Z OLD – Chapter XXII

“I’m SUCH an admirer,” Mewsy gushed, clutching her flute of Épice du Bengale in both hands. “Why, I must’ve seen every revue you’ve given.”

“You’re sweet,” said @MariaToilette in a baritone drawl. “No wonder you’ve got them all oozing.” She poured Mewsy more of the heady liqueur.

She leaned in and Mewsy could smell the thick spice on her breath. “So, Anna Axenputel, tell me all. Your name is smeared on lips all over.”


The viscous Bengali elixir and the hot star power in @MariaToilette’s twilit dressing lounge were going to Mewsy’s head. She began babbling.

“It’s a happy accident, really. I briefly found Gawd, told Futs he couldn’t munch me, and he got so terrible fresh it drove me to nunnery.”

“My!” said Maria, “How theatrical that must’ve been.” “It didn’t quite pan out, and in the end I faked my death. You know how nuns can be.”

“I’d been married, of course – solid Tory, MASSIVE business – but I was too changed to return to him. The cathouse took me back, full time.”

“Futty heard that I was home and in a passion of regret he swore he’d do me right. He opened The Cig’s electric door and I stepped through.”


“And now they’ve sent you to me for a touch of class,” said @MariaToilette. “To make sure you won’t leak hot pickle juice onto their stage.”

Mewsy lowered her eyes. “Rule One,” said Maria, “Your knees must never touch. Gentlemen find a close-leggèd woman too cold and domineering.”

“Oh!” said Mewsy uncertainly, “Well, that is my natural state. ‘Open thighs, open heart,’ I always say. But I thought, from watching you…”

“Darling,” said Maria, “You mustn’t take cues from my stage manner, distinctive though it may be. @MariaToilette is an old-fashioned girl.”

“You want to be on the cutting edge. I can tell. You want to be unforgettable.” She tipped the last of the Épice into Mewsy’s lolling craw.

“And with a little spit-shine, you’ll succeed,” she said. “Trust @MariaToilette.”


There was movement from the loge’s shadowy corner, whence a leather-clad human emerged, speaking. Mewsy shrieked with a sot’s extravagance.

“Sack o’ Jerusalem, you curdled my breastmilk!” she brayed. But the person was addressing @MariaToilette: “Whenever you’re ready, darling.”

“Oh darling, what a drag,” Maria simpered. “And we were having such fun. Morekeys, isn’t Anna precious? Isn’t Anna Axenputel cute as tarts?”

Only now did Mewsy recognize Morekeys de Schade, @MariaToilette’s famously ironfisted ivory tickler. Up close, thon emanated cool control.


The two disappeared the way Morekeys had come, leaving Mewsy alone and half-cut in that den of renown. It smelled of perfume and gentility.

“If the gals could see me now!” she slurred, rubbing herself against an item of Maria’s intimate apparel. “Cooch to cooch with a real star.”

Then Morekeys and the chanteuse struck up a chorus of “Gentle Sailor” next door, and with no warning Mewsy felt wetness between her eyelids.

“Stuff ‘n fluff,” she harrumphed. Maria minced, “Gentle sailor, won’t you make a date with me / See a double feature, stay out late with me”

And Mewsy sniffled along, “I’d be such a lucky Nelly / If you’d hold my hand and tell me / When I’m waiting for the bus you’ll wait with me”

“Oh Tybby,” she crooned in a sodden whisper, “We did have our times.” To Mewsy the ditty would always evoke their first mutual satisfaction.


When @MariaToilette was but a freshly minted star, two rut-ready teens could be assured of an hour of privacy in the Old Cig’s dusty booths.

The revelation of her womanhood, which Tybs had done against pricking bougainvillea, had inculcated Mewsy with a mania for his Fleshy Thorn.

Night after wet summer night the transgressors would slide their two bits through the box office slit and rush in to secure a velveteen box.

There they cultivated the artisanal thrill of simultaneous crisis. Underscored by tinkling keys, two rivers met and overgushed their banks.

Since her scabbard fitted his pelvic fist like a drawn-on latex glove, the two fell enslaved to ruthless bliss and implacable physical love.

When the flood had ebbed, wicked up by the fuckworn tapestries, they would swig Dompteuse de Tension from Tybalt’s flask and lie listening.

Thus La Toilette’s signature encore had seeped into Mewsy to become an emblem of content. “Gentle Sailor, won’t you share a shake with me?”


Time, however, did as time does. Success lent Tybalt a manly reserve, while Mewsy’s appetite for amorous congress only continued to blossom.

After they wed, Mewsy schmoozed round the clock as befits a society wife, and Tyb re-allotted to work hours once whiled playing at clicket.

It was natural Mewsy should find herself on a pleasure house’s stoop. More natural still to find pleasure inside, and Futty’s liquid charms.

Tybalt would always just be there, she thought. But now he was not. And even while she fingered a star’s luxurious goods, Mewsy missed him.

“Where are you now, Tybby baby? Where in the world is Tybalt Onan-Stahl?”