Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Naomi's Musings

what does it feel like?
i wondered. that first moment:
waking up vampire.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Fourteenth

After work on Tuesday, I sent Dani a text. I did not want to use work time or work computers and leave a paper trail. I asked her if she could check with Mara about a meeting for the following weekend. On Thursday night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I received a text from Dani that Mara could see me Friday night at 10. I prepared a list of questions, but Mara waved them away when I arrived. She had decided to tell me a story instead.


In 1722, a girl was born to a merchant family in Marseille. Her name was Marie. She helped her mother keep shop but often got in trouble for drawing in the ledgers. She was 10 when her father died, and her mother was unable to care for all the children, so Marie was apprenticed or sold off to a printmaker. The printmaker knew of Marie's artistic talent, and her mother was glad to see she was provided for, but there was another part to the bargain, that the printmaker had not told the family. He was looking for a successor both to his art and to his line. I'm sure you've all guessed it by now. He was a vampire, Dracula's clan.


Ah, well that tells a bit of what I needed to know about how she might behave and what's likely to offend her,” I thought.


Marie was a clever girl and she discovered this soon after she was sent to live with the printmaker. He told her he would kill her if she told anyone. She was terrified at first, but on the whole he was a good master, if strict. And he taught her art, which she loved. When she was 17, he gave her the choice to leave and marry and lead a normal life, but she wanted to stay and serve. The printmaker knew then that he had found his successor. Although it was odd, he hired a tutor for her and she learned Latin and Greek and algebra and geometry and rhetoric. And art. Above all, art. Her skill at drawing and painting had only grown since she was a child.


Just after she turned 30, the printmaker sat down with her to talk about the future. He asked again if she wanted a normal life, but by that time she thought that a normal life was out of her reach. He proposed to send her to the French colony in Louisiana to trade and study, but he wanted to make sure of her loyalty. So he would turn her to bind her to the clan and to him. She thought about it but came to a decision quickly. He had taken her in and allowed her the thing that she loved, her painting, and she saw no reason not to acquiesce. And so her unlife began in the winter of 1752.


She stayed the winter in France and sailed on the first ship in April of 1753 to New Orleans. Sometime later, the letters from the printmaker stopped coming, and she learned that he had been hunted and killed. She never learned by whom but suspected a rival clan of vampires. Mara implied that Degas had learned a bit from her during his time in New Orleans. As time went on, people came into her life and drifted away, and she grew lonely and her paintings reflected that. She changed her name to Mara, “bitter”, around the turn of the last century. And she was looking for an heir.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Thirteenth

I panicked. Had anything happened last night? I tried to go back through my memory to detect anything stupid or untoward, but I had only had a beer or two and didn't remember anything of the sort happening. And she was moving around the apartment going thru what appeared to be her normal morning routine, so I decided to take that as a good sign. I looked at the clock. Not much time to get to work. Quick shower, probably no time for me to eat. Maybe a granola bar in the car.

So would it be weird if we go to work together?” I asked.

Nah, just tell them you picked me up on the way.” This seemed like it might be a regular occurrence for her. I felt a little sick to my stomach.


I wished good morning, briefly, to the receptionist and Ms. Devereaux and Mr. Robbins. Two of the three of them seemed glad to see me. I arrived in my office to find paperwork and a new stack of cases on my desk. I worked straight through the morning on a prenup and a name change. Since I was a summer associate, they were really good about giving me the whole hour for lunch, and I decided to run downstairs to a sandwich shop and pick up a po'boy to eat at my desk while I researched copyright law. And this was the result:


Some form of copyright has been recognized (in Britain) since 1694, and in France since 1777, but originally only written works were protected. In the US, the first Copyright Act was passed in 1790. But Louisiana was not acquired until 1803, I thought. The Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty, was established in 1886 and revised in 1896, 1908, 1928, 1948, 1967, and 1971. So I need to know where Mara's works were painted, and when. The term of protection is generally the life of the author plus 50 or 70 years. Great, I thought. Now we get into that pesky life/unlife distinction. I hate trying to explain that one. And this time my “client” is a vampire. She will not be pleased.


