Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Table of Contents

Water & Wine – Last Thursday –

A glass of water, a glass of dark red wine on the formica table between them. “I know what this must look like,” says the woman who picks up the glass of wine. Cradles it in both hands elbows on the table. She doesn’t take a sip. She’s draped in a brown and yellow striped serape and her hair is short and black in the dim light.

“What’s that,” says the woman across from her, a hazy cloud of curls the color of clotted cream tied in a thick spray of a tail at the back of her head. A sheepskin jacket slung over the back of her chair. They’re up by the front windows, high dark narrow panes behind a slender wrought iron grill. The woman in the serape says, “When one person asks the other person out to a public place to talk about something important so the other person won’t make a scene when they get dumped or whatever, that’s not – ” She sips her wine then, cupping the glass in both hands. “I’m not kicking you out. I’m not asking you to leave.” Another sip. “But it’s unfair. It’s unfair to me, it’s unfair to Jason and Grace, it’s certainly not something we can ask them to – ”

“What is.”

Carol sets her glass back on the table. “I found your dope.”


“Your drugs, Mar, I found your damn drugs when I was cleaning up the – ”

“I don’t have drugs.”

“Don’t!” Carol’s hands clench on the table, “try to, brazen your way out of this, okay? Don’t tell me it’s just glitter. Glitter doesn’t numb your gums.”

Marfisa drinks down half her water in a couple of deep slow swallows. “I don’t have drugs,” she says.

“I don’t know whether this has to do with your breakdown or what – ”

“Carol,” says Marfisa.

“Sorry,” says Carol. She takes another sip of wine. “It’s just,” she says, “it’s such a waste. You know what Streak did, the little shit?”

“Carol,” says Marfisa again.

“He uploaded a couple of tracks to I guess YouTube or something. Sent them around. The Mask Song, and that goofy King Arthur Star Trek thing you had us do?”

“Deedee’s Song,” says Marfisa.

“The Mercury linked to them. People are listening to them. People are talking about them, about us. What happened. Where’d we go. Is there an album, where’s the album.”

“Carol,” says Marfisa, firmly this time, and Carol bites her lip and sits back in her serape. “It’s over,” says Marfisa. “Even if I were willing. Even if I could, you would never get Otto or Wharfinger in the same room with me again.”

“Anne Thorpe,” says Carol. “From Anodyne? Is sniffing around. Wants to do a story.”

Marfisa drinks the rest of her water, sets the empty glass upside-down on the table between them. “You’re right,” she says, “it is unfair, to you, and Jason, and Grace. Your holiday.” Standing, pulling on the sheepskin jacket. “I’ve taken a week. I’m back on my feet. You’ve been.” She looks down. “Very helpful,” she says. “But. It’s not drugs.” Somewhere, outside, there’s a fluttering pop of drums, a thin and distant whine of flutes and whistles. “It’s more like,” Marfisa’s saying, stepping back, away from the table, looking out the windows, stepping toward the door. Carol stands. “Mar?”

Marfisa opens the door. A little bell chimes.

Under the blue and orange neon sign that says Alberta Rexall Drugs a little crowd is knotted all in raingear, dark wool and fleece, gleaming nylon and gore-tex and leather against the seeping rain. Flutes whirl around the ache of a melody over a growing growling drone as drums rattle and clatter closer and closer. Down the middle of the street through the haze of rain hung blushed by streetlight in the air a procession almost outnumbering the little crowd, at the head of it two young boys and an even younger girl in knee-length frock coats, the boys strutting with snare drums, the girl struggling with a clear bass drum strapped to her belly. Next a figure enormous in a crude suit of wicker armor, head hidden away behind a woven barrel of a helm, in one hand a long rattan pole. To one side of him a woman in a blue-black cloak over a gown of watery mail, her short hair gunmetal grey, and beside her trudges a clattering man, ducting and foam insulation clamped stiffly about his legs, a great stainless-steel pot lid hung over his chest, colander rakishly topping his head. Children the smallest barely a toddler wind laughing about their legs in rags and tatters, worn footed pyjamas, a filthy bib, a sodden wrap of fake blue fur. And behind them all a trundling black hulk of a car headlights dark the pavement beneath it lit up blue and green and purple the sides of it crusted with, with a teeming horde of dolls, doll heads, doll arms, jaggedly broken torsos and legs, all of them roughly painted black and glued and welded, bolted to the fenders, the hood, the doors, a coat of stiffly bristled fur combed back and up along the lines of the car, reaching toward the throne that squats on the roof, where’s slumped a black sack of a cloak topped by a tangle of dead black hair hung low, twined with dull white streaks.

“Some Last Thursday thing?” says Carol.

Marfisa’s eyes widen as that tangle of hair shifts, turns, tips back. She looks away quickly, down at the sidewalk, Carol’s heeled brown boots. “But it’s Friday,” she says, a crack in her voice.

“It’s November?” says Carol. “Last Thursday – yesterday – was Thanksgiving, right? Our holiday?” The drummers with flourishes drag their beat to a halt and the little procession stops just past the intersection at the other end of the block, those flutes and whistles still, for a moment only the seep of the rain. “So they do it on a Friday,” says Carol. She’s pointing. “They’ve got something going with Clown House, anyway.”

There in the street they’re all turning to face the house on the corner, peeling pink siding and mud-red trim, a welter of bicycles along the edge of the lot, tipped over onto the sidewalk, people spilling from its cramped front porch, coming out the side door gawking, wildly colored hair and faces painted white, a straw hat, a green and yellow cheerleader outfit, a grey uniform with red stripes, overalls and a plaid jacket, a ruddy round man in a leopard-print bikini and a purple feather boa his thin beard caked with white paint, and pushing to the front of them all is someone wearing a rabbit head with a metallic, skull-like face.

On the side of the car a bony man in a pinstripe suit is standing on the running board he’s reaching up careful of the dolls to take the hand of the woman slumped up there on the throne. He’s singing, a cold keen countertenor slicing through the murmurs of the crowds on the sidewalk, by the house, “Ní dhéanfaidh an ghealach solus d’éin-neach,” as the woman in that dark black cloak rolls out of the throne and he catches her, hefting her down from the roof of the car to the street, and all of them, children and toddlers, motley knights, drums still and flutes quiet, all of them singing along, “’S ní bheidh éisg ann air muir nó air tír – ”

“Is that,” says Carol, “damn, that’s Danny Boy. Spookiest arrangement I ever – Mar?” Marfisa isn’t beside her. “Mar?” Turning, looking back, the sidewalk, the street behind her empty, just the lights from a restaurant, a couple of shops a block or more away.

Table of Contents

Gore-tex® is a registered trademark of WL Gore & Associates. YouTube™ is a trademark of Google.™ “Aisling an Óigfhir,” writer unknown, within the public domain.

  Textile Help