(is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to be me?)
Good Evening, Literati!
Our second semi-finalist for our contest, Once Upon a Time, is Madame Parisianne Modert, submitting here for your review and entertainment the first chapter to her novel-in-progress: Smoke Veil Bridge.
Again, as often, I remind our readers (that would be vouz) that we at The Word are editors, not censors. Nuf said?
Let’s see if this entry, with its very clever word-use, is enough to propel Madame into the finals!
Here is chapter one,
by Madame Parisianne Modert
Rex James, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur whom his wife, Vixa, recently had relabeled as in-the-manurer, had planned on sleeping in on the morning after New Year’s Day 2015, because his various clients were either closed that Friday or had scheduled year end meetings which did not require his attention as an advertising consultant. The all too familiar cellular ring tone of “Swan Theme” from “Swan Lake” disturbed his overdue and indulgent rest. On New Year’s Eve, the last time he had seen his wife, he had delayed her long enough to execute his plot to end Vixa’s affair with another woman named Rouxette Belvedere. The stalling scheme had begun with an uglier than the usual verbal exchange of repeated insults and accusations. Surfacing cascades from the couples’ deepest festered wounds inflicted death upon their marriage.
Vixa had stormed out of the Sinclair-James residence with a defiant aloofness yet awkward step as if she were being filmed walking a French poodle in a Jean-Luc Godard’s film. Rex laughed mockingly at her filing for divorce proclamation believing her anger to be nothing but Vixa’s same old, same old tirade charade too often retracted once her emotions cooled. Still her knife-like wounds of savagery for the first time had included calling him a closeted gay man in denial. Vixa’s lack of restraint had shocked even his callous scabbed over ego.
Vixa’s last words to her husband were, ”I’ll kill myself before I return to this house you prickless cocksucker.”
Rex’s reply had been, “Promises, promises, I hope Rouxette and you remain heartless black swans for eternity!”
Rex discovered in the moment that Vixa’s car engine sound faded that his raw emotional release was two fold. The first was a feeling of victory with a sense of relief that she would be taught a lesson before returning home contrite with her heart broken believing Rouxette would unintentionally jilt Vixa. The second release was a puzzlement why Vixa hated him so much when he had given her a beautiful home, clothes, travel and social standing.
Granted there had been days when they both had struggled to accept each others’ infidelities during marriage counseling sessions, but the chasm regardless of small successes had only widened over the years. Part of Rex wanted an end to his acted out affairs for business more than sex and had wished Vixa could love him as a husband she could respect and obey. The other part or Rex prayed his Vixa would decide never to come home again.
This wavering angst pushing and pulling him as the tide along the beach below their home had kept him up the remainder of New Year’s Eve 2014 and for all of New Year’s Day 2015 without Vixa calling or returning his. The lighted, glittering ball dropping celebration in Times Square in Manhattan was nothing similar to the ball and chainsaw massacre carnage at the Sinclair-James residence in La Jolla. This evening’s jeweled privilege by the sea had gone dark without the fuel to relight its beauty.
On the freeway’s drive to the resort hotel party, daring to be arrested, Vixa had called Rouxette’s cell to announce her new arrival time. The call was never been received on Rouxette’s smart cell phone, because it had drowned in champagne punch. The sour impressions on the party guests and irritated catering service staff allowed Vixa to stay one flight behind Rouxette’s reign of charitable outburst at the San Diego Airport ticket gate. British Airways had not betrayed the gate departure for London, but an elderly man with Rouxette’s car keys and signed over auto registration had. Vixa was informed that Rouxette’s last USA words were, “My baby’s a black corvette, license plate 2SWANSN followed by a false black heart like hers. Your assistant vet is in E4 Doc. She is signed over to you…just add your signature…here, catch the keys…be a darling and feed Cat…got to run to make my flight. We were never meant to be married you and me, Doc, anymore than my heartless bitch of a black swan and I were. Rouxette whimpered sentimentally at the bewildered English man, “Remember me kindly Doc.”
Vixa caught the next flight sitting next to the startled English man who was bringing home a pale, brushed cowboy hat souvenir and stories of insane women no one would believe. He handed over the keys and registration to Ms. Sinclair-James upon her questioning of him. Vixa had recognized Rouxette’s lipstick on his cheeks. After explaining his meetup encounter with Rouxette’s version of Audrey Hepburn, Doc wanted no part of the lesbian insanity either of the two such uncultured, pretentious women.
