Young Male Nude, by Hippolyte Flandrin; La Belle Rafaelo, by Tamara de Lempicka; St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness, by Caravaggio
Rafaela rolled over and crumpled up the latest page in her movie script. She was rewriting Alice in Wonderland under her newest nom de plume, Tim Burton. She was sick of using “Ayn Rand.” Everybody already knew she was Russian, and she wanted to continue Western Russification under a more nondescript name to further slap the Westerners in the face with the proverbial sturgeon.
Alice was really a sexually confused child, she thought to herself. She should be more like her, based on her own experiences at Duke University. She couldn’t help that men fall under her spell, regardless of this confusion, and sometimes kill themselves shortly after. They end up as better people, she reasoned, with a new taste for vodka and samovars, and cheeses and cold-cuts.
She glanced at the two young men at the sides of her chaise longue. She liked to think they were like the two eels in The Little Mermaid, another classic story of a misunderstood octopus.
One was breathing very hard with his head between his legs. He stole quick looks at the doorknob and his clothes next to the fireplace, but did not dare run, out of respect for Rafaela’s position as his superior.
The other was busy staring in the mirror. He saw that his face and behind his ears were covered in red patches, as he frantically scratched his scalp. Rafaela had found him when he was still a busboy. She had waltzed in, knowing everybody who worked there and her sharp eyes could immediately spot the new face and strong forearms.
“Please bring me a vodka and tonic with promptitude” she had told him and he marveled at her vocabulary. Nobody thought it suspicious that she lulled the manager into only serving vodka at the bar and changing the sepia photographs for Greek Orthodox paintings from her home town of Novgorod, but he felt there was something special about her. She was the Apollonian idea, he decided.
Then Rafaela quickly sat up and began to dress while the dog watched her. She modeled for him for a few minutes before speaking. “Boys, I must speak with my editor immediately. Which one of you will take me?” Neither answered and she cleared her throat. The very sound made them both jump.
The panicky one who name she could not remember thought “Oh shit, I should have been showing more interest in her conversation. Now she might beat me as only she knows how.” “I will,” he said aloud, hoping she would spare him for having idle hands.
In the car with her sarcastic smile and angrily glistening eyes she began to tell him the plot: “You know, a lot of people seem to think the story is really about an acid trip. But it isn’t. Alice was actually in the middle of a fertility ritual in Russia, similar to the Bacchic rituals of Rome. There is a mythical flower called The Muse, or The Grace. As the old saying goes, ‘The children who suckle the Grace Flower, suckle from the very meaning of life.’
So she’s rubbing her thighs together, slick with the pulp of the crushed Muse flowers and wiping ladybugs on the apples of her cheeks when the world begins to spin out of control. Generally in this stage of consciousness girls realize that everybody is actually born a boy. It’s a rite of passage totally incomprehensible to you Westerners–with your logical sudoku and your Brain Age games.” She roared laughter.
“They also discover that they will soon undergo a rebirth into something more similarly resembling a hermaphrodite and then refashion the universe in their own image. You know, we all find it quite silly that you westerners are so stagnated in your mental development and ever have these realizations–an extended adolescence. Or like dogs who never really change mental ages. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” she laughed again.
“What will Alice’s world be like?” he asked politely.
“Cats should talk, she thinks, and have two rows of compact teeth. Flowers could put their fragrance to better use, even have the best breath a singer ever had. Also, it’s ridiculous that everybody is not skilled in the art of fencing, disc jockeying, or taxidermy for Stalin’s sake.”
“So what becomes of Alice?”
“Maybe she wakes up. Maybe she doesn’t. Hmm I must send a copy of this script to Coutney Love. But think about it. This will be almost unprecedented! A new dawn for cinema and the character’s that embrace their silver screens. But I’d like to know what you, the average plebe, thinks.”
“But so many more than just Perez Hilton shall understand, as I originally feared. It shall be a smashing hit!” His faith in Rafaela was restored.