By Jim Doran
Pen and ink
Drawn using Jewel Beth Davis’s story (below) as inspiration
What Happened With Cousin Deb?
By Jewel Beth Davis
Debby came to stay with us this weekend and I’m so excited. She’s never come for a sleepover before. Mom and Dad brought just the two of us to the Gardens in the middle of Boston. The boys had to stay home, ha! The Gardens are right next to the Boston Commons and near Filenes’ Basement where my mom takes me to shop. We like to ride the train in. And Filenes’ Basement has the best soft serve ice cream in the world. I get it with jimmies in a white paper cone. It’s so cold it gives me a headache. This time, Daddy drove us in his big blue Chevy. There’s an art show in the Gardens and we’re there to see it. I love looking at paintings. I am dying to run my fingers over the little mounds on the oil paintings but I don’t. Sometimes, you can still sniff the paint smells. It’s one of those smells that I like and hate at the same time, like skunk or gasoline. You can almost smell the colors. I don’t say this to Cousin Deb because I don’t think she’d get it. She giggles a lot. Wait! Debby, look over there. The swans. Their necks are long and white, like the peaks of the soft serve vanilla at Filenes. They seem to float on the water, not in it. It’s summer but still has that spring smell: the dirt, the grass and dandelions, the buttercups, especially the clover. There’s a little man near the ticket booth selling caramel corn and cotton candy. He tries to sell stuff to people who pass. Mommy, can we buy some? Can we? I taste the buttery melty flavor of the caramel corn. Debby, let’s share. We each get one and I give Debby half my caramel corn and she gives me half her cotton candy. The super-sweet taste of the cotton candy sits on my tongue and prickles my nose. I squinch my eyes and press my lips, waiting for the sugar crystals to melt. We buy tickets for the Swan Boats. It’s a whole $.25 apiece. Come on with us, Daddy. You can smoke later. He squishes the Pall Mall cigarette under his shiny black leather loafers with tassels. I take his big hand and we walk by the smashed cigarette lying at the end of the grass where it becomes pebbly. Daddy jingles coins in the pockets of his grey pleated pants as he walks. He wears Old Spice Aftershave and I could smell him forever. Mom wants to take a picture of us and asks Deb and me to stand near the paintings of the Gloucester seashore where she and Deb’s mom, my Auntie Sonya, went to camp. Auntie Ruta, too. They’re sisters. I wish I had a sister. Maybe Deb could be my sister. Don’t tell her, but I don’t really want to take a picture with Deb because she’s got a lot of blubber. I feel bad. I’m real skinny. I take ballet. Mom snaps a picture with her Brownie Flash camera of the two of us in our Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouses and stupid cardigans she made us bring in case it turns cold. It’s broiling out. The wool is scratchy on my arms and shoulders. It makes me all sweaty. At least my hair is off my neck in a ponytail. Deb never grows a ponytail. I wonder why. I wonder why I’m so skinny and she’s so fat. I wonder why she never comes for the weekend again and leaves early. Did I say something?
I stare at the picture of Deb and me, both eleven years old. I wonder why I’ve carried it in my wallet for so many years. I see that it’s a photo of young me but I don’t recognize it as a younger version of the me I am now. I am facing the camera with my duck feet turned way out. Not a ballerina pose but the natural outcome of so many years of dance. I am long and bony, not lean. For all my grace onstage, I look awkward in my body, coltish. I am taller than Deb and look far more confident. She is turned away from me and from the camera. She is in the photo but not committed to being there. She only partially looks at my mother through the camera. She has a cap of coarse, dark curly hair. My hair is long and shiny but pulled back so severely, it stretches my face backwards. And those awful cardigans we’re wearing around our necks on this gorgeous June day, attached by the top button- horrible. Shorts and cardigans, oxymoronic. And no place to stick them as the temperatures climbed higher. What’s funny is I see that Deb was not nearly as fat as I’d always thought her then, just plump, like one of Ma’s matzoh balls. She doesn’t look happy. Not quite smiling. Why didn’t she want to be there? Was it me? Was she just homesick? I pray that I never said anything disparaging. After that day, she went home and was never my friend again, though still a cousin. What did I lose that day?
Last night, I spoke to my cousin Lenny on the phone and she brought Deb up again. Lenny always says the same thing. “Deb almost never calls me though her house is on the same street here in Boca. And I just can’t warm up to her. She’s so closed, Julie. She hardly says anything when we’re together. You know me, Julie. I can get anyone to talk but not Cousin Deb.”
“I know, Lenny. I know,” I say. “But she talks a blue streak with her friends. I’ve seen her.”
“Why doesn’t she like us? I just don’t get it,” Lenny says for the zillionth time.
There’s something false about the colors in the photo. Not quite the right colors. Too intense. The green of the grass is jarring. Like out of a crayon box instead of life. Like the artist is confused.