I scanned through the rest of the nutshell, and it appeared that none of the exceptions would apply, but I would need to interview Mara in more detail, which would mean another meeting. I'd probably have to contact her through Dani. It seemed to me that the only sticking point was whether or not Mara was alive. Clearly she was walking around like the rest of us, behaving more or less like a live person, and... if no death certificate had ever been issued, we might have a case! Although proving her birth date might be a bit tricky.


I wondered: do you issue a cease-and-desist letter before you know you have a case? Maybe Mara wants to pursue legal remedies to avoid starting a clan war. That would be prudent. But I didn't know exactly how vampire society worked or where Mara ranked in it. It did seem as if an interview would be the best option. I supposed it would have to wait till the next weekend, since I could not afford to do late nights during the week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Twelth

I wanted to get home. I wanted to relax. But that was going to be difficult. On top of all the strangeness and potential danger of the weekend, tomorrow I had to be at work. Next to matters of life and death and undeath, family law seemed pretty mundane, and Ms. Devereaux wasn't nearly as threatening.


I walked home quickly, glancing over my shoulder repeatedly, but when I got there, I found I didn't want to be in my apartment alone. I didn't really know many people in the city, and I wasn't going to go out, so it seemed the only thing to do was to call Dani. We could have a drink, which would calm me down, and maybe talk, since I had lots of questions, or if she wasn't in a talking mood, maybe we could watch a movie. After all, there was so much education she was missing.


I picked up the phone and dialed...

Hey, are you busy?”

Not really, just cleaning a bit, why?”

I had a weird day and I want someone to talk to. Can you come over?”

Yeah, i'll be there in a little while.”

Um... be careful. I don't want you getting followed...”


I didn't care if I sounded paranoid. I didn't really want to tell her everything on the phone. At least when I tell Maryanne, she won't think i'm paranoid or crazy, I thought.


I popped open a beer. Good thing New Orleans has good local microbrews.


I picked up the phone again to call Maryanne. I hoped she wouldn't worry too much. She's always been protective of the rest of us. This time she picked up:

Maryanne, it's Naomi! How are you?”

Busy, like always. I got your message, what's going on?”

Are you sitting down?”

Yes”. I couldn't tell if she was anticipating or dreading the news.

Theresavampireandshewantsmetotrackdowncopyrightinfringersandihaveacrushonthisgirl!”

WHOA! Take a breath and start that sentence over.”


I met... a vampire. And now I'm working for her on the side. And this girl at my office is friends with the vampire and I really like her.”

Wow... I guess this kind of seals it. We'll be working with or for the undead whether we like it or not. What are you doing?”

She wants me to track down some people who are selling her art without permission, and find legal means to deal with them. I'm in the process of IRACing the problem. But IP is hard.” Maryanne was used to my whining on the subject.

I continued: “and Dani is amazing. She files stuff at the office and she's a university student and she introduced me to Mara.”

Mara is the vampire?”

Ah. Yes. Sorry.”

You haven't told her, have you?” Maryanne sounded concerned.
“...no. but it's probably pretty obvious.”

You've been there a week. And workplace romance is always a bad idea. And you're leaving at the end of the summer. Focus on your work.”

She's coming over tonight.”

Maryanne decided to change the subject: “What about the vampire, Mara? What's going on with the case? Do you know what house she's from?”

Not a lot on the case. Don't know what house. Today I decided to play tourist and see if I could snag one of the fake paintings, but so far no luck. I might be being followed, though. And a voodoo guy gave me a bag.”

I'm glad it's YOUR life that's weird right now. I had enough after last winter.”

You said yourself we're marked. Things will get interesting again. In the Chinese sense.”

Yeah...” she said vaguely.

So, any advice on the vampire or IP front?” I asked hopefully.

unfortunately, no. Just read up on both subjects and know what you're dealing with before you act. And take care. I miss you and I want to see you back in the fall in one live piece.”

I will. I miss you too. Thanks.”

Bye” we said together.


And at that moment the doorbell rang. I had all the locks on and I crept to the door and looked out the peephole. It was still daylight, or I would have taken my softball bat along to the door. Never know when you might need it for an intruder or zombie uprising. Fortunately, it was Dani.


You get here ok?” I asked out of habit, and then remembered that I was actually concerned.

yeah, just fine.” she either didn't know what kind of weirdness was dancing about in her city or she was used to it.

you want something to drink?”

