Bloody Fabulous: Stories of Fantasy and Fashion

Page 4


“I haven’t heard of that story,” his sister said. “Will it be a musical?”
“I don’t know yet,” said Rafe. “I don’t think the cast can sing.”
His mother frowned and called Mary over to chop up a summer squash.
“I want you and Victor to come live with me,” Rafe said as his sister turned away from him.
“Your place is too small,” Rafe’s mother told him.
She had never seen his apartment. “We could move, then. Go to Queens. Brooklyn.”
“You won’t want a little boy running around. And Mary has the cousins here. She should stay with us. Besides, the city is dangerous.”
“Marco is dangerous,” Rafe said voice rising. “Why don’t you let Mary make up her own mind?”
Rafe’s mother muttered under her breath as she chopped, Rafe sighed and bit his tongue and Mary gave him a sisterly roll of the eyes. It occurred to him that that had been the most normal conversation he had had with his mother in years.
All day he worked on the coat and that night Rafe, wearing the silvery coat, went back to the woods and the river.
The dancers were there as before and when Rafe got close, the faery woman left the circle of dancers.
“Your coat is as lovely as the moon. Will you agree to the same terms?”
Rafe thought of objecting, but he also thought of the faery woman’s kiss and that he might be able to change the course of events. It would be better if he caught her off-guard. He shouldered off his coat. “I agree.”
As before, the faery woman pulled Lyle from the dance.
“Lyle!” Rafe said, starting toward him before the faery could touch his brow with her lips.
Lyle turned to him and his lips parted as though he were searching for a name to go with a distant memory, as if Lyle didn’t recall him after all.
The faery woman kissed him then, and Lyle staggered drowsily to the mattress. His drooping eyelashes nearly hid the gaze he gave Rafe. His mouth moved, but no sound escaped him and then he subsided into sleep.
That night Rafe tried a different way of rousing Lyle. He pressed his mouth to Lyle’s slack lips, to his forehead as the faery woman had done. He kissed the hollow of Lyle’s throat, where the beat of his heart thrummed against his skin. He ran his hands over the Lyle’s chest. He touched his lips to the smooth, unscarred expanse of Lyle’s wrists. Again and again, he kissed Lyle, but it was as terrible as kissing a corpse.
Before he slept, Rafe took the onyx and silver ring off his own pinkie, pulled out a strand of black hair from his own head and coiled it inside the hollow of the poison ring. Then he pushed the ring onto Lyle’s pinkie.
“Remember me. Please remember me,” Rafe said. “I can’t remember myself unless you remember me.”
But Lyle did not stir and Rafe woke alone on the mattress. He made his way home in the thin light of dawn.
That day he sewed a coat from velvet as black as the night sky. He stiched tiny black crystals onto it and embroidered it with black roses, thicker at the hem and then thinning as they climbed. At the cuffs and neck, ripped ruffles of thin smoky purples and deep reds reminded him of sunsets. Across the back, he sewed on silver beads for stars. Stars like the faerie woman’s eyes. It was the most beautiful thing Raphael had ever created. He knew he would never make its equal.
“Where do you get your ideas from?” his father asked as he shuffled out to the kitchen for an evening cup of decaf. “I’ve never been much of a creative person.”
Rafe opened his mouth to say that he got his ideas from everywhere, from things he’d seen and dreamed and felt, but then he thought of the other thing his father said. “You made that bumper for the old car out of wood,” Rafe said. “That was pretty creative.”
Rafe’s father grinned and added milk to his cup.
That night Rafe donned the shimmering coat and walked to the woods.
The faerie woman waited for him. She sucked in her breath at the sight of the magnificent coat.
“I must have it,” she said. “You shall have him as before.”
Rafael nodded. Tonight if he could not rouse Lyle, he would have to say goodbye. Perhaps this was the life Lyle had chosen—a life of dancing and youth and painless memory—and he was wrong to try and take him away from it. But he wanted to spend one more night beside Lyle.
She brought Lyle to him and he knelt on the mattress. The faerie woman bent to kiss his forehead, but at the last moment, Lyle turned his head and the kiss fell on his hair.
