The straight razor had three nicks in its blade. Maxine was upset by this, because it was her favorite razor and it hadn’t found a true purpose. True, she bought the razor 10 years ago, but she kept it stored in the top bureau drawer in her bedroom until it was needed. The only use it received was when she would gently remove it from its silk bag and admire the virgin steel and tortoise shell handle. Sometimes she would taste it very gently with her tongue, and then delicately polish away the saliva residue with the chamois she also kept in the same bureau drawer. Other times she would gently scrape it across her tongue to remove the thin layer of white coating that we all possess. The scraping sound as it dragged across her tongue could be heard only in her ears and nowhere else. It caused great pleasure inside her.
“Soon. Very soon. Is she really going out with him?”
Maxine looked in the mirror as she posed with the razor. She used it to trim some of the mahogany hair that fell across her brow. The blade reflected her pale pale skin in a manner that she considered quite stylish. She held it at a certain angle so she could study her eyes – the bluish purple color sometimes troubled her. Behind her she could see the old Roman Catholic Church across the street through her open window. The church hadn’t seen a congregation in years. A tree branch was growing out of the bell tower. The smell of stale eucharists made her gag. She gently folded the blade while still obsessing about the nicks. Maybe there was a way to fix it. Licking her lips, she placed the blade back in the bag, put the bag in the bureau drawer and gently closed the drawer.
Passing by the mirror again she stopped and looked at her hair once more. Her overgrown shag was looking messy even with the trim she had just given her bangs. She was getting tired of the white skunk streak towards the front of her hairdo that nature had given her. Taking the black rattail comb she always carried in her back pants pocket she attempted to rearrange her hairstyle, but was dissatisfied with the results. Sooner or later she would have to leave the room and get a cut and dye-job. She put the comb in her back pocket and felt nauseous thinking of facing the hair stylist. There was always scissors and Clairol.
It was bedtime. She jumped on her twin bed, lay on her back and crossed her arms. Maxine never used sheets or blankets – she didn’t like the way they felt on her narcotized skin. “Perhaps to be colorblind… I need to look at the pictures.” She walked across the room and took a seat in front of the small table which held her laptop. As the machine started up she picked at the skin on her left wrist and followed the trail of tiny punctures up her arm. She usually covered the marks with makeup, but today she had forgotten. As usual, the website images of plastic surgery procedures thrilled her, but after a few minutes, she grew bored and went back to bed leaving the laptop still powered on.
As she lay there she thought and as she thought she undulated to rhythms only her and the church could taste.
Vision Voice Sound.
Time was zero. Sleep.
She awoke at 2 am.
La La La. Distant music through reverb.
She arose and unsteadily walked to the bureau, opened the first drawer, and took out the red box that was always right next to her razor. The room was warm but she was cold. Seated at the table, Maxine opened the box and removed the hypo. It was a glass syringe – very difficult to get nowadays. She had it because her parents worked in a hospital many years ago and they would steal supplies now and again. The last time she visited them she had palmed it and never came back. Ten years ago. Gone.
Maxine got up, went to the sink, opened the medicine cabinet directly above and removed a spoon and a bottle of powder. After making the solution she went back to the table, filled up the syringe, and tied her left arm off with a ratty leather lace she had used for years. The obligations of ritual made her secure. When the vein was properly distended, she rammed the needle in and pulled the plunger back. The red velvet blossomed into the water and she pushed the plunger in pulled the plunger back out for a total of seven times had been reached. Always seven times. A black bang woosh rushed to her forehead when she released the tie-off. Another day without guilt.
When the first wave had subsided and all materials were put away she walked to the window and stared at the church across the street. Next door to the church was a rectory that was condemned by New York City many years ago. Looking through the rectory’s second floor window was a nude woman inserting two fingers into her vagina and then bringing them up to her mouth for a quick taste. After awhile the woman placed something in her mouth that looked fleshy to Maxine, but it might have been the solution in her veins distorting her vision. A timeless vision that was latching onto them was confusing and tight like the leather windows inside her head.
“I have to investigate.” Maxine threw cold water on her face, didn’t bother to dry it and rushed out the door. “It’s the middle of the night, shouldn’t be many people around. Why am I so horny? Fuck me.” She was in the hall but had to run back inside the apartment to get the razor since she always traveled with it. She also fixed her hair up a bit with the rattail. “Never know who you will meet.”
When outside, she crossed the street to the rectory and stood right beneath the window: the woman was still there. Maxine could see that she was quite plain looking, yet arousing in a way that couldn’t be defined. She was quite evidently an albino, her yellow eyes burned holes in the night and were brighter than the sodium glare from the streetlight cut into the sky.
The owl that was perched on the top of the church cross collapsed and fell several stories down, down ending with a splat on the pavement. The blood and brains went squiggly between the cracks in the sidewalk and bunched up among the aggregate. A flat scene turned sideways.
The woman looked down at her, and then pointed to the church next door, as if to say that Maxine should go inside. Taking the cue, Maxine walked up the crumbling stone steps. Surprised that the door was open, she walked inside. The church was mostly dark except for one bare light bulb that was hanging on a frayed cord from the ceiling in the vestibule. Looking beyond the entrance she could see that the main room was pitch black, but to her right she could hear scratching noises. She walked toward the noises and as she walked, she saw a faint stream of light appear from underneath an oak door. A light had been switched on and the door swung open. The woman was there full length, naked, negating all color and holding a chalice. She turned the chalice upside down to indicate it was empty, then sadly shook her head. “No more. No More.”
Maxine removed the razor from her back pocket and slowly sliced her left wrist, but not deeply. When she was finished she took a moment to lick the blade clean. She walked over to the woman and bled into the chalice. The woman smiled and drank deeply from the cup. Maxine smiled back and started to gently comb the woman’s hair with her beloved rattail. Maxine was still bleeding, so the woman ripped off a piece of Maxine’s t-shirt and gently made a tourniquet above the cut on the wrist; Maxine then went back to re-arranging the hairdo. “I should have gone to beauty school.”
As the albino woman drank they both realized it was time for a change. Maxine took the razor, placed it under her own chin and started to cut the skin. It stung at first – electric frizz sting- then the salty pain stopped. She slowly dragged the blade around her face, pausing only once, until it had come full circle stopping under her chin again. She motioned to the woman to help. The albino understood, took the razor and gently flayed the skin, severing purple muscle and connective tissue. She tenderly lifted off Maxine’s face and placed it over her own. Finally sated, the woman found words of gratitude.
“I love you.” She said. “Your eyes are a lovely violet – just like Liz Taylor. They make me so wet.”
Maxine laughed because she was touched and because her face looked stunning on her new friend and she also loved the contrast of her olive skin in comparison to the rest of her companion’s skin.
It was now 4 am. The albino motioned for her to come further into the room. The room was nicely furnished with an old couch, a couple of chairs, and a small table. On the table was a purple lava lamp. Bubbles slowly floated in thick goo. A film was being projected without sound on one wall. Maxine couldn’t make out the film because blood was running into her eyes. She sat down on the couch and cried, the tears burning her newly exposed skin. The woman sat down next to her and gently pushed her head down into her lap and petted Maxine’s forehead as they both wept.
“I need another shot.”
“No more shots. Sleep while I sing. You’re my baby-baby.”
(Slowly pull back. Monotone albino songs as Maxine fades).
They both shuddered about the erotic theory of relativity.
La La La.
By Peter Marra