Eve of Saint Frida
By Jim Doran
Pen and ink colored in Photoshop, 8″X5″
Inspiration Piece provided to Jewel Beth Davis
She’s the One
By Jewel Beth Davis
Hey, all you cheeky bastards down there. Pay attention. Yes, you skeletons. With hats and without. Nice feathers by the way. Yes, you too. With the drinks, the guitars and the cucarachas. This is the Antichrist speaking, so listen up. Hey you with the tambourine, I’m talking to you. Stop dancing. Stop it right now. Stop the music. … Yes, that is what I said. The Antichrist. The Evil One. The Destroyer. Yes, really.
Look, pretty soon, I’m going to set in motion the Final Battle. The End of Days is coming and you’d better be ready. Now stop running around leering and grinning, because we have some serious annihilation to do. No I’m not kidding. When? Soon. How soon? Really really soon. No, I cannot tell you when. Because I have double secret plans and I can’t give them away. Why? Because Christ might find out about them. Then he’d have a leg up, if you follow my metaphor.
You want to know what happens after The End? Nothing happens. It’s The End. No, I guess there’s not much to look forward to but isn’t that the point? I don’t know; everything’s gone, like a blank slate. Well, it’s something like a black hole, according to my conversations with Stephen Hawking.
And for those of you Doubting Debbies who didn’t believe this would ever really happen, you’d better start prepping your Air Raid Shelters with extra water, batteries, and canned goods because this is practically a done deal. Oh, and any personal care items you think you’ll need, because we are in this for the long haul. How long? As long as it takes, that’s how long. Well, we won’t know until it’s over. This is not something you can predict. I know Nostradamus did it but he didn’t get everything on the money. He made some pretty significant errors. And I never said it was going to be at the Millennium. A bunch of crazy cultists made that up. No, not Scientologists, but I must say they’ve been very supportive of my efforts. Thanks, guys, you make my job easier.
What? I’m a woman? So what’s your point? So what if the Bible said the Anti Christ was supposed to be male. It turns out that I’m it. I don’t know. It was a lottery and I got chosen. Yes. A female Antichrist. Believe me, I am really evil. I’m a bad-assed bitch. I do have the balls! Most women have bigger balls than men, especially when it comes to ending things. Men always leave it to women to end relationships because they don’t want to be the Bad Guy. Same with ending the world. They’ll leave this to us too, and it’s a good thing they do, because we’re the ones who create life in the midst of great pain and suffering. Who better than a woman to destroy life in the midst of great pain and suffering? Besides, if I didn’t know what I was doing, I wouldn’t be the one sitting up here on this horse; you would. But you’re not and I am. So are we good? …Okay, so it’s not a horse. It’s a flying praying mantis. But it’s really evil-looking and scary, isn’t it? No, it’s not all that comfortable to ride but the saddle helps a little.
No, I’m not proving anything. Forget it. No way. Look, I’m powerful, sophisticated and charismatic. I’m very likable and spiritual, and I have a deep desire to end the world. What more could you want? Are you nuts? What’s wrong with my hair? My hair is fabulous. I have long black dreads; what could be better than that? It worked for Braveheart in Scotland. Okay, the turban is slightly Carmen Miranda but it symbolizes the fruit of my womb in the negative. That we’ll no longer be fruitful and multiply. Get it?
The Trident? Well, it’s a metaphor for the Holy Trinity and its destruction. No more Father, Son and Holy Ghost. All will be destroyed by the All Powerful Woman. The Antichrista. And it’s about damn time. Well, I realize women are supposed to be the creators not destroyers, but it’s ironic, don’t you think? I love irony. It’s surprising, you know—a new wrinkle. Well, you were surprised.
It’s a good thing I still have my hands and feet because this trident would be tough to hang onto without any musculature. Especially when riding the mantis. Balancing on this thing is iffy as it is. And he gets very prickly if I suddenly have to grab onto his antennae to steady myself. They crack easily. And I still get the heebie-jeebies when the wind passes through the bones of my forearms. Being the Antichrist isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Or as black or white. There are a lot of subtleties I have to consider. This long robe for instance isn’t all that pragmatic for this kind of endeavor.
All that aside, it is time to start making obeisance to false gods. Well, I don’t know. Like for instance, Dolce and Gabbana. Jimmy Choo. Paris Hilton maybe. Crack. Smack. The X rated video games. Right wing organized religion. Those will do for a start. This is all about preparation for the Final Days and the Great Battle. I’m just saying, get ready. I’ll let you know when I put the next phase of The Plan into action. I’ll hook you up through my I Phone as long as we’re in a WiFi Zone. And keep a positive attitude that the end will come. You just have to believe. Yes, sure, for the time being, you can return to your revelry and debauchery. That’s always good practice for The End.