Scowling, she rose.
Lyle blinked as though awakening from a long sleep, then touched the onyx ring on his finger. He turned toward Rafe and smiled tentatively.
“Lyle?” Rafe asked. “Do you remember me?”
“Rafael?” Lyle asked. He reached a hand toward Rafe’s face, fingers skimming just above the skin. Rafe leaned into the heat, butting his head against Lyle’s hand and sighing. Time seemed to flow backwards and he felt like he was fourteen again and in love.
“Come, Lyle,” said the faery woman sharply.
Lyle rose stiffly, his fingers ruffling Rafe’s hair.
“Wait,” Rafe said. “He knows who I am. You said he would be free.”
“He’s as free to come with me as he is to go with you,” she said.
Lyle looked down at Rafe. “I dreamed that we went to New York and that we performed in a circus. I danced with the bears and you trained fleas to jump through the eyes of needles.”
“I trained fleas?”
“In my dream. You were famous for it.” His smile was tentative, uncertain. Maybe he realized that it didn’t sound like a great career.
Rafe thought of the story he had told Victor about the princess in her louse-skin coat, about locks of hair and all the things he had managed through the eyes of needles.
The faery woman turned away from them with a scowl, walking back to the fading circle of dancers, becoming insubstantial as smoke.
“It didn’t go quite like that.” Rafe stood and held out his hand. “I’ll tell you what really happened.”
Lyle clasped Rafe’s fingers tightly, desperately but his smile was wide and his eyes were bright as stars. “Don’t leave anything out.”
Savage Design
Richard Bowes
Early one evening last September Lilia Gaines pulled open the metal gates of Reliquary on West Broadway at the shoddy Canal Street end of Manhattan’s Soho. As she did, she murmured to herself:
“In the city with sleep disorders styles get old fast. But old styles never disappear. They lay waiting for a kiss or a love bite . . . ”
She trailed off. Lilia’s copywriting skills had never been a big strength and she found herself groping for a punch line.
A really young couple appeared wearing knock-off Louis Vuitton sunglasses and looking like they might be at the start of a long Nightwalker romp. His jacket collar was turned up; she had a wicked, amused smile.
Lilia could remember being like them, a brand new walker in the dark with eyes just a bit sensitive to sunlight. They waited while she unlocked the door, came inside with her and headed for the relics table at the rear.
In the last few months this kind of eager customer had started reappearing. Twenty-five and thirty years ago, Reliquary was open all night, closing only when full daylight fell on the storefront and the customers fled.
“Reliquary—Boutique Fashion—So New and SO Undead!” was the slogan in those glory days. Then as now one could find capes in a variety of lengths, elegant black parasols to keep the sun at bay, tops designed for easy exposure of the neck and throat. Some of the stock was a bit shopworn.
There had been good years when Nightwalkers were THE fresh thing. Then there were the lean years when Vampires were afraid to show themselves and Reliquary became a dusty antique store while Lilia worked part time jobs and held on tight to her rent controlled apartment on East Houston Street.
This evening Lilia watched the boy select a red silk handkerchief displaying a black bat, the long-ago emblem of Bloodsucker Night at the gay disco The Saint. The girl slipped on a pendant with the logo of the Gate of Night, that brief legend of a blood bar on Park Avenue South three decades back. Reliquary had always specialized in memorabilia of past Undead revivals.
Another customer, a man in running clothes and shades, entered and went over to a rack of capes. A woman stepped inside and glanced around, found a repro of a poster for Fun and Gore, a scandalous 1930’s Greenwich Village “Transylvanian Review.”
As the young couple approached the register, the girl pulled the boy’s jacket and shirt off his shoulders. She smiled at Lilia as though offering her a piece of expensive white fudge.
This was very young love. Their teeth still looked normal; the small bites on his neck had barely penetrated the skin. Fangs and puncture wounds still lay in their future.
The boy’s smile was blank. He knotted the kerchief over the bites but left one showing. Lilia guessed that his first blood buzz had been last night and that he’d be bitten again very shortly.
The girl looked at the photo behind Lilia, raised her sunglasses and said, “That’s you!”