Brought my own” and she pulled a Zima out of her messenger bag. I almost started laughing. I grabbed another beer from the fridge and sat down on the couch.


So I went looking for the person selling the paintings today, and a whole bunch of weird stuff happened.”

Like what?”

Well, a lady read my palm, and I think someone was following me around, and the man at the voodoo museum seemed to know me and he called you “my girl”.”

Oh. Yeah, I was in there looking for spell ingredients, and I mentioned you.”

You practice, then? What kind of spell?”

It's a secret. You'll have to wait and see.”

She really frustrates me sometimes.

Then I remembered: “What's this?” and I pulled out the bag the man had given me and handed it to her.

She looked at it, felt the contents thru the bag, and smelled it.

John the Conqueroo. It's for luck in sex and gambling.”

ohhhh...kay. What do I do with it?”

Just keep it. You never know when it might come in handy.”


I was skeptical, but maybe I'd give belief a shot. Enough improbable things had happened that it seemed like a good idea. And suddenly, somehow, I was tired of talking.


Do you want to watch something?” I asked.

Yeah,” she agreed.

And so I popped Firefly into the DVD player. I passed out on the couch, and when I woke up the next morning, Dani was still there.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Eleventh

Well, fine, if my destination awaits, then I'll just go to the next place I planned on, I thought. But as I walked to the voodoo museum, I thought about it, and the lady was right. Any place you travel to, any place you go, physical or emotional, is a journey both to and from. I've always stood on the line between belief and skepticism, and this summer, so far, was not helping. It was only making me more confused and less willing to pick a side. Maybe I didn't have to. Maybe I was just a traveler.


I opened the door and was greeted by overpowering incense floating out the front door. Through the smell filtered the curator's voice: “Good morning.” I managed to choke out “Good morning” in return and then proceeded to hold my breath, discreetly I hoped. I wasn't sure how he could breathe. I still remember that smell. He proceeded to tell me all about the museum and how it was founded to honor and educate about Marie Laveau, New Orleans' voodoo queen. I wandered through the various rooms of pictures and placards and small altars. I was torn between paying my respects and trying to stay under the radar of whatever gods might or might not live there. I felt like I was being watched, but I saw nobody.


As I turned around to go back to the front of the museum, I heard the door shut. Had the owner left? I found him back at his desk in the front room, looking pensive. He stood up and walked over to the wall of charms and grisgris and pulled one down.


You best take this.” He was serious. Something was going on, maybe to do with the person who just came and went.

How much?”

Nothin'. Jus' keep it with you and use it well.”

Thank you... what is it?”

Ask your girl.”


My girl? But I didn't have... and he couldn't mean... Dani?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Tenth

Around Jackson square the artists and street performers always set up. On this particular morning I stood for a while watching one of the human statutes, covered in silver paint. I felt kinda sorry for him, because that stuff couldn't be good for one's skin, and it must be hot, besides.


Next to him was a girl setting up. She looked about my age but also like she partied pretty hard when she was younger. She had lots of paintings and sketches involving the cute and disturbing: skeletal bunnies and kitties, zombies with foofy pink dresses, deformed humans with cartoon animal heads... I decided to strike up a conversation.

You probably get this a lot, but where do you get your inspiration?”

They live inside me,” she answered seriously.

Whoa,” I thought. Someone DEFINITELY partied too hard. I was freaked out, but I felt like I should continue the conversation to be polite.

How long have you lived here?” I asked.

Whole life,” she drawled proudly. “Lost my pets last year. That's why I paint these.” She gestured to the skeletal animals. Maybe she was less crazy than I thought. Maybe “live inside me” was her way of saying she kept their memory alive. I was curious about something else:

So do the artists here like, help each other out, or it it more of a rivalry?”


Everybody here, pretty close. Like cousins. ...'cept him.” And she pointed to a man caddy-cornered across the square. He wore dark clothes and even from a distance he looked ill. He was hunched and his skin was a vaguely yellowish-green. If he was the guy I was looking for, I wondered how tourists weren't put off by that appearance.


I figured I should let the girl get back to her business and I should continue my research... “How much for the small pretty zombie?” It was a small picture in a gold colored frame, like you might see the Virgin Mary up in a Catholic household.

Fifteen.”

More than I wanted to pay, but I've never been good at haggling. I pulled out the wallet. Maryanne would get a kick out of it anyway.

There ya go. Thanks.”


And I shuffled as nonchalantly as possible over to ill guy to check out his warez. I suspected he might be the one I was looking for. He didn't seem to have any reaction at all to my approach, which could be good or bad. I scanned over his paintings but nothing looked familiar. Mostly black and white sketches of trees and cemeteries. I guess I'd struck out on this one. Before I left the square, though, there was something I'd always wanted to do, and I decided now was as good a time as any: I'd go get my palm read.


I scanned around the square and settled on a woman under a black umbrella, with a big hand sign up behind her, and a minimum of stars and lamé around the table.

I smiled. “How much for a reading?”

One hand, ten. Both hands, twenty.” I might have a job, but I was still a student.

One hand, then please.”


She studied for several minutes.

You will travel a lot. Perhaps to, and perhaps from.” And she set my hand down as if she were finished. That was disappointing.

Your destination awaits.” And she gestured grandly across the square.

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day 2010!

What do pirates have to do with the undead?  A lot.  How do I know?  Because I'm a lawyer.  Lawyers find connections in the most incongruous and illogical places.

So here for your reading enjoyment we present...a poem.

Be There Monsters On Deck

Many a monster can be found
when sailing of the map.
But few the monsters on board ships;
Here be the mystery we unwrap.

Ghost ships there be, and many seen
On nights of moonlit mist.
But rarely found are ghosts themselves.
What be the cause of this?

It seems that ghosts love to haunt
A structure on solid land
But ships? They rock and toss and dip;
No ghost can take a stand.

Vampires, well, they need blood.
Much sailor blood be muck.
Living off men too long at sea
Quickly starts to suck.

And werewolves suffer like normal men
If they live on meat too long
(Thus was it first to a werewolf said,
“Avast, ye scurvy dog!”)

Zombies no crew will tolerate.
Too much rotten flesh and moans.
The undead, they be quickly consigned
to the care of Davy Jones.

And so it be that on ships ye find
Few spectrals or undead
Ye have to settle for the fearful vision
of the Jolly Roger instead.

From all of us here at the Undead Bar Association, we wish you a Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2010!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Ninth (in which a Plan is formed!)

Might as well make a day of it, but first I should call Maryanne. After a few rings, it went to voice mail.

Hey you. It's me. New Orleans is... interesting. Mostly good. I need to talk to you, though. Hope you're doing well. Talk to you soon. Bye.”


And with that, I headed out to get started. I hit Cafe DuMonde first, for some coffee. I hoped it would shatter the hangover, but I couldn't stomach beignets that morning. It was nice, the coffee was strong, I sat in the shade under fans and listened to buskers playing jazz while I thought about my next move. I figured I should wander around Jackson Square and go in the shops and talk to the street artists, see if anything looked or sounded familiar or fishy. Then, if nothing came of that, I'd go on a tour and talk to some of the other people on the tour. After that... I might have to ask Dani or Mara for help or advice.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Eighth

I was very tired after that, but what I pieced together from my notes later was this:


Mara was, in fact, a vampire. She had been born in France and had had ample opportunity (read: a few hundred years) to study art. She had moved to New Orleans during one of its early booms. Although she was fairly well known, she would occasionally go on sabbatical and people would sort of forget about her. I wasn't sure how that worked. I assumed by “sabbatical” she meant move to another place for a decade or six. Didn't matter.


She had heard from Dani that the law firm was considering me for a summer internship and saw to it that I had no other offers. That was another one where I figured it was best not to ask questions.


I wondered suddenly (but also didn't ask) whether Dani wore a cross all the time as protection from Mara. Maybe the goth lolita thing was convenient cover. Or maybe she was Christian. I was getting distracted. I needed to focus.


What mattered was that I had a few weeks to figure out what was going on with the fakes and if I could do anything about it through legal channels. I didn't feel like I could say no... not safely anyway. I act tough, I can take on pretty much any mortal, but I don't like to tangle with things or people or whatever that might come with nasty (and permanent) surprises.


