Claire’s Periscope


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 and instead of a steel gun she conceals some inscrutable talisman overlain with labyrinthine engraving.

She twirls and tosses it like a baton. 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. Envied by both women and men. Desired by all. Claire 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.

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 was soft yet capable of blowing fire. She described that which words cannot express. Evoked sensations of deja vu, paralysis, uncanny visions, fog, dispersion, lack of concentration and yet cognition of all at large.

She gestured for 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 then 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 and in the reflections of breathing water and rising suns and in the songs and swarms of birds.

All time fused into one precious moment. A flash on a precipice. A glance at the invisible glue holding all that is together.

I lowered the periscope and there was Claire; coy, smoking, an apparition. She raised her chin and pulled her top teeth slight against her lower lip. 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 around in whirls like 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 ought to altogether burn it.

A glimpse through the periscope shatters accustomed comforts and causes intense suffering but it also rips open the hearts and minds of those who see it through.

The periscope is Claire’s. She’s misunderstood by all. She’s an outlaw, a high-heeled gunslinger, sphinx-like to those without a periscope.

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