:: Article

Eve in a Blue Robe

By Fawzy Zablah.

Gulf Stream Bend Apartments is located on Miami Beach. It is situated not in the world famous Art Deco district, but a few blocks from Washington Avenue shaded from the Florida sun by tall lanky palms. It stands small and inconsequential in its white facade, yet still very much Art Deco in feeling and Bahamian in way. Its two story accommodations attract the young single set looking for a modest place near the beach and the nightlife that surrounds it.

In apartment twelve, on the second floor, Eve stretched out on a worn out blue couch watching Jeopardy. Her living room is bare, except for the couch, a chair, and a twenty-one-inch television on the floor. By the current standard of art it could be considered affectedly artistic.
The blue couch had passed through two previous owners. Unbeknownst to Eve, it had been urinated and vomited on. It had seen the walls of a splendid house in Pine Crest and a humbled studio in Coral Gables. Its last place of residence was at a garage sale where Eve and a friend bought it to give her apartment a sense of “normality”; a quality that Eve thought it greatly lacked. Once the couch was brought home, a disturbing smell began to emanate from underneath. It was a mixed smell of urine, vomit, and Spring Time deodorizer. Eve concluded that someone had obviously tried to iodize the odor but only made it worse. A furniture cleaner was called immediately on suspicion of its questionable past and upon Eve’s hesitation that she could not bear to part with such a “lovely piece” that could add dimensions to her immediate

The couch brought with it Tony the furniture cleaner. Tony was the younger cousin of Luis Capote. Luis Capote was part owner of one the hippest clubs in South Beach, the Glamorama Night Club. Eve recognized Tony; she was familiar with his flamboyant style first hand at parties. And once, she was briefly introduced to Luis at an event. Later on a friend, who’s a native, told her the story of the cousins.

Tony was Cuban and looked like Steven Bauer from Scar Face. He wore a yellow furniture cleaners’ uniform. Eve noticed a wedding band on the ring finger of his left hand. He flirted with Eve as if walking at the edge of a pool with no intent of jumping in.
“You’re very cute. I like your eyes.”
“Thank you.”
He mentioned his cousin Luis, who sounded single, and his failing flings.
“He is searching for something meaningful. You know, with meaning. But unfortunately for him most of the women in Miami are only interested in money and the bling bling. You seem like a nice girl. But you know what I mean?”
Tony winked. Eve smiled. That was the first time anyone had ever winked at her. She had been single for some time. A blind date with Luis was arranged and numbers were exchanged. Eve called her best friend Lisa at work.
“You are not going to believe this. I have a blind date with Luis Capote on Saturday!”
“I know that name. Doesn’t he own a club on the beach?”
At the same time Tony was making a call on a cellular to his cousin.
“You are not gonna believe the piece of ass I just got you for Saturday night. The things I would do to this girl. That ass is so round. It’s like a nice red apple. I’d-“
“You’re a trip. Is she a hoe?”
“She is definitely a hoe…”

As a result of Tony’s expertise in furniture cleaning, the blue couch’s current state is “cute”, “tired”, and misleading. It was meant to be a recliner but a last minute decision at the factory changed it to a love seat. Nevertheless, the putrid smell is still there, deep down, below the cushions right next to the manufacturer’s tag that reads “recliner” in black, boldfaced letters.

As Eve became enthralled with double Jeopardy, a loud rap at the door broke her concentration. She stood up, rushed towards the door and without looking through the peephole or asking whom it was, she opened it. It was her best friend Lisa.

Eve met Lisa in Cancun during Spring break. Lisa was returning from the restroom back to the dance floor at four in the morning. She was drunk and tripped over a couple making love on the floor. She would have remained on the gutter but Eve gave her a hand, taking her away from the red strobe lights of the cantina to look at the stars in the terrace.
“Look at you. You’re a mess! You have a date in three hours and you look like you just woke up!”
“I just did,” Eve replied.
“Do you even know what time it is? It’s almost a quarter to seven,” Lisa said, walking towards the couch.
“I know, I lost track of time.”
“Oh my God, Eve! Look at your hair!” she said, sitting down on the couch.
“Could you stop, please?” Eve said, closing the door.
Once Eve sat next to her, Lisa grabbed her hands and placed them on her lap. “Listen to me,” Lisa said.
“I’m your best friend. I care about you and your future. I just want you to be happy. I will help you help yourself. I will make you look better than any of those skanks he has ever had. We will get this guy Eve. You will get him.”
Eve looked at her. “We have a lot of issues don’t we?”
“Only you my dear.”
“You bitch.”
“Oh my God! You are so bad. Slut!”
They laughed a loud girlish laugh that multiplied when Lisa unintentionally made a snorting sound and covered her mouth with both hands. When the laughs died down and the evening settled, they sat without words between them but a quiet understanding. Then after a few minutes, Lisa broke off and began the theater that is a girl getting ready for a date. They agreed that while Lisa picked out the possible ensemble, Eve would shower.

