Written by Aaron French in Prague, CR,
Undisclosed Hotel, Rm # 256
Periscope definition: an apparatus consisting of a tube attached to a set of mirrors or prisms, by which an observer can see things that are otherwise out of sight.
Pulls up, windows cracked, rust streaked car riddled with holes. Not bullet holes; oxidized holes. Smoke rolls out her lips, sepia locks, eyes of blue steel. Her association turns the rickety car immaculate.
Saintly hip always popped out and cocked up on some halogen high heel. Instead of a steel gun she conceals some inscrutable talisman overlain with labyrinthine engraving. She twirls and tosses it like a baton, she holds it to her eye and seems to periscope distant loomings. She’d kill with it if she must, but never has that mystified stick drawn a drop of blood.
She’s peculiar, ol’ Claire. Envied by both women and men, desired by all, she provokes knee buckling, hate, arousal, stammering, shortness of breath, the stuff of legend, a swarm of emotions. Always seems she’s driving that immaculate chunk of rust into the sunset, always in possession of westward dreams.
I once spoke to Claire and I sort of regret it. Seemed she cast a spell on me with that curious stick. She kept it concealed along her spine; a jutting spine, the spine that ever since makes me answer “spine” when asked if I’m an ass or tits guy. She balanced the stick on her palms.
She explained. I stifled, bewildered, in wonder. Eyes upon us; strangers, a circling hawk, a circling satellite, a circling moon, a circling chain of souls.
Her voice soft, yet capable of blowing fire. The encounter welded my mind, yet I transcribed not a word. Her voice transubstantiated with the engravings — described that which terms cannot express, evoked sensations of deja vu, paralysis, uncanny visions, fog, dispersion, lack of concentration and yet cognition of all at large. She gestured me to look through the periscope. I remember it was ice cold to the touch. I remember pulling it up to my eye, unsure, drawing it like a bow.
Nothing magnified. Quite the contrary. The world I knew disintegrated and sort of rearranged itself. Myriad beams of light beheld visions near and far, and there it was, the eye of god, revealing the same things reflected in the eye of a whale, in reflections of breathing water, in rising suns, in clouds, and in the songs and swarms of birds.
All that is fused for one precious moment, a flash on a precipice, a glance at the invisible glue holding the world together.
I lowered the periscope and there was Claire; coy, smoking, an apparition. Raised her chin, top tooth pulled slight against her low lip. She drank me in with knowing eyes, angled her head. My heart raced; not for her, but for disarray. My knees buckled; not for her, but for the periscope’s revelation.
Claire drove off, swept up dust, stole my innocence, she gutted me. Took with her that divine spine. She’ll not come this way again. Never. Claire’s a gypsy. She blows with the wind. She’ll take that engraved enigma and show men and women things that’ll make them famous, things that’ll make them cry with joy, things that’ll make them hang themselves. I’m uncertain whether that unfathomable stick is the sort of encounter I’d wish upon my friends or enemies or if someone altogher ought to burn it.
A glimpse through the periscope shatters accustomed comforts, causes intense suffering, immunizes opium’s false bliss, but it also, and more importantly I think, encourages genuine existence. It rips open hearts and minds and darkened skies and displays all possibility.
The periscope is Claire’s. She forges the difficult path to the stars, and for that, she flourishes to her highest capacity.
Claire is misunderstood by all. She’s an outlaw, a high-heeled gunslinger. Claire, soaring so high, sphinxlike to those without a periscope.