarette.
“A striking cat. It had the loveliest whiskers and a long busy tail. Before Sammy…” Her voice trails off.
“Never mind cats — he just started with cats. Cats were his warm-up act.” Bill leans his head against the chair back. A round grease mark has stained the light-tan vinyl.
“Harriet, you mind if I take a little cat nap? No pun intended.”
“I’ve decided! I will have the painters come in and restore this place to purity. White represents purity. Brides wear white to show they haven’t been tainted. I, however, did not wear white. I wore blue. A blue bride. Can you imagine?”
“I shunned white. My own dear mother and aunts were horrified. But I knew in the deepest recesses of my heart that my life would turn. It would turn sour and bitter and become spoiled.” She spins in a circle crying out, “Dance of the seven veils…”
“Like that rancid avocado! Slice it open and you will find it rotted inside near the stone. So… I opted for blue. An icy blue bride. I chose the coldest blue I could find.” She has stopped spinning. “And guess what?”
Bill has shut his eyes, is snoring lightly.
“Everyone said how well it suited me.” She glides toward him, shaking his arm rather briskly.
“Aaaarrrghhh. What? What?” His eyes blink open.
“Do you want to go out for Greek food, dear?”
“We could go to that little place here in the neighborhood, it’s not far, the one Sammy used to frequent for their souvlaki. You know he could have been a top chef. That kid could boil a perfect egg before he was twelve.”
“Right. He’s Mozart and Julia Child all rolled up into one amazing kid. Man. Man-kid.” He groans getting slowly onto his feet. “Whatever.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, dear. Those stupid police! Can you imagine calling my Sammy The Slicer? It’s absurd. Why, he was desperately afraid every time we had a thunderstorm. He ran and hid in the closet, trembled so I thought his bones would crack. Though I told him the thunder can’t get into the apartment. I told him and told him. Such a sweet child.” She stares in the direction of the door.
“Harriet, he ain’t coming through that door.”
“Go find your teeth and let’s have a nice din-din.”
Bill whispers something as she walks back to the mirror.
“Do you think I should put my hair up in a French twist?” She lifts her hair considering. “You have to admit Sammy debones a chicken perfectly in under a minute. Such a flair with knives.”
Susan Tepper has been an award-winning writer for twenty years. She is the author of five published books of fiction and a chapbook of poetry. FIZZ her reading series at KGB Bar, NYC, is sporadically ongoing these past eight years. www.susantepper.com
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