I let Mara know that under Louisiana law, she was not considered a natural person, since she was technically dead, but that since this would fall under federal copyright law I'd do my best.

I woke up the next morning hung over and wondering if I had had a really really unsettling dream. And how I had gotten back to my own apartment and my own bed. I stuck a hand in the sun to see if anything would happen. It just got warm. So that was a relief. Sunday, huh? I looked over at the brochure from the opening the night before and realized that at least part of it had really happened. Coffee made the rest of it come clear. I'd have to call Maryanne soon. She'd want to know what's going on, and she might have some good advice.


IRAC, I told myself. Gotta IRAC or the baddies have won... so the issue here is whether copyright infringement is occurring and if so, can we stop it, and if so how. I knew that copyright had changed over the years, so I needed to figure out which works of Mara's were being copied and when they'd originally been produced. Law school taught me nothing if not how to operate methodically.


I had planned on some tourism this summer anyway. If the forger was selling them to tourists, I had an excuse to have fun. Discretion was going to be the hard part. So: to the Quarter to take the cemetery and voodoo tours!

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Eighth

I was very tired after that, but what I pieced together from my notes later was this:


Mara was, in fact, a vampire. She had been born in France and had had ample opportunity (read: a few hundred years) to study art. She had moved to New Orleans during one of its early booms. Although she was fairly well known, she would occasionally go on sabbatical and people would sort of forget about her. I wasn't sure how that worked. I assumed by “sabbatical” she meant move to another place for a decade or six. Didn't matter.


She had heard from Dani that the law firm was considering me for a summer internship and saw to it that I had no other offers. That was another one where I figured it was best not to ask questions.


I wondered suddenly (but also didn't ask) whether Dani wore a cross all the time as protection from Mara. Maybe the goth lolita thing was convenient cover. Or maybe she was Christian. I was getting distracted. I needed to focus.


What mattered was that I had a few weeks to figure out what was going on with the fakes and if I could do anything about it through legal channels. I didn't feel like I could say no... not safely anyway. I act tough, I can take on pretty much any mortal, but I don't like to tangle with things or people or whatever that might come with nasty (and permanent) surprises.


I let Mara know that under Louisiana law, she was not considered a natural person, since she was technically dead, but that since this would fall under federal copyright law I'd do my best.

I woke up the next morning hung over and wondering if I had had a really really unsettling dream. And how I had gotten back to my own apartment and my own bed. I stuck a hand in the sun to see if anything would happen. It just got warm. So that was a relief. Sunday, huh? I looked over at the brochure from the opening the night before and realized that at least part of it had really happened. Coffee made the rest of it come clear. I'd have to call Maryanne soon. She'd want to know what's going on, and she might have some good advice.


IRAC, I told myself. Gotta IRAC or the baddies have won... so the issue here is whether copyright infringement is occurring and if so, can we stop it, and if so how. I knew that copyright had changed over the years, so I needed to figure out which works of Mara's were being copied and when they'd originally been produced. Law school taught me nothing if not how to operate methodically.


I had planned on some tourism this summer anyway. If the forger was selling them to tourists, I had an excuse to have fun. Discretion was going to be the hard part. So: to the Quarter to take the cemetery and voodoo tours!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Seventh

We drove for about 20 minutes, and she gave me directions step by step, and I followed them, but the result was that I had no idea where we were when I pulled into the driveway of what looked like a fairly large estate, and the wrought iron gate opened. I glanced over to see if Mara had a clicker, but either she had put it away, or the gate opened by some other mechanism. Other cars were already parked in front of the house, which was 3 stories and looked like it might have been pink in the daytime. The windows were all curtained, but light shone from the ones on the first floor.


We got out of the car and Dani skipped up the walk to the front door and opened it without pausing. They must be really close, I thought. I walked with Mara from the car to the house, and she stopped again to bask in the moonlight before we went inside. The leaded glass door was gorgeous. The door itself seemed to be solid wood. It was very heavy. As I got closer I noticed the design of the leaded glass seemed to be a crescent moon. Inside, there were not quite as many people as at the gallery but still a fair number.


Dani had disappeared somewhere again. This was frustrating. I wandered around and mingled with a few people. I avoided telling them what I did for a living... well, for a summer. I felt out of place and not really lawyerly anyway. Mostly I was able to talk to them about food and art and places around New Orleans. I realized I hadn't seen Mara for a while either. She suddenly appeared at close to midnight and indicated I should follow her. I was curious and vaguely uneasy as to what was going on.


