Friday, October 06, 2006

Widow of Frankenstein, part the second

I consoled myself that at least I wasn’t the only one in Tenebrae wearing a Halloween costume.
She had obviously gone to a lot of work to get the look just right. Her skin was cadaver-pale, with a realistic tinge of blue. She had expertly layered on fake scar tissue to make the soft white flesh appear puckered around the real black thread stitches which traced a line along her delicate jaw and chin, from one ear to the other, and then from her right jaw to her temple, disappearing into her hairline. Her wig–or was it her real hair?–had the white streaks in all the right places. When she looked over at me, I almost expected her blue-black lips to part with a cat’s hiss, just like Elsa Lanchester. She had departed from the classic look, however, with respect to her clothes. Rather than draping her slender figure in a sheet or tightly wrapping it mummy-style, she had opted for a black Victorian dress--high lace collar and cuffs, waist corset-cinched, and a long skirt--and period-appropriate high-button shoes, also black.
“I’ve gotta say, that is a great costume!”
“My . . . costume. . . Oh, yes! Thank you. I’m very . . . proud of it.” Her accent was definitely European. French, with a mix of something else. German, perhaps? “I like your wolf–costume–as well.”
“Thanks,” I said. There was an awkward silence while I searched for something to say. I raised my drink to my lips to give me an excuse not to speak while my mind raced. Finally--
“I’m Douglas, by the way.”
“Eve. It’s nice to meet you, Douglas. I don’t meet many werewolves!” She answered, smiling.
“Can I get you a refill on your drink? What did you have?”
“Ah, absinthe! The drink of poets and artists!”
“In that case, this place must be full of poets and artists!” She smiled again, and gestured vaguely toward the rest of the bar.
A quick look around confirmed her observation. A large percentage of the glasses in the place were filled with the jade green liquid.
“So, um, Eve, are you from around here?”
She chuckled. “Not originally. I was . . . born in Scotland. But my–father–spoke French. I never knew my mother. . .” Her words trailed off, and then, “But I’ve been in the U.S. for many years, now. I guess accents–like some other things–are hard to get rid of.”
“Well, your English is very good. And I personally find the accent very charming–but you probably have guys tell you that all the time.” I told you I was a minister. I didn’t say I was dead.
She artfully ignored my lame attempt at flirtation. “And, what do you do for a living--Douglas?”
That question always makes me laugh for some reason. Probably because people tend to “shut down” verbally and socially when I tell them. Afraid of offending me, I guess.
“Heh-heh. I’m a minister, actually.”
“Ah. I see. . . So, you believe in the existence of the human soul, then?”
Here we go! Some people go into their shells when they find out what I do. She apparently belonged to the other major group of respondents–those who hit you with philosophical and theological questions from way out in left field.
“Um, yes,” I answered, “I believe there is a part of us that is eternal–that goes beyond this life. If that’s what you mean by ‘soul,’ then, yes, I believe in the existence of the human soul.”
“Tell me, have you ever met anyone without a soul?”
“No one who was alive, no.”
“Well then, how about someone who is dead–even though they’re alive?”
Have you looked around you lately?, I wanted to ask. Instead, I took a long slow sip of my Bloody Mary–not nearly spicy enough.
“Well,” I started, “I have met people who seem to be doing little more than existing. There’s no life left in them. I would classify them as alive-but-dead. But even those people have souls, no matter how far out of touch they may be with them.”
“But you are speaking of the spiritual, while I am talking about the physical. A reanimated corpse, for example.”
“You mean like a zombie? Nope, never met one,” I fired back hastily.
“A zombie, or a man-made creature like the Frankenstein -- creature. . . or his unfortunate bride. . .” Her dark eyes grew more intent, “Does such a being have a soul?”
I stalled. “You’ve raised a great topic, but this is a discussion that definitely calls for fresh drinks,” And time for me to think! “And then we can continue.” Then to the bartender, “Two absinthes, please.”

No comments: