Five Minute Fiction 63
An ongoing weekly experiment where I give myself five minutes to write something. Don’t think about anything. Just write. When done, walk away, coming back later to correct any glaring errors.
Opening night, and Beatrice was still visibly fretting over the guest list. She could invite only three hundred, which meant she had to leave even some of the ‘A’ list to stand in the growing line that was snaking its way around the building. And already, things were getting a bit out of hand inside.
In the far corner was performance artist Klaus Minfren, leather belt cinched tight around his upper arm, shooting up with whatever drug is hip at the time. His stage partner Valarie was delicately flicking the tip of her tongue at the tiny welt caused by the needle, lapping up blood pooling in the puncture wound.
Seated in the plush mustard yellow couch next to the bar is the Mayor, who’s dedicating all of his honorable attention to the underage thing wrapping her long legs around his waist. Sharing the couch with them are two art critics who are too preoccupied with dipping into pretentious snuff boxes and inhaling the contents than watching the writhing thing attached to the Mayor’s lap.
Tablique, the perverse “corset queen” actress famous for her portrayal of early 20th century women, glides across the glossy white concrete floor in stiletto heels, alternating between drags on a silver and ivory cigarette holder and a black leather flask she keeps secreted in her coat pocket.
High tech gurus, modern primitives, new age messiahs, politicos, socialites, new money, tattooed freaks, musicians, drug connections, authors, painters, anarchists, body modifiers, sex slaves, curators, and collectors…they’re all here, indulging in expensive finger foods and glasses of cheap wine, networking with each other in a bizarre dance of pseudo-civility.
Hanging, ignored, are the reasons for the celebration. The official opening of the art gallery Chez LaFez, featuring the works of Zonsa Sanchez, whose blank canvases hang haphazardly on the grey concrete walls enclosing this comical gathering, encasing them in their own isolated reality like an unwanted contagion. Zonsa Sanchez, the celebrated minimalist, doesn’t believe in color. Instead, he deals with textures, thinking that art needs to be a tactile experience. It’s only when you touch his art, feeling the ridges and waves in the white paint, do you understand the true beauty of his work.
Or, at least, that’s what people try to tell Beatrice, who couldn’t care less about whatever artist of the moment managed to congregate so many weirdos together in such a small space. And if they didn’t happen to be rich weirdos, she’s sure that this party would have been shut down hours ago. And where these people are concerned about money, social justice, and communicable diseases, she’s concerned about finger foods, valet parking, and keeping the paparazzi outside.
Behind her, Beatrice hears a voice like honey and thumbtacks. “Dahling,” it says, “I wonder if you’re capable of filling me up?” Turning, she finds Tablique shaking an empty flask in her face. Behind her, Tablique’s entourage giggles like she’s just something funny.
“Of course,” Beatrice replies, taking the flask. “Grey Goose?”
“Do I look like a cliché? Belvedere.”
Snaking her way through the crowd Beatrice approaches the bar, handing the bartender the flask. “Belvedere, Jimmy. Dirty.”
“Another one of these nights, B?” the bartender asks with a smirk as he wrings a rag above the flask, drops of whatever liquid that was last wiped up drip into the empty flask. “Do you think these people could survive a week without modern conveniences?” he asks, filling the flask with vodka before capping it and handing it back to Beatrice.
“Lord, I hope not,” she replies.
“So, what’d you do with the real ‘Beatrice’?” Jimmy asks.
“In the alley, under some garbage. And the real Jimmy?”
“Right here behind the bar,” Jimmy says, kicking something at his feet. “Are we ready to execute?”
“In a minute,” Beatrice says. “I have something unkind to say to Ms. Actress first. Wait for my signal.”
“We’ll be ready.”
(To be continued…)