She led me upstairs to a study. Dani was sitting on a chair in front of a desk, and Mara sat down behind the desk and gestured to a seat next to Dani.

Mara began, “We have a proposition for you...”

I'm not sure what kind of face I made, because she suddenly looked annoyed and clarified “a business proposition.” I was relieved, because as much as I'd like to hook up with Dani (or even date her), Mara kinda creeped me out.


Mara continued, “as you know, I am an artist. I have exhibited in galleries all over America and Europe. I'm not terribly well-known, but I prefer it that way, because it allows my art to stay truer. I make a comfortable amount... but recently someone here has been selling copies of some of my works without my permission, and they seem to be making quite a bit of money doing it.”


I thought I saw where this was going.


You're new here. People don't know you like they know me. You can pass as a tourist... you essentially are a tourist. I want you to find the sellers and talk to them and get any information you can. Then I'll decide what to do next.”

I interrupted: “Why me? Why not you or Dani or someone else?”

Mara answered sharply, “Two reasons: as I stated, you are new here. And you were known to us.”

Huh?”

News travels quickly in our circles.”


Shit. That could mean a couple of things... artists, or... please no, not that one. But since I didn't really hang out with artists otherwise (until very recently), it had to be that one.


Supernatural, huh?”

Mara flashed a grin that I never ever want to see again. Noticeable fangs, vicious gleam in her eyes.


Well, this leads to all sorts of other questions. If it's not rude.”

I have all night,” she replied, seemingly satisfied, for now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Faubourg: Foreign Flair

Too tired for a story tonight, kiddies. It's been a long week. Here is a haiku instead:

i look up at stars
but tonight you outshine them
all: white hot scorcher.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Sixth

I thought that was a bit of an odd way to phrase that, but sometimes artists can be eccentric, so I let it go. She was tall, taller than I expected. She was pretty, and she was pale, but there was something as unsettling about her as about her paintings. I thought maybe she wore too much makeup, but I looked again, and that wasn't it. She had a dominating presence. I tried to figure it out without staring at her. She was wearing a black velvet floor length dress and it was summer in the South. She should be sweating or panting or fanning herself or something, but she wasn't. Aside from that, it was a social no-no. But everyone in the room seemed to want her attention and her favor. The whole thing threw me.


She went off to mingle with other guests, leaving me alone with Dani again for the moment.

How do you know her?” I asked, realizing for the first time that I was a bit jealous of their seemingly deep and longstanding friendship.


I met her through one of my professors at university,” she said. I thought I detected some defensiveness. Maybe I was projecting.


What IS your major?”

Visual arts,” she said, as if she'd told me before.

Ah, ok. Then why work at a law firm? Why not a gallery or studio or waitressing or something?”

Because my parents and my aunt thought I needed some structure and discipline... and I certainly need the money.”

When do I get to see your work?” I was disappointed she hadn't shown me her own, but instead dragged me off to a social event to see someone else's, someone she obviously idolized.

Soon, if the cards come out right.”


Cards?, I thought. Are we talking Tarot? Gambling? Some art series she's working on? And whose cards, exactly?


I wandered around the gallery some more, wishing I had money to buy that disturbing portrait of the little girl. Some day, I told myself. I was lost in thought when I noticed that most people had left. I checked my watch. Just shy of 10. I went to find Dani again.


Shouldn't we head out? You said opening and then party, and judging by the looks of this place, I don't think the party's here.”


Sure, wait for just a minute. Mara's just getting her things.”

So apparently I was driving all of us.


We walked back to my car, a few blocks from the gallery. The sun had gone down a long time ago, but it was still hot. Walking in a suit was an effort. Being outside, without air conditioning, still did not seem to faze Mara. She took a deep breath and gazed up at the sky and spread her arms and sighed as if she'd just had a really good meal or really good sex. I guessed she was happy with how the opening went.


When we got to the car, Dani deferred to Mara, so Mara rode shotgun and Dani got in the back. I hoped that Mara was better with directions than Dani was. Dani's deference bothered me, and not just because I was jealous. I remembered doing the same sort of thing to people I looked up to, and I got hurt because of it. And I didn't want Dani to get hurt.


