HOW TO MEET MARC CHAGALL by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

2

December 29, 2015 by RJ

 

The house was filled with peaceful still and quiet water. She liked being in a water house, and swimming up and down the stairs, breast-stroking around. Look there! she can spin a cup over a saucer, and set a knife twirling that stays twirling, and the fish stay in their aquarium with its neon lava mountain, and she somersaults and spins among canted paintings of barns and bulls!

***

The day after the holiday, everyone is in town, and everyone in town is downtown, and everyone comes through Poor Herbie’s. She wasn’t going to go out that night; she was going to stay home and make turkey soup. Fuck it, she said. I don’t want to stay home. She decides drinks, Tanqueray & tonics at Poor Herbie’s. She walks into the saloon, and Cerberus’s smile rounds the corner of his face toward her before his head had begun to turn. Hades was already looking dead straight at her. It was intense.

***

Now that’s strange. Isn’t that Uncle Johnny? The skin at his hips peeled back, and all the ends of his bones are cut-paper artwork, the fancy Korean kind made with X-acto razors. The ends should look like brontosaurus bones, but they’re more like like nautilus shells, halved. Like that part of the ear. The cochlea?

***

Bog hopping in the swamp requires Wonder bread bags inside the socks. The game: grab a Foster’s oil can; find a sturdy vaulting stick; get from one side to the other without falling in. Bogs are tufts of grass. They look pretty sturdy. Eurydice was first to be up to the waist. Cerberus and Hades and Eurydice sat in the burned-out Chevy and then Hades took a picture. She loved that sweater, too.

***

Over there! Now she’s picking pears from the top of the tree by holding holding her breath and floating up. The pears are green, and there are ants up there, but not as many as bother at the peonies. She could hold the pear in her hand, and it was ballast enough to bring her back down, slow and nice. Toes, balls, heels, run.

***

Dom DeLoise’s pignola (say PEEN-yole) meatballs were sitting on the porch at Nana’s, with lasagna and garlic broccoli in some old cool-whip containers which were reused like Tupperware, and she said, you better take those clothes off or you’ll catch a cold. Nana’s swamp house, with the Avon room and — who ever heard of a gin brand called Reed’s — and that cockeyed cat BW dustmumping around. The tea was so hot — she wanted them to stay. They loved to stay.

***

That’s definitely Orpheus coming in the distance, because that pooch is with him. That crazy blue blood pedigreed Springer Spaniel. Oh he loved him so, with his wavy coat of fetters and ears and the snowballs in his paws. Orpheus is wearing traditional German clothing, maybe Austrian. He knows we sometimes have Oktoberfest parties. Orpheus has a lilt to his walk. He realizes today is not the Oktoberfest party. He and the dog leave. They are happy when they come, and they are happy when they go.

***

They went downtown, Manhattan, the Village, to an Art happening. There was a postage-stamp-sized ad for it in the paper that morning. They were like: assemble the squad. They dressed to the nines; they put lawn chairs in the van, they filled the van with friends and a cardboard box with Colt-40s and Champale. They tried to sit still, but cheap champagne that was so quiet in the bottle was getting loud and wild. Their team was dynamic. Whitey jumped on stage; nobody knew he wasn’t part of the act. Cerberus and his girl (remember the one who had that story about jumping off a roof, and her mom had to use the wrong end of a spoon to get the compacted mud out of her nose?) were brown-bagging it. Hades & Eurydice were in between kisses.

***

Holding out her hands in the dark, she thought the saints might touch them. She’d wait. Oh-ho! They were there, but the big Guy didn’t give them the okay. Not yet, He said. Her bedroom was a room that had fire licking all along the baseboards, a gas-lit fire, but oranger. It never made her afraid and the room was not actually burning. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t scary. It was just fire.

***

Then they saw it in the window, that vintage clothing store not far from where Grampa Munster sold pizza and looked so crabby all the time: a faux-tiger coat. Rowr. The store was closed, but they knew the guy was in there. They rapped on the window. It was old glass and sounded brittle. The champale hadn’t pushed them to the point of breaking glass. He heard all right. Squad was making the please-please pleady faces, and everyone looked so good that he opened. Hades gave the guy $50 for a $35 coat and Eurydice put it on, and they ran hooping and hollering, her crushed velvet dress and his spit curl bravado embracing forearms like gladiators, then going underground, hair and coats whipping, Manhattan spurring, the whole city stretching over them, like somehow God or Skylab or Marc Chagall saw them in a fish-eye.

 

 

ANNE ELIZABETH WEISGERBER teaches literature and composition, and edits fiction at Indianola Review. She has work forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Vignette Review. She tweets @AEWeisgerber, and thanks Kathy Fish for prompting this piece.

 

 

2 thoughts on “HOW TO MEET MARC CHAGALL by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

  1. […] in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, Revolution John, and Jellyfish Review. She is a freelance fiction editor, and her chapbook reviews appear in Change […]

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  2. […] in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, Revolution John, and Jellyfish Review. She is a freelance fiction editor, and her chapbook reviews appear in Change […]

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