Between Saint Roch and Music: three flash fictions
By Utahna Faith.
Let’s Do Some Living
“Diamond rings, Vaseline, you give me disease,
Well, I lost a lot of love over you. ”
We don’t know for sure if Mick or Keith wrote it, or both together, and why, and about whom. It’s one of the Stones’ harsher pieces on “Exile”, but the sound of it is up and riotous and celebratory. The sound is: Ok, this is life. What the fuck. I’ll take it over the alternatives.
There are more than twelve songs on “Exile On Main Street”. Eighteen, actually. Lagniappe at its over-the-top best. Double album.
We have appointments with Keith, and Anita, and Gram, and Mick and Mick and Charlie and Bill, and all of them. The French photographer, of course, Dominique Tarlé, and the dealer even, with the two beautiful children Anita mothered that summer along with her own child, baby-daddy Keith: Marlon. We will meet them there, at Nellcôte, and brunch on the veranda, watch an apex created in a humid basement, take the Martigues across the South of France blue waves to meet the connection.
* * *
The Whole Damn Thing
Darlin’ Nikki plays the ukelele. She is curvy and bouncy and her front teeth are crooked and one is chipped.
They are from Tennessee, not Virginia. The darlin’s. Those Darlin’s.
I want to serve them banana pancakes, or pot pancakes, or chocolate chip pancakes, Friday morning in my kitchen.
Nikki wears red socks in the video for “Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy”. She and Kelly sing backup and tap dance the beat on a peely southern porch, while Jessi sings lead and Linwood plays drums, ironically trapped and bored-looking, reminding me of Charlie Watts in a way that quietly thrills me.
I want to be dashing, Thursday night, at Tipitina’s. I’ve never been in such a situation. I’d be there with the Stones, of course, but at this point they are almost imaginary to me. I am in love with them, in love with Keith, in 1971. An impossible situation. And perhaps the only type I can at this point survive.
Nikki, Kelly, Jessi, Linwood. Those Darlin’s.
Is it dangerous to go out at night, now that the deal has gone down? I have put myself in time out. On probation. In reform school.
But I planned for you, Darlin’s, months ago, when I still had my own opinion of freedom.
I know what you would do, Darlin’s. You’d eat the whole damn thing.
* * *
“Mother! Mother! Mother!” The lead singer shouted it over and over again. I was glad I had always called mine Mama, and that my little boy did the same with me.
The guitar screamed, the singer/player’s fretting hand shooting up and down like it was turbo powered and chicken fat greased. The bass player had the bass face, mostly, keeping a line on digging. The drummer kept his eyes closed and sticks flying. All that sound, it was hard to believe it was really only three people.
There was no definite anger in the Mother mantra. It was difficult to figure. Could have been homage, could have been fear, or rage, or respect. Could have been anything. At the end, the singer fell to his knees, went prostrate, forehead on floor. That, for me at least, clarified.
The next song had lyrics, and they had something to do with sunshine, and hope, actually. I shook off my jacket and tossed it on the floor next to the wall. Danced. Back and forth a little at first, then bouncing, then twirling, then before I intended it going around the floor like a fiercely spun top. I ran into someone. Sorry, I said, holding up my hand, palm out. He was twice my size and wearing spikes. No prob, he said, and slammed himself hard into the wall.
The sound was everywhere, in the tympanic and the nurse-loved veins and the thoracic, in the ceiling and the Bombay lime and the lighting that flashed, in the brain, all of it, and the boots and the pigtails sticking up like horns, in the stage and the crowd and the double stacked speakers.
I could not hear my phone alarm sounding, but I felt the vibration, in the little mandala cloth bag I had found once on the sidewalk, UV scanned and now hanging just at my right hip.
Cinderella mama. The boots are zipped and tied, black and furry, and I am not looking for a prince.
Walking home in the neutral ground, air balmy in winter, trying to avoid dog shit, but liking the overhead lights, the visibility, the lack of proximity to dark alleys leading off sidewalks. Only a few blocks. Taser in hand. And then my stoop, unlocking, peely paint, swaying a little.
All is quiet inside, dark except for night-lights and my babysitting-trading-friend’s phone as she texts her baby’ daddy.
“They’re asleep?” I ask. She nods. Calls a taxi. I help carry her stroller to the curb, load it in, showing our presence before the driver has a chance to lean on the horn. She carries out her toddler, his head on her shoulder, arms and legs limp with delta.
We lock gazes, understanding and goodnight, then I close the taxi door and go inside. Wrought iron security door. Inside door. Deadbolts and button locks. Chain.
I slip through my little boy’s room, sock-footed now, on the wooden floors of the century-plus-old shotgun cottage.
Cherub. He opens his eyes.
“Where did you go, Mama? Where did you go after you finished your work?”
I float over to him, kiss him on the forehead.
“Siberia,” I say.
He smiles like he gets a joke. My heart could shatter. His eyelids flutter shut, fist to cheek like from the beginning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Utahna Faith lives in New Orleans. Her writing appears in Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters and Life; elimae; The New Orleans Review; the anthologies 3:AM London, New York, Paris; Flash Fiction Forward; The Edgier Waters: Five Years of 3:AM; and elsewhere. (Photo by Nolan.)
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012.