Exquisite Corpse - Issue 4
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Four Stories from The Girl With The Cloak
by Julia Older

g u n k

rovided there's no hair gunk in it, your sink drain is just as fast as the internet and has super reception. In fact, visiting Earthmom via sink drains soon could be the ultimate connection for travel boomers trading futures fifty months of the year who long for two weeks of Galapagos tortoises and six-foot Amazonian fruit bats.
     One thought that goes into the child's mind as he holds his pet lizard by the tail and drops it down the drain is: "Gee, I wonder if it'll grow into a man-eating crocodile." Most of the time it doesn't. But once in awhile Earthmom has a craving for Jurassic and rescues it for her compound.
     Follow The Girl With The Cloak's example and you're sure to have a clear link to the underworld when itsy bitsy spider crawls up the water spout and the sun comes out.
     "Hi Earth Mom. How are you? " After all, life on the other end of a drain pipe isn't totally glittery diamond rings and small plastic baggies of dreamstuff.
     "They just filled my yard in New Mexico with more obsolete radio-active missiles," Earthmom kevetches. "And I can barely move for the deleted trash. I've got the moles working night and night. I've been with drains now since Bath, but these deleted files and folders create a clog worse than a sinus infection, let me tell you. They aren't biodegradable so forget Draino and. . .
     "Well the other day a mouse showed me five perfectly good chapters of a novel, mind you. He salvaged it from one of the millions of black trash barrels they empty down here nonstop. A 17th-century sea adventure. Not bad. I could hardly put it down. Say! May-be I could start my own publishing company with all this stuff!"

"You could call it Earthworks, Mom."
     "Yeah, Earthworks."
     "Are you ok, Mom?"
     "Oh, I guess. And what about you, Dear?"
     "All right. When there isn't an ozone alert I still spin over the Oceans."
     "At least you have the option to move. I'm pretty much stuck in. . ."
     The drain gurgles to indicate time is up and switches on the reverb.
     "Yes, Sweetie, I'm here. But I don't know for how long

s i g h t i n g s

he Danish philosopher S“ren Kierkegarrd saw The Girl With The Cloak at the Kánigstāter Theatre in 1843. If you argue this was way before her time, you are forgetting that The Girl With The Cloak is timeless, and that Kierkegaard was way ahead of his time.
     As with everything else, he has documented the occasion of his sightings so that you may judge for yourself:
"She sat in the third row. She was not wrapped in sable and marten, but was enveloped in a big cloak, and projecting from its folds her head was graciously bowed, as the topmost bell of the lily-of-the-valley is bowed about great enveloping leaves."

     The blooming of Lilies-of-the-Valley in May coincided with the young man's break-up with his fiancée Regina. Some think The Girl With The Cloak had something to do with this rupture, and Kierkegaard's subsequent conversion as a Witness of God.
     If you are of the same opinion, you might want to reflect on what you' ve heard about The Girl With The Cloak. Ask yourself if
WHAT THE HELL, DANTE, SHE'S NOBODY 'S BEATRICE has a familiar ring to it before mixing yourself up in this theory. Surely by now you must have figured out that The Girl With The Cloak is totally elusive. We're talking here about someone of whom the poets write: "spokes of light revolve the slow stars through her bright ephemerides."
      S“ren liked Berlin. He had a limp, and nobody bothered about his appearance like they did in Copenhagen. From an apartment on the square he could watch theatre--and church-goers--realizing there was little difference between them. He dined alone ensconced in a favorite red velvet chair--reading, and writing, and chewing a thought until it came out the other end.
     One thing is certain. Already, the poor man was driven to distraction by the eithers and ors of existence. This is nowhere more apparent than in the final description of his sighting:
"For an instant it seemed to me she might be a girl who had suffered much and now wrapped herself closely in her shawl, and would have nothing to do with the world-until her expression convinced me she was a happy child who hugged herself in her cloak to enjoy herself thoroughly."

     Unable to forget her, a few years later, Kierkegaard once more traveled to Berlin; ostensibly he wished to test his theory that repetition produces felicity. Filled with ex-pectation, he returned to the Kánigstāten Theatre-only to find the loge he favored taken, every seat occupied, and The Girl With The Cloak nowhere in sight.
     Not even S“ren's favorite coffee house revived his spirits. True, the coffee beans were not shade-grown beneath trees of songbirds as in our day. But as the German poet Ewald wrote in his Coffee-urn Verses, the brew was "pure and warm and strong and not abused." Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Kierkegaard. Disappointed that he could not repeat his sighting of The Girl With The Cloak, he returned to Copenhagen where, for the time being, he shelved his theory on repetitions.
     Of course in the 21st century we know a thing or two about repetition. Five minutes of Philip Glass's music would have saved Kierkegaard the trip. And Thomas Wolfe, ditto. You can't go home again, but what can I say? Sometimes the greatest thinkers in the world are befuddled when they see The Girl With The Cloak.

G s p o t


he Girl with the Cloak is the Venus of the Vulva, a triangular fat-hipped terra cotta cave woman to be reckoned with.
     They pick up the cloak hem and lift it high, higher. They push her to the ground and roll on top, pulling it up. Where her legs should be is a black cloth chest and arms. An embroidered grin in red cotton thread mocks them from a black face with wide white eyes. They leave her in the dirt, corn rows and pigtails where they'd expected golden fluff.
     Turned inside out The Girl With The Cloak has no private parts. Still, they bet a ten spot that given half a chance, they'll find her G spot. One of them holds her down while the other shimmies.
     "I got plenty of nothin, and nothin's plenty for me," she moans.
     Another cuts a peep hole in the cloak and places his eye to it. His buddy orders them drinks with little umbrellas in them. It begins to rain. They're soaked to the skin and enveloped in swaying darkness. Her hem undulates and encircles them. They sink to the ground, sprinkling the earth with seminal euphoria.