As Eve stood up and briskly disappeared into the bathroom Lisa went to the bedroom. Lisa was intent on finding the perfect outfit. She was well aware that Eve didn’t have much of a selection. It was either the Dinnigan dress she bought a few weeks back or the
black funnel neck dress with cap sleeves.

She slid open the closet door, picked out the two dresses, and set them down on a mattress that was on the floor. She then began searching for shoes quickly rejecting many choices with a “No, Nope, Na” and announcing satisfaction with a “Disco!” or “Perhaps, Perhaps…” Lisa took a step back, once more, rating the remaining shoes with a serious pondering stare that might be mistaken for a life or death decision or perhaps, even, a brilliant mind pondering a quick theory. In the end she went with the black strappies and if they didn’t connect she could always come back.

In the living room Lisa placed the chosen outfits on the couch gently, careful not to crease the fabric. She sat next to them, turned on the television, and switched channels for almost a minute until coming upon a beauty pageant. She watched the women in the pageant with a condescending smile. After seeing most of the swimsuit competition she took off her shoes followed by her socks and gazed at her bare feet. Each foot had five toes with respectable length and width. Her toe- nails were nicely trimmed with well proportioned toes. She wiggled her toes as she beheld her feet. During commercials she put her socks back on.

The shower stopped and Eve, in a blue robe, walked to the living room taking the chair to the
right of the couch. She dried her hair with a blue towel. She used the same towel to dry her feet. After drying her feet she looked at her hands, spreading her fingers apart, smiling at Lisa.
“The jig is up my love.”
“You are such a pessimist. You always were. Such a lovely pessimist ever since I met you in Cancun laughing and performing your naivete’ act on anyone who’d listen. In a way I think I’m the one that saved you.”
“That’s what you think. Maybe we just saved ourselves,” replied Eve, putting a cigarette in her mouth and lighting it.
Lisa rested her chin on the arm of the couch. “I never drank so much in my life.”
“Liar. You were such a slut that night,” Eve said, and blew smoke in her direction.
“I swear on my mother’s grave.”
“Your mother isn’t dead.”
“I meant my grandmother.”
“Whatever. You’re still a hoochie.”
“And you’re a wanna-be hoochie.”
“That’s not what the doctors say.”
“Come on. Shouldn’t you be getting ready?”
Lisa stood up, picked up a dress, and held it from the hanger at a distance. She narrowed it down to two choices: a black funnel neck dress and a d’esprit outfit. And the way she described the latter one would think she was announcing a fashion show.

“This right here,” she said, holding it up. “I love this. This is a Colette Dinnigan piece like I
told you in the store, a point d’esprit skirt with shirt over cotton camisole. You like? I think it’s perfect.”
“It’s too flashy,” Eve said, holding the cigarette between the index and middle fingers. Her hand was back, twisted, in that gay egoist manner in which most women hold their cigarettes. She held it almost right but her fingers were too thick.