Ok, so...” I began to ask where we were going.

But Mara cut me off as if she anticipated my question. She answered it with one of her own: “Do you know where Anne Rice lives?”

No...”

Good, because it's nowhere near there.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mutant of the Week

This one should have been posted on Friday, but I didn't know what was going on. So this week you get mutants for Monday and Friday! And don't worry, I'll continue the story in between. Without further ado, Jesse Garson and Eye in the Hat present:






Friday, September 3, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Fifth

Yay, you're coming! If you pick me up, I can get us to the gallery. Wear whatever. Just not yesterday's suit.

I was getting the feeling she was used to getting what she wanted. When I thought about it, I wasn't surprised. She's cute and and can be sweet. I wondered if other people felt jerked around like I did. Either way, no time for that now. Had to get ready for the event.

I showered and slicked my hair back and found a different black suit in the closet. Then I went hunting for my favorite scarlet cravat, which I didn't dare wear to the office. It would be Odd. Now that I had assembled an outfit, I carefully took off the top parts and prepared and scarfed down a peanut butter sandwich. Then I got dressed again and headed out to pick Dani up.

I pulled up to her apartment and dialed her on my cell... no answer, but a moment later she appeared and hopped in the car. Short short red plaid skirt, black leather corset, choker, and stompy boots. She looked me over and nodded like i'd followed her instructions to her satisfaction.

'evening” I said.

'afternoon,” she corrected me. It WAS still light out, but it was also Louisiana in the summer. She continued, “I'm SO glad you're coming! I told Mara you would! I hope you like it. She's showing a whole bunch of new paintings!”

Is she the one you wanted me to meet?”

Yeah, she's a fantastic painter and she's lived all over the world, and she's really interesting! She can't get out much, but the parties always seem to come to her.”

All right, then. You said you could direct me?”

I've been to Camellia before, but i'm not great with directions, so here's a map. I hope you can read it.” She handed it to me, and I looked over it.

I think so, yeah. Just let me know if we're headed into Reaver territory”. I got no response and made a mental note I had to show this girl Firefly.

The gallery was in the Quarter, so it was hell to find parking. The gallery was on the second floor of a Spanish colonial building, and going up the staircase gave the feeling of something grand and elegant about to happen. Camellia did not disappoint. Brochures and wine were available at the front. Mara Chemes was the artist's name. I grabbed a glass of white wine and followed Dani around the gallery. Dani and I were two of the youngest ones there.

Mara seemed to specialize in portraiture, but her work was abstracted in a slight but unsettling way. One painting, called Sunrise, caught my attention, and I didn't notice as Dani walked away. It was as if Velasquez and H.R. Geiger made love to the same canvas. A little girl with black hair and a red dress stood in the foreground. The dress ended at about her knees, but he did not seem to have legs. She floated there, but there were shoes where feet ought to go. In one hand sat a black and blue and green shape that might have been a seed or a ball or a bomb. It had wires and machinery, but it seemed to pulse with life. Rays of light shot out of it. The girl stood in a hall with a stone floor and a wooden table. There seemed to be a window, but it was shuttered or night outside. The whole scene evoked the melancholy I understand, like Friedrich, with just the faintest ray of hope. It looked like it had been painted a long time ago, or was in imitation of court paintings from the time of the Reconquista. Though the girl was young, there was something old and weary about the scene. As I was trying to absorb all this, Dani returned with Mara.

Dani was practically skipping. I wondered how much wine she'd had. She led Mara by the hand, and I couldn't tell if Mara was resisting or just moved slowly. The whole thing seemed a bit undignified, but then, I'm a stranger here. Who knows what's appropriate?

Naomi, Naomi! This is Mara! She's the one you had to meet!”

I turned to Mara. “It's nice to meet you. Your paintings are fascinating. How long have you been doing it?” It's hard for me to gush, even when I am impressed or when I should out of politeness. At least, I don't gush when it doesn't involve food.

She shook my hand. She wore gloves. “It's nice to meet you too. Welcome to my city. I've been painting a while.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Fourth

Sorry, this is a short one today. I encountered some things that needed to be taken care of.