A gynecologist arrives on his yacht. They want him to give her an exploratory. But he already knows what he'll give her--a blue plate special, the eggs, the tubes, the works.
      "This won't hurt at all, " he says. "After all, it's of no use to you anymore. We'll just take it out."
     He reaches deep and grasps the cervix with the tenaculum. He reaches deeper and grasps the umbilicus with Allis clamps. Up to his elbow now, he attaches the obturator to the scope. His shoulders and head disappear into the draping.
      Sunlight shimmers on her colorful scales as she winds up a tree to digest the body; after all, it's of no use to him anymore.

the littl
x princx
looks into

the blu
x holx

he Girl With The Cloak lands on the Mojave Desert near an ocotillo feather dancer. Beneath the creosote a tortoise yawns and retreats into the shade while the sun beats down on green alfalfa fields. Jack rabbits browse under their cool cover, leaping from time to time into the liquid light.
     In the distance, a gold banner sporadically waves above the rim of a stone trough and disappears. The Girl With the Cloak approaches a boy sitting on the trough. He wears a golden muffler and ten gallon hat.
     "Come no closer!" he warns, pointing to a small red white and blues snake coiled in the rubbled limestone.
     "Down and down I go, round and round I go, " croons the side-winder. "Love is a spin, love is a spin I'm in. . ."
     A Dust Devil consorting with a tumble-weed lets go of her to pick up The Girl With The Cloak and set her down beside the boy. His small uncertain smile floats in the shadow of the ridiculous hat. "I am the Little Prince," he says. "I will give you my magic muffler if you rescue me. She will keep sirens from singing in your ears and flowers from flying in your face. She will play blind man's bluff any time you wish. And you'll never have to use sunscreen or wrinkle remover."
      "If your muffler is so magical," taunts the devil, why doesn't she rescue you?" He tries to get a rise out of the golden muffler hanging limp as a string tie on a corpse at high noon.
     "Temptation, you are the one ," croons the snake.
     The Dust Devil swirls like smoke before the Little Prince. "The Girl With The Cloak might be persuaded to take you to the Blue Hole. But if I were you and she were me, we'd make you promise not to tell such pathetic stories."
      "I'm not telling stories," the Little Prince flashes. "My muffler has had a breakdown. It's depressing to travel with an exhausted muffler--and highly improbable that a night club called the Blue Hole will revive her."
     "A night club! Ooo baby, ooo baby shoobie doobie do," croons the snake moving along the side of the trough. "Give me one for my baby, and one more for the road. "
     The Dust Devil grabs the ten-gallon hat and bucks down a dry gulch, tossing it playfully into the air.
     "Put that down immediately!" the Little Prince orders. "Or the elephant inside will get so angry he'll suck you to oblivion with his trunk."
     The Dust Devil dies down to a line in the sand. "You've been in the desert too long. Now I'm convinced I have to take you to the Blue Hole whether you like it or not." He riffles, picks up speed, and lifts the Little Prince into the air.      
     The snake croons mournfully, "My Mama done tol' me, a man is a two-face. He'll up and he'll leave you."     
     The capricious Dust Devil tosses the side-winding snake at The Girl With The Cloak. Contrary to his expectations, she spins the snake securely around her, and flies due east.
      The Blue Hole beckons like a wet blue corn tortilla in the desert sun. The Girl With The Cloak lands on the limestone step into its depth, letting the snake slither down her cloak to dip the red tip of its tail into the cold water. "I ain't been blue. Oooo, Blue indigo, " it croons.
      Wearied by several detours made by the Dust Devil to flirt with tumbleweeds along the way, the Little Prince belly flops onto the rim. When he looks way down he can see infinity--not far from his place of origin. The Prince takes off the sagging muffler and lets her float lazily on the surface. She sinks in a slow spiral. Tantalized by her beauty, the snake slides in after her.
     At 80 feet the muffler brushes against a blind fish.
     "Ah, that feels good," says the fish."Is she a blonde or brunette?"
     The snake curls around the fish, humming a bridge of Jalousie. The muffler flutters in the current, reinvigorated by the cold fresh water pouring into the Blue Hole at 3000 gallons per minute.
     "I'd give anything to show you my tunnel, Sweetie," the blind fish tells her. "But the blind vampire bats might find you irresistible. Oh Baby, I may be blind but I sure can feel you move with the earth tides. Still I. . ." The blind fish suddenly darts under a shelf of limestone. "Oh oh! Call waiting, Sweetheart. Someone from above. But before you go, remember what a wise blind fish once told you: it's better not to see the dream you can't live, the life you can't be."
     Reinforced by the fish's poetic license, the muffler floats into the sunlight, buoyed upward by the water-amplified voice and magnified disheveled locks of the Little Prince.
     The snake takes his time, doing a riff of scat as he ascends, "Shoobie doobie oooah. Bebopalua, oooie ooooie, ooooie."
The muffler sighs with satisfaction as the Prince throttles her and wraps her once with ™lan around his neck. Having turned up at the Blue Hole, she hums farewell to the red, white and blue snake, and glinting gold, they blast off without a glance.
      Peeved by their sudden departure, the Dust Devil whistles under his breath. "Whew-ee. The royal bastard thinks he can treat me like dirt. He's already at the border between Earth and Space without so much as a thank-you for my trouble. He may be a Little Prince God knows where, but I reign here." To prove the extent of his dominion, the Dust Devil tumbles a weed until there's nothing left of her but a pile of sticks.
     You may have noticed the Girl With The Cloak and Little Prince never seem to speak. Lest they leave you with the impression they don't care for each other, they do. Very much. But those who prefer mufflers to cloaks live in different worlds. Not to mention on different planets.


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