UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
CHARLES TALKOFF

In the Luxembourg Gardens

Her mother was an opium addict and later after that she was addicted to designer purses I mean she’d buy three or four at a time fifteen hundred or more a pop and only ever use one the rest she tried fobbing off

Shirin Neshat
on the daughter and the daughter mind you is this train-wreck as you’d expect rich privileged from the Republic of Islam you know holy holy on the outside in the home country and secular when she’s allowed and a decadent dilettante inside tormented by desire and her own intelligence like a catholic school girl out of a Springsteen song and she I mean the daughter loves smoking hash and hooka; she gets high on how you smoke enough hooka the oxygen gets cut off your head feels like it’s floating she’s tormented by guilt over being so wealthy she got married when she was nineteen separated at twenty-eight but she won’t divorce the guy too terrified of letting go and getting lost you know they’ve been defeated colonized and they all know it but can’t admit it like admitting you’re a drunk stay home she feels like a failure live here feel like a sell-out damned if you do damned if you don’t like my grandfather used to listen to Chinese opera just to make my grandmother happy but this girl she wants to be a writer wants to be like Bolano but is afraid of offending her mother or anyone else so we’re sitting on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens it’s late July park’s crowded big photo exhibit with all these images from around the world it’s a United Nations thing and she’s got her bright red scarf on she’s smoking a cigarette all very brooding dramatic and she looks lovely all that wild long black hair like a wave in a storm or a liquid evening broadcasting silence and she says I came here once before with the American guy and then she paused and I couldn’t say if she was trying to remember or forget or both and then she looked at her cigarette and said I hate myself and I just look at her and it’s all cold at that point and clinical I’m looking at her lips she wants to be friends once it’s over she has this harem of emotional eunuchs all former lovers and she tells me how the ex-husband to whom she is still married he says to her he says this one time let me get you pregnant and then you can just give me the baby and you can go and she drops the cigarette down to the ground and the smoke sort of tails up pale white and fades.









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