“What are you talking about, it’s too flashy?”
“It’s too; I don’t know. It’s just a little too much for tonight. I need something conservative and sexy. I want something that hugs my skin and is not about the dress so much as the person who’s wearing it. You know?”
“Conservative and sexy? What the hell are you talking about?”
“I want the black dress,” Eve said, pointing to it.
“That’s all you had to say. Don’t be trying to make life more complicated.”
Eve disrobed, picked up the black dress, smiled and left the living room. When she came back wearing the dress, she stood in front of Lisa modeling it. She remained in the same spot feeling the dress along her body. The skirt of the dress was very short and she tried, in a failed attempt, to lower it.
“What are you doing?”
“It’s really short.”
“But, of course. What did you expect?”
Eve was still trying to lower it. “It wasn’t this short when I tried it at the store.”
“Eve, please don’t act like you didn’t notice, cause honey, I was there.”
“Does it look alright now?” Eve said.
“I think you’re right. This might be better for tonight.”
“Not too slutty, right? Because one of my main concerns is comfort.”
“That neck and those short sleeves, you’re a ten, sweetie.”
One hour came and went. Eve, in her blue robe, stood in front of a tall mirror applying, or trying to apply makeup. She became impatient at her attempts.
“It becomes this mission sometimes.”
“You need help?” Lisa said, flipping through an issue of Vogue magazine.
Eve walked towards the couch. “You think this eyeliner looks good?”
Lisa sat up, put the magazine down and looked at the eyeliner. “Let me put it on. I love putting makeup on other people.”
“Okay, but don’t experiment on my face.”
Eve sat on the couch. Lisa sat next to her applying the makeup.
“I’ve never really seen this guy,” Lisa began.
“What does he look like again?”
“He’s very cute, very Cuban. Brown eyes, dark hair-“
“Are you sure I’ve seen him?”
“Don’t you remember, Marisa’s party? The second week we were here? He wore a sleeveless Versace outfit. You kept asking me what I was staring at.”
Lisa carefully concentrated on one eye, “Don’t move,” she said. “I think I remember now. Did he drive the black Porsche?”
“No, he drove the yellow Ferrari.”
“Oh yeah. That guy. He was cute. He was wearing a $50,000 Rolex.”
“He had a Rolex?”
Lisa paused to pick up the blush. “He shook someone’s hand right in front of me as I mingled. I
couldn’t help but notice.”
“Right,” Eve said.
“Don’t move. I’m almost done.”