Vixa fumed at the man’s, “I’ve told you everything; I’m not this Doc you speak of and please leave me alone,” deciding to make his flight a redeye nightmare.
“But Doc, you will sit by me for old time sake won’t you? Just remember me fondly as the young, wild girl who married you too young without knowing what a beautiful world we live in. Don’t hate me Doc. I’ve changed is all. I’ve grown up and claimed myself Doc.”
“Can you tell me why both of you mad women keep calling me Doc?”
“Because you look more like Buddy Ebsen than George Peppard Doc,” Vixa sadly cooed to the elderly man slipping her arm in his. Doc shrugged, deciding to play along having seen the move before, but without a clue still as to why he was being mistaken for a hillbilly, cat loving, medicine man. How glad he was to not be an American.
Vixa hummed “Moon River” placing her head on Doc’s shoulder not holding back her tears of worry as the jet trans-versed the Atlantic. The unfortunate man from Chelsea pulled his tan stetson over his eyes and pretended to sleep.
His cell’s ring tone of Tchaikovsky brought Rex out of his dreamer’s fog. He tapped the green phone icon then gently pressed the phone to his right ear as if it were a hangover’s icepack. After a day his wife was finally waddling back to him with her tail feathers between her legs rather than her lover’s tongue. As Vixa’s husband it was time he put his foot down on her flapping back. Rex opened his eyes as if they were slitted venetian blinds while setting a determined frown on his face so he could be stern with Vixa.
“God damn it Vixa, where the hell have you been? If you are in jail have your whore bail you out this time. I can hear your breath so I deserve an apology Vixa. I’m trying to get some sleep so this is no time to give me the silent treatment. You better not still be mad about the note I had sent to your Holly Going-nowhere-but-to-hell. You’re my wife and I did you both a favor.”, Rex grumbled before switching the phone to speaker and slamming it on the nightstand.
“Are you Monsieur Rexford H. Sinclair-James of San Diego, California?”
“Who the fuck wants to know? And what are you doing with my wife’s phone mister? I’m looking at the incoming number on screen, so don’t deny you are calling from it prick.”
“Certainly not sir. This is Inspector Saindon of Paris Police Nationale and I…”
“Am boning my wife too, Tex? Crisp her to a turn over a barbecue pit on the Bush 43 ranch for all I care, cowboy. Throw her out of a plane with Bush 41 if it’s easier for you.”
“Note my accent and demeanor monsieur. I am not in one of your westerns, but in Paris as in France Monsieur James. Please listen carefully to me since I unfortunately can not arrest you for your ugly American, lack of manners.”
“Your Euro Napoleonic Justice, if you have the Gaul to be Franc with me mon-sewer, but it better be good gendarme.”
“It is my sad duty to inform you that your wife, Mr. James, has been found drown here in Paris and has passed on. She never regained consciousness, so her suffering is presumed to have been minimal.”
“Vixa is dead?” Rex asked with confusion in his voice. “My wife died in Paris, France? That doesn’t make any sense even for her. You must have a case of mistaken identity.”
“Again I am sorry for your loss sir, but the identification of the deceased being Mrs. Vixa Sinclair-James of San Diego has been verified through fingerprints. You are aware that your wife had a criminal record.”
“I am painfully aware of her Tiffany’s diamond stick pin heist prank which costs me plenty to get reduced to a misdemeanor of disturbing the peace. Are you aware you are disturbing my peace?”
“This is an active police investigation, monsieur. I know you must be in shock, but please do not try my patience any further.”
“Sorry. I guess I am in shock. Shocked that I ever married Vixa in the first place.”
“May I continue?”
“Ask away if you must.”
“I do have further questions of you since your wife’s death does not appear to be a suicide.”
“You suspect me of fowl play? No one is pinning this one on me inspector. My secretary will swear I was with her at the time. May be a black swan murdered her. Vixa loved those vile creatures, so much that she left here dressed as one on the night she left me.”
“You are not a person of suspicion monsieur. This I can assure you, because we checked with French entrance and exit customs earlier today.”
“Thank God for someone in your country being sober enough to put down their bottle of Merlot and moldy cheese, swallow their stale, crusty bread and do some actual work for once.”
