Short Stories

Eye Candy Mezzanine

It’s simply another day of dalliance on the Eye Candy Mezzanine. So much to see, images to dissolve time with, an introduction-less beginning without an end. No more, no less, an interlude glimpse allows only the sweetness to remain on the tongue. Let’s take a stroll to eavesdrop and marvel at this day’s going’s on…

Our tour begins with a silent greeting from a petite gentleman masquerading as Charlie Chaplin wearing a sandwich board sign that reads: “When the automobile arrived, all the horses laughed, they knew man would no longer travel any where he wanted.” He tips his bowler hat and waddles away, headed for a bistro and some sweet cappuccino.

Down the center of the Mezzanine promenade, we can see men wandering naked, drowning in a sea of flags and banners and furling knight-crest pennants. They can only stare through one another but not react, not recognize or call out and stretch a hand between and under the snapping banners to sooth or help one another. Prometheus too stands naked, lost and unrecognized among them. He stands lashed by the red, blue, green, yellow, and white fields of allegiance, the color-fields of man’s glory. He stands, naked abdomen and back torn open, bleeding, mindlessly waving a blue and white banner over his head, as if whipping the other flags and pennants into a tempest frenzy, confusing and agitating eagles that circle above.  What a billowing rainbow sea. What a colorful burial ceremony. What a fitting procession for man. An eye candy parade of pomp and consequence.

In ancient recessed corners of the mezzanine are dark blue shrines inked in patterns of geometric angles and lines. Surrounded by symbols, icons of tribal meaning, contrasting against modern logos born of branding irons. Blacker shadows brush coarse over an aboriginal archer’s burnt olive skin. His close shorn hair shines sienna in the streaked bars of sunlight. A woven tunic and hide sandals cover his body, a sling of arrows rests on his back. He stands chameleon within a forest of runes and talisman; a natural, veritable fortress incognito. He waits motionless, invisible with bow half drawn, arrow notched in it’s arc. His hunt is ritual, redeeming, a show of respect for an abundant garden deeded at the beginning of time. The elephant grass is tall, bending in concert with gentle Savannah winds. Broadleaf shade cools the jungle floor as the tree canopy bakes brittle in the equatorial dawn. Time slips past, the bow is slackened and lowered from readiness. The primitive fades back into the black-dark of nature, a waiting ritual; primitive man’s hunt through time pauses.

Along another avenue, we can glimpse Pandora, seen through a large sepia prism dangling mobile-like from the mezzanine’s roof transom. Her long, uncut raven tresses, flung wild over her browned shoulders and down her arched back. There are sentinel posts, carved figure totems that surround her as she strides in an orange sea of dead grass. A drought has come, lingered and committed to the barren soil. Her starved bust is bare, ribs showing, breasts small and tight against her chest. A hot tempest blows the heavy folds of her blood-red draping skirt. She glides legless, only the skirt’s billow and collapse suggest otherwise. She gazes heaven ward, sightless, a tortured waif lost and wandering through burning turf. Dusty smoke rises from adobe-hardened earth, through dried shoots and blades and surrounds her passage with elemental powders; all residue of past quests for the fabled chest. Tall, stele sentinel’s mutely watch. Pandora tears at her hair, rips her skirt, her feet burn through her sandal’s thin hide and her eyes stream hot tears. The sky turns yellow, then ages; lines and planes shift like layers in a kaleidoscope, a looking glass divination. She will find what she’s looking for. She has been inspired by the earth and sky and by suffering humanity. A cloud passing over head suddenly erases the image from the prism and chiming bells are heard.

The hour as arrived at the Eye Candy Mezzanine where women all come to sup and lunch in their bonnets and floral dresses, their bodices and corsets, their hoops and flounces; that and all the other ephemera women ensconce themselves with when going out for a stroll down the avenue or a luncheon on the banks of the Seine or standing in cloistered flocks at the races. It’s an arresting spectacle. Venus figures defying the wind, putting on silk gloves and heeled, button-up patent leathers. Their coiffing alone takes a week in preparation. Funny how they choose to draw attention away from it all by bringing the dogs. The bouffant Afghans, the czarist Borzoi’s, the mercurial Whippets. As much an accessory as their purses or umbrellas or ne’er-do-well beau’s. A grand sashay, all a’drape and a’flutter. Accented in plumes, boas and ribbons waving couture salutations in the afternoon breeze until the indigo stillness of the early evening sends them homeward for a quick-change before act two.

But during our intermission, wandering the kiosks of the mezzanine, what has woman gone and done? Trying to make it in a man’s world? Tucking her hair under a squared red cap and hiding the delicate curve of her swan-like neck wrapped and tied up in a starch white collar ascot. What does she do, hiding her gender underneath a British red uniform, black suede lapels and sleeves trim with polished brass buttons? Presenting her soft facial features scrubbed angular, her lips set in a thin, un-rouged line, her delicate hands gloved in bone and ivory calfskin. But why are her shoulders squared, hips tailored flat in striped pants, holding that shoulder strap box of wares? She stands, still and resolute as a park statue, fists on hips, oblivious to the notions and opinions swimming around her on the mezzanine. Her boxes of cookies, tins of Scottish shortbread, wooden tobacco humidors and ribbon tied canisters of imported hard candy on display at perpendicular angles to her androgenized figure. What has woman done, her eyes colorless and shadow-brimmed under her military-style cap’s glossy, patent leather visor? She’s done all of this to make a semblance of a living in this man’s world. More’s a pity.

We come now to a puppet theater. A play acted with paper silhouette puppets is about to begin. A starving Sitar musician sits next to the theater, accompanying the performance with surrealistic stringed notes, cajoling the play dance to life.

The small stage light rises, the performance begins…

An Indian fakir crouched on the pebbled ground next to his bed of nails. The sun over Chandni Chowk bazaar in old New Delhi, slipped behind a cloud and plunged the earth into dim twilight. When it re-emerged, the sun was in eclipse and the earth plummeted darker still. The Fakir held a small enameled tray in both hands just above his knees. His turban was casually wrapped, a single pheasant tail-feather tucked in a fold in front. He wore small, gold earrings that hid tangled in the rich black curls of his beard. The pebbles of the ground moved into a dotted pattern, his near-by bed of nails lay inert. On the enamel tray was a Jin bottle, dark with gold leaf letters and one small crystal shot glass. The fakir remained crouched and motionless, holding the tray in the shadow of the eclipse. The ground directly in front of him presently began to move, a black-emerald slither advanced and materialized into a cobra, a king. The fakir’s eyes remained closed, his hands still, no twitch was visible in any muscle on his lean frame. The snake rose slowly up, spreading it’s hood into a gold and jade fan as it coiled. The earth was silent, the eclipse muted the murmur of man’s woes. The Fakir held the tray in offering. The cobra’s dominant stare glazed, and his fangs appeared dripping venom. The drops of poison landed in the glass, thick and deadly sweet. The wind moved the clouds over the eclipsed sun, hiding it and the dark dissolved, a growing brilliant corona etched around the cloud and the pall lifted from the earth. As golden sunlight moved across the ground, the pebbles scattered, the shadow moved away and the cobra was no more. The Fakir never moved, day turned to night and no one drank the offering from the Jin’s glass.

The small stage light extinguishes, applause, the show is ended.

So to, the mezzanine activity slows, ebbs in the tide of time, the afternoon slips away into supper. Eye candy has a lingering opium to it’s flavor and over indulgence is not recommended. We must end our voyeuristic tour, but take heart, there are always other days, other sights to behold when strolling through the Eye Candy Mezzanine. Adieu.



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