When Eve was all made up, and the right shoes were picked, (black heels) and her hair sprayed and styled in the best possible way, and every avenue was exhausted including nails and fragrance, in accordance with the ritual a modern girl follows to make herself look proper for public consumption on Ocean Drive, the two best friends, relieved they had finished ahead of time, sat on the blue couch waiting for the call that would green light the evening.
“You know what?” Lisa said, picking at her ponytail, looking quiet demure. “Let’s not talk about
him. We might jinx it. Know what I mean?”
“You’re right. Let’s change the topic.”
Eve stood up, stretched and went to the kitchen.
She came back with a bottle of Merlot in her right hand and two wine glasses crisscrossed in her left. She handed one glass to Lisa and served her and then herself. Eve sipped the wine and placed the bottle on the floor by her feet.
“Thank you,” Lisa said. “You are not gonna believe what happened to me yesterday!”
“What happened? Tell me.”
“I ran into Rhonda. You know, Rhonda Void?”
“Oh my God! He’s such a trip!”
“You wouldn’t believe how much of a fucking trip.”
“So, tell me,” Eve said.
“I had just bought the Shadow Lounge mix from that little record store on Washington. You know? Next to the Sushi restaurant.”
“Uncle Sam’s.”
“Yeah, Uncle Sam’s. So anyway, I’m on my way to get some pizza. And I see Rhonda, all seven feet of him, in a purple miniskirt, in broad daylight. Does he have the balls or what?”
“Tell me about it. I’ve never seen him without drag. For real!”
“Right, anyway, we start talking. My little ponytail and me. Him and his red bouffant hairdo looking like Ricky Lake in Hair Spray.”
“Oh please! Have you ever seen him in his blond wig? Hilarious! I heard the only way to get him out of a dress is if you agree to fuck him.”
“Anyway, so we were talking about you actually,” Lisa said, taking a long sip.
“Oh really?”
“Yeah, but I’m getting to that. So we’re having a pleasant conversation and everything is cool-“
“Want any more wine?”
“No, I’m fine,” Lisa said, putting her glass down. “Okay, then some guy; a friend of Rhonda, comes into the conversation. One of those YMCA queers with the hard bodies we always see at the gym.” Lisa made a limp wrist and the best queer impression she could muster and continued. “Getting very snippy at Rhonda; copping an attitude about something or other. Then they start cussing each other out. It’s all very ghetto.”
“What were they fighting about?” Eve said, while pouring herself some more wine.
“I forget. I think about a girl or something.”
“A girl?”
“But anyway,” she paused for a sip and continued.
“So they’re like arguing in the street and it’s starting to become this scene. It’s not really a scene yet but it’s getting there. And then the guy says, ‘Who the fuck do you think you are?’ And Rhonda goes insane and pulls a gun out!”
“He what?”
“I’m not kidding, he pulled a gun out!”
“Was it real? Maybe it was fake.”
“Let me tell you, that shit looked real! I froze. I totally froze. I mean I have never seen a gun up close. But that looked real. So Rhonda is like ‘What did you say?’ And the guy is like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ and Rhonda says, ‘This is a gun mother fucker’ She points it-“
“Yeah, he points it straight at the guy’s forehead,” she makes her index finger like a pistol at
Eve’s forehead. “Like this: click, click, click at his head.”
“Get off bitch,” Eve said, moving her head away.
“Oh my God! What did you do?”
“What could I do but take a load in my pants. Rhonda just goes off on the guy, pistol-whipping him. He hit him so hard the guy is on the ground. She’s just on top of him, beating this huge fag against the pavement. And I’m like, okay, I should go now. And then the cops show up and try to get Rhonda off the guy. But Rhonda, in a quick burst of crazy, starts swinging her arms and manages to run away from the police.”
“Must have been hilarious.”
“Are you kidding? I thought I was about to die!
They eventually caught up with Rhonda. They handcuffed her and sat her down in a squad car for like an hour.”
“Where was Rhonda’s wig during all this?”
“Amazingly still on his head.”
“He uses glue or something?”
“They asked Mr. Olympia if he wanted to press charges and he had a huge fit as blood is squirting out of his head yelling, ‘What do you think?’ The cop was like, ‘I’m sorry sir, we thought it was a lover’s quarrel.’ After they questioned me I went over to the squad car to say goodbye to Rhonda. I overheard the cop asking him his name but Rhonda wouldn’t answer and she just sat there mumbling something about poetry.”
“Wow, that is fucking crazy.”
“Fucking crazy is right,” Lisa said. “But anyway, before any of that stuff happened we were talking shit about you and David.”
“Oh no, here we go again.”
“Rhonda told me he ran into David and he was pretty chummy talking about you. Rhonda said that David said that he kind of has a ‘spiritual soul mate thing’ going on with you. He said David couldn’t really explain it and was beginning to feel like he was falling in love with you and that you, perhaps were the only woman he could ever be with.”
Eve laughed and sat back. “The first time we met, at The Living Room, he knew. I don’t know how, but he knew. I could see it in his eyes. He read me. And he’s the first. He was very discreet, alluding to things mostly. He never meant any harm. When it came out in the open between him and me, he said he gave his highest regards to whichever place I went to have it done.”
“You never told me this.”
“He said he had a friend who had the same thing done to him and he got clocked.”
“Clocked? What’s that mean?”
“They messed up. She couldn’t achieve an orgasm. She became depressed and changed her mind after the final surgery and she shot herself.”
“That’s so sad,” Lisa said, covering her mouth with her hands.
“I know, that’s what I said, and then he smiled and I forgot about it. You know what he told me? He said I looked like Barmaid from East of Eden.”
“The what?”
“I know that’s what I said. It’s a movie. He said I looked like the girl in the movie. Some James Dean movie from the fifties. He caressed my face and lips. It was so intimate. And then he said, ‘You must have been a beautiful man.’ His exact words.”
The phone rang twice before Eve, looking at Lisa, and then at the phone, picked it up.
“Yes, Luis?”
“How are you?”
“Just getting all dolled up, and you?”
“I’m running late about half hour. Just wanted to let you know.”
“You are such a gentleman for calling, Luis!”
“I know mami’. You love it, don’t you?”
“Yes, of course. It tells me a lot.”
“So, hopefully, you are not too bothered.”
“No, of course not.”
“I will see you then. Okay?”
“Okay, bye.”
“Ciao darling.”
Eve smiled big and hung up the phone. “Such a cool guy, he called to say he was going to be a little late.”

Exactly thirty-six minutes later Lisa and Eve sat next to each other on the blue couch. There were five cigarette butts in the ashtray by their feet. Eve wore the black wool dress.
“What about David?” Lisa said.
“What about, David?”
“He’s nice and sweet. But not nice like what you’d say about a boring guy. But nice like damn, he’s fine.”
“His big dream is to open a restaurant in Tahiti right beside the beach. He calls it his future
paradise. David is a good guy, but I don’t like him like that.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t want to be poor.”
“That makes sense, I guess,” Lisa said, checking her nails, like if she was about to file them.
A knock at the front door startled them both. Eve and Lisa looked at each other. Lisa smiled. Eve laughed.

Fawzy Zablah was born in El Salvador and raised in Miami. His work has appeared at Litvision, Muslimwakeup.com and Girls With Insurance. He also wrote a short story book called Ciao! Miami and is a fiction editor for 3:AM.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, May 5th, 2007.