“Please do not revisit this attitude of yours again full of your absurd insults. Let me do my work. Evidently Mrs. Sinclair-James was attempting to rescue a woman, which initial autopsy results show, died of an unidentified poison in her lungs and blood stream. Your wife therefore was not alone at the time of her death. We suspect that the ladies might have known each other, because they were both from the San Diego area and wearing matching Givenchy dresses.”
“My wife and I are from La Jolla, not San Diego I’ll have you know. You expect me to believe my wife traveled thousands of miles without running up my card at Hermes to go diving in icy water to bob for a bimbo she might have known? Enough of the jokes, inspector clueless-so.”
“I am very serious sir, so stop the Peter Seller jokes, please. I have heard them all before. If you hang up, authorities will be asked to bring you in for questioning. This is an official investigation of two untimely deaths of foreign citizens, so I must insist on your full cooperation.”
“All right, I’ll play along, Pink Panther. If you really are French you should know who that socialist, isolationist, no can do business anymore with my clients president of yours is.”
“I’m sure Mr. Hollande wouldn’t agree with your labeling of him, but I can assure you that he is above suspicion in this matter as well as Mr. Sarkozy who he replaced. Mr. Chirac is not a person of interest either and Mr. Mitterrand has the alibi of being deceased. Satisfied? Do I need to file a complaint with my supervisor to be referred to your state department?”
“So Vixa really played Swan Lake out to the curtain call this time? No wonder your feathers are so ruffled over there in gay Paris.”
“You think this is a time to act like a homophobe?”
“You were about to ask me something French pastry?”
“I do not understand you so let me check my notes. Ah…the woman who your wife was evidently attempting to rescue when they got entangled together…”
“Don’t bother, I bet the other tramp in question was a lesbo, wife stealer named Rouxette Belvedere.”
“Um…here we are and yes, you are correct as to her name Mr. James. The only contact with the deceased Madame Belvedere we could ascertain was your wife which is why I can confirm your suspicion. Madame Belvedere apparently left no surviving relative.”
“She probably embarrassed them to death, inspector.”
“Ha, ha, but can you tell me in your own words what your wife’s relationship might have been with Madame Belvedere other than wearing the same designer dress? In France this is a crime according to my wife, but I have not met Madame Royal to verify this.”
“Who’s the Punch line now, Judy?” Rex quipped.
“My apologies to any offense against either deceased lady, but…”
“They are not ladies. My slut-au-jour and her bimbo-baste were lesbian lovers to each other for over a year inspector.”
“I see, but tell me about the last time you saw your wife alive, monsieur.”
“My wife left our home after a verbal exchange in one of her snit-fits on New Year’s Eve, about nine at night Pacific Time, after informing me that Rouxette had been her lover for a year and a half and that she was leaving me for good. Inspector I had a detective prove they were having an affair months ago, so I picked an argument with my wife to stall her. I had been aware of their plans to meet that night and had had enough of Vixa’s infidelity with that pussy-licking, never-pick-up-a-bill dyke.”
“Cut the vulgarities please and focus on the facts. What did you do about this affair?”
“I had my secretary forge a note in my wife’s pen style from samples of my wife’s handwriting and arrange for a courier to deliver the note to Rouxette presuming she would be at the location on my wife’s party ticket. Rouxette is the kind no class who does not know how to arrive fashionably late to anything, so I knew she would be there before my wife would. Did I commit a crime by doing this?”
“If you were in France it would be up to a panel of judges to decide that, but all I want to do is clear up the loose ends.”
“My wife and that piece of junk in her trunk had loose swinging derrières alright.”
“Tell me what was in the note your secretary wrote from your instructions Mr. James.”
“The note said that Vixa was dumping Rouxette and staying with me, because she had fallen back in love with me. May be, part of me wanted this to be true. Convincing my secretary that this was just an innocent prank took some charm and a diamond bracelet Vixa hadn’t worn in years. I didn’t hire my secretary for her shorthand if you know what I mean?”
“Your secretary is also your mistress, monsieur?”
“You’re a French man inspector, so you understand that a man’s needs are different than what most women want?”
“No comment on that one. Let me ask you why you would do such a thing to your own wife and her lover. Was it more to spite them, actual love for your wife or jealousy?”
“The first one more than the other two, but I still have…I mean do…did have limited feelings for Vixa. Does it matter? Rouxette must have believed that note, so what does that say about their grand amour?”