So, if I was going to go to this thing, I'd need to finish up at the zoo, head home, take a nap, and shower (and probably eat) before I went out. I looked at my zoo map again. I had to see the big cats, and then I'd leave. It was just as well. It was getting too hot, and I was probably already pink from the sun. There was some shade near the tigers, so I sat and watched them for a while. I've always loved tigers. They're beautiful and deadly. Like jellyfish. I like jellyfish too.


I went home to nap and had strange dreams, stranger than usual. In one, I had a tiny gray kitten, smaller than a chicken egg, that I was supposed to take care of. I had this overwhelming sense of responsibility, that I had to protect it. I've only ever been responsible for me. I can't even keep plants or goldfish alive. Then, in the dream, the kitten fell down a drain and I couldn't fish it out, and I felt like a failure.


In the second dream, I climbed a mountain in a blizzard with a lot of other people. Then I got altitude sickness and had to go back down, fast. I didn't make it to the summit. The leader of the group put me in a bobsled with another person to steer and I shot down the mountain with snow flying in my face.


That's about the time my phone buzzed and beeped, jarring me awake, telling me I had a text.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale--The Third

I texted back: “What, like now?” I shouldn't encourage her to text me at this time of night, but I was curious. Maybe I should just start turning my phone off again when I go to bed. I started leaving it on first year in law school when a friend was sick, so I could be contacted in an emergency. It sucks to be all alone with a kidney stone.


Another beep. “Now would be good but there's a gallery opening tomorrow night. The artist is my friend. Can you make it?


At least she was limited to 140 characters, but that might mean there would be several more texts coming. I decided they could wait. I turned off my phone, poured some milk into a ceramic mug, microwaved it, downed it, and went back to bed.


I woke up at the crack of dawn and panicked briefly that i'd overslept and had to be at work. Then I remembered it was Saturday, and I rolled over and went back to sleep. I finally woke up for good midmorning and vaguely remembered dinner last night. Slowly everything filtered back. I shuffled to my desk and turned on my phone—3 more texts:


3:17 AM “6:30-9:30, with a party afterward. Camellia Gallery


Either she expected me to know where that was or she planned to pick me up.


3:25 AM “wear something besides that suit


She must just assume I'm coming. I'm both flattered and annoyed.


3:31 AM “are you awake?


It was just after 10 AM. I decided to give her a taste of her own medicine. I tapped out, “am now. Want to get waffles?” in response to her last message. I was not expecting an answer.


I Googled the gallery and found nothing. I wasn't sure I wanted to go to this opening. Probably she wanted to introduce me to some other student or one of her profs. Why would she want ME there? As far as I can tell, we're still just coworkers. And who's so important and keeps such strange hours that they want to meet me in the dead of night?


I. I showered and headed out with my camera to find food and then something interesting. I realized pretty quickly I didn't know where to get waffles so I headed to a cafe to get some beignets and coffee. After that I wandered around the square and watched artists and street performers set up. None of the shops were open yet. I found an information kiosk and perused brochures to see if I could find any info on this gallery Dani was so excited about. I didn't find any, but I did see a notice for a morning yoga class in one of the historic buildings. That could be fun.


Then it occurred to me. I lived in a neighborhood known for the arts. Someone must have heard of Camellia Gallery. That seemed like a lot of effort, though.


I decided to catch a bus to the zoo because I wanted to see it before it got any hotter. At least the bus would be air conditioned. The zoo was packed with families with tiny children. I felt like I stood out oddly. I mean, I had my camera for camouflage but there were no kids dangling off me. Maybe they'd be afraid of snakes. Maybe I could find refuge in the reptile house. The reptile house... was air conditioned.


But no. Little boys like snakes more than I counted on, and their screams echo off the walls (poor snakes). I did get some good shots of the albino alligator, though. That thing is something.


Then something occurred to me: I like air conditioning, and I like food and wine, and I can talk about and take photos. The opening that night would likely have or welcome all those things. Might as well go. The alternative was probably sitting around goofing off on the internet or watching cable. Which would be fun, but I could do that any time.


I picked up my phone and started tapping keys: “yes, i'll come. Thanks. :) where is it/how do I get there? And i've never been to one of these things. What should I wear?