Portrait of a Lady

32

MATTER OF FACT

Late on a Saturday night, an elderly lady entered the bar by herself and sat at the counter, not far from where I was conversing with my friend, after the theater. She was slender and composed, her manners refined, her mature looks still pleasing. She was wearing a turquoise-colored coat and a matching soft woolen beret.

As she settled on her stool, she took to looking around the venue with fidgety eyes and unwavering smile. Before placing any order, she took out a pocket mirror from her velvety purse and applied a layer of crimson lipstick. When her meal arrived, she went at it with great haste. Within a handful of minutes her plate emptied out, to which she put the napkin to her mouth with a gracious gesture of satisfaction. She then proceeded to reapply one more layer of lipstick over her smile. Sipping from a string of drinks, she went on articulating words to herself. She sipped, talked, dabbed her lips, placed new orders. The same actions were repeated in sequence throughout the time I and my friend spent in the bar.

When we left, a couple of hours later, the lady was still sitting in the same place, by herself, relentlessly surveying the room, engrossed in conversation. Her napkin was slathered with red goo, her chin besmeared with a pulpy flush. Her eyes glowing, and she kept smiling.

REPORTED

An elder woman was reported missing from her home on 4 Gay Street,  New York, on Sunday, December 1st. She was last seen at Art Bar, on 52 8th Avenue, New York, which she allegedly entered around two o’clock on the preceding Saturday night.

The bartender who took her order described her as a woman of about seventy years old, fair haired, thinly built, about 5’ 3’’ tall. She wore a pale blue colored woolen coat, which she unbuttoned as soon as she sat over a stool by the counter, and a matching beret at an angle, both of which articles she appeared to have never removed throughout her hours-long stay. She asked for fish and chips. Her receipt also showed that she consumed two pints of Lagunitas, one pint of Harpoon IPA, one packet of crisps, one slice of cheese cake, items presumably served by an assortment of staff. There was contradictory testimony as to the woman having ever visited the restrooms, although commonsense would assume so.

Her presence and mien attracted particular attention from a nearby sitting couple, who took special notice on the lady’s insistent preoccupation with applying and reapplying layers of crimson lipstick over the course of the night. Each act was performed with painstaking accuracy.  The same source also reported that the lady had been talking all along in somewhat ecstatic frenzy to one or more interlocutors who had not appeared to be present. However, the conversation was carried in such poised self-possession to create no nuisance to the patrons.

When presented the check, she promptly paid cash and tipped the bartender generously. Even so, she did not raise from her seat until the venue closing time, when she was exhorted to leave the premises. As yet however, there is no evidence of the woman ever vacating the site.

DOPEY

It’s a frigging cold Saturday grooving deep into the night and this old bat shows up at the dive all dolled up to the nines. The loner sits at the counter, gobbles up a jumbo plate of junk food in a snap, drains down pints like a whale. Frets to grease-smear her shriveled pucker every couple of gulps. A solo-dolo clown grinning like Clarabelle Cow, staring vacuum-eyed into nothing and all over the place. The old goose blabbers on and on about some satin gloves and a mole (fat and hairy, I bet) on her right shoulder, and some bullshit like having to pick up flowers, or someone picking her up but leaving the flowers, or picking the flowers but leaving her behind. Man, give me a break––the clod has been blistering my ears all effing night.

RIVERS

She was once a fleeting shadow swaying on the jittery waters of the river Adige. The figure of a child stretched by the lamppost’s light over the wan stream, barely suggested in shaky brush strokes, a choppy outline dappled in luster by the early evening moonlight. She was an ephemeral presence against the back of Sant’Anastasia church, reaching over the balustrade where the river made a bend around the Roman theater at the opposite bank. The stern church apses and the solid medieval walls of the conservatoire loomed at great hight behind her, through the orange halos of lantern lights and into the darkness. Before her and across the riverside, tenuous lights traced the winding profile of a hill to its pronged top, where cypresses stood guard over the troves of Verona like dark spears leveled at the milky glow of the evening. The breeze swirled with city noise and broken sequences of winds strings and brass, the pungent fragrance of moss and decaying stones. Breathing its core into the faint bassline of a pipe organ, her body did not move. A car engine idled for a while behind her, then died. In a hastened solo, the glassy rapids of a piano burst in, speckling the air with an ominous tinge. She held onto the rail and watched its projection racing and floating with the ruffled elements.

black-water

Now she is a set of alternate steps walking down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a thumps of black lace-up pumps snatched away by the hauling wind, a cushioned sway along a smooth broad-walk, with no musty wall or stony balustrade to hold onto. There is no shadow responding to the matte luminescence of the day. Her feet tread on, suspended in a collaged cadence. The East River is a grey floor carpet splayed through a portentous scenery, wide and tall constructions against a flat cityscape. High-rises fan out on one side, brownstones file on the other. Hanging by its ropes, the bridge beckons her ahead. She plods along a grayscale, into a dusty giant-size picture poster, where she can’t seem to make any progress toward a vanishing point. Her passing does not take her any farther. No matter how she hastes, nothing around her goes past, nor changes. As she breathes through her effort, the wind pushes against her own speed and into her lungs. Icy nails scrape down her throat. Groping inside her purse pocket for a tissue, she yanks out the set of keys that blocks the opening. The small ring holding her house door key breaks loose and falls off. It whirls away, hits the pavement, slides farther pushed by the wind. The key bounces away, and farther still, through the handrail, and into the water.

Your Perfect Roommate

SoniaI’m a creature from the Mediterranean sea, drifted across the ocean together with heaps of garbage onto your doorsill. I’m sure you’d love to welcome me in your house. I’m pretty easy going, clean, and respectful, with a firm belief in marine gods. I love to room-tangle and house-party on a daily basis with people with whom I share my good deal of odd interests and habits, especially when these border insanity. Occasionally, I don’t mind being able to come home after several hours of work and relax, but in that case I want to be completely undisturbed. There is nothing outlandishly weird about myself. I have a masochistic love for water, so you may see me teary eyed on a rainy day. Also, I love the smell of dead fish. I’m known for the occasional conversation with myself out loud once in a while, but that’s probably as communicative as I get. I currently work two jobs: I am a hostess at the Dutch in Soho and a bartender at the Gansevoort Rooftop Bar in the Meatpacking district. I am usually at home at the wee hours, and it is always for cooking, eating, drinking, playing my Beats laud speakers, using the bathroom, sleeping, having sex, and partying… all of which I have the ability to perform simultaneously. During the day, if I’m not auditioning my self role behind the counter of my two fine establishments, I am giving my best shot at being great at the corner bodega or in some cool place downtown, and around 5PM I am always swimming around around Pier 40. Thank you for your consideration. Looking forward to getting to know you 🙂