“I am not a woman nor know how they think. I swear to you that women here in France refuse to be understood. Are your American women the same?”
“You mentioned that you are married inspector?”
“Oui, almost twelve years now.”
“Well, thank God you’re not a fag like this client of me who keeps coming on to me. He keeps asking me to divorce my wife and marry him. What’s wrong with this fucked up world I ask you when that is allowed? Since that damn Prop 8 got overturned, California is once again the land of fruits with over-active, rainbow nuts. You let those perverts marry as well I hear.”
“Only recently, but so what? You aren’t gay, are you monsieur?”
“Listen, Pepe Le Pew. I’ve got nothing against them as long as stick it to their own. You think I got any pleasure from sucking off my client who has a crush on me?”
“Why would you do that monsieur if you are not gay yourself?”
“To land a business deal with that pecker of could and would cum down my throat. You had ever blown another man, monsieur?”
“Never, I assure you, but was it worth it?”
“Anything for a sale, but I threw up for a week and still don’t salt anything. You think Vixa would have been grateful given how much that travel account brings in rather than accusing me of being queer like her. The sacrifices I have made so she could live the lifestyle she insisted on. That sick man still wants me too…I mean he has a crush on me…you don’t need to know this do you?”
“No, we French do nor judge what goes on in the bedroom like you puritanical Americans do monsieur. My sister’s oldest thinks he is Brigit Bardot saving the baby seals. He makes more money playing her on stage in a nightclub than I do by speaking with people like you monsieur. My wife thinks it makes perfect sense which proves how out of touch she is.”
“O, I agree with you inspector. Even that Love Boat, Judy McCoy, cruise directing my ass of a client of mine, who is hung like a long shore man when dry docking me, makes more sense than my wife. Men get straight to your bottom line. That sounded wrong, but you get his point don’t you? I mean … do you ever understand what your wife tells you?”
“Comme ci comme ça. My wife is a bit of a beautiful mystery, I’ll tell you. She dangles her words as if they are hypnotic earrings deciding which to wear with what dress asking me if they match and make her look fat. She is thin as a bulimic runway model and I am color blind when it comes to fashion monsieur. I tell her that I understand when I do not, because no matter what I say I am wrong and she changes her mind anyway making us late to everything. Why does she want my opinion when she doesn’t trust it? I thought may be it was only French women, but it seems universal.”
“She runs your life including when she interferes with your mirror time?”
“She is in control anywhere in our home including her vanity mirror. My wife whines, she complains, tells me I don’t love her, throws her hands up in the air in disgust and then dares to ask me if I can stand being seen with her in public. When we are out she just pouts and drives me out of my mind on purpose. In France they are taught this from an early age. It is the ultimate power play for French women to get what they want. I have seen this learned behavior in my daughter too and she is only seven.”
“But you stay with your wife and she is faithful to you?”
“Yes, because I am mad in love with her monsieur. We French men are lovers to our women not pigs looking for truffles outside the home.”
“Ouch! But what would you do if she cheated on you with another woman?”
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be laughing or happy about it as you seem to be. We live in strange times where women marry each other too. C’est via. Speaking of which before I forget. How often have you seen this other woman in your wife’s company?”
“More times than I care to remember. My wife wanted me to be friends with her Rouxette for some reason. So what exactly happened to cause Vixa’s death?”
“The matter is still under investigation, but I can tell you that your wife and Madame Belvedere both were unable to be revived. It is our diver’s theory that your wife was attempting to free Madame Belvedere from an entangled purse strap, but got entangled herself. We also found a tiara of surprising value near them. Would you know anything about that?”
“Vixa gave it to Rouxette at a birthday party last month, because that woman had a Breakfast at Tiffany’s fetish. I’d appreciate that tiara back if it proves to have been paid for rather than stolen.”
“What right would you have in claiming it, since it no longer belonged to your wife?”
“If she paid for it off one of my cards I can sell it to recover part of my loss, crepes foot.”
“That will be all for now, Mr. James other than do you have a passport?”
“Why, you wish to confiscate it Champ’d Elysees?”
“No, I thought you might wish to travel to Paris to claim Mrs. Sinclair-James’ remains for a proper internment nearer to her family and you.”
“Flambé her to a cognac crisp as far as I’m concerned. She made her river bed so let her lie in it with her mistress from the deep lagoon.”
“Actually they died in a stream at Parc de Bercy on the north bank of the Seine.”
“Well she was south of sane rejecting me, and you are insane if you think I want back anything but that tiara and any other jewelry of value.”
“That will not be for me to decide Monsieur James. I am obligated to tell you that the people of France and I are sorry for your loss. My department will be in touch if we have any further questions which is most unlikely. Other people will be in contact with you to make whatever arrangements are deemed appropriate by the judges presiding over the inquest.”
“Fine, fine. Tell you what I’m going to do.”
“And that would be?”
“I’m going to bake a soufflé for one out of two eggs pretending they have been dropped out a black swan’s asshole, open a bottle of French champaign and celebrate my liberté, égalité, fraternité. Good riddance to that lotus munching former wife of mine. I’m pulling out of her old train tunnel and push it into a newer, tighter one inspector.”
“Au revoir,monsieur,” Inspector Saindon concluded before clicking off Vixa’s cell phone.
“I’d turn lesbian,too, if I had to put up with that imbecile,” Inspector Saindon expounded before returning the phone to the evidence clerk. “See if you can find a charger that will work with an adapter for this phone, officer, so it can be examined in greater depth.”
“Yes, mon inspector.”
Rexford Harrison James who had always refused to include his wife’s maiden name of Sinclair in his legal papers, broke two extra large eggs into a bowl naming the first one Vixa and the second one Rouxette, turned the oven gas knob without checking if the pilot light was lit, dropped the gooey egg shells accidentally onto the floor. He felt extra dizzy from breathing in the gas as he opened the old-fashion oven door with two black swans painted on it. Rex slipped in his slippers with his feet going backwards and his head bouncing nose first in the oven for his last swan dive. Sylvia Plath would have given Mr. Rexford Harrison James only half credit for his insincere self-execution by gas oven and far less as a homophobic husband. Women poets scorned and abandoned by men are stranger and more angry creatures than even female black swans in season. Whether underground in a church graveyard such as Mrs. Plath-Hughes or tangled underwater such as Rouxette and Vixa, women are better off in these places rather than staying with men such as Ted Hughes or Rex James.
The maid upon turning her key to the Sinclair-James residence the next morning choked and gagged on the atmosphere inside before calling the police from her cell at a safe distance from the house.
The funeral card referred to the deceased advertising consultant as Mr. Rexford Harrison Sinclair-James of La Jolla, California. Of the attendees at Rex’s memorial service all could be said to be business clients other than Rex’s pissed off, soon to be unemployed secretary. The deceased guest of honor’s former secretary yawned in boredom having done her job of making the funeral arrangements and firing the maid. On her left wrist was the diamond bracelet she had more than earned.
Sitting alone in the back row, Mr. Quincy Chance, of Chance Cruise Lines, was the only one to shed tears for Mr. Rexford Harrison Sinclair-James. In his heart Quincy believed that his married to a less than classy woman, reluctant male lover in the closet loved him. Rex’s lips had betrayed his repressed orientation makeover. One kiss had led to another on Quincy’s lower anatomy which Rex had no problem receiving as well no matter how much the advertising consultant had protested later.
Later on the same day as Rex’s funeral, Quincy reflected on his own effeminate sensibilities that his father, a retired naval officer had disdained. The coiled rope off the sailboat which father and son had built and sailed together still hung on the office wall as a treasured memorabilia of the love he had for his deceased father. The Rear Admiral’s passing had left the Cruise Line to his gay, son Quincy.
With a lonesome sigh of no one to live for, Quincy removed the rope from the wall, tied the hangman’s slip knot he needed, threw it over the crossbeam made from an ancient mast. Quincy stood on his father’s crafted desk while placing the rope loop around his own neck.
“I cannot live another moment without you Rex, because you are my eternal love. This salute is for you daddy. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be. Forgive me God.”, the melancholy thin, Quincy prayed before walking off the edge of the driftwood, hand crafted desk with ivory inlay towards a less painful world. The weather-beaten, water-stained rope snapped to attention during its final deployment as Quincy left Earth’s mortal coil.
The flower decorated folder containing the specifics on the life of Mr. Quincy Chase would arrive in the empty in-basket of one Chandra le Papillon the following morning. Compared to her current three more challenging assignments from the counsel, Quincy would be a joy to welcome, orientate and socialize into the beautiful afterlife he